What's the difference between regulated and offshore sportsbooks?
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US Regulated vs Offshore Sportsbooks: The Key Differences

17 July 2020

The lines have become blurred between legal gambling sites and offshore betting sites. It's time we address the differences.

Since legal sports betting was introduced in 2018, we’ve seen the frequent launch of licensed betting sites in authorized states. But at the same time, offshore sportsbooks (not regulated by a US governing body) have stayed exactly where they are. This has resulted in a mish-mash of options for bettors.

For new bettors especially, differentiating one from the other is a clear and concerning issue.

This article aims to demonstrate how and why the two options differ in terms of legality and safety and show that while at first glance they appear similar, the two types of betting sites are very different offerings altogether.

Before legal online sports betting

First, some background.

Before 2018, the majority of states in America were banned from offering sports betting to its citizens. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) passed in 1992 did allow sports wagering to continue in Nevada and certain forms of betting, i.e parlays, to still be offered in Delaware, Montana and Oregon.

However, for the rest of the country, sports wagering was strictly forbidden. If you wanted to bet, your only option was to make a trip to Nevada or enter the murky world of underground betting and use an offshore betting site.

What is an offshore betting site?

Essentially, offshore betting sites are not governed by a US regulatory body.

They are operated from a location overseas, normally a country such as Panama and Costa Rica or small islands like Curacao and Antigua. Hence why you hear the term ‘offshore’ used so much.

While such sites will claim to be licensed by the country in which they are based - Curacao, for instance - this does not mean they are licensed to operate in America.

In short, offshore betting sites are not legal in the US.

Examples of illegal betting sites
  • Bovada.lv
  • MyBookie.ag
  • 5Dimes.eu
  • Intertops.eu
  • BetOnline.ag
  • GT Bets.eu
  • Bookmaker.eu

Why you should avoid offshore betting sites

Number one, offshore betting sites are not monitored by a US regulatory body. This means they are not legal.

There are many other reasons why you should give offshore sportsbooks a wide berth. But by far the biggest is the issue of security. There are no rules in place for offshore sites to adhere to when it comes to protecting sensitive financial information and your money.

What’s more, if you stake a sizable amount and win a bet, there’s no guarantee you’ll be paid out. And who are you going to complain to if it does happen? Remember there is no regulatory body to monitor operators and protect the safety of players. Forget having to wait a long time to speak to customer support, chances are, it doesn’t exist.

Offshore sportsbooks are run by unreputable companies that can essentially act as they wish without fear of punishment. In a worst-case scenario you could wake up one day to find the site - and your money - is no longer there; the company has either been shut down or decided to take off. And there’s very little you can do about it.

What is a regulated betting site?

A regulated betting site exists in a state that has authorized online sports betting.

Such a site has met the criteria set out by the regulatory body in a legal online sports betting state and has been issued a license to offer its product to patrons within that state.

It’s important to emphasize a ‘legal online sports betting state’. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Colorado, New Hampshire, Oregon, Iowa, and Illinois are the states with legal online sports betting active as of July 2020.

At this stage, this means regulated sports betting sites are limited to these states.

Examples of legit betting sites
  • FanDuel
  • DraftKings
  • BetMGM
  • 888sport
  • PointsBet
  • William Hill

Why you should use regulated betting sites

Firstly, regulated betting sites are legal to use (for those who live in states that have authorized online sports wagering, as discussed).

Because such sites are operated by reputable companies, players are guaranteed a safe and secure online gambling environment. Sensitive financial information is treated with the due care it warrants, while if you win a bet, you will receive your winnings fair and square.

If an operator does not comply with the rules or violates regulations, the regulatory body responsible for the safe running of the industry can impose severe financial penalties and/or take legal action.

There’s even information available to contact the appropriate people, i.e the regulatory body, if you feel you have been treated unfairly. Everything is transparent.

To know an online sports wagering website is regularly monitored and operated by a trustworthy company known within the industry gives a player peace of mind to enjoy their online gambling experience.

Legal vs Offshore Betting: A recap

This article has shown you how regulated and offshore betting sites contrast when it comes to legality and safety

Here’s a recap of what is different:

Regulated sportsbooks

  • Safe and secure online gambling experience
  • Trusted and reputable companies
  • Guaranteed to be treated fairly
  • Operate with complete transparency

Offshore sportsbooks

  • Lack of care and security for personal information
  • Untrustworthy and dishonorable companies
  • High risk of being treated unfairly
  • Operate with a high level of ambiguity

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can do by reading this guide to legal sports betting sites in the US.

As well as shedding more light on what we’ve already discussed, you will discover the factors you should think about when choosing the right, LEGAL betting site for your needs.

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