Events like the FIFA World Cup tournament, March Madness brackets, and the Kentucky Derby have bettors around the world captivated. Although significant international attention has been placed on betting across borders, Americans often do not understand if they are allowed to place online bets for national or international sporting events. In working to develop the sports betting review site, TopBettingReviews.com, I often wonder if people like me in the United States are able to bet online at all.
Unfortunately, unlike Europe, Australia and parts of Asia, America is a mixed bag of confusing laws when it comes to the topic of online gambling. Even if you have brushed up on gambling laws in the past few years, new American online gambling updates might surprise you. Despite all the confusion, sports betting online for Americans is easy to navigate for beginners due to one simple internet feature.
The official rules on gambling from the FBI
When you search online for the laws on internet gambling, you find that the official information is rather vague. In particular, the United States provides an FAQ website for the general public called Answers.USA.gov that covers the topic of gambling legality. According to the website, you need to access betting legality information for the specific state you live in from your state gaming commission. On the other hand, the government website also states that online gambling on tribal lands differs. In other words, the casual observer could easily conclude that there is no simple list of straightforward laws when it comes to gambling online in the United States.
America’s common legal gambling options
When it comes to gambling offline in America, the casinos, lottery tickets and raffles will always be the most common legal options. Prevalent illegal wagering includes sports bracket betting or gambling on the Super Bowl with friends. Nevertheless, each state is entitled to choose which types of gambling will be available for their citizens with few Federal laws to override them. In some cases, certain types of gambling are prohibited by Federal law while others are permitted. For instance, horse racing is usually legal in all 50 states due to Federal laws, but Federal regulations are strict about lottery tickets being purchased online.
Online horse betting is the top legal choice
Did you know that you do not need a local horse racing track in your state to bet on horses? Even if your state says that they generally prohibit gambling, there may be exceptions for placing a bet on horses online. Because of Federal regulations, horse betting is usually a protected form of gambling that online users in most states can access. For example, in the state of Washington, all forms of gambling on sports are illegal with the exception of pool halls. Nonetheless, their website clearly states that betting on horses is perfectly legal for Washington State residents.
What about NBA, MLB, NFL, or MMA betting online?
Casinos are showing up all over America, and horse racing is a common sports betting opportunity. But what about betting on team sports or the Olympics? While there are Native American territory online betting loopholes, the Federal government is reluctant to allow wagers to be placed on team sporting events. Mainly, the history of gambling in America grew very dark in the early 1900’s due to wagering on team sports. Throughout the 1900’s, lawmakers continued to be reluctant to legalize new forms of gambling.
Currently, gambling reform is moving in a lenient direction, and there are several organizations that want to legalize online betting on all types of sports. Breakthroughs in relaxing gambling laws is coming from individual states that want to assert their right to tax betting wins. Along with pressure from individuals states like New Jersey, the United States may also be forced to legalize gambling because of Antigua. America is in an ongoing legal battle with the country of Antigua because the US will not comply with former international agreements stating that online gambling will be legal in America. This decision to violate the international agreement has cost Antigua millions in lost American revenue.
The IRS taxes illegal and legal gambling wins
In February 2014, Connecticut courts prosecuted an illegal online sports betting website. In the city of Hamden, a large-scale sports bookmaking scheme helped bettors place online sports wagers with websites that were operating offshore gambling. The penalties under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act for operating an illegal gambling business include up to 20 years in jail.
While users of illegal gambling websites typically are not prosecuted, you can still get in trouble if you do not pay taxes on your winnings. If you are a patron of a legal or illegal gambling operation online or offline, you are still required to report it. The IRS website clearly states that, “Whether you roll the dice, play cards or bet on the ponies, all your winnings are taxable.”
How do you know if online sports gambling is legal for you?
In the end, even with a bit of research, you may still have difficulty figuring out if you are eligible to place bets online in your state. However, there is a simple fail-safe in place online. Simply put, if you cannot access a betting website, it is probably blocked by your internet service provider and therefore illegal in your area. In the past, online gambling websites available to Americans did not always follow the rules.
Thankfully, newer online betting websites make their money by screening users and following state laws without being told what to do by lawmakers. This is why you need to submit information about your address when you log on as a new user. Some also require that you use a credit card issued to your current address.
Eventually, laws like the Unlawful Internet Gambling Protection Act will be reformed. In particular, New Jersey is leading the way by taking the nationwide pro-internet gambling issue all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. For now, American online sports bettors that are interested in placing bets on the NBA, soccer, NHL, MLB or NFL will have to stay content with online games and betting on horses.
More from this Contributor:
Kentucky Derby 2012 Betting and Odds History: Fan’s View
Can You Bet on the NBA in America?: Fan’s View
The Kentucky Derby’s Confusing Gambling Options
Fan’s View: Is Betting on the Dubai World Cup Legal in Dubai?
Horse Racing Tips Without Betting: Fan’s View
Maryam Louise is a longtime resident of the Bluegrass State and has lived in the shadows of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky over the past two decades. In addition to being a fan of horse racing, she has also had a chance to get to know jockeys, horse groomers, and betting clerks as an ESL instructor. Currently, she writes for TopBettingReviews.com and relies on her friends in the multiple facets of the equine industry for writing inspiration.