Will I Go To Jail If I Bet Sports Online?

If you have been wanting to get into sports betting but are unsure if you will go to jail if you bet sports online, then this review is for you. There isn’t too much to explain but will focus this page on knowing exactly what to and what not to do when signing up with a sportsbook. Sports betting is no longer illegal under federal laws, but there are still some areas that you should familiarize yourself with, such as sportsbook location, the license of the book, and your method of submitting action.

We’ll start with a federal law that prevents a US-based bookmaker from legally offering or accepting bets over the Internet from residents in other states. This is due to the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. That said, some states where sports wagering is legal at the commercial level will allow customers in the same state to use their mobiles and Internet-connected devices to wager on sports. However, the vast majority of online sports bettors do not live in such states (even though more and more are getting on board with online sports betting in general). Not to worry though betting on a licensed state-operated platform is legal and if you attempt to submit action from outside state lines, they just won’t accept your bet. That’s it… case closed.

When moving to legal sports betting sites that are also operated online, it runs in a similar boat. However, these overseas operators do not have to follow federal laws, so they can accept your wager from anywhere within the United States. Note that some sites (such as Bovada) restrict certain states from playing on their platform, but this won’t land you in trouble but rather will just prohibit you from joining. As long as the site is located outside of the country, there are no federal or state laws that make what you’re doing illegal. Thousands, if not millions at this point, of US residents have and continue to use these sites due to their being no federal oversight.

Keep in mind that there is a list of American states that have laws explicitly outlawing all online gambling. It is subject to change as states have been quickly moving forward with their own legalization. These states currently include Louisiana, Oregon, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. They all have laws on the books that could theoretically land you in jail if you place any sort of wager on a gambling website but it is important to note that this has never actually happened in practice. The state of Nevada also has a law that forbids citizens from placing wagers at non-state-regulated gambling sites, language similar to what online sports bettors and poker players may soon see if other states begin regulating and taxing their own versions of online casino and sports wagering sites.

It is very difficult to monitor unregulated gambling, so we would take the bet that you won’t wind up in jail. Still, we are not legal professionals so you should contact a lawyer or other legal authority to find out about online sports betting law where you live. If you live in a state with laws against online betting, we don't recommend that you place sports bets through this method. But the largest way of getting in trouble is to use an unregulated bookie. These local shops or people have no regulatory body overseeing those operations and can take money from you whenever they want. If you are caught gambling outside of a licensed gambling facility, you could face misdemeanor charges (or worse depending on the state).

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