Originally Posted by seedmunch
In the US it's considered illegal to wager money on non-skill based games or sports, excluding wagers placed by those not participating (i. e. If you're not in the game you can't bet on it).
Poker is considered not to be gambling as it is considered to be based on skill, but I was curious about sidebets (such as betting on what will come on the flop, or which player will win a hand).
I'm not particularly experienced with the laws so if anyone can tell me I'm wrong I'd be happy to hear, I'm just curious to know the legality of such bets.
Is it legal? I gave the best info on the laws I could.
Your premise is faulty, except in a few states, gambling itself isn't illegal, and even in the states where it is, there are social gambling exceptions and it's rarely prosecuted even where there is no exception.
What is illegal is running an unlicensed gambling business, which could be a company that takes bets, acts as the bank for casino games, or rakes contests of chance - even 'raking' skill based betting is an illegal business in ~16 states.
So a sidebet at a legal (non-raked) poker game wouldn't be illegal, but betting is considered unlawful because you aren't receiving any value for a lost wager or providing equitable value when you win, so in many States not only can't you collect a gambling debt, but even if you do collect, the loser can legally recover his loss by taking you to court.