Betting on sports – that includes MMA – has been illegal in the United States ever since PASPA, a piece of legislation meant to “protect the integrity of sports”, has effectively banned it in almost all states. The same happened to online gambling in 2006, when US laws made it illegal for banks to process transactions related to gambling. The effect of these laws was probably not exactly what legislators were hoping for. Although you can’t download All Jackpots online casino games in the US right now, there are plenty venues out there that will gladly accept American players among its users. And sports betting has also gone offshore – and more importantly, underground.

The PASPA was challenged repeatedly by various states, especially New Jersey, but to no avail. Many states would like to see legal sports betting return – if not for any other reason, then because of its potential to generate extra income for the state’s budget. States like California, Kentucky, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and many others have bills in place that would regulate sports betting within their borders should the federal law allow it. And H 783, also known as the “Sports Gaming Opportunity Act of 2017”, would even allow individual states to decide for themselves whether they want to regulate or ban sports betting as they please.

Until recently, all major sports leagues supported the federal ban on sports betting, citing concerns about the negative effect it could have on the world of sports. This, in turn, is just partially true – the effects of a regulated sports betting industry are nowhere near as big and potentially negative in the world of sports as the one of a completely unregulated, underground, and illegal betting industry – which is pretty big here in the US today.

How big, you might ask? Well, according to some estimates, Americans bet around $149 billion on sporting events – illegally, of course – in 2015 alone. The 2016 Superbowl is estimated to have attracted $4.9 billion in illegal sports bets, with only about $100 million in bets placed legally on the event. This has left the punters without any legal protection, legitimate US businesses without any share of the profits made, and governments without their fair share of revenues (they call it the tax).

Sports betting has been legal and regulated in Europe for ages. Betting shops are commonplace there, and online betting is also widespread, offering a convenient way for anyone to place a bet from anywhere, using a computer or a smartphone to do so. And European sports have not lost their integrity either. The betting industry in Europe is fully regulated, completely transparent, and even fights to protect the integrity of sports by closely monitoring all betting activity to pinpoint any irregular patterns that may indicate foul play.

Regulating sports betting can bring all the illicit sports betting activity in the US to light, provide more protection for the bettors, and extra revenues for the states’ budgets, too.

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