Here’s a question I hear from friends pretty often. Can you bet on sports online?
The answer, of course, is yes, you can bet on sports online. In fact, you’ve been able to bet on sports online for a long time. It’s only recently become a legal activity in the United States, though. Previously, you had to find offshore sportsbooks to wager with.
But, as more states legalize and regulate internet sports betting, you no longer have to deal with foreign companies.
Is It Legal to Bet on Sports Online in the United States in 2022?
I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on television. Still, I’m intelligent and thoughtful, and I think that in the absence of a law forbidding it, an activity is legal.
There is no federal law prohibiting a casual sports bettor from putting down a bet on a sporting event.
The Wire Act makes it illegal for an individual or a company to handle sports bets as a business. This is a law that was aimed at organized crime, but most local bookies ignore it. Casual gamblers have never been charged for violating the Wire Act in the United States.
There’s also a law called UIGEA. That stands for Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This law made it illegal to transfer money to companies which are engaged in “illegal sports betting.”
Therefore, if you’re not running a bank or a credit card processing company, UIGEA doesn’t apply to you.
Most individual states in the country used to have a ban on sports gambling. But more states are legalizing sports betting online every day. This is the new normal in the United States.
Where in the United States Can You Bet on Sports Legally?
You can legally place bets on sporting events in 21 different states now. That’s almost half the country. It wasn’t long ago that the only state where you could place sports bets was Nevada, but that’s changed fast.
Here’s a list of states where you can legally bet on sports:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Washington DC
- West Virginia
Other states, like Maryland, are expected to also offer legal online sports betting in the near future.
Not All These States Offer Online Sports Betting Though
Many of these states offer legal online sports betting options, but not all of them. In a lot of these states, you’re only allowed to make bets in-person at the sportsbooks there. If you’re in one of those states and want to bet online, you’re still looking at dealing with an offshore company.
How many states offer online sports betting as well as in-person bets?
About half of them.
Arizona, for example, offers both online and in-person sports betting. On the other hand, Arkansas only offers in-person bets. Delaware is another states where you can only place in-person bets. Maryland and Mississippi also fall into that category.
In some states, you can bet online, but you must register your account in-person before using the app.
And, some states offer multiple options for betting. But, in others, you only have a single option where you can place online bets. Oregon is an example of this. They used to run their sports betting app through the lottery commission in the state.
Since then, Oregon has turned over the administration of their sports betting in the state to DraftKings, which is one of the big players in the new world of legal online sports betting in the United States.
What You Can and Can’t Bet on in the United States
Of course, at offshore sportsbooks, you can bet on almost anything you can imagine. But in the legalized and regulated sports betting market, you have limits. These limits aren’t the same in every state, but generally, these are some of the things you’re NOT able to bet on:
Elections and election results are off-limits. The goal is to protect the integrity of our political institutions. (Don’t laugh.)
Entertainment prop bets aren’t allowed at legal US sportsbooks. If you’re betting with overseas bookmakers, it’s easy to place a bet on who’s going to win the Oscars or who’s going to win on the latest episode of Survivor. But these are also events that might be easily manipulated.
High schools sports and sports where the athletes are children aren’t legal to bet on. I think the reasoning behind this is to protect underage athletes from dealing with potential pressure to throw a game. The idea is that children aren’t competent enough to make tough decisions like this at that age.
The weather is the final big category that you can’t legally bet on in the United States. I don’t know what the reasoning behind this is, though.
How Does Online Sports Betting Work?
My aunt didn’t understand how online sports betting worked. She wanted to place a bet on the Super Bowl a few years ago. But she backed out when she realized she had to put down a credit card. She thought she could just place a bet and pay it off if she lost.
Can you imagine the logistics of that from the other side?
How many welshers do you think the online sportsbooks would face?
That’s the first thing to understand about online sports betting. You must register an account and deposit money into it before placing a wager. Luckily, this is usually really easy to do. You input the usual details you’d use when registering any kind of account online — your name, phone number, email address, and mailing address.
In addition, online sportsbooks are going to want to see your identification to make sure you’re of legal age to wager.
Once you’ve registered an account, you can usually visit the website to find out which bets are available and at what odds. Most people just use the mobile app, though. Internet access has become an increasingly mobile-oriented activity, anyway.
What Should You Understand Before Betting Online?
Most of what you need to know to bet online is the same stuff you need to know to bet offline. Here are a few things to learn about if you don’t already understand them:
- Odds – Everything in sports betting relates to odds. Not only should you understand how odds work when you’re describing a probability, you should also know how they work when describing your payouts on a bet.
- Parlays – Of course, parlays aren’t for every bettor. They’re basically series of bets where if you win each of them, you get a big payout at the end. I think they’re some of the most fun bets you can make.
- Answers to Questions – This is a page where I answer the most common questions you might have about sports betting in general. Think of it as a “sports betting 101” class in a really condensed form.
You should also understand that the vig in sports betting is the equivalent of the house edge in casino games.
Yes, you can beat the sportsbook, but the vig makes it a lot harder to pull off.
SHOULD You Bet on Sports Online?
Asking whether you can do something is no substitute for asking whether you SHOULD do something. Not everyone should bet on sports online. In this section, I discuss some of the people who should NOT bet on sports online.
If you have impulse control problems in other areas of your life, you should probably avoid getting mixed up with gambling. I have friends who are alcoholics and drug addicts in recovery from their physical addictions who lose insane amounts of money on gambling.
Problem gambling is just that — a problem.
And, it’s a problem you don’t need.
How do you know when your gambling has become a problem?
For most people, gambling has become a problem when you no longer derive any joy from the activity. You can’t stop doing it, but you’re not having any fun, either. That’s compulsive behavior in a nutshell.
You also shouldn’t be betting on sports online if you don’t have the bankroll for it. In other words, all your bills should be paid, and you should have the other details of your life covered. This means you have plenty of insurance and some money in savings.
If your financial house isn’t in order, don’t bet money on sports.
Conclusion – Can You Bet on Sports Online?
Sure, anyone can bet on sports online. Now it’s easier than ever because so many states have legalized and regulated online sports betting.
But even if you live in a state that hasn’t legalized online sports gambling, you can sign up at any number of offshore sportsbooks and have a good time. Bovada is a good example of a safe offshore sportsbook to try doing business with.