Is Sports Betting and Gambling Legal in the US?

Some people are in a quandary when it comes to online sports gambling in the United States. They worry about the legality of online betting and any repercussions that they may suffer if they are breaking the law.

The short answer regarding the question of the legality of sports betting and gambling in the US is “yes, it is legal.” Basically, each state is allowed to regulate gaming activities within its borders. Federal statutes allow individuals to gamble according to state laws. It’s that simple. Or is it?

You see, there are aspects of gambling that are illegal.  The Federal Wire Act of 1961 outlawed interstate wagering on sports. However, this law does not focus on the bettor. It is designed to prosecute sportsbooks and casinos that engage in the practice. Thus, bettors are safe when it comes to this law.

Of course in 1961 when the Wire Act was passed, the Internet did not exist and the personal computer was not even a dream. In the past 15 years, sports betting and other forms of gambling have been made available to people around the world and that has created a whole new legal area that is the subject of a lot of debate and at times, action by the Federal Government. Many people are confused by what is legal and illegal and what the penalties might be for engaging in online betting. Here’s the way that it works.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement of Act of 2006 does not prohibit US citizens from gambling over the Internet. It does prohibit financial institutions and other such providers of financial transactions from funding accounts associated with gambling establishments, such as online sportsbooks, casinos and poker rooms. Thus, basically you can gamble but a U.S. based bank, credit company or other financial institution cannot fund your account.

The result is that some sportsbooks, casinos and poker rooms will not take American bettors, while many others will. It seems that some are bent on following US law in every way, while others operate apparently unconcerned about the legality of what they are doing and any penalties associated with it.

A sports bettor is free to sign up and make bets at any online book that takes US members. Individual bettors have not been prosecuted for transferring funds into online accounts associated with gambling. Third party transfer services and the owners of the gambling establishments that accept US bettors have been the target of Federal prosecutors. Also, transferring funds from casino, sportsbook and poker rooms into personal bank accounts has not been a problem unless the site is closed down or prosecuted by the U.S. government. Then funds have been frozen for weeks or longer.

What should a US sports bettor do? That’s up to the individual bettor who resides in the US. But the fact is thousands of sports bettors use online services all the time. Before using any online sportsbook, bettors should be sure to consider a few things.

Once you’ve determined that a sportsbook takes American bettors, check out their services. Do they offer the sports you’re going to want to bet on and the types of bets that you want to make? If you are into live betting, do they provide this type of wagering opportunity? What are their payouts like on parlays, what sort of props do they offer and do they provide any type of signup or reload bonus?

The site should also be easy to navigate. Do you want a site that’s connected to horseracing, a casino and/or a poker room? Will they allow you to use one account when switching from one type of betting to another or do they make transferring funds from the sportsbook to another betting area easy?

Also, make sure that the book has a commitment to security, that they use encryption software for the transfer of information and that they have a solid reputation for timely payouts. Read reviews, navigate the site, carefully reading terms and conditions, and contact the book if you have any questions. It’s best of the site has 24/7 support and numerous ways to contact them. Finally, make sure that the site is licensed.

When it comes to US bettors gambling over the Internet, American laws are focused on stopping the gambling sites from taking US players and bets. The biggest worry for a US sports gambler has to do with their accounts at betting sites, which may end up being frozen if a sportsbook is pursued by the Federal Government. Thus, it’s not a bad idea to regularly withdraw profits from your online betting accounts. Enjoy making your sports bets online, it’s easy, fast and convenient.

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