The main laws governing sports betting in the US include the Federal Wire Act, the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). In addition, a few states such as Maryland and Washington have enacted laws to regulate sports betting recently.
Federal Wire Act Of 1961
The Federal Wire Act came into effect in 1961 when sports fans used the phone to place bets on games. The aim of this act was to outlaw bookmakers operating outside the state of Nevada. At the time, the Internet did not exist meaning the creators of the Wire Act may not have envisioned or foreseen the technological changes that would revolutionize communication a few decades later. In fact, the US Department of Justice has said that the Wire Act does not apply to online poker rooms and other online sports betting sites. Although the Wire Act has never been used to pursue sports bettors, it has been used to prosecute several gambling site owners. In 1961, the then Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Emanuel Celler, warned while delivering his contribution to the debate on this bill that it only targets bookmakers or gamblers who place bets on behalf of others. It does not focus on the casual gambler. The Federal district court of Rhode Island concurred with this view during the United States v. Baborian case when it said that Congress "did not intend to include social bettors within the umbrella of the statute, even those bettors that bet large sums of money and show a certain degree of sophistication."
At this point, it is worth noting that the Wire Act is not a standalone legal framework. It complements various anti-racketeering statutes such as the Illegal Gambling Business Act, Travel Act and the Interstate Transportation of Wagering Paraphernalia Act. It is important to understand this aspect because it underpins the legality of sports betting via offshore bookmakers.
The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006, on its part, does not expressly ban online sports betting in the US. Instead, it simply bars US financial institutions from processing payments related to gambling sites. While the UIGEA did make online sports betting difficult, it did not stamp out the practice completely. It is easy to circumvent this legal hurdle by using financial institutions that have no connection with US banks. Alternatively, you can use pre-paid cards to avoid leaving a digital trail.
The last major legal framework related to sports betting is PASPA. This act's aim is to limit the number of states where bookmakers can engage in sports betting legally. In theory, sports betting is legal in Nevada, Montana, Delaware and Oregon. At the time when this act was enacted, it had a loophole that legal experts opined was aimed at allowing New Jersey to join this exclusive club because it permitted states that allow gambling to license sports betting. Although New Jersey had until 1993 to do so, the relevant authorities failed to take advantage of this loophole. Consequently, it has taken the courage of Governor Chris Christie to say that New Jersey will defy federal bans on sports betting. In spite of this, Nevada remains the undisputed king of sports betting. Sports fans can bet on National Football League games in Delaware, but only in the form of parlays. In the other two states (Oregon and Montana), legal sports betting is virtually non-existent despite PASPA approval. Over in Nevada, lawmakers are working on a bill that would allow out-of-state bettors to wager on games. Currently, only three states (Nevada, California, and Louisiana) have explicitly banned online sports betting. This notwithstanding, no US citizen has ever been arraigned in court to face charges of engaging in online betting.
Betting on NFL legally does not mean, however, that each Internet sportsbook offers a reliable experience. A thorough review process should still be undertaken before you open an account at any online sports betting portal. Whether betting on football in the U.S.A., the UK or some other country, you will find that different casinos offer vastly different NFL betting odds, and it often pays well to hold multiple accounts at competing Internet sportsbooks. This always ensures you can get the most attractive side, number, line or total, giving your Sunday or Monday night wager the best possible chance at winning.