Is There Anything Illegal About Betting At Offshore Sites?


In 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) to ban sports wagering, but within the last two years, the Supreme Court struck down the federal law and opened a flood of possibilities for legalized sports betting. While the law was in effect, thousands of U.S. citizens found offshore bookmakers and a billion-dollar black market sportsbook industry where they could place a sports wage. Since then, the appetite for sports betting has only grown more ravenous. Though there is over $150 billion annual waged on the black market, there is still a huge concern over the ability to bet legally offshore.

The Offshore Market

While it may be considered a black market, the industry receives plenty of attention in mainstream publications, online media, and television commercials. Offshore lines offer a lot of options for the individual willing to take the risk, but it isn’t just about the money that could be lost. The legality of the choice is still hotly debated. For many, Las Vegas has held the answer to legal offshore betting, since Vegas has been a gray area with regard to placing legal bets. Even with the repeal of (PASPA) in 2018, only two states were able to quickly legalize mobile betting. Both Nevada and New Jersey allowed mobile betting from anywhere within the state, but this didn’t help those who lived in other regions across the nation. However, as the nation moved into 2019, casinos in West Virginia, Mississippi, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Rhode Island began to offer full-fledged sports wagering services. Offshore betting has long been a habit and isolates opportunity for more Americans looking to make a wager, but as states continue to pass legislation, the corner on the market might be stripped away. However, since it will take time for well-financed U.S.-based companies to provide legal sports betting options for all American citizens, there is little indication that offshore opportunities won’t be stifled.

The Legality of Offshore Betting

Even though the United States has passed laws to prevent transactions between offshore sportsbooks and patrons within the U.S., there is nothing illegal about them if you are betting locally. That is, locally in the country where the sportsbook is based. Although U.S. banks are required to flag any transactions that occur between sportsbook operators and U.S. based patrons, there is no law that explicitly states that Americans are prohibited from both depositing and partaking in sports wagering.  The law that causes questions is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This legislation has made it difficult for offshore sportsbooks, but it hasn’t slowed down the movement or made business impossible. With the advent of the internet and mobile devices, the language of the laws that exist on the books are often the reason to skit the issue of legal gambling. However, the consensus among legal experts remains the same. Even though some who place an offshore bet in the United States may never get caught or prosecuted, it doesn’t change the nature of legality according to existing legislation. However, many people feel that issues of legality with offshore sportsbooks should be directed to the state-level authorities and lawmakers.

The Money Problem With Offshore Betting

The primary concern, it would seem, for those who have desired to restrict access to offshore sports wagers is an inability to gain an accurate slice of the revenue. Taxation is a major concern, as states are looking at how they can take their cut of the earnings. Too much tax will create an inability of the local bookies to both retain customers or turn a profit. Each state is taking a different approach to the tax concerns, with New Jersey making an 8.5% on in-person wagers and a steeper 13% for online bets. The state of Rhode Island is floating a number of 51% of net revenue when it comes to the profit-sharing arrangement. With offshore sportsbooks, these numbers and policies become motivators. There isn’t such as taxation problem when you can place a bet in an overseas location.

The Growing Competition of Offshore Betting

Since sports betting has seen a shift in regulation in the last few years, the offshore sportsbooks will see an increase in competition. There a new commercial track options for major leagues and organizations within the U.S., such as the collaborations between the NBA, the MLB, and MGM. Negotiations have led to MGM Resorts International being designated as the official gaming partner for these leagues. Additionally, new policies and practices within the United States that work in favor of the consumers that have issues with their accounts or payouts are more attractive.

Offshore betting can be a financial risk, but so is a legal wager placed on a sporting event taking place in the United States. Anyone who wants to try their luck with a wager should do so with great thought and careful study.

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