An Explanation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (Paspa)
Also known as the Bradley Act and PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act definitively governed the legal status of sports betting across the US. Previously, the law effectively banned sports betting throughout the United States with the exception of four states, three of which offered sports lotteries, including Delaware, Montana, and Oregon, with the fourth exemption being the state-licensed sportsbooks operating in Nevada. It was considered one of the most draconian of the US federal gambling laws.
At the time the law was passed, the government allowed a one year grace period for the law to take effect. This grace period was established specifically with New Jersey in mind, however, they did not take advantage of this window of opportunity. Pari-mutuel horse racing and dog racing are also exempted from the application of the PASPA law, as well as jai alai betting. However, these restrictions became irrelevant once PASPA was repealed by SCOTUS in May of 2018.
UPDATE: May 14, 2018- Paspa Repealed
The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey in the dawn out and notable sports betting case. SCOTUS stated their majority view that PASPA is unconstitutional in its enforcement on 46 states. The law was repealed as a result of the ruling. This means that the 46 states once restricted by PASPA can now offer regulated sports betting if they pass appropriate legislation. Between May 2018 and mid April 2019, 10 states have passed legislation legalizing sports betting and many others have pending legislation on the table.
The federal government may decide to step in and regulate nationwide sports gambling. For now, states are in control of their own destiny in regards to domestic sports gambling. There may be some aftereffects announced over time in an effort to curtail widespread gambling expansion. We will update this page as the new laws become clearer and once we know more about how this post-PASPA US betting environment will play out.
Opposition to the PASPA Law
NJ demonstrated the most recent opposition to the law in their effort to legalize state based sports betting for their residents and visitors. They were unsuccessful in their first attempt and were defeated by a lawsuit brought against them by the NFL, NBA, NCAA, and other parties. The state lost the lawsuit, however, they still proceeded in legalizing sports betting in New Jersey, with several contingencies in place that they are confident will appease their opponents.
State lawmakers requested that PASPA be repealed on the basis that it is unconstitutional, infringing on state's rights as provided for in the US constitution. New Jersey issued a lawsuit in 2009 declaring that the PASPA act is inherently unconstitutional. NJ won their case and the repeal of PASPA paved the way for the expansion of state-regulated sports betting. Other states that had also requested a repeal of the law include Rhode Island, Iowa, Missouri and California, who joined the New Jersey lawsuit. States are beginning to understand the fiscal advantages that will be present with state-licensed sports betting.
Did PASPA Apply to Online Sports Betting in the United States?
The PASPA law banned US based sports betting throughout the US. Because the Federal Wire Act was interpreted to apply specifically to sports betting by the DOJ, it also ensured domestic sports gambling could not emerge. PASPA's repeal altered the application of the Federal Wire Act to limit its restrictions solely to accepting sports wagers across state lines.
However, neither of these laws, active or repealed, prohibit US players from participating in legally licensed and regulated online sports betting services located outside of the United States within jurisdictions that have expressly legalized Internet sportsbook gambling for their respective territories.
This means that if you participate in offshore online sports betting at destinations that hold legitimate licensing and are subject to regulatory oversight from a respected government, you will not be breaking the law. As long as you restrict your sports wagering to legally licensed and regulated destinations online and offline, whether domestic or offshore, you are not doing anything illegal.
Will US Based Online Sports Betting Be Legal Anytime Soon?
With PASPA's repeal, every state now has the power to allow or prohibit sports gambling within their borders and allow it through land-based, online and mobile options. New legislation that legalizes state regulated sportsbooks is sweeping through the country. 10+ states have already legalized sports betting with most others in the process of doing so. The economic benefits are something most states are interested in accessing at this time.
Where Can I Find Legal Online Sports Betting Sites?
Our legal online sports betting guide provides a refined listing of those offshore online sportsbooks that are legally licensed to provide their betting services to players around the world, including those in the US. These sites are regulated by a governing jurisdiction and have all been vetted by our team of professional industry analysts to ensure they are legitimately operating within the industry, that they employ a sophisticated security profile, and that their overall performance and quality meet our stringing requirements for inclusion in this guide.
In addition, if you live within one of these states, you will have access to state-based sportsbooks of some type:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia