Sports betting is a widely popular industry worldwide. In the US, sports betting is a bit more restricted than in other international markets. Sports fans can bet on their favorite NFL teams through Daily Fantasy Sports, but what about traditional sports betting? While there are some laws that govern football betting in the US, bettors still have some legal options available to them.
The first federal law to consider when discussing sports gambling is the federal ban known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA. PASPA was enacted in 1992 in the hopes of thwarting the spread of sports betting. It bans sports betting in 46 states, the only exempted ones being Delaware, Montana, Oregon and Nevada. Out of these four states, Nevada is the only one with brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and single game betting. You can walk into a Las Vegas sportsbook and place a bet on an NFL game. This option is not available anywhere else.
Another law the governs football betting is the Federal Wire Act. This law prohibits using a wire transmission to place a bet on sports, effectively banning placing bets with US-based online sportsbooks. Some lawmakers pushed the agenda that the Federal Wire Act encompassed all forms of online gambling, though the US Department of Justice issued a Formal Opinion in 2011 that clarified the law’s governance only applies to online sports betting.
The third law applying to NFL betting is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This law was passed back in 2006 under the Bush administration and is aimed at financial institutions and their transactions with online gambling sites. While the law does not make it illegal to place bets, it prohibits banks from processing transactions online that are gambling related. The law helped push out online gambling sites that were not reputable and used poor ethical practices, however it also made the ecommerce platform complicated for US bettors interested in making deposits and withdrawals at online gambling sites domestically and abroad.
Even with these football betting laws in place, there are still some viable physical and online options for bettors. Las Vegas is the home of domestic sports betting and offers physical sportsbook locations. American bettors also have the option of betting with offshore gambling sites. These sites do not put US bettors in violation of any federal laws because they are legally sanctioned and regulated outside of the United States by respected governments and their gambling commissions. With either option, there is a wide range of betting lines that include all NFL teams and games.
There are some advocacy groups pushing for PASPA’s repeal. In fact, a recent bill known as the Game Act has made its Congressional debut and aims to give states the right to decide if they want to host sports betting. If so, states will be able to establish their own procedural and regulatory ramifications. The standard legislative process is long, so it will likely take time for there to be more NFL betting options. For now, US bettors have legal options in Las Vegas and licensed offshore sportsbooks.