For years, fans have flocked to the bookies to place wagers on the next big sporting event. But with the Covid-19 pandemic being what it is, sports betting has taken a hit. With sports being one of the major pastimes during the lockdown, fans have turned to the internet to place their bets. Unfortunately, not all states have legalised sports betting, and those that have only do so partially.
Here, we’ll look at the current legal position surrounding esports and sports betting. Keep in mind: not all forms of gambling are legal everywhere. This article will focus on US sports betting legalisation issues but the principles discussed here apply to other jurisdictions.
How did We Get Here?
The legalisation of sports betting in the US is a long and complicated story, spanning from the early twentieth century to present day, and involving the states of Nevada and New York, in particular.
The first modern day bookie began operating in the US in the 1890s. However, due to federal anti-gambling laws, it was initially illegal to place bets on sporting events in the country. This changed in 1931 when the Indian Gambling Regulation Act was passed by the United States Congress. This act allowed for limited forms of sports betting, with each state then implementing its own rules and regulations around this new form of gambling.
This meant that some states permitted sports betting, while others didn’t. Several states, including New York, implemented the full legalisation of sports betting in 2011. Today, Nevada and New York are considered the two most prominent states for esports and sports betting, respectively.
Where can I bet on Sports?
If you’re lucky enough to be located in a state that has legalised sports betting, you can place bets on sporting events from any mainstream bookie. But first, you’ll need to establish a login with one of these bookies. Most sportsbooks will have you register for an account with them before you can place a bet. From there, you can navigate their extensive lists of sporting events, create betting lines for each match, and place your wagers – all legally – and safely.
If you’re not located in one of these states, then the answer is a little more complicated. Some online sportsbooks will let you register for an account with them and place bets from anywhere in the world. However, as soon as the counterparty (i.e. the bookie) becomes aware that you’re based outside of the US, all bets are normally void. Most online sportsbooks also have additional terms and conditions that you must follow in order to be able to place bets. These terms and conditions prohibit users from being located outside of the US and its territories. Essentially, if you don’t follow the rules, you risk having your account frozen or banned.
What about Esports?
While most states have legalised sports betting, the same cannot be said for esports. The legality of esports wagering is still not clear-cut, with different states having different laws surrounding the subject. This is largely thanks to a 2014 Supreme Court case, Garcia vs. Wisconsin, which was the first-ever ruling on video-gaming and betting. Unfortunately, this case introduced a lot of unnecessary confusion into the already complicated arena of esports and betting.
Wisconsin, along with a number of other states, introduced a form of “integrated gambling”, where casinos, racetracks, and bookies are all in the same place. In other words, instead of going to a bookie to place a wager on, for example, the New York Knicks vs. the Brooklyn Nets, you could also go to the same place and place bets on the American football, basketball, and hockey teams, as well as the various horse races that take place throughout the year.
This form of gambling is legal in Wisconsin and elsewhere, but not in all states. For example, Nevada does not allow for integrated gambling. As such, esports betting is legal in Nevada but not in New York. In general, the best strategy for esports betting is to avoid going to a bookie. Instead, look for the smaller, independent websites that cater to online betting for sports and esports, as they are generally more willing to take bets from players located outside of the US.
Esports is Growing, but Not Always Legally
It would be a mistake to assume that the rise of esports means that bets and wagers on these competitions are now completely legal. Far from it, in fact. While most states have changed their laws to reflect the rise of esports, some haven’t. For example, Mississippi is one of the few states that have banned the use of video-games and other electronic devices for leisure purposes. These rules also apply to betting, i.e. gaming for leisure is legal but gambling is not. Similarly, Louisiana has only allowed for online gaming and betting for the past two years, and only for certain forms of games.
These are just two examples of the many US states that don’t totally legalise esports and sports betting. If you’re wondering where you can bet on your favourite esports teams and athletes, you’ll need to look at the rules and regulations of each state individually. The answer will always be: not everywhere is legal.
However, this doesn’t mean that all options are completely hopeless. Several large, reputable sports betting websites and apps do operate in the US, which means that fans there still have options. The same cannot be said for other jurisdictions. Hopefully, this article will help you find your way to legitimacy. If you’re looking for a place to gamble, you’ll need to check the rules and regulations of your country and state before you do so. Just keep in mind that not every location allows for every type of gambling – it depends on the jurisdiction you’re in.