Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act: Supreme Court Ruling Lets States Allow Sports Betting

For many years, most U.S. states were virtually banned from legalizing sports betting under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act or PASPA, a 1992 federal law. However, all that changed with a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring the 25-year old law unconstitutional. With the court’s ruling, all states can now decide whether to pass their own sport betting laws. 

What does PASPA repeal mean for the sports gambler? 

1) You can gamble in your state IF your state authorizes and allows it. Again, overturning PASPA didn’t automatically legalize sports betting either nationally or in any state; it just gave a state the legal-go ahead to allow and regulate sports betting or not. If your state does not permit it, you won't be allowed to place sports bets. 

2) And since it's up to each state to legalize and regulate gambling, states can put limitations on sports betting. For example, in New Jersey where sports betting is legal on most professional and college sports, wagers placed on a high school game is a no-no.  States could also put limitations on how much to bet, or on the kind of bets that can be placed, etc. 

3) You most likely can't offer sports betting (basically, be a bookie), even if sports betting is legal in your state, unless you apply for and receive a license to do so from your state. Currently, all states that allow gambling license those who may offer it--none allow wholly unrestricted offering of gambling services. While a state could chose to allow anyone to be bookie, it's highly unlikely that they'd make this one area of gambling wide open when no other area is. And the licensing requirements to offer betting are very strict. 

4) Don’t assume that you can gamble online from your state with a bookie in another state.  Cross-state gambling is permitted ONLY if both states have legalized sports gambling. The Wire Act prohibits internet (or telephone) sports betting except in the circumstance that it is legal both where the bet is placed and where it is received. 

5) Similarly, you may not be able to bet with an overseas or international sports wagering operation or shop unless the activity is authorized by your state. Check first to see if your state legalizes it. 

6) But when you do bet legally, you will have guarantees that your bookie is honest and solvent--guarantees you didn't necessarily have with illegal betting.