Is Your Sportsbook Illegal? Find Out Here
The American Gaming Association has launched a campaign to show consumers—and mainstream media—how to tell legal sportsbooks from illicit offshore operations. Gray-market bookies rely on “the patina of credibility,” but operate on the fringes, and can be associated with criminal enterprises.
In a March 17 article entitled, “Without Sports, U.S. Bettors Are Getting Creative,” a Wall Street Journal reporter wrote, “Online sports book Bovada has a solution: it is allowing patrons to wager on the weather.”
The next day, a similar post on Yahoo Sports! said, “Customers at Bovada can place bets on when Bernie Sanders will drop out of the presidential race, which Westworld character will be the next to perish or what Wednesday night’s winning power ball number will be. The online sportsbook is now even offering gamblers the chance to bet on the weather.”
If you looked at those news outlets on those days, you got what amounts to free advertising for an offshore website that is not legal for players in the U.S.
How can mainstream media outlets lend legitimacy to Costa Rica-based Bovada and other bookies that operate in gray and black markets? Collectively, these illegal bookies make $150 billion per year from bettors like you—some estimates go as high as $500 billion!—with little to no accountability to their players or the markets where they do business.
Worse, the illegal market has been known to launder money, fund the illegal drug trade and even underwrite the suffering of human trafficking. But if respected news outlets can’t tell a shady operator from a regulated sportsbook, how can consumers be expected to?
What’s the Difference?
One of the big reason lawmakers fought to expand legal sports betting in the United States was to keep Americans from resorting to offshore sportsbooks, which are unregulated and in some cases have been linked to organized crime.
Bill Miller, president of the American Gaming Association (AGA), says major media outlets only muddy the waters when they tout offshore sportsbooks.
“Unfortunately, many consumers are still unable to distinguish between safe, legal U.S. sportsbooks and unregulated offshore operators,” wrote Miller in a LinkedIn column in mid-May. “This becomes especially difficult when mainstream publications continue to legitimize the dangerous illegal market, blurring the lines between legal, regulated sports betting and the predatory, unregulated offshore market.”
“It’s more than frustrating that legitimate news outlets would give them the patina of credibility,” Miller told iGamingPlayer.com. “These are not just offshore operators. They are illegal, and the public should stay away from them.”
Before You Play
Bettors should beware of offshore bookies “because they don’t contribute to tax revenues in the state, they don’t produce any jobs in the country and there is no guarantee you’ll get paid,” Miller said.
Actually, not getting paid could be the least of your worries when you willingly turn over your bank or credit card information to a disreputable organization.
“You don’t know where the proceeds of the betting are going,” Miller warned. “You’re not at all clear how your personal information is going to be used. If you’re funding (bets) with a PayPal account, what happens with that data? It’s a worry for all of us, all the time, even in the most legitimate business transactions in cyberspace.”
Luckily, it’s easy to find out if you’re dealing with a legitimate, legal, regulated U.S. sportsbook. Click here check the AGA’s interactive map of legal operations in the U.S., which is regularly updated.
What’s An Affiliate, and Why Does It Matter?
In most states, online gaming operators have partners who help them market their products to prospective players. These partners are called affiliates. Affiliates are licensed in each jurisdiction, in a process similar to the one undergone by operators. In some states, this is a lengthy and expensive process. iGaming Player was one of the first licensed affiliates in New Jersey—and it took a year for it to win final licensing approval.
Here’s a good way to determine if an affiliate is legitimate: look at the website’s ads. If the affiliate is advertising any operators NOT listed on the AGA interactive map, there’s a good chance they’re not licensed. Remember, doing business with offshore operators and unlicensed providers, including affiliates, just isn’t worth the gamble.
Be safe. Bet safe.