Where is Betting on Sports Legal?

As an avid sports fan and someone who generally enjoys their daily intake of sports, I was naturally excited when the first few legal U.S.A.-sponsored esports betting sites popped up on the scene. The appeal was clear – if you love sports, you can now gamble on the outcomes!

But after giving it some thought, I realized that the industry still has some growing up to do before it can be considered fully legal. Here’s why:

First & Foremost: Gaming Curiosities Are No Longer Allowed.

For decades, people have enjoyed playing games on their phones, tablets, and computers. However, over the last few years, the world of mobile gaming has taken off like nobody else would’ve expected, thanks in large part to the fact that mobile devices have such a wide array of capabilities and high-quality screens.

This has made mobile gaming a bit more exciting for people to play – it is now possible to carry out all of the classic console gaming experiences on the go. Even the smallest mobile devices are powerful enough to run all of the major titles – certainly more so than traditional consoles!

With this increased power comes increased responsibility – since mobile devices can now play games of such a high caliber, parents and guardians need to make sure that their children are aware of the dangers that come with such capabilities. Especially when games with gambling aspects are concerned, it is imperative that players are educated about the nature of gambling before they engage with gambling sites.

Second: Money Changes Everything

In all likelihood, most of the readers of this article are either professional gamblers or people who enjoy playing games for money. So it should come as no great surprise that many esports betting sites offer betting options on games – giving players the freedom to place wagers on pretty much any sporting event, anytime they want.

However, this openness presents some legal challenges – for example, what happens when a player from one state visits another state and then proceeds to gamble? What kind of taxes must players pay when earning real money from wagering?

There are already several legal challenges regarding various states’ rights to tax wagering, and several states have chosen to fight this battle with the federal government. As such, it’s still not entirely clear how each state handles sports wagering, so individuals who plan on visiting different states to gamble should research the legalities of doing so.

Third: Online Gambling Is Still A Gamble

Even after accounting for increased responsibility and the perils of traveling across state lines, I believe that online gambling will continue to be attractive to some people. Especially because there is still no legal framework for sports betting in the U.S., players are largely forced to gamble online because it’s their only practical option.

This has allowed the industry to flourish underground, with several high-profile cases of illegal sportsbooks operating in the U.S. Indeed, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and the National Basketball Association have all taken aim at the online betting industry, seeking to shut it down.

Although the odds of succeeding are long, these organizations have a decent shot at creating a more favorable legal environment for sports. Still, it’s apparent that even the most avid sports fans can still reel in some shocks from time to time.

Forth: It’s Complicated

On the topic of legal sports betting, U.S. citizens and residents will find it incredibly complicated to wager on their favorite teams and athletes when the activity is seemingly against the law – especially in light of the fact that different states have implemented their own legal frameworks for sports. It’s also important to note that some states have expressly forbidden the activity, so it’s not at all clear what rules these sites will have to follow to remain legal.

To begin with, let’s examine how to bet legally in New York, where the industry is headquartered and where many prominent betting sites operate:


To start, let’s examine the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules: Title 4 Article 41, which states:

“4.1 Exclusion or Limitation of Liability. Except as otherwise provided by law, an owner or operator of an internet gambling site shall not be liable for any losses incurred by a person engaging in gambling activities from or out of state, regardless of whether the site owner or operator knew or should have known that the person was engaging in gambling activities from or out of state.”

The important thing to note here is that just because something is legal, it doesn’t mean that it’s ethical. And vice versa. It just means that the law allows it.

Based on this portion of the law, it would appear that New York State has created an aggregate liability exemption for online gambling sites – in other words, unless the site owner or operator knows that a particular player is illegally betting from outside of state, they’re protected from any losses caused by that player’s actions.


So which states have legalized sports betting and when?

To start, Arizona, California, Delaware, Montana, and Nevada have all passed laws that allow some form of sports betting. The specifics vary from state to state, but in general, players must be 18 years of age or older and must either reside in the state or be a citizen or resident of the state. However, before placing your bets, you must ensure that the website you’re visiting is operated legally. Some states, like California, have even gone a step further, and have officially licensed and regulated online sportsbooks.

With the legalization of sports betting in these states, it’s now possible to wager on the New York Yankees in the World Series, the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA, and the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL. Players can even bet on the outcome of the World Cup, as long as the organization is licensed and regulated in a given state. And if you want to place a bet on the Super Bowl, all you need is a smartphone and an Internet connection.

Keep in mind that the legality of sports betting varies from state to state and sometimes even within the same state. For example, while most states allow you to wager on the Cubs in the World Series, you can’t bet on the San Francisco Giants in the National League. This is because the Giants are still officially the “senior club” of Major League Baseball, even though they’ve moved their operations to San Francisco, so they maintain a special status that gives them the right to prohibit gambling on their behalf.

If you’re looking for a place to legally bet on sports, then there are several U.S.-based options – just remember that each state’s rules and regulations regarding sports betting apply.