The legality of sports betting in the USA: Rules and Regulations


In the past, sports betting was prohibited and only permitted in a few states. But in 2018, the Supreme Court issued a significant decision that allowed states to legalize and govern sports betting inside their borders. Since then, many states have benefited from this choice, resulting in various national rules and regulations. 

The Supreme Court’s Decision

The United States Supreme Court issued a crucial ruling in May 2018 that has broad ramifications for the sports betting industry. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a federal legislation that virtually outlawed sports betting in most states since it was passed in 1992, was declared unconstitutional by the court.

This historic decision dramatically altered the sports betting landscape in the United States by granting individual states the authority to legalize and regulate sports betting inside their borders. With physical betting, online betting was also eventually legalized, giving rise to many new sportsbooks launching in the US. 

Several of these evolved from daily fantasy sports operators now turned sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings, whom have made big business out of betting in the US. Sports fans have been betting in their millions across the country, with many new bettors taking advantage of welcome offers and promos. Not everyone in the US wants to bet big and there has been a huge increase in customers looking for low-deposit betting sites in the US. These allow customers to wager from just $5 to add some excitement to the game.

Before the Supreme Court’s decision, Nevada was the only state with a fully established and legal sports betting industry. PASPA had prohibited other states from enacting their laws to authorize sports betting, effectively confining legal sports betting to a single jurisdiction.

The Court’s decision in May 2018 declared that PASPA violated the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by commandeering state legislative authority. Each state could independently decide whether to allow sports betting and how to regulate it.

State-by-State Regulations

The Supreme Court’s ruling has significantly impacted the gambling environment in the United States on sports betting. After the decision, several states seized the chance to legalize sports betting inside their borders, taking advantage of the expanded autonomy made possible by the Supreme Court’s decision.

States with authority to create their frameworks have enacted various rules and laws about sports betting. These frameworks include legal requirements, tax rates, approved betting markets, and the industry’s general structure.

Some jurisdictions have decided to limit sports betting to in-person bets at racetracks and casinos that already operate. With this strategy, they can more tightly control the activity while ensuring that reputable gaming establishments gain from the extra money. States can continue to manage and supervise the sector by restricting sports betting to these specific places.

Federal Laws and Restrictions

Although sports betting is primarily regulated at the state level, federal laws and restrictions still apply. The Federal Wire Act of 1961 prohibits wire communications to transmit bets or wagering information across state lines. However, the interpretation of this law has evolved, primarily focusing on online sports betting that crosses state boundaries.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) prohibits accepting payments related to unlawful Internet gambling. While this law primarily targets online gambling operators, it indirectly affects sports bettors by limiting the payment processing options available for their transactions.

Consumer Protection and Responsible Gambling

One of the key aspects of sports betting regulation is ensuring consumer protection and promoting responsible gambling. Many states have implemented measures to address these concerns. 

These measures include age restrictions, self-exclusion programs, problem gambling helplines, and responsible gambling education campaigns. Licensed operators must implement safeguards to detect and prevent fraudulent activities like money laundering or match-fixing.

Responsible Gambling Measures

In the context of legalized sports betting, responsible gambling policies have gained importance as they work to reduce the risks and adverse effects of gambling. Many states have adopted various measures to encourage responsible gambling habits because they understand the necessity of safeguarding people from acquiring gaming-related disorders. 

These policies aim to secure, support, and protect those in need while requiring operators to follow responsible gambling guidelines.

Self-exclusion programs are a crucial part of responsible gambling policies. These programs allow users to actively abstain from gambling for an extended length of time or permanently. Self-exclusion is a proactive move people may take to manage their gambling behaviors and lower the risk of future harm.


The sports betting landscape in the USA will evolve as more states consider legalization and regulation. The focus on consumer protection and responsible gambling is expected to remain a priority, ensuring that individuals can engage in sports betting in a safe and controlled environment. 

Technological advances may also shape the industry, providing innovative platforms and tools to enhance the overall betting experience, such as the rise of mobile betting apps and live in-play betting while maintaining the integrity of the games.