Legal Sports Betting In The U.S.

There has been much discussion, and confusion, regarding the legality of online sports betting in the U.S. While there have been efforts by some policy makers to relax restrictions on internet-based gambling operations that provide sports wagering, others have vigorously resisted any suggestion that sports betting based in the U.S. should be allowed.

We will try to clarify the issue – what’s legal, what’s prohibited and where. will also explore various offshore, online sports betting sites that offer a wide array of sports betting options, and are available to players in the U.S.

Is online sports betting legal in the U.S.?

Lawmakers in Congress and legislatures have been debating issues relating to gambling for decades. The advent of online gaming and the many options it created for enthusiasts made the work of policy makers more complicated. But in general, it is safe to assume that it is illegal, under federal law to engage in online sports wagering at an internet site based in the United States.

This does not mean that U.S. citizens cannot bet online on sporting events. There a number of sites based offshore that are reputable, reliable and legal, and that accept players from the U.S. These sites operate legally because they are sanctioned not by U.S. law, but by the laws of the nation in which they are based. Click here to read more about the legality of online wagering in the United States.

Alternatively, if you'd like to find out if will you get in trouble for betting online, we've got an article dedicated entirely to that topic as well.

Online sports betting laws in the U.S. – Know Before You Bet

While individual states such as New Jersey have passed laws which, at some point, may one day allow U.S. residents to bet online on sporting events via a U.S.-based site, these state provisions are tied up in federal court, so Congressional measures still supersede any laws passed by state legislatures. Three federal statutes are specifically focused on sports betting, and rulings from the courts have been generally supportive of the constitutionality of the measures.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, passed in 2006, was specifically targeted at banks and other financial institutions that facilitated online gambling, including sports wagering. The measure was controversial from its inception because it was actually an amendment to an unrelated port security measure, and many members of Congress later said they voted on the bill without reading its provisions. The most interesting aspect of the measure is that it provides no restrictions on internet gambling, other than to prohibit U.S. banks from participating.

The Interstate Wire Act, enacted in the first few months of the Kennedy administration in 1961, was intended as a measure to fight organized crime, and was specifically written to apply to sports betting. Of course, this was long before the advent of the internet. As enacted, this statute also did not specifically outlaw any form of gambling, but prohibited the use of “wires”, i.e. telephone or telegraph, to transmit funds to or from wagering entities, or information relating to gambling. In 2011, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, while the provisions of the law do not apply to online poker or casino-style games, the restrictions on sports wagering were valid and applicable to online betting.

The Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act, passed in 1992, was another bill specifically aimed at sports gambling and organized crime. Under the act, all forms of wagering on professional or amateur sports involving athletes, other than horses, dogs or jai alai players, were essentially outlawed. PASPA, as it is known, is currently the subject of several lawsuits being closely watched by legislators nationwide. One suit, filed by the state of New Jersey, is expected to ultimately reach the Supreme Court. If the law is ultimately overturned, it could change the face of online sports betting in the U.S.

Legal Sports Betting States – State Laws Regarding Betting On Sports

As mentioned, New Jersey is one state where the legislature has acted to have the federal PASPA law overturned. Delaware, Montana, Oregon and Nevada each had provisions allowing limited the industry when online betting laws like PASPA were enacted, and thus were granted exemptions. There have been conflicting legal opinions as to how these state measures apply to online sports wagering, so the New Jersey lawsuit continues to command interest.

In general, online gaming laws on the state level have basic requirements regarding age (18 or 21), and the location of the players. No interstate online gambling is allowed under any state statute and is specifically prohibited on the federal level. As a result, the vast majority of U.S. citizens seeking to bet on the Net seek legal offshore-based sports betting sites.

Facts About Legal Sports Betting In The U.S.A.

  • Online sports betting is one of the most popular forms of gambling in the world
  • More then 3 million U.S. residents bet on sports online every year, and this number continues to grow
  • Not one U.S. resident has ever been arrested for betting at any of the trusted online sports betting sites
  • U.S. Players can withdrawal their money from legal sports betting sites and get it within 3 days

Legal sports betting sites accepting players from the U.S.

Among all of the online sites offering sports betting to U.S. players, a few are considered standouts, based on factors such as choice of sports, security and privacy of players, and account deposit and payout methods. We’ll take a look at three of the best, legitimate online sportsbooks:

Bovada Sportsbook - Biggest Sports Betting Site That Accepts U.S. Players

Bovada- The Bovada Sportsbook is considered by many as the premier online sports wagering site for U.S. players. Betting is available on virtually every professional and collegiate sporting event, and Bovada’s real-time live betting format is as good as any in the industry. The site is easy to navigate, so if there’s a game or a sport that piques your interest, you can be placing your bet in a matter of minutes after logging on.

With the advent of smart phones and tablets, savvy internet gamers are demanding more options and faster turnarounds, and Bovado does not disappoint. Its new “Mobile Betting” format allows players to deposit funds and place bets on the go, so you never miss the opportunity to get in on the action.

Bovada offers not only a wide array of sports to wager on, but a lot of ways to do it, as well. Bet the spread, bet the combined point total, bet the loser, do a ten-game parlay – if there’s a way to place a bet, it’s available at Bovada.

Signing up at Bovada is as simple as setting up any other type of online account, and takes only a few minutes. Accounts can be opened with as little as $20.00. Bovada frequently offers promotions that add to your account balance and enjoyment level, and the customer assistance and support system is first-rate. Bovada is an excellent choice for U.S. citizens looking to place a bet online on their favorite team or sport.

BetOnline Sportsbook - One Of The Fastest Growing Sports Betting Sites Online From NASCAR to the Olympics, from rugby to darts, essentially anything that is “played” can be wagered on at Based in Panama, this site went online in 1999 and has amassed more than a million player accounts, many set up by sports wagering enthusiasts in the U.S. While the site does offer other gambling options, it is, at its heart, a sports gaming site. Thus, the information is detailed and well-researched, sometimes to the point of being overwhelming. But not to worry, because live customer support is available 24/7, by phone or online.

Most sites have bonus plans of one sort or another, but pays a 25% bonus on virtually every deposit, and accounts can be opened with as little as $50.00. Frequent promotions on various games are also available, and no site offers as wide an array of betting options. Soccer fans can rejoice knowing that their “over” bets are always reimbursed when games end 0-0. Straight bets, parlays and robins, If bets and teasers and pleasers – all are available at Live betting is also popular and convenient for players on the go, because it is accessible from your smart phone or tablet, as well as your PC or Mac.

5Dimes Sportsbook - One Of The Oldest Online Sportsbooks That Accept U.S. Players

5Dimes- Now here’s something you won’t find at most online sports wagering sites – a “Reduced Juice” that saves bettors up to 50% per straight bet, making a -110 effectively a -105. This is just one example of one of the truly remarkable features of 5Dimes – the incredible amount of bonuses offered at virtually every turn. New account holders, for example, don’t just get a bonus. They get a choice of four different bonus plans.

Besides the impressive bonuses, the site is renowned for its vast choice of games on which to wager. From handball to European Water Polo, anyone in the U.S. can find a sport that’s interesting enough to merit attention and enthusiasm. Accounts require a minimum deposit of $50.00, but wager amounts can be as low as $.50. Live in-play bets are available at 5Dimes, and all the wagering options apply – straights, parlays, ifs and monsters.

Customer service? What can I say? Three separate live help phone numbers, staffed 24 hours per day, along with lightning-fast live online assistance and a separate new account management number for first-time visitors – all of these serve to make 5Dimes customer support on of the best in the industry.

Combine all these features with what is perhaps the easiest site to navigate of any we’ve experienced, and you can’t help but see why 5Dimes comes so highly recommended.

Legal Sports Betting Sites
Sports Bonuses
Payout Time
Visit Betting Site
SportsBetting Sportsbook Up To $900 - 25% Match As Fast As 48 Hours Go To Sportsbetting
Bovada Sportsbook Up To $250 - 50% Match Quick As 2 Days Go To Bovada
BetOnline Sportsbook Up To $900 - 25% Match As Fast As 48 Hours Go To BetOnline
5Dimes Sportsbook To $520 - 50%/20% Match As Fast As 48 Hours Go To 5Dimes

Legal U.S. sports betting site deposit methods

Most sites will accept Visa, Mastercard or American Express as a method of setting up sports betting accounts. The only caveat might be that the U.S. bank that issued the card may block the transaction due to concern over compliance issues relating to UIGEA. Bovada and 5Dimes limit their credit card acceptance to Visa. Also, 5Dimes will not honor Visa accounts from players who live and/or bank in Washington state, Washington, DC, or Maryland, due to specific regulations affecting those areas.

Should credit card transactions be blocked, virtually all will accept bank wire transfers, and many will honor Western Union and Moneygram transactions.

How To Withdrawal Money From Sports Betting Sites If You Live In The USA

Since U.S. players cannot have funds transferred directly into a credit card account from a sports betting site, electronic bank wire transfer is the preferred method of payout, due to speed and accuracy. Some sites, such as Bovada, offer a means by which players can collect via cashier’s check, but this can take weeks to receive.

Are you ready to place a sports bet online?

It’s clear that there is much to know about legal online sports betting in the U.S. Hopefully, this information has been helpful. One of the best tips we can offer is to rely on the customer service representatives at one of the quality sites we’ve discussed. 

Besides being some of the safest sports betting sites online, they can answer all the specific questions that aren’t covered in the Terms and Conditions and General Information sections of the sites.

In the meantime, you can play with confidence that you’re enjoying your sports betting online in a safe, secure and legal fashion.