Sports betting laws in the US

Gambling in the United States has always been somewhat of a gray hat area. There is no standardized federal law that explicitly allows or disallows for a person to bet on sports or casino games in the US. Instead, each state has its owns laws regarding betting, and here, in particular, we will be talking about sports betting.

Which States Allow Sports Betting?

Today, there are four states that allow for sports betting to take place inside their territory: Delaware, Nevada, Oregon, and Montana. There are also a few other states, like New Jersey for example, that are interested in allowing this type of gambling in the near future.

National Polls

The PublicMind did a national survey in 2010 and discovered that 67% of their examinees were against sports betting while only 21% said they would legalize it. In another poll conducted a year later, 42% of the examinees said that they would legalize sports betting in their state of residence, while the same percentage of people were opposed.

The Federal Wire Act

The Federal Wire Act of 1961 states that a resident of the United States is prohibited from using wire communication in order to gamble. Today, this covers the internet as well, but it has not yet been cleared whether this law is enforced on the gambler, the bookie, or both. However, a person should be allowed to bet on sports online with bookies that are run outside the US as long as those bookies allow Americans on their website.

Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA Law)

This act is the part of the SAFE Port Act which was passed by Congress in 2006 and signed into law the same year by the president of the United States. This portion of the act says that it’s illegal for gambling businesses to knowingly accept sporting bets over the internet. The act has caused many disputes since its legislation.

Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act

PASPA Law was signed in 1992 due to increasing concern about the manipulation of outcome for sports matches and with growing popularity of internet in mind. Many were concerned that with online betting, a lot of sports were at risk of matches being rigged, one of them being the NBA commissioner at the time, David Stern. So the Congress passed the law in an effort to protect American sports, both professional and amateur.


The United States has pretty much strict policies when it comes to sports betting, including both real-life and online betting. Most states disallow this kind of gambling, while some are very limited and usually allow only horse racing as the only legal sport for gambling. National polls in certain states suggest that this might change in the future, as more people would like to try their luck on sports betting, which their states usually treat as an illegal activity.