Placing Bets on Sporting Events from a Website

Since the introduction of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) of 2006, people who live in the United States have been finding betting on sports online to be difficult and confusing. People believe that it is unlawful to make bets on sports games online since that time. This isn't 100% true.

The UIGEA law has made it illegal for companies to accept real money wagers on all forms of gambling, with the exceptions of horse racing and fantasy sports. This means that websites that allow real money wagers cannot operate within the borders of the United States. This is why you don't see Wynn, Bellagio, MGM and the other Las Vegas sportsbooks/casinos operating websites that allow bets. As long as they have a land based operation within the US borders, they cannot have an online website that accepts wagers.

This does not, however, prevent a Sports Betting Website like Bovada from being able to accept real money gamblers from betting on sporting events. They do not operate from within the US borders. They are openly challenging the laws in a way that the big name Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos cannot afford to try. Many other sports betting sites that are located in Canada and Europe will respect the law that the federal government created and won't allow gamblers to place bets on their sites.

Also, you now see several individual states creating their own laws that allow intra-state laws that allow online gambling for those people who reside within a state. This includes Nevada and New Jersey, with legislation coming soon for California and Delaware. Other states are contemplating creating their own laws as well. Since each state is only responsible for their own citizens, these laws would only make it legal for a company to accept real money players from within their own state and these companies could not branch across state lines.

The progress that is being made is refreshing. The proverbial genie is being released from the bottle and it will only be a matter of time before the federal law will be changed. This won't happen overnight and probably won't happen for several years until about half of the states propose similar legislation. However, you are seeing more and more references to sports betting on major networks. For instance, when I watch UFC fights on Fox Sports, they will always mention the money line and how much a fighter is favored by. A couple of years ago, you just wouldn't see these sportsbook terms being used in the main media.

Is Online Sports Betting Legal?

This is the big question that is on everyone's mind. As far as it is concerned on a federal level, an individual will not get in trouble and is not breaking a law when they place a wager on any type of bet online. Those laws are specific to the companies that are accepting the wagers. These websites are the ones who are technically breaking the law; yet, no one has been prosecuted for accepting online bets yet.

You might say, "I've seen the people at PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker get arrested; what about that?" That is true that there were individuals arrested. However, they were charged with forgery for intentionally mislabelling transactions that they accepted from players to fool banks. Others were charged with embezzlement and other similar charges not relating to the act of accepting the real money wagers. The federal government specifically doesn't want these laws to be tested in court, because they would instantly have to allow all online gambling if a precedence was set and someone was found not guilty.

Now, this isn't to say that you can bet on sports, or play poker or casino games online anywhere in the United States. There are still some state laws that expressly forbid their citizens from doing this. While there are many state laws that were created in and around the time when UIGEA was created in 2006, there are not too many jurisdictions that will enforce these laws against their own citizens. In general, you should only be concerned as an individual if you live in an extremely conservative state such a Utah or Alabama. There may be other laws that you will need to be aware of if you live in the bible belt or in many western states.