Is It Legal to Bet on the World Cup? - Tarnished Twenty
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Is It Legal to Bet on the World Cup?

With more and more Americans becoming soccer fans every year, Thursday's kickoff of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil will likely be a much-discussed event.

It might also be the subject of a great deal of wagering. According to The Las Vegas Review-Journal, the World Cup is still no Super Bowl in terms of total amounts wagered, but some of the matches played will get as much action as a football game -- American football, that is -- at Vegas' sports books.

You may be wondering though: Is it legal to bet on the World Cup?

State Gambling Laws

Gambling, like real estate, is all about location, location, location. Organized betting on sports is only legal in a handful of states, most notably Nevada, and in most states there are severe limitations. For example, in Delaware, sports betting is limited to just NFL football and horse racing.

What that means is that to legally place a World Cup bet with a sports book within the United States, you're probably going to have to book a flight to Las Vegas or travel to some other city in Nevada.

Social Gambling May Be Allowed

However, some states do allow for so-called "social gambling." Social gambling is typically considered gambling among friends in which no third party stands to benefit. For example, Hawaii defines social gambling as gambling in which:

  • No player receives, or becomes entitled to receive, anything of value or any profit, directly or indirectly, other than the player's personal gambling winnings;
  • No other person, corporation, unincorporated association, or entity receives or becomes entitled to receive anything of value or any profit, directly or indirectly, from any source, including but not limited to permitting the use of premises, supplying refreshments, food, drinks, service, lodging or entertainment; and
  • It is not conducted or played in or at a hotel, motel, bar, nightclub, cocktail lounge, restaurant, massage parlor, billiard parlor, or any business establishment of any kind, public parks, public buildings, public beaches, school grounds, churches or any other public area.

Before you make a wager on Team USA, you may want to check your state's gambling laws to make sure you won't get a red card from the authorities.

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