The Legal Status of
Sports Betting in the USA
In May 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled that the ban under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional. PASPA was a law that attempted to define the legal status of sports betting in the USA and effectively outlawed sports betting across the country with the exception of a few states.
Who has opposed sports betting in the US
The biggest opposition to allowing sports betting to expand in the US came from major US professional sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). However, most pro leagues have come around to the idea of sports betting and have started to support legalization efforts. The NCAA, on the other hand, still supports a ban on sports betting even while knowing that it is a source of significant action outside the US.
Where it’s legal
When SCOTUS overturned PASPA, the legal status of sports betting in the USA changed dramatically. While not every state has legalized sports betting since this legal ruling, many have, and many more look like they will soon follow suit. To date, there are a total of 21 states, including Washington D.C., where sports betting is legal. That number includes those states that have just recently made it legal, those states that have just a physical sportsbook, and those states that have both the physical sportsbook and a mobile option. The states where sports betting is legal are enumerated below:
On the way to legalization
- South Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- Washington State
Legal and operational
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
- New Mexico
- New Hampshire
- New York
- Washington DC
- Rhode Island
Legalized, not yet Operational
- North Carolina
No Movement towards Legal sports betting
States with no movement toward legalized sports betting
Since sports betting in the USA is state governed, in order to participate in legalized sports betting, you have to either live in a state where it’s legal or travel to it. Once you’re inside a state that has legalized sports betting, all you have to do to start betting is find a legal sportsbook, either a brick-and-mortar location, or an online version. However, if you’re new to sports betting, or even just a bit rusty, it would be wise to first learn more about the types of bets you’ll see at sporting events.
Benefits of legalized sports betting
Proponents of legalized sports betting make many convincing arguments for its legalization. In addition to the very practical reason that sports betting is already a thriving industry (legal or not), those in favor of legalization also argue that it is good for the economy both in terms of job creation and tax revenue.
Furthermore, they point out that regulated sports betting creates a safer market for sports bettors. Left unregulated, bettors have to go to sketchy bookies who basically answer to no one. This means that if there is a dispute with a bet, the bookie is going to come out on top. Even worse, however, is that bookies tend to trap bettors in credit cycles that leave them owing more and more money, which is a dangerous game to play in an illegal underworld. When legalized and regulated, sports betting is made more transparent, which eliminates the demand for the black market.
Yet another argument in favor of legalized sports betting contends that legalization would protect the integrity of the games. For example, in countries where sports betting has been legalized, match fixing has dropped significantly because it isn’t as easy to manipulate matches as it is in an illegal sports betting environment. A legalized system requires accurate record keeping, which means law enforcement can step in and follow the evidence when there is a problem.
Finally, legalized sports betting would mean that illegal sites could no longer disappear with customer funds, or get shut down because they’re operating illegally, all of which is a too frequent occurrence in an unregulated environment.
Whatever your position on sports betting, it is definitely trending globally and more recently domestically, so legalizing it is in effect, just keeping up with the times.