USA Betting Sites – Is gambling legal in America?

Population: 324.000.000
Active players: 48.600.000
Currency: US Dollar
Regulated gambling products: State run lotteries, casino games, card games, daily fantasy sports
Operator types: Land based casinos, off shore bookmakers, online casinos in 3 states
Designated authority: Individual gaming boards across the states
Status: Regulated for land casinos, Nevada, New Jersey & Delaware allow online casinos

The United States of America, as we all know, is a federal nation consisting of 50 states & various territories and are considered to be the world’s leading economy. The USA has a short history concerning legalized gambling, mostly revolving around land based casinos, that amount to 1% of the GDP, a staggering $125 billion. Around 15% of the total population engage in gambling activities once a week, however despite the laissez faire nature of the economy, under the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), online betting firms are prohibited form operating inside the United States.

Did you know that…

  • No online betting firms are allowed to complete transactions inside the US (online casinos excluded in 3 states)
  • The UIGEA does not prohibit daily fantasy sports
  • Most Americans choose off shore bookies for sports betting
  • Interstate gambling is forbidden (certain card games tournaments are exempted)
  • Legal gambling age depends on the state and varies from 18 to 21

Online betting USA environment

Operators

Sports betting has never been legal in the United States, however until 2006 many online bookmakers operated on US soil. According to the UIGEA, the Act specifically prohibits “gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law.” This has even lead to the US government leading a hot chase after Calvin Ayre, gambling tycoon, playboy and founder of the sportsbetting, casino and poker platform, Bodog. The allegations, including illegal gambling, money laundering & fraud, have put the Canadian born billionaire among the most wanted fugitives on the Department of Homeland Security list. However, daily fantasy sports are not mentioned in the UIGEA, which has led to the rise of DFS giants, Draftkings and Fanduel. Additionally, according to the S490 2010, online casino games are allowed in the states of New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware, which may pave the way for the future regulation of USA betting sites.

Players

Due to the outlawing of sports betting, American players nowadays mainly punt on offshore bookmakers regulated in Curacao and Antigua. For reasons of added financial security, they prefer using e-wallets such as Paypal, or virtual currency like bitcoin, given that credit card and bank transactions to foreign countries, are extensively monitored by the Department of Treasury. The two largest betting firms are 5dimes and Bovada, where almost 10%of total punters place their wagers. There are also certain Las Vegas casinos that offer some sportsbook options, mostly about the NBA and NFL, however their odds are generally less than appealing. This has led to a significant rise of illegal bookmaking, that is almost impossible to crack down.

Competition

Given that sports betting firms can not operate in the US, the most noticeable competitors are the Daily Fantasy Sports duo, Fanduel and Draftkings. Although before 2009, there had been no organized attempt on DFS, today they generate about $2.6 billion per year, with a project turnover of $14.4 billion by 2020. Players can make predictions on the so called “skill game” regarding the NBANFLMLBNHL, while football is likely to follow, especially after the recent regulatory changes in the Malta Gaming Association, regarding fantasy sports.

Bookspy’s comment

It’s hard to say exactly why online gambling is illegal in the United States. Some point the finger to casino lobbyists, others are claiming that its done to limit money laundering, while a few voices are saying that the inherent puritanism of America is to blame. No matter whose opinion is right, one thing is certain: American bettors are on the receiving end of the UIGEA. Just thing about of it. Enthusiastic bettors from the largest economy in the world, can only place their wagers on a few casinos that have high commission, back-alley bookies or illegitimate bookmakers “licensed” in the Caribbean instead of respected betting sites like a Bet365 USA domain. I honestly fail to see how players are actually benefiting from this. In my opinion, America should look across the Atlantic and take a page from Britain’s book on how iGaming should really be regulated.


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