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Can You Bet on the NBA in America?: Fan’s View


Are you thinking about betting on the NBA this year? The big fuss between New Jersey and the NCAA has certainly brought up question marks in many people’s minds that their recent Playoffs bet may have been illegal. Many people are not aware of when they are participating in illegal betting because most people view all types of gambling as harmless entertainment. Whether it is between friends, online, or with a local bookie; it pays to know the rules before you place a bet on an NBA game – unless it is covered by charity laws.

However, once you have a general idea of what is accepted in a court of law, you will be on your way to having fun all while maintaining a reputation that allows you to run for public office. Of course, I am not a lawyer or academic and this means you should finalize any of your betting legality questions with a professional.

The history of sports betting in America

It can seem like the American government is being a real spoilsport when it comes to betting on the NBA and other sports. Unfortunately, these laws were put into place for good reasons and most of them were connected to mafia activity. Today, we assume that all the statistics for sports teams and individual athletes are trustworthy. We also tend to think that no one is being paid to under-perform or throw the game.

With the exception of the Louisiana Saints bounty scandal, we can thank lawmakers of the past for our accurate athletic performances. In spite of this ban on sports betting, the exception always leans in favor of horse racing. Mainly, the idea is that a horse cannot be talked into throwing a race, and, if the horse has been manipulated, it is easier to suss out.

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The bare-bones rules for offline NBA betting

You and your friends are planning on watching the big game and you each have $100 on the winner. The money is on the coffee table where it will sit until the game is over. In the meantime, no one is thinking about illegal betting because it is just between friends. Although this informal style of betting is hardly the same as placing larger bets with illegal local bookies, the truth is that there is a possibility that a bet between friends could be used against you in a court of law.

Despite the fact that off-the-books betting is generally illegal, Americans are not necessarily limited to horse betting. Instead, a few states do give their citizens a chance to bet legally online on the NBA and with a “winner takes all” gambling scheme that is commonly associated with charity fundraisers. Other areas of America with online NBA betting privileges include Native American territories.

For this reason, if you live in a state where it is allowed, you can sign up for a betting account and the website will be located in one of the Native American territories or a state where NBA betting is legal.

Can you bet on the NBA in another country from America?

You have created a new user account on a recent trip to Europe where NBA betting is legal. Your new boss is from Belgium and he has encouraged you to place a bet at a website he likes with the company credit card. Later that week, you return to the US and want to check out the results of your NBA bet. You log on to the website and withdrawal your winnings. Although you made your initial deposit with the corporate credit card, your boss said that whatever you win or lose is a gift.

For this reason, you take the $2000 you won and send it to your Paypal credit card. Did you do anything illegal?

Depending on where you live, the answer may be yes. Although few people are going to find themselves in the aforementioned scenario, the idea is that it is possible to make a few mistakes with NBA betting online. If you want to stay on the safe side of the law, use solid resources such as Cornell University’s online legal guide to gambling and avoid advice from websites that do not have an academic background.

“You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” — Good Will Hunting

How to tell if an NBA betting website is legal

Although internet betting rules on sports vary between states, the truth is that there may be a few fledging websites that manage to illegally bend the rules and get your NBA bet. Regardless, getting paid for your bet might not happen because the website gets shut down for accepting illegal bettors. Most of the time, when an American tries to sign up for an account for betting on the NBA with a website that is outlawed for Americans from particular states, the website will refuse to load for the user due to the bettor’s IP address.

The good news is that shady betting websites are almost always inaccessible to Americans. In most cases, websites that disobey American internet betting rules are blocked completely to US citizens. This means that if you can access the website, open an account, and use a credit card to make your initial deposit; you are likely betting on the NBA legally. If all else fails, using a major credit card ensures you get your money back if a website is indeed fraudulent.


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