The advent and incredible advancement of the internet late in the late 1990s and early 2000s led directly to plenty of things, including the rise of illegal sports betting in the United States.
The US is a country that loves sports and loves wagering on them, especially its popular professional and collegiate leagues. For a long time, the only way to get in on the action was to take part in illegal offshore sports betting.
So what is offshore sports gambling exactly? Simply put, it’s the process of betting through a website that is located overseas. These sites are legal in the countries they operate in (mostly the Carribean and Central America) but are not regulated by a governing body in the US.
These sites would allow bettors across the nation to wager online via the computer, even if they weren’t located in Las Vegas to wager legally in person. Because there was no competition, they grew massively due to convenience.
Virtually unregulated by a foreign government and the only recourse for someone looking to bet, these sites have never been held to an acceptable standard of operation for decades. Luckily, competition has arrived recently in the form of legal online sportsbooks in the United States.
Over the past 18 months or so, legal online sports betting has made huge strides in various pockets of the country. This is thanks to the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Provision Act (PASPA) in May 2018, which gave individual states the power to regulate legal sports betting operations.
Since that time, states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania are prospering beyond belief, pulling in hundreds of millions in taxes. Additional entrants set to join the fray as well, with more and more states offering its residents the option for mobile sports betting as well.
Unfortunately, many states are still without mobile wagering, which continues to breathe life into offshore betting, the biggest scourge this industry deals with.
No, offshore betting is not legal when you correctly apply the law to those who accept money in connection with wagers or those who are ‘in the business’ of betting. What this means is, there is a legal burden placed on offshore sites, but not the bettor.
There are no specific laws that make it illegal for individuals to place wagers online, so rest easy knowing that nobody to our knowledge has ever been arrested for betting with an offshore sportsbook. With that said, a site can’t legally accept your money or send you any winnings.
As laid out by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, what’s explicitly illegal is processing financial transactions that are related to online wagering. So it isn’t technically illegal for me or you to place a wager, but it is for some offshore company to process our payments and to pay out winnings.
Once wildly popular in the U.S., offshore gambling companies have been hit hard by legislative changes that provide players with options that are completely lawful, regulated, and convenient. Still, the fact that a large percentage of the country hasn’t launched legal sports betting has helped keep the offshore industry somewhat thriving in a grey market.
Offshore betting is extremely unsafe. When someone asks ‘is offshore sports betting legal?’, the answer can be both yes and no since it is not explicitly legal despite not being able to legally deposit into or withdraw from these sites. Further, these unregulated sites don't follow strict KYC procedures which may have a negative impact on the pool of players.
But if someone asks whether it’s safe, there’s really no debate. Offshore sports betting resides in a grey market that people are technically allowed to take part in, but not if they value the safety of their hard-earned money.
It’s important to know since it shows these operators are little more than a breeding ground for unsafe and suspicious activity that doesn’t protect players. Safety is paramount, and you don’t receive that with offshore betting, but we’ll get more into that.
Part of the issue is that the word ‘regulated’ doesn’t mean the same thing in Central America or the Caribbean as it does when talking about the United States government. Sites may be sanctioned in these foreign countries, but there is little oversight and virtually no way to truly take care of your funds or address any potential problems.
Congress realized this with UIGEA and set out to curtail online gambling and the success of these offshore sites in the early 2000s with the advancement of the internet due to archaic and long-standing sports betting laws.
Offshore sportsbooks got creative with their banking methods to survive after revenues were affected in the years following UIGEA. They took another hit when PASPA was leveled in 2018 and the door opened for states to regulate legal sports betting on their own, which has turned out to be a major boon for revenue as it is in all places that have adopted it.
In New Jersey, for example, nearly $6 billion in sports bets have been placed since the state launched legal sports betting in June 2018 with about $300 million in revenue being contributed by online sports betting at the time of this writing.
You can call it ‘legal’ in the most technical way, the offshore sports betting problems you’re sure to encounter due to their unregulated nature will far outweigh the positives you experience on nearly all occasions.
The American public needs to understand that offshore betting is built on iffy legal standing while being dangerous and unreliable. Many of these issues and disadvantages are related to that questionable legal standing, which doesn’t allow for all the advantages that a legalized sports betting site can offer.
Yes, offshore betting is allowed in this grey market but processing financial transactions is still illegal, which means you can’t technically deposit or withdraw funds into an account legally.
To help get around this illegal processing of funds, offshores want you to use bitcoin, which is another issue. Offshores like cryptocurrency because it’s anonymous, but it’s also volatile and an industry ripe for security preaches with nothing in place to protect those who use it if that happens. Converting money to cryptocurrency is also laborious and shouldn’t be a part of the betting experience.
This goes hand-in-hand with our previous point since offshore banking clearly displays the unsavory nature of this industry. There are fewer deposit and withdrawal methods due to the fact that these sportsbooks can’t openly operate in the US.
It should come as a sign of warning that many mainstream credit card companies will deny payments to offshore sites entirely. Even if your transaction does go through, you might have even more of an issue once you see your actual statement.
Imagine signing up to place sports bets and seeing the above photo among your purchases. Can anything screams untrustworthy more than a site that falsely labels its charges with nonsensical words to hide its true identity? This is an example of how an unregulated sportsbook shows up on your statement as something else in order to hide its illegal activity from your bank.
In fact, this example comes from Bovada, one of the supposedly ‘reliable’ offshore sites despite the fact that its history says otherwise. The same exact stunts are pulled at MyBookie, 5Dimes, and others, all of which have questionable banking features and payout histories
With legal sportsbooks in the US, things aren’t so shady and the operator you deal with is front and center on emails and bank statements, and contact information for support is provided as well.
Payout speed, and just getting paid in general, is another thing that’s up in the air with offshore sportsbooks but not with legal sites.
For example, depositing and withdrawing legally after signing up with a FanDuel Sportsbook promo code in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana and West Virginia is an extremely clear and easy process. Funds reach your account in 24-48 hours with documentation like email being sent every step of the way while the payment is being processed and players are even notified once again when their funds are processed on withdrawal.
At offshore books, you truly have no recourse if something were to go wrong whether it be with your bank or with the site, which happens seemingly all the time. Where do you go if one of these shady offshore sites doesn’t send you a check or eats your money following a deposit?
Because they are foreign entities, sites offer sub-par customer support if any at all, and you certainly have no number to dial to help you straighten out issues. It’s not like you can call the police because an offshore site won’t send you a check, which would be illegal under UIGEA, just as it was for them to accept your deposit in the first place.
Offshore sites will do all they can to align their odds and markets with regulated sportsbooks for big events like the Super Bowl and March Madness, but that doesn’t represent the normal array of options on a day-to-day basis.
During the regular season of a given sport, offshore sites offer moneylines, totals, and spreads along with a limited selection of props. When using one of the regulated sportsbooks in the United States, choosing from dozens of markets and hundreds of betting options is commonplace for any popular professional sport.
Many of the regulated sites also have far more ongoing promotions to offer customers and more lucrative odds in many markets compared to offshore sites.
There is no more convenient way to wager than by using legal sports betting apps, and offshore sites don’t have the capacity to accept bets in this way. Using an internet browser is one way to scroll through a website with hundreds of teams and markets, but the user experience of placing wagers in a simple and timely manner is much smoother with an easy-to-use application. There’s no debate about this one.
So to wrap this up, you can’t access an offshore site via an application, it hides with an alias that is practically gibberish, and there are no guarantees you even get paid. Even if you’re in a state where you can’t legally wager, it sounds like the risk isn’t worth the reward.
Here’s a straight-to-the-point look at what you can expect by using a regulated sportsbook for legal sports betting in the US:
If you’re looking to bet on sports legally online, there are several states in which you can get in on the action. Here are all of the states that arrived on the scene and included online betting in some way:
Unfortunately, not all states with passed legislation have included the must-have mobile component, which will drastically impact how much money can be generated. With that said, several states are thriving and more are on the way. There are more NJ betting sites in the Garden State than any other, followed by several operators that offer PA sports betting in neighboring Pennsylvania.
Plenty of states aren’t yet caught up on sports betting legislation while others allow for sports betting at brick-and-mortar locations only without the online component, which makes it difficult for those located far away from a participating casino and sportsbook.
For this demographic, legal sports betting options shift from traditional sportsbooks to Daily Fantasy Sports and social sports games, which you can learn more about in our FendOff Sports review.
Yes, Daily Fantasy Sports is legal in 41 of the 50 states and has quickly overtaken season-long fantasy league as a favorite among players looking to win cash. Even if you live in a state that doesn’t allow traditional sports betting, DFS provides an opportunity to win money on sports predictions.
You may be wondering: how does DFS work? Basically, players can choose from a huge range of fantasy contests each week across a range of sports. You can narrow down the options to find the perfect game for you by specifying a preferred game style, experience level, contest type, entry fee, and varying prizes that are available.
If you aren’t into the fantasy aspect and enjoy the conventional markets like spreads and totals, and moneylines, there’s still another choice for you outside of states where sports betting is completely lawful thanks to FendOff Sports.
You can’t wager and win real cash as you can with all the best betting sites in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but it offers markets that mirror some of the ones you’d find on those sites.
FendOff combines the best elements of sports betting and DFS, allowing you to go up against other players while making selections for games across all sports. It also doesn’t hurt that your success can earn you tons of Gold Coins and Sweeps Cash, which can, in turn, be redeemed for actual prizes!
To learn more about exactly how it works, take a look at our FendOff Sports review and learn how to get in on the action!