Will I Go To Jail For Online Sports Wagering?

The short answer here is that a bettor will not go to jail for betting online. This is for several reasons and all of them are very important. The problem that we see most often is that the information out there as to what exactly is going on with sports betting in the U.S. is either incorrect, or not known by prospective bettors who might be apprehensive getting into it.

The goal here is to alleviate those apprehensions and lay down the concrete facts as clearly as possible, so that American bettors will know what is allowed and what is not. The question of jail time and penalties that could face bettors is a common question that is asked, and whether players are subject to it by betting with legal online sportsbooks or with licensed land-based bookmakers.

What Do The Laws Say About Online Sports Betting?

There are laws in the United States that limit and ban sports betting in both the land-based and online arenas; this is a fact. However, the laws that govern sports betting also leave room for it to be done legally in both forums.

Certainly there are laws at the federal level that cover sports betting, including the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the Wire Act, and the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. But when it comes to online sports betting, the laws covering the topic address the operation of a sportsbook versus the placing of an online wager.

This means that bettors are able to place legal wagers at sportsbooks that are run outside of the U.S. These sportsbooks are referred to as offshore sportsbooks; because they are not located within the country. Jail time can be received by those who might try to operate an illegal online sportsbook from inside the United States... but again, this is for those who run a site - not the ones who signed up and made a wager with an online website.

If you'd like to learn more about the legality of online sports betting, please click the preceding link.

Can There Be State Laws Preventing Online Sports Betting?

The potential for states to pass further laws regulating online sports betting in their area is certainly possible. That's why it's always good to check the latest laws and regulation updates at the official state sites or through a licensed attorney familiar with the local laws. Federal laws are well known across the country, but it's the knowledge of state laws that can come into play.

To our knowledge, there are just a handful of states in the U.S. that have passed specific regulation relating to sports betting online and banning it in within their borders. The language of these laws does sound scary but not once has anyone ever been arrested for simply placing a bet using an online sportsbook in those states - these states really aim to catch any illegal/unregulated operators.

More often than not, the state laws generally only affect sportsbook deposits + sportsbook payouts as evidenced by certain states being denied permission to access certain financial options.

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Is Jail Time Possible For Betting At Land-Based Sportsbooks?

And since we were just on the subject of illegal and unregulated betting operators within the U.S., you should know that there are only two states where land-based sports betting is currently legal - Delaware and Nevada. Two other states (Oregon and Montana) have the potential to conduct legal sports betting but currently do not. Sports betting in Nevada and Delaware is legal under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Visitors and residents that meet the minimum age to bet in those states are the only ones allowed to place bets with state-regulated bookmakers.

Outside of these states, sports betting is not legal at land-based sportsbooks, which is why online sports betting is extremely popular. Even within Nevada and Delaware, sports betting can only be conducted legally at licensed sportsbooks. Operating any other sports gambling ring that is not licensed is illegal and could potentially result in heavy fines or even a jail sentence.