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is betting legal in the USA?


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#1 of 23 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted October 09 2001 - 11:50 PM

Sorry, this is another of those dumb Brit questions. I've noticed on The Simpsons that Homer bets on sporting events but that this is said to be illegal (in Britain you can bet on sporting events, who'll be the new Archbishop of Canterbury, what a newly-born member of the royal family will be called - practically anything in fact). What sort of betting *is* legal in the US of A, please?

#2 of 23 OFFLINE   Jim_F

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Posted October 10 2001 - 12:09 AM

Casino gambling is scattered pretty widely across the country, but legal sports books are relatively rare, with the highest concentration in Nevada.
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#3 of 23 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted October 10 2001 - 12:11 AM

Certain sports are legal in certain states and then there are regulations where you are allowed to bet at the site of the event and off-site places (such as OTB, or off-track-betting that you can place bets on horses somewhere other than at the racetrack). The only place that I know of where you can bet on sports (other than horses) like college football or pro football is Las Vegas. Certainly I don't know of any organized places where you can bet on the next Mayor of NYC or the next President though!

I think each state can make their own rules as to what kind of betting they can allow and what kind of sports they can allow that can be raced. Like dog/greyhound racing used to be very popular until most (if not all?) states banned it sometime ago.

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#4 of 23 OFFLINE   Rob Gillespie

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Posted October 10 2001 - 12:16 AM

You get some crazy stuff over here. Want to bet on a UFO landing in Trafalgar Square and Elvis coming out of it? Fine, no problem. Find a bookie who'll give you the odds and the bet is legal.

I heard of someone betting on a UFO appearing over Loch Ness at the same time as an appearance of the 'monster'.
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#5 of 23 OFFLINE   Jim_F

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Posted October 10 2001 - 12:26 AM

I forgot about racetracks and off-track betting-not my cup of tea. In fact, I can't think of any legal sports books outside of Nevada. Even the casinos on tribal reservations all seem to stick with casino gaming.
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#6 of 23 OFFLINE   Robert McDonald

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Posted October 10 2001 - 12:48 AM

State law determines if, and what type of, betting is legal in that particular state; federal law provides an exception for certain Native American property. Thus, in Florida betting on horse racing at the track is legal, but other types of gambling is illegal, except on certain properties of the Seminole Nation in which gambling is legal. The State of Nevada allows gambling and that is why the sports bookies are located in Las Vegas. New Jersey allows gambling in Atlantic City only. Of course, many people have their own office pools for major sports events, tournaments, etc., and while technically illegal they occur. What constitutes gambling is sometimes bizarre. Many civic organizations, etc., will hold raffles where you buy a ticket for a chance to win a prize. This is gambling in Florida, and illegal unless specific procedures are followed (including notification that you do not have to purchase a ticket to participate in the raffle!).

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[Edited last by Robert McDonald on October 10, 2001 at 07:50 AM]

#7 of 23 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted October 10 2001 - 01:30 AM

In addition to horse racing, betting on dog racing and jai lai is legal in Florida.

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#8 of 23 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted October 10 2001 - 02:01 AM

Thanks for the info, guys. Reading American literature and watching movies and TV shows about American life, I couldn't work out why people were so uptight about gambling or why you seemed to have to go to special places like e.g. some native American reservations to do it. I guess this is one thing where we are slightly less restricted than the USA. For the record, here in the UK, gambling is confined to several legal forms, including:

(a) casinos (you must be a member for at least 24 hours before you can play)

(b) betting shops (i.e. where you go to place bets - most often on horse or geyhound racing, but also soccer, and, as Rob has noted, practically anything else; e.g. a lot of people place an annual bet on whether it will snow on Christmas Day). Interestingly, passers-by should not be able to see into the shop, so that they cannot be enticed in.

© the National (i.e. government-run) Lottery - v. similar to your state lotteries

(d) the football pools (predicting which soccer teams will have drawn games that week)

(e) betting at greyhound and horse racing tracks

(f) Bingo halls (traditionally a haunt of older working class women, though there have been recent attempts to broaden its appeal)

#9 of 23 OFFLINE   alan halvorson

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Posted October 10 2001 - 02:03 AM

It is popular here, although illegal, to hold "Calcuttas" for various amateur golf tournaments. Generally how it goes is that after a qualifying round (although there isn't always a qualifying round), a player or a team is auctioned. The money is pooled and split amongst the winners. Often, the club takes a percentage off the top. The player or team is normally allowed to purchase part of himself/themselves from the winning bidder (there's even a movie, not a very good one, called Banning, starring Robert Wagner, whose big finale was a Calcutta).

This is all done in the open. Everyone knows about it. In fact, one major local tournament amateur tournament displays the auction prices of each player on the leader board, although they use false names for the winning bidders.

I've been bought a few times as an individual and as part of a team, way back when I used to play tournaments regularly. I have never bought part of myself or my team as I don't gamble. I went for $800 in a club tournament once, came in second (I would have won had not the winner cheated or if I had a just made a couple birdie putts - I had a stretch of 22 straight pars!) and paid off handsomely for my bidder.

I'm guessing that Calcuttas are held in Britain also although maybe they are called something different.

There is an Indian Casino about 12 miles miles from where I live and, although I've been there maybe 200 times to eat, go to shows, and other reasons, I have never inserted even a nickel in a machine.

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[Edited last by alan halvorson on October 10, 2001 at 09:09 AM]
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#10 of 23 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted October 10 2001 - 02:28 AM

Nothings really holding you back from group bets although it's a bit hush hush. Of course, you know there's alot of illegal betting going on with college sports and pro sports, some people getting in trouble for it or stuff like that.

The only weird things like betting on Elvis appearing from UFO's seems to be the car dealerships and stuff who you hear every now and then offering to sell you a car for nothing if it snows more than say 2" on Christmas. If you look at it a certain way, you could say that you are betting the cost of the car for the chance of that 2" of snow on Christmas day.

Ah yes, I forgot about Jai Alai, like the ones by Mystic, Conneticut.

How about those Ultimate Fighting Championships, are they bet upon in Vegas?

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#11 of 23 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted October 10 2001 - 02:51 AM

So the betting shop in The Sting was illegal in addition to the rest of what was "wrong" with it?

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#12 of 23 OFFLINE   MickeS

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Posted October 10 2001 - 03:37 AM

I've never understood why gambling is illegal in the US (most of it), and I can't for my life understand how people can accept that. Betting on football games and other things was one of the pleasures of life in Sweden, but it's a big no-no here.
One thing that makes it even more puzzling is all the ads for Indian Gaming ("it works") where they're showing how the Nations are paying for healthcare, police, education and so on with the money they make off of gambling. If it's so great there, shouldn't the same be true for the rest of the US?

The USA is a strange place...

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#13 of 23 OFFLINE   BrianB

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Posted October 10 2001 - 03:41 AM

Quote:
(b) betting shops . Interestingly, passers-by should not be able to see into the shop, so that they cannot be enticed in.

That rule was relaxed in a major fashion in the early 90s. Previously, all betting shops had 'brick fronts' with no glass, now they're allowed glass fronts.

I worked as a cashier in a betting shop through most of uni - nice & easy job, good money (some weeks I was earning more money than the assistant manager through a combination of overtime & tax breaks as a student). It also was enough of an eye opener to ensure I've never really gambled since (not counting the stock market!).

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#14 of 23 OFFLINE   Ryan Wright

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Posted October 10 2001 - 03:58 AM

Quote:
showing how the Nations are paying for healthcare, police, education and so on with the money they make off of gambling. If it's so great there, shouldn't the same be true for the rest of the US?

The problem is this: That money comes from the pockets of people who in many cases cannot afford to lose it. Gambling is a vice or addiction for many people and they will gamble away every penny they own. Thus, it's been made illegal to protect us.

At least, that's the government's explanation. Personally, I think it's a bunch of hogwash. If someone wants to go bet his or her life away, let them. Perhaps they should provide free services to help those who are addicted to gambling, but by outlawing it, they're punishing those of us who CAN control ourselves. Alcohol causes far more problems for families than gambling, yet it's still legal...

Anyway, this is turning political so I'll hop off my soapbox now.


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#15 of 23 OFFLINE   Bill Catherall

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Posted October 10 2001 - 04:43 AM

Here's a little gambling rant that is not political. Gambling is not kid friendly. Sure, some kinds of gambling, i.e. betting on sports, doesn't have a table or a machine associated to it. But where ever gambling is legal, the machines come in. Just try walking into a gas station, or the airport, or any public place in Nevada and you are surrounded by slot machines. Kids can't be near these things according to state law. So as you walk by with kids, heaven forbid you should stop and pick up something you dropped. Some "cop" will come up and harass you for having children near the slot machines.

Then there's the type of "entertainment" that comes into town associated with casinos. I'm not talking about magic shows and albino tigers. Legal gambling brings casinos and casinos bring in shady businesses.

If gambling was made legal across the US then everybody would be getting in on it and before you know it you're surrounded by it and you can't get away from it. So in order to maintain some control over where casinos can pop up, it is necessary to make gambling illegal in certain areas. You think a town goes south when a Wal-Mart comes in, just imagine what happens with the introduction of a casino. Does everybody want to be living on Las Vegas's strip?

Besides, what kind of economic benefit does gambling provide? Nothing! It just redistributes wealth with no trade in service or goods. You spend money in hopes of getting more money, but just end up giving it to a casino or a bookie and getting nothing in return. Some states use gambling for additional income...to benefit schools, roads, etc. So in that sense it's just another form of taxation. A tax on people who are looking to get rich quick. A "poor man's tax."

I can't think of any benefit to legalize gambling everywhere. But I also can't see any reason to ban it completely. Make it available in some controlled locations. That way it's still there for people who do find some joy in it, but it's not in the backyards of those who don't want it around. Las Vegas is fun to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

Of course, this is just my opinion.

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#16 of 23 OFFLINE   MickeS

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Posted October 10 2001 - 05:16 AM

Quote:
But where ever gambling is legal, the machines come in.

Just because you allow betting on sports, doesn't mean that slot machines should be allowed. It's not an all or nothing situation.
Betting on sports is a completely different type of gambling, that doesn't have the instant reward that slot machines do. Sure, it can still be addictive, but it's not on the same level as slot machines. It's much more kid friendly. Posted Image Every state will not turn into Nevada just because people would be allowed to legally bet on the Monday night football game.

I agree with Ryan in this matter.

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#17 of 23 OFFLINE   Larry Schneider

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Posted October 10 2001 - 06:23 AM

The Sting was set in Chicago, which (last time I was there) allowed betting on horse races...so it may have been legal during the Depression as well.

Gambling is allowed on Indian reservations too...in fact, a reliable way to identify reservations while travelling in the Northwest is the presence of elaborate casinos.



#18 of 23 OFFLINE   DennisHP

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Posted October 10 2001 - 07:39 AM

Maybe we should start a bet as to the date bin laden meets his maker and his virgins!

#19 of 23 OFFLINE   Roby Adams

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Posted October 10 2001 - 11:39 AM

I always though the main reason gambling is so restricted in the US is because of religous objection to it.

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#20 of 23 OFFLINE   Bill Cowmeadow

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Posted October 10 2001 - 12:21 PM

Andrew, The short answer is:
In States with "Regulated" gaming, it is legal, although only certain gaming tables maybe available. Any other gambling is illegal.

This does not apply to bingo




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