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When Will You Be Able to Bet on Basketball Legally in the US?

The answer to this question is not simple at all. Perhaps the best one would be "it depends" but "soon" might also be pretty close to reality.

Currently, there are only a handful of American states where betting on sports is legal: sports lotteries in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana, and sports pools in Nevada. The rest of the states are unable to place bets on sports - legally, that is. The majority of licensed international operators don't accept US citizens among their players. You can't register an account at alljackpotscasino.com, you can't place a bet at Bet365, Paddy Power, William Hill, and the rest of the biggest international betting groups. Instead, there are long-running and appreciated offshore bookmakers on the internet that will gladly take your bet, and there is a network of underground bookies taking bets on sports across the United States.

While offshore internet betting operators are not a real threat to the 'integrity of sports' that the PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992) was keen to protect, the underground bookies - sometimes having major crime groups behind them - are a different matter altogether. While there's no way to know the extent of illegal betting on US sports, Forbes Magazine wrote that an estimated $4.7 billion has been wagered on Super Bowl 51 alone - and just about $200 million of these were placed legally. This, of course, means no customer protection, no regulatory oversight, no tax revenues for the states.

An increasing number of US states now look at online gambling and legal sports betting as a solution to plug their ever-growing budget holes. Some of them even have their sports betting regulation ready, waiting for the federal ban on the business to be abolished. And abolishing the PASPA would be beneficial not only to the people currently placing bets illegally and the states not pocketing any taxes on the amazing amounts wagered by their inhabitants but the sports leagues and the sports TV channels, too.

A recent study has estimated that legal sports betting would boost the number of viewers tuning into TV channels like ESPN or NBA TV by a double-digit percentage. This would mean not only more viewers - and more advertising revenue - for the channels themselves but more revenue for the leagues, too. Even NBA commissioner Adam Silver has admitted this effect of legal sports betting. "People want to bet throughout the game. ... It results in enormous additional engagement with the fans," he was quoted saying by the ESPN this summer. Silver expects the legislation of the US to change "in the next few years".