Legal Sports Report

US Betting Sites

Everything you wanted to know about United States online sports betting sites

Can you bet on sports online? If you are in the United States, the answer is likely no but there are states where you can wager real money on fantasy sports.

Sports’ leagues stance on legal sports betting

NBA

The NBA has the most liberal stance on legalized sports betting among major professional leagues. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver penned an op-ed declaring that it is time for the US to embrace legalized sports betting.

The NBA does not permit wagering on its games through the Ontario Lottery, where the Toronto Raptors play. The same policy existed when an NBA team played in Vancouver. Provinces that do not host NBA teams offer parlay cards on games for the sport.

Even with its support of legalized sports betting, the NBA is a plaintiff in the NJ sports betting case. That’s a lawsuit against New Jersey in that state’s attempt to legalize sports wagering.

In 1990, the Oregon Lottery launched Sports Action for NBA games. This was a parlay card system. Portland Trail Blazers games were not included on the cards. Even then, the NBA was extremely unhappy with Oregon’s Sports Action. NBA parlay cards were pulled after one year.  NFL parlay cards ran until the conclusion of the 2006 season.

NHL

The NHL has an unusual approach to sports betting.

It has no issues with the activity in Canada. Some teams participate with lotteries that sell NHL parlay cards.

The NHL is also launching a new franchise in Las Vegas in 2017, which is the first major professional sports team for the country’s gambling hub.

The NHL is a plaintiff in the New Jersey sports betting case. It has also opposed new sports betting legislation in Canada.

MLB

Major League Baseball is sensitive to betting on its games.

The 1919 Chicago White Sox threw a World Series, a scandal the league wants everybody to forget. Pete Rose betting on his games and the aftermath involved in that scandal is another black eye MLB never wants to see again.

While MLB joined the New Jersey lawsuit, it has no issues with betting on Toronto Blue Jays games in Ontario.  The Montreal Expos were also on parlay cards when that team existed.

NFL

The NFL has been an outspoken opponent of legal sports betting. The NFL is the only major professional sports league with no direct investment into daily fantasy sports, although 28 of its 32 teams are involved in sponsorships.

NFL games are by far the most popular sports betting event in the US, with the Super Bowl generating $100 million in bets in Nevada by itself.  The NFL plays games in London, where betting shops are on every corner, and the league seems to have no issues with that.

The NFL is a lead plaintiff in the New Jersey sports betting case.

NCAA

The NCAA has the strongest stance against legalized sports betting.

When Oregon offered Sports Action, the NCAA refused to hold March Madness tournaments there. It made the same threat to New Jersey when it attempted to legalize sports betting. It even made threats to Montana; the state only offers sports pools and fantasy sports.

The NCAA is no fan of fantasy sports. It does not permit student-athletes to enter contests. Many conferences do not accept advertising from daily fantasy sites. The NCAA has attempted to convince sites to stop college fantasy sports contests; DraftKings and FanDuel pulled their college contests.

Will there ever be legal sports betting in the United States?

Nevada is the only state where straight sports betting is permitted. Nevada sports betting generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Delaware offers NFL parlay cards with three or more outcomes. In 2009, a lawsuit against Delaware by the sports leagues landed against the state. The courts ruled that Delaware’s  exemption under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act only applied to its 1976 law that permitted NFL parlay cards. The court rules that Delaware could not expand this activity to all sports and wagers.

Challenge in New Jersey

New Jersey voters passed a non-binding referendum in November 2011 that instructed the state legislature to legalize sports betting.  The legislature quickly passed a bill that would have regulated sports betting at New Jersey racetracks and Atlantic City casinosGovernor Chris Christie signed the bill into law.

The major sports leagues challenged New Jersey in court, claiming that the state was not exempted by PASPA; therefore it could not legalize sports betting. A lower court ruling sided with the leagues, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed it.  The US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

New Jersey tried another angle.  The state attempted to deregulate and decriminalize sports betting in the same venues as before. The sports leagues returned to court and challenged the new approach to sports betting.  The sports leagues prevailed in the lower court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

New Jersey was able to appeal and receive a rehearing in the Third Circuit, which it also lost. Another appeal has been made to the Supreme Court.

States with bills to legalize sports betting

New Jersey is the only state with an existing law challenged in the court system. Other states have introduced bills that have not received any serious attention.  This is mostly due to the existence of PASPA.

American Gaming Association’s stance

The American Gaming Association is the gaming industry’s lobbying group. It announced in November 2015 that it does not feel the current prohibition on sports betting is effective.

The black market of illegal gambling is too lucrative and thrives in the unregulated environment.  The American Gaming Association hopes to lobby for sensible sports betting laws.

Congressional momentum

There is a new discussion in Congress about repealing or amending PASPA and permitting states to regulate sports betting.  New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone has called for the repeal of PASPA. There has been little meaningful progress toward achieving this goal to date.

How is daily fantasy sports different from sports betting?

Daily fantasy sports is believed to be legal in at least 40 states, according to the companies that promote the product.

There are big differences between daily fantasy sports and sports betting.

In sports betting, a bettor picks a team or multiple teams to win or cover a point spread. In daily fantasy sports, a user chooses athletes and enters a competition that computes a winner based on the statistics accumulated by the players in a sport.

Current status of daily fantasy sports

The daily fantasy sports industry is in turmoil.  It started with a massive advertising blitz to start the 2015 NFL season and a data leak at one of the major sites.  This put daily fantasy sports on the radar.

Dozens of class-action lawsuits were filed against daily fantasy sports sites. It also caught the eye of Nevada gaming regulators.  The Nevada attorney general declared daily fantasy sports to be gambling under state law and required sites to obtain gaming licenses. All DFS operators left Nevada and never bothered to get a gaming license.

New York was another flashpoint. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was next to declare daily fantasy sports to be gambling.

The AG issued cease-and-desist letters to FanDuel and DraftKings; that led to a legal battle in the state. Both DraftKings and FanDuel eventually pulled out of the state. In the summer of 2016, the state enacted a law legalizing and regulating DFS, allowing most operators back into the state.

States that allow DFS

Daily fantasy sports is generally considered to be legal in most states, although only 10 have passed laws specifically dealing with the industry.

States that restrict DFS

Daily fantasy sports are illegal in Iowa, Montana, Louisiana, Arizona and Washington.  Nevada requires a gaming license to operate a daily fantasy sports site.

Opinions from attorneys general have emphasized the legal gray area for DFS in many states. DraftKings, FanDuel and others pulled out of Idaho, Hawaii, Alabama and Delaware because of negative AG opinions. Similar opinions exist in Texas, Illinois, Vermont and Georgia.

FAQ for betting sites

What is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act?

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act is often abbreviated as PASPA.  It is a federal law that forbids the expansion of sports betting.  States are not permitted to legalize sports betting if not exempted from PASPA.

Which states are exempted from PASPA?

Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon are exempted from PASPA.

Why does PASPA exempt Delaware?

Delaware offered NFL parlay cards in 1976 through its state lottery. PASPA grandfathered Delaware since it already offered this type of wagering.

The games ceased after one year; they returned in 2009. Delaware also tried to roll out full sports betting. The sports leagues defeated the state in court. The ruling stated that Delaware’s exemption under PASPA only applied to forms of betting legal before PASPA.

Why does PASPA exempt Montana?

Montana has a sports pool law that permits tavern owners to operate betting squares and pool tabs. Montana also legalized daily fantasy sports that is offered by the state lottery. NFL and NASCAR contests are offered.

Why does PASPA exempt Nevada?

Nevada has permitted sports betting since 1949. This activity was grandfathered by PASPA. Nevada is the only state that PASPA permits to spread straight sports betting.

Why does PASPA exempt Oregon?

Oregon operated a sports lottery between 1989 and 2006, called Sports Action. Oregon sold NFL parlay cards under the scheme. NBA betting was available for one year in 1990. Sports Action is no longer active in the state, however.

What is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act?

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed Congress in September 2006. It made payment processing of illegal gambling transactions a federal crime. It exempted gaming specifically legalized at the state level, horse racing and some forms of fantasy sports.

Is sports betting legal in Europe?

Online sports betting is legal throughout most of Europe including the UK. This includes betting shops, mobile apps and over the Internet.

Is online sports betting legal in Canada?

Canada lotteries offer parlay cards on a variety of sports, including football, basketball, baseball and hockey. There is a push to expand betting to straight wagers. Online sports betting operates in a legal gray area.

Is online sports betting legal in the US?

Online sports betting is only legal in Nevada. It is available on mobile apps and at websites in Nevada. It is illegal in the other 49 states.

What legal online and mobile sports betting is available in Nevada?

Sports Connection / Station Casinos, NV Sports Books / South Point, William Hill, CG Technology, Aliante Casino, Treasure Island and Boyd Gaming all operate mobile betting apps in Nevada. Sports Connection/Station Casinos also offers a website.

Can you deposit with Paypal at legal nevada sports betting apps?

No, at this time you cannot deposit using paypal for any Nevada sports betting apps. You will need to deposit in person or using a pre-paid card.

Is it legal to play on Bovada?

Bovada is an unlicensed sports betting site. It is illegal for the company to operate in the US but players likely face no legal consequences.

Are there risks to betting on sports at unlicensed sites?

Offshore sports books may not pay players.  If a bettor gets stiffed by an unlicensed betting site, then he or she has no recourse. That does not happen at licensed sites.
Sports Betting in other countries: Australia, New Zealand