Is Major League Baseball Betting Legal?

Because land-based sports betting is not allowed in any US casino, racetrack, or betting shop outside of Nevada, many Americans assume that wagering on Major League Baseball is against the law is most of the country. And that’s actually true, provided you want to limit your wagers to casinos or other physical storefronts. But in general, is MLB betting legal in the United States? The answer to this is a resounding “Yes!” However, there is a caveat: MLB betting is legal to US baseball bettors in all 50 states provided they use an established offshore sportsbook.

Legal MLB Betting Sites

Legal MLB betting sites are used by an estimated 97% of all US sports wagering enthusiasts, leaving a tiny 3% slice for Las Vegas. And that makes sense, as America’s a big country and Las Vegas is pretty far away from most folks. Plus, with the long grinds that most sports seasons comprise (particularly Major League Baseball and its 4860-game regular season), it doesn’t make any kind of financial sense to leg it to Sin City every single time you want to bet on a game.

Thus, legal MLB betting sites (which also offer a full menu of other sports betting options) have become the main way US customers enjoy America’s Pastime. Top sportsbooks like Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline, and 5Dimes operate overseas and outside of US jurisdiction, and they are fully licensed and regulated in their own countries to do business internationally. As long as you stick with one of the top MLB betting sites on the Internet, you can bet on baseball no matter where you are in America, and you won’t be breaking a single law to do it.

The Legal MLB Betting Site Loophole

To clarify why it’s illegal to bet on land in the US (outside of Nevada) but perfectly legal to use an online sportsbook to place those same bets, you need to understand the one underlying commonality among all federal sports betting laws. The legal MLB betting site loophole – as it is often (but incorrectly) characterized – is simply the following:

Federal law makes it illegal for states or private entities to offer or accept MLB wagers and other sports bets. However, because the logistics of policing hundreds of millions of Americans’ potential betting habits is too daunting a task for even nosy old Uncle Sam, it is not illegal for a private US resident to place a sports bet or receive their winnings from such. Thus, the laws in question have had the amusing effect of simply moving all MLB betting sites overseas, where they can legally accept US customers while removing billions of otherwise taxable dollars from the fed’s purview. Oops.

Federal Sports Betting Laws

The reason that the offshore MLB betting site “loophole” is used by tens of millions of Americans is that US federal law has had a meddlesome history in the pastime of wagering on athletics. Federal sports betting laws like the Wire Act (1961), the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA, 1992), and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA, 2006) all effectively combine to prevent US land-based businesses from offering legal MLB betting (and other sports wagering) to American residents.

This was done in part to preserve Las Vegas’ standing as the premier betting and gambling tourist spot in the country, but each of the laws was – and remains – woefully shortsighted, to the significant detriment of regional economies nationwide.

The Wire Act

The first real bit of anti-gambling nonsense was proposed and passed by the Kennedy Brothers in 1961 with the Interstate Wire Act. This was allegedly designed to prohibit state-to-state sports betting because the New York-based mafias were running sportsbooks all around the country, but in reality, the feds feared that these syndicates were siphoning revenue off of the states’ government-controlled lotteries, and so they brought the hammer down. It didn’t work.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act

In 1992, a distinguished group of geniuses came up with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which ostensibly sought to preserve the “integrity of the game” re professional sports. It had the support of all the major sports leagues including Major League Baseball, and it passed easily.

However, the real purpose of PASPA was to ban sports betting from all states except Nevada (which was already exempt) and New Jersey. New Jersey was given one year to draft their own statewide sports betting laws to activate this exemption, but they failed miserably, plunging Atlantic City into seemingly endless bankruptcy. PASPA went into effect, barring US residents in 49 states from betting on the MLB and other sports. It didn’t work.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was designed to address US-based online casinos, poker rooms, and MLB betting sites (as well as other sports betting sites) by making it more difficult for banks and other financial institutions to process payments to and from these services.

While the UIGEA did have the effect of forcing many US businesses overseas (where they operate to this day), it remains a simple matter to send money to and collect payment from these offshore sportsbooks. Ultimately, the UIGEA’s intent was to limit American sports betting to Las Vegas. It didn’t work.

State Sports Betting Laws

Most states do not have their own sports betting laws, as they tend to rely on the above federal acts for both the establishment and enforcement of sports wagering guidelines. However, it is important to note that, while the majority of states are mum on sports betting over the Internet, two outliers do exist: Hawaii and Utah. Though neither one specifically bans online sports betting from its residents, they do have sweeping statewide regulations that ban all forms of public and private gambling.

Still, these laws are unenforceable and unenforced, and no Hawaii or Utah resident has ever been arrested, charged, fined, or otherwise inconvenienced for using an MLB betting site or wagering on any sport in a private, personal capacity over the Internet. All major online sportsbooks accept customers from these states, so you can sign up and bet on Major League Baseball with the peace of mind that what you’re doing is perfectly safe.

MLB Betting Site FAQs

What Is The Legal MLB Betting Site Age Limit

Outside of Nevada and their land-based sportsbooks, there are no hard and fast rules for how old you have to be to legally bet on baseball. The minimum legal MLB betting site age limit at most sportsbooks is 18, so you can’t be any younger than that to sign up and wager. (Those who falsely claim to be of age to join a legal online sportsbook are in violation of the terms of service, and they can expect their accounts to be banned and any money deposited or won to be permanently withheld.)

However, if you want to err on the side of caution, you can always go by your state’s legal gambling age. In most states with commercial casinos, this is 21 years old, while some tribal casinos allow patrons of 18 to play on the premises. If your state doesn’t have a casino industry, you can use the legal lotto or bingo ages, which also tend to be 18. Most folks who join MLB betting sites prefer to play it safe and simply wait until they’re 21 to bet on the Big Leagues, but that’s not technically necessary, and there are no legal ramifications to using online sportsbooks and betting shops once you’re at least 18 years old.

Will I Be Arrested For Using MLB Betting Sites?

You will not ever be arrested for using MLB betting sites, provided you use a reputable service that is properly operating overseas as required by US federal law. As long as you don’t set up your own MLB betting site and offer sports bets publicly, you are considered a private bettor (and not a commercial bookie), so you are following the law to the letter, and you can wager on as much MLB action as you please.

Is It Better To Use MLB Betting Sites Or Las Vegas Sportsbooks?

This mostly depends on where you live. If you live in Nevada near a casino that offers MLB action on their sportsbooks, it might be a more enjoyable experience to go out on the town and take in all the sights that the casino environment has to offer. However, it is better to use MLB betting sites than Las Vegas sportsbooks if you live anywhere else in the country.

Another reason to play at MLB betting sites instead of Sin City casinos is the fact that online sportsbooks like Bovada and SportsBetting offer mobile MLB betting and live in-game MLB betting, both of which are convenient, fun ways to extend your Major League wagering opportunities throughout the season. Las Vegas sportsbooks also don’t offer the many membership bonuses and perks available at the top MLB betting sites, which are a huge draw for millions of bettors who opt to place their wagers online.

What Are The Best Legal Online MLB Betting Sites?

The best legal online MLB betting sites are easy to find, as they’re the industry leaders with the largest footprints in the business. Between Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline, 5Dimes, BetDSI, and BookMaker, you’ll have access to over 100 years of combined experience, and each site has its own unique benefits. Whether you join one of these or all of them, you are guaranteed fair lines, easy deposits, and prompt payouts.

The most popular MLB betting site in America is Bovada, but both SportsBetting and BetOnline boast over a million US members each, and smaller books like 5Dimes, BetDSI, and BookMaker offer an unparalleled selection of alternate lines and entertaining MLB prop bets all season long. Signing up is always free and fast, and customer service is top-notch.

Betting On MLB Baseball At Bovada

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Bovada is arguably the top sportsbook in America by volume, even though it doesn’t accept members from Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, or New York. However, US residents from all other states have been calling the site home for the better part of a decade, and betting on MLB baseball at Bovada is one of the best ways to enjoy America’s Pastime. Not only does Bovada have best-in-class customer service, they’ve also got an award-winning website, and they’ve never missed a single MLB betting payout.

When it comes to the top MLB betting sites, Bovada is the undeniable trendsetter in the space, and you can be a part of the biggest sports wagering community in America by signing up today. New members are eligible for Bovada’s $250 Sports Welcome Bonus, and all members can take advantage of the generous Bovada Rewards program.

Betting On MLB Baseball At SportsBetting

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Betting on MLB baseball at SportsBetting is available to residents in all 50 US states, and SportsBetting has been among the country’s most-visited MLB betting sites since its founding in 2004. Perhaps the best reason to sign up with SportsBetting, however, is the fact that they have by far the most varied deposit and withdrawal options of any major sportsbook – they even take American Express, Ethereum, and Litecoin! SportsBetting also has the highest wager limits for MLB bettors, and their mobile site is streamlined for quick browsing and betting.

New members who join SportsBetting now can receive their choice of several perks and bonuses, including a 75% Welcome Bonus worth up to $1000. Whether you’re a casual bettor or a high roller, SportsBetting has all your bases covered, all season long.

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