When it comes to sports betting, the question of legality as it pertains to online betting is perhaps most often raised. Many online sportsbooks have been operating for decades now, but the question whether online sports betting is legal comes up more than youíd think. And with the current changes in the legal system of quite a few countries, most importantly the United States, itís a sad fact that the answer rot this question should still be left at the hands of legal professionals. But here is what is known so far about betting online on sports.
The biggest development in the judicial system concerning sports betting came in 2018, when the United States Supreme Court handed its decision in favor of the state of New Jersey, essentially nullifying the long-held federal ban on sports betting. This opened the doors to legal sportsbooks not only in New Jersey, but in a few other states, with many more having some sports betting project or another in the pipeline. There is plenty of ďlegal-eseĒ in the Supreme Courtís 6-3 decision, but in a nutshell, it struck down the previous ban on sports betting (with the nicely-carved exception for the Las Vegas sportsbooks), ruling that the federal ban was basically unconstitutional.
Needless to say, led by New Jersey, 5 more states: Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Mississippi, have already enacted legislation supporting local sports betting ventures. And currently, at least 13 more have some form of legislation on the books for a vote by the local legislative bodies. How many of those legislations would pan out remains unknown, but with the windfall to the tax coffers at the early adopters (see New Jersey), there is no question that bettors from some of those USA states would have a local legal sports betting option. Before anyone gets too excited, the Supreme Court ruling didnít legalize sports betting, per se, rather left it to the states to decide individually whether sports betting should be legal and regulated or not. Depending on oneís state of residence, local laws could at this point ban or allow sports betting.
At this point one may wonder Ė so is it legal to bet online on sports? At this point it still remains rather uncertain, for the fact that it is and it isnít. For example, in New Jersey, where the jump on legal sports betting was rather swift, there are quite a few legal and licensed places you can bet online. Some of the local casinos have already opened sportsbooks, websites and mobile apps to serve the local bettors, and even some European competitors have managed to get a license and open doors in Atlantic City (Will Hill, for example). But at the same time Ė only residents of the states are allowed to open accounts and bet online at those legal sportsbooks. And no one should be surprised that you can bet online at the Las Vegas sportsbooks, at this point this is pretty much a given. And certainly other states will soon follow, but as you can see, the repeal of the federal ban on sports betting and giving the states their own option to legalize betting (online or offline) has created a whole new array of problems. And until something is done on a federal level (which is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future), people in the US will remain entrapped by their stateís local sports betting companies. Another option could be found in possible mutual agreements among states which allow online sports betting, to legalize betting online for their residents, but since this would be interstate Ė it may fall within federal sphere and we are back to square one. How this will play out in the long term is anyoneís guess.
When discussion is raised about the legality of online sports betting, the offshore sportsbooks are often the first topic. Online sportsbooks, such as Bovada, Bookmaker, 5Dimes, and many others, not only have been in operation for decades, but they donít shy from boasting about it. Thousands of people place sports bets at those online sportsbooks every minute, so what gives? If they have been operating for so long, especially during the federal ban on sports betting, why havenít the government busted down their doors? The answer is simple, they are located and operate offshore, where they hold licenses for sports betting from the local authorities, for example Antigua or Costa Rica. And while they never had a license from the US government or local US state to operate a legal online sports betting website, they have been granted a license from those offshore countries. And again, it all comes down to the gray area of the law, which itís probably why we have never heard of anyone being charged for betting at one of those offshore sportsbooks. Naturally, with the passage of laws legalizing online sports betting at a state level, those offshore sportsbooks will likely lose customers. But until then, they will continue to operate with residents of states which have not taken care of the legal statue of sports betting. Until a more comprehensive legal framework has been created, the question of whether it is legal to bet online at the offshore sportsbooks remain in a gray area, especially when we consider that we have never heard of a case where an actual bettor has been prosecuted, instead of illegal sports betting operations.
As anyone can tell, the complexity of the United States legal system leaves online sports betting in quite murky waters, even after the abolishment of the federal ban on sports betting. The situation in the EU and the UK itís much better. Sports betting, both online and in the local shops, has been legalized, licensed and regulated, for a very long time. The situation is best in the United Kingdom, where online sports betting has been a popular pastime for quite a while now and the government has been collecting revenues from the online Sportsbooks. Residents of the UK over 18 years of age have the full legal right to bet online on sports. The EU is suffering from a fragmentation similar to the United States with some countries legalizing sports betting how to countries legalizing online sports betting and other countries yet been in sports betting online in any form. So just like in the United States, residents of EU countries must refer to their local laws verify whether online betting is legal or not.
This article is for entertainment purposes only. It should not be constituted a legal advice. Check your local laws for the legality of sports betting and legality of online sports betting.