An Explanation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (Paspa)

LawbookAlso known as the Bradley Act and PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act definitively governs the legal status of sports betting across the US. The law effectively bans sports betting throughout the United States with the exception of four states, three of which have sports lotteries, including Delaware, Montana and Oregon, with the fourth exemption being the state licensed sportsbooks operating in Nevada. In order to give other qualifying states an opportunity to include sports betting in their existing gambling industries, 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 application of the PASPA law, as well as jai alai betting.

UPDATE: May 14, 2018- Paspa Repealed

The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey in the 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 The law was repealed as a result of the ruling.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 affected by PASPA can now offer regulated sports betting if they pass appropriate legislation. States like New Jersey and West Virginia will have betting options available in the coming weeks since they already passed legislation that was triggered once PASPA was stricken down.

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 the new industry. There may be some aftereffects announced over the course of the next few weeks 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. They have requested that the 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. The case is still pending. Other states requesting a repeal of the law include Rhode Island, Iowa, Missouri and California, who has joined the New Jersey lawsuit. States are beginning to understand the fiscal advantages that will be present with state licensed sports betting.

Does PASPA Apply to Online Sports Betting in the United States?

The PASPA law bans US based sports betting throughout the US. Any loopholes which would allow online sports betting are effectively closed by the Federal Wire Act that does specifically ban U.S. based online sports betting. However, the law does not 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. It is illegal to own or operate an online bookmaking business located in the US, or to operate a land based sportsbook or sports lottery within a US state that is not exempted by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. As long as you restrict your sports wagering to legally licensed and regulated destinations online and offline, you are not doing anything illegal.

Will US Based Online Sports Betting Be Legal Anytime Soon?

While there is growing demand to repeal the PASPA law, doing so would only allow land based sports gambling opportunities to become legal. The Federal Wire Act would still prohibit the online element of US based sports betting. So far there are not the same demands or efforts being made to overturn the Wire Act. There may be some slim chance that PASPA could be amended or repealed; there is a much less likely chance of this happening with the Federal Wire Act. US players will likely be relying on legal offshore sportsbooks for quite some time for access to enjoying online sports betting.

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.


Paspa Law At Cornell University