By Troy Lambert

Technically, sports betting is illegal in the United States except in four states: Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware. This is thanks to a law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act passed in 1992. Much like bans of other “vices”, the result has been an increase in illegal betting activity and a shadow industry that makes millions a year.
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Although gambling can be a problem, most people do it for fun. Even former President Obama joked that if he were caught betting on sports he would simply “pardon himself” something now President Trump seems to think is a good idea, although for much different reasons. By the strictest interpretation of the law football pools and other simple “bets” between friends are also illegal.

This law has also created an issue for sportsbooks online. To stay in business and not face government sanctions or fines, they have to follow these laws implicitly, and even block IP addresses and users from certain areas from creating accounts and logging in.

Thanks to a lawsuit started by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the Supreme Court will hear a case on the repeal of PASPA this October. The decision will affect other laws applying to state’s rights, but it seems fairly likely PASPA will be repealed, and pretty much every state that has a lottery will also allow sports betting in one form or another.

New State Revenue

New Jersey already has casino gambling, and has been pushing for legalized sports betting for a long time. States like Arizona, California, and others are waiting to legalize gambling.

A large part of the motivation for this is of course financial. The taxes the states could collect on the new revenue and new businesses created could be a great boon to many budgets already stretched thin.

New Methods of Betting

Online sportsbooks, just as other online gambling options would expand their businesses into states that legalize sports gambling. Some may even open physical sportsbooks or offices in those states, again increasing tax revenue and creating jobs.

Of course, the caution is that not all sportsbooks are created equally. Some are more reputable than others, collect a more reasonable vig, and have fewer transaction fees. Determining which sportsbook is the most reputable. Sites like inform users about the structure of modern sportsbooks, what kind of betting lines are available, and even how to get started on using legal sportsbooks. Such sites avoid illegal sites and those that use questionable methods or are not secure.

The key, of course, will be research by the gambler themselves. What sites are legal in the United States, and where are they located? What is the fine print, and what do fees mean to winnings? Are my winnings taxable?

While these may seem like basic questions, they create the need for an intermediary that lists and explains the rules, legal sites, and what to be cautious of.

New Methods of Payment

Digital currency is not new. In fact, most credit and debit cards, PayPal and Square Cash are all digital methods of payment, and vary in the level of security they offer.

With the rise in popularity of bitcoin, new methods of payment and withdrawing winnings have become available. Because bitcoin is not centralized and the security and privacy offered by the block chain system, it has become much more prevalent with gamblers over the last few years.

Using bitcoin is cheaper for gamblers and for sportsbooks: transaction fees are lower, and the transfer of funds happens much faster than with conventional currency.

Political Changes

PSAPA is simply one step in several changes that will come if it is repealed. The legal precedent it sets for states could be important in several other areas as well.

This could mean that many things states might have agreed to under other Federal laws that no longer make sense at a state level can be appealed and repealed as well. Marijuana legalization is another area where this same battle may be fought.

A PASPA repeal in October may mean many things to many people and states, but especially to the gambling industry and the tax base it would create. Many states are gearing up for the likely repeal, and sports fans are waiting with anticipation to see what happens next.

See Troy at Unbound Northwest

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