This law does have a significant impact on US based sports betting opportunities, but does not eliminate all options for sports bettors in the United States like many US residents mistakenly believe. This page will help you understand this law, its impact on the industry, and why it still leaves options available to US sports bettors who enjoy responsible sportsbook wagering.
PASPA and Sports Betting in the USA
One of the most significant legislative packages affecting sports bettors in the United States is PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). Although enacted more than two decades ago, there are still important and legally binding aspects of PASPA which play a current role in defining what is and is not legal, as far as sports betting in the United States in a land-based form and over the Internet is concerned. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act recognized that a few states (Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware) had already begun legal sports betting industries. So those states were exempt from the "no sports betting" basis of PASPA legislation. But oddly enough, legal passage was met with a powerful and influential opponent.
Department of Justice "Strongly Opposes" PASPA as Infringing on Sates' Rights
The United States Department of Justice "strongly opposed" the passage of this particular sports betting legislation. The DOJ stated that PASPA trampled on the rights of individual states to operate and regulate businesses. In September of 1991, the Justice Department included in a letter to Senator Joseph R. Biden (DEM, Delaware) its three major complaints. First off, they claimed PASPA should leave to individual states how they govern sports betting. Secondly, the DOJ noted that if PASPA wording could be legally understood as dealing with anything other than a clarification of existing law, it would raise serious questions about a Federalist legal base. And third, the Justice Department believed that section 3703 of this particular legislation was "particularly troubling." That part of PASPA not only allows the deserving United States Attorney General to enforce the legislation, but also gives multiple professional and amateur sports organizations the ability to do so as well.
PASPA Passes in 1992 With NBA Backing
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, despite serious and intelligent DOJ arguments against, was signed into law in 1992. This seemingly powerful but seldom legally referenced piece of sports betting law began with several Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks public hearings. Congress decided to exercise the authority given to it legally under the Commerce Clause, with the vocal Commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) David Stern as a proponent. PASPA was the result, but to date, only one case in history was ever used to interpret PASPA, and it referenced private casino gambling in Louisiana, not sports betting.
Quoting PASPA Wording
Legally, this sports gambling law does definitely apply to "amateur sports organizations" and "professional sports organizations". Specifically, quoting directly from the legislation, PASPA makes it unlawful for:
"(1) a government entity to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact, or
(2) a person to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, pursuant to the law or compact of a government entity, a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based, directly or indirectly (through the use of geographical references or otherwise), on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are intended to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games."
PASPA Applies to Sports Gambling Operations, Not US Citizens Placing Bets
Coupled with the Federal Wire Act of 1961, PASPA interpretation effectively limits sports wagering to Nevada in the United States. This of course has no impact on legitimately licensed legal online sports betting sites and physical bookmakers located outside of the United States, and not governed by US law. It is important to note that strict and lenient interpretation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act limits the actions of businesses which would offer or profit from delivering online and off-line sports betting to citizens of the United States. There is no provision in PASPA to prosecute or limit the sports betting actions of any individual living in or visiting the USA who decides to play at any legally licensed USA online sportsbook..
Other Laws Related To USA Sports Betting