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Legality of Online Sports Betting in the US

The legality of online sports betting in the U.S. is a controversial topic that has received much media attention in recent years. Until recently, authorities attempted to use outdated laws aimed at stopping illegal bookmaking operations to discourage online gamblers. However, these laws were designed before the existence of the Internet and left open major loopholes and questions of legality. Even with the introduction of more recent laws, there are several open questions about the legality of online sports betting in the US and the enforcement of laws.
 
Much of the confusion comes from court rulings on the Federal Wire Act. In 2002, a U.S. Court of Appeal ruling said that while the act prohibited the electronics transmission of data across telecommunications for sports betting purposes, it doesn’t prohibit Internet gambling on games of chance such as poker. However, the Department of Justice has continued to interpret the Federal Wire Act to ban all forms of Internet gambling.
 
Another issue is that many legal experts and lawmakers believe that none of the existing Federal laws currently in place prohibit people from placing a sports bet; rather, current laws only prohibit people or companies from accepting or paying out bets over the Internet. This is one reason that almost all online sports books base their operations in foreign places like the Caribbean, where enforcement is minimal and the U.S. government cannot control online operations.
 
Instead of shutting down online sports books and casinos, the U.S. government has instead chosen to largely fight back at sports gambling sites by restricting their ability to accept payments or send cash to their customers. However, several legislative acts have attempted to change the course of current U.S. policy. Lawmakers at state and national levels have attempted to pass legislation that would legalize
some forms on online gambling, including sports betting, in the United States. While critics like professional sports leagues have opposed such moves, proponents argue that online gambling could be a major source of tax revenue for the American government in tough economic times.