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 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 were also exempted from the application of the PASPA law, as well as jai alai betting. However, these restrictions became irrelevant once PASPA was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States in May of 2018.

May 14, 2018 – PASPA REPEALED!

The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey in the drawn out and notable sports betting case. The SCOTUS stated their majority view that PASPA was unconstitutional in its application. The law was overturned 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, and that the three states limited to sports lotteries could now offer single-game wagering of the proper sort. Between May 2018 and May 2019, more than 10 states had passed legislation legalizing sports betting, and that number has since grown to nearly 30.

The federal government may decide some day to step in and regulate nationwide sports gambling. For now, however, states are in control of their own destinies 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

New Jersey 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, but they appealed it all the way to the Supreme Court, who formally took up the case in late 2017.

State lawmakers requested that PASPA be repealed on the basis that it was unconstitutional, infringing on state's rights as provided for in the US Constitution. New Jersey formerly issued a lawsuit in 2009 declaring that the PASPA law is inherently unconstitutional. NJ won their case after several years, and the overturning of PASPA paved the way for the expansion of state-regulated sports betting.

Other states that had also requested a repeal of the law included Rhode Island, Iowa, Missouri and California, which joined the New Jersey lawsuit. States immediately understood the fiscal advantages that would be present with state-licensed sports betting, and the high court eventually ruled in their favor.

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 legal 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 operate legitimately in the industry 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 these venues,  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.  25+ 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 authorized to provide their betting services to players around the world, including those in the US. These sites are regulated by legitimate industry oversight authorities and have all been vetted by our team of professional analysts to ensure they are legally 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: