Here you will find an explanation of the specific laws that govern sports betting in the United States. These explanations are not a bunch of legal jargon that is reserved for lawyers and legal professionals, but has been put into an accurate, easy to digest terms that allow those of us without a law degree to comprehend the legalities surrounding US based sports betting versus US friendly sports betting.
USA Sports Betting Laws
Sports betting laws in the United States are generally directed at either the state or federal level. As a democracy and a republic, the government which rules the United States of America recognizes the rights of individual states. Because of this dual level of government, there are going to be times when sports betting laws and their applications may seem confusing. For instance, the three most applicable laws to sports betting at the federal level are the UIGEA of 2006 (Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act), The Federal Wire Act of 1961 (Interstate Wire Act) and the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). But they all regulate sports betting in different ways.
Covering 45 years, these United States sports betting laws were each created at a uniquely different time in the evolution of the US Internet gambling industry. And in the future, there will no doubt be new Internet sports gambling laws which originate at the state and federal levels in the United States of America. Currently, a prohibition of US-based companies offering online sports wagering options is in effect as we write this column. But nationwide prohibition has never lasted in the free country that is the USA. (See the alcoholic beverage prohibition from 1920 to 1933.) The legal USA online sports betting section of our website strives to keep you informed of all applicable sports betting laws which affect US citizens. Since this is obviously a constantly growing and changing subject, check back often for late breaking updates.
UIGEA Law (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act)
The most recent piece of federal legislation in the United States which applies to sports gambling on the Internet is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or UIGEA. The Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006 (SAFE Port Act) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush on October 13 of that year. Originally created to enhance port security throughout the United States, the SAFE Act included a last minute rider, Title VIII. This is the UIGEA portion of the law. It keeps US gambling businesses from "knowingly accepting payments" for bets and wagers over the Internet that are "unlawful under any federal or state law." Totally unrelated to the original port safety legislation, the UIGEA has continually been under fire since its inception. We offer a complete and detailed article explaining exactly what the UIGEA gambling bill is and how it relates to online sports betting.
Federal Wire Act Law (Interstate Wire Act)
Officially named the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, the Federal Wire Act tells you its intent in its title. Back in the late 50s and early 60s, organized crime syndicates around the United States used wired communications to run illegal gambling operations. Since this most usually concerned sports betting, the Federal Wire Act became known as an anti-sports betting law. This is the oldest piece of federal sports wagering legislation in the United States which is still alive and well, and is constantly referred to by both proponents and opponents of the US online gambling industry. This section of our website explains the Interstate Federal Wire Act of 1961completely, and we will consistently update you as new federal and state level legal opinions are released concerning this law and online sports betting.
PASPA Law (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act)
In 1992 there were only a handful of Internet sports betting sites. With an eye on the exploding popularity of the Internet and possible organized crime elements manipulating the outcome of sporting events, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act or PASPA was signed into law. Basically put, a senatorial Judiciary subcommittee held public hearings, which caused Congress to move forward in an attempt to protect professional and amateur sports. David Stern, the Commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) at the time, stated that he believed that possible negative "interstate ramifications" of sports betting were good enough reasons for federal legislation. Congress agreed, and PASPA became law in an effort to keep sporting contests in the United States safe from "rigging" or other manipulation. Read more about PASPA and how it might affect anyone who bets on sports.