In January 2018, an anonymous bettor placed a multi-million dollar bet on the Eagles, who were set to play the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. And this bettor probably never regretted that decision.
Because the Eagles went on to beat the Patriots by eight points. The final score was 41-33.
Why are we telling you this?
As it turns out, people everywhere could soon be betting on their favorite sports teams–in-person and online. But is it legal to bet on sports online?
In order to answer that question, we must first figure out whether or not sports gambling is legal outside of the internet.
The Supreme Court Lifts Federal Ban on Sports Gambling
As of May 2018, sports gambling is legal on the federal level in the United States. The Supreme Court overturned a decades-old ban on sports gambling in a 6-3 decision.
Interestingly enough, this decision had little to do with the court’s opinion on sports gambling. The ruling instead boiled down to the question of whether or not the ban infringed upon states’ rights. The court ultimately decided that states should determine the legality of sports gambling within their borders.
Of course, there a few caveats to the legalization of sports gambling. We’ll discuss these caveats, however, a little later.
Why Was Betting on Sports Illegal?
Before the Supreme Court made its decision, some of you probably asked yourselves:
Why is sports betting illegal?
The illegality of sports gambling had its roots in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Prior to this legislation, sports betting was legal in a few states.
After the legislation passed, the federal government permitted some of these states to continue to allow sports gambling. Some of those states were: Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey.
And several sports leagues were looking to keep it this way. In fact, a few leagues pushed back against the recent efforts to lift the ban on sports betting. They argued that allowing people to bet on sports would ruin the “integrity” of those sports.
The irony? Many of these leagues are now gearing up to make a killing off of sports betting.
Why Is This a Good Thing?
Despite these sports leagues’ complaints, legalized sports gambling is a good thing for the sports industry and its fans. It has two primary benefits:
- Its potential to decrease the number of illegal bookies.
- Its ability to improve fan experiences across several sports.
Let’s take a look at both of these benefits in more detail.
Bye Bye, Bookies
As we said before, the federal government outlawed sports gambling over two decades ago. This federal ban on sports betting didn’t, however, stop people from betting on sports.
It instead created a strong black market for sports gambling. This black market had illegal bookies at its center.
But that’s about to change.
Bookies who orchestrate illegal gambles are no longer just breaking the law. Partaking in this behavior now has financial repercussions for state governments that allow sports gambling. In other words, state governments have more of a reason to shut down bookies as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision.
Even so, don’t expect bookies to disappear overnight. Reducing the number of bookies on the streets will take some time.
Hello, New and Improved Fan Experiences
This lift on the long-standing sports gambling ban will also improve sports fans’ experiences in many ways. It will do so in two big ways:
- It will improve sports viewers’ overall gratification.
- It will make sports more engaging over time.
Sports already encourage tribal behavior, which amplifies our gratification when our favorite teams win. But can you imagine how much more satisfied we’ll be when our teams win and we bring home lump sums of cash after they do so?
And the possibilities for engaging fans are endless. Betting on sporting events right before the game begins as you sit in the stands? Or just betting on the game from the comfort of your living room?
You might soon be able to do both. The idea alone is thrilling.
Can You Immediately Start Betting on Sports?
So the Supreme Court lifted the ban on sports betting. Does that mean that you can just start betting on sports today?
If you recall correctly, the federal government’s ruling cited states’ rights as the primary issue. In other words, the government has given the states the power to determine whether or not sports gambling should be legal.
As of right now, only a few states allow sports betting.
Is It Legal to Bet on Sports Online?
The question of which states currently allow sports betting raises our primary question:
Is it legal to bet on sports online?
Yes, betting on sports online is completely legal–but only in some states that allow sports gambling. And only one state we mentioned earlier allows online sports betting: New Jersey.
Fortunately, there are several other states which plan on legalizing sports gambling in the future. These states include, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Mississippi. Those states’ officials hope to pass legislation which legalizes betting by the year’s end.
A couple of other states — Pennsylvania and New York — are also working towards legalizing sports betting. Unfortunately, though, you’ll have to wait for some time before you can bet in these states. The legislative outcome is still up in the air in those states, and they likely won’t make decisions until 2019.
In any case, some of these states will likely allow online sports betting as well. That said, keep your eyes and ears open for the remainder of the year.
Who’s Accepting Bets?
As expected, several casinos are accepting bets on sporting events. But here’s a less obvious, up-and-coming option for bettors:
Online sports betting platforms.
These platforms allow bettors to make bets from the comfort of their own homes. And since these platforms have to meet certain legal standards, they’re perfectly legitimate.
Curious about what one of these platforms looks like? Be sure to learn more.
Place Your Bets Today
So is it legal to bet on sports online? Absolutely. As long as you’re in a state which allows online sports gambling, you’re in the clear.
If you’re confused about how to bet on sports, take a look at our complete guide on how to approach sports betting. And if you just want more gambling tips? Browse our blog for more awesome content about placing bets and making the most of your gambles.