Offshore vs US Regulated Online Sportsbooks: Pros & Cons – A Comparison

For decades, the citizens of the United States were unable to bet on sports legally as a result of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) from 1992. This caused Americans to turn to offshore sportsbooks as the only alternative to bypass these restrictions. 

Although there is a significant number of offshore sportsbooks that managed to build a good reputation among bettors from the U.S., the fact is that the majority of them didn’t offer a good experience.  Finally, in 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned the PASPA’s sports betting restrictions, which opened the way for states to establish regulated sportsbooks and offer their citizens a fully legal way to bet online. 

As of 2019, there are 13 U.S. states that offer regulated sports betting with seven of them passing the law that will make betting on sports legal. Three of those states – New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada – also regulate online sports betting while West Virginia and Delaware are also on the track to do the same in the near future. 

So, you are probably interested in finding out the differences between offshore and U.S. regulated online sportsbooks as well as their advantages and disadvantages. So let’s get to it. 

What are the Offshore Online Sportsbooks?

The term offshore online sportsbook usually applies to the online betting sites that are unregulated by the U.S. government and are under the jurisdiction of some other country. Some of the popular countries where these sportsbooks operate from include Costa Rica, Panama, Curacao, and similar small countries.

These offshore sportsbooks target the United States as their market due to its size and the fact that Americans have limited option when it comes to betting. It is important to note that just because you can sign to these sites and deposit money; it doesn’t mean they are technically legal under the U.S. law.

Although they are operating in “a gray area,” offshore online sports betting sites are extremely popular with U.S. citizens, and it is estimated by American Gaming Association that $150 billion is wagered on these sites by Americans.  If you want to check out whether some betting site belongs to this group, go to the footer of the site and look for the name of the country that is listed as a license provider. Another sign that you are betting on an offshore sportsbook is that their deposit options are limited and include cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or wire transfers. 

Offshore vs US Regulated Online Sportsbooks

Are the Offshore Online Sportsbooks legal?

Most of you are probably wondering whether placing bets on offshore online betting sites is illegal. Well, the answer is: yes and no. 

See, the offshore sportsbooks are operating against the U.S. law by taking your bets, but placing a bet offshore isn’t criminalized in most of the states. Even in states where online gambling is outlawed, like Utah and Washington, the laws considering this are almost never enforced. You’ll be glad to hear that no one was ever arrested for betting offshore. 

 U.S Regulated Online Sportsbooks: Where is Online Gambling Legal? 

The regulated online sportsbook is a sports betting website sanctioned by its respective U.S. state. They are usually licensed by casinos or racetracks and are completely legal to use in their native state.  New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada are three U.S. states where you can find and use regulated online sportsbooks. Other states that have made sports betting legal are also in the process of setting up online sports betting sites.

You’ll easily recognize the regulated online sportsbook thanks to the badge of its licensing authority, which is usually displayed in a visible spot on the home page. Also, they will provide mainstream deposit and withdrawal options, including credit cards, PayPal, and others. 

Advantages of Using Offshore Online Sportsbooks

Availability

The biggest advantage of offshore online sportsbooks is their availability to U.S. citizens as you can use most of these sites in all 50 states. The sign-up process is fairly easy and simple so that you can get straight into the action in a matter of minutes.  Also, they are available 24/7, so you can bet anytime you want. 

Number and Offers 

Then, there is a lot of them to choose from, so you can use the one that feels the most cater to your needs. Some of these sites may offer more events from your favorite sport or enable you to bet on sports that may not be so commonly featured by other sportsbooks. 

Bonuses 

Another advantage of offshore online sportsbooks is that they offer extremely generous bonuses. Most of them will offer to match your initial deposit to 100%, or even give you a bonus if you don’t deposit at all. 

Disadvantages of Using Offshore Online Sportsbooks

Jurisdiction

The biggest disadvantage of offshore online sports betting sites is the fact that they are not under the jurisdiction of the U.S. law. This is important because in the case that the site gets shut down, or some other problem emerges, you can’t ask for your money back. You can try, but since player disputes are not dealt with the government of the United States, there is a good chance you’ll be on the losing end. 

Payment Processing

Then there are issues with payment processing. Due to the fact that they operate in previously mentioned “gray area,” offshore sportsbooks often experience issues with banks and financial networks. This is why you shouldn’t be surprised if you want to deposit some money to make a bet and find out that the transaction can’t be processed. 

Then there are fees associated with withdrawals. Since it’s usually expensive for offshore online betting sites to process payments, they tend to ask for a handsome fee when you want to withdraw your winnings. Also, there are withdrawal minimums that can be pretty annoying. 

Platforms and Offer

Although there are some exceptions, most of the offshore online sportsbooks don’t have user-friendly platforms. New users can find it hard to get accustomed to the interface, and finding the desired sports event to bet on can be a challenge. Also, these sites rarely offer mobile apps, so you can’t use them on the go. 

Another thing that might trouble some users is the lack of live, in-play betting. Regulated sportsbooks offer their users an opportunity to place bets on events while they are underway, and feature odds updated in real-time. Offshore sportsbooks usually don’t have this option, or when they do, it is poorly implemented. 

Offshore vs US Regulated Online Sportsbooks

US Offshore Online Sportsbooks: A Good Idea or Not? 

If you have weighed the pros and cons and decided to use offshore online sportsbook, then make sure you choose a reputable betting provider with a long history of making their customers satisfied. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to pay attention to some red flags that usually indicate something shady is happening. 

Throughout the history of offshore online sports betting, there were numerous examples where users were tricked out of their money. So, if you notice that it takes longer to get your withdrawals or that there are fewer withdrawal options than it was, to begin with, get out your bankroll as soon as possible. 

Also, always read the fine print when it comes to bonuses. Despite offering large bonuses, most of these sites find a way to limit the user from using them in a preferred way. 

Advantages of Using Regulated Online Sportsbooks

Safety

The biggest plus for regulated online sportsbooks is their safety. Since they are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government, they need to operate under strict law requirements that are put in place to protect the users. This means that you’ll unlikely to have any issues using the site, and in case you do, there is a governing body that you can file a complaint to and that can investigate the issue. 

Deposit and Withdrawal Methods

Regulated sportsbooks offer numerous deposit and withdrawal methods that are safe, convenient, and fast. Whether your preference is using credit cards, PayPal or even cash, the sportsbook will probably give you an option to both deposit and withdraw money in that way. 

Protection and Responsible Gambling

Due to law requirements imposed by states, regulated online sportsbooks have an implemented infrastructure that enables and encourages safe betting and gambling. This includes tools like self-exclusion, setting a deposit limit and option to limit your time spent on the website. There is also a system of help for people with a history of gambling problems. 

 Quality 

Regulated sportsbooks usually have top-notch platforms and software that make your online betting experience unparalleled. Besides user-friendly interface and easy-to-navigate websites, they also offer mobile apps for Android and IOS, enabling you to bet on your favorite sports anytime, anywhere. 

Also, the betting offering of regulated sportsbooks is of premium quality. You’ll get the best odds and opportunity to wager on almost everything included in a particular sports event.  Of course, we also shouldn’t forget about in-play and live betting, which is a standard for regulated online betting sites. 

Disadvantages of Using Regulated Online Sportsbooks

Availability

Once again, we have to take into consideration the availability of U.S. regulated sportsbooks. If you are not a resident of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, then you can forget about using online betting sites as of now. 

If you live in one of these three states, then you’ll notice that, while you can bet online on sports, there are not lots of sportsbooks to choose from. Given the fact that online sports betting was made legal just a year ago, there isn’t a significant number of sites for you to choose from. 

Sign-Up Process 

Getting signed up for a regulated sportsbook site can be a long and demanding process. The chances are that you will need to provide all the info about yourself and will have to wait until your account gets approved.   

Taxes

When you bet on U.S. soil, you will have to hand over a significant portion of your winnings to the government through tax. Also, you will need to report any winnings, no matter how small they are, when you file taxes. 

Each state that offers sports betting regulated the matter in a different way. New Jersey requires you to pay 8.5% taxes for in-person wagering and 13% for online betting, while West Virginia doesn’t make a difference and keeps a 10% rate.  

Another thing to consider is the withholding tax. Under the U.S. law, when you win $5,000 or more, the payer of the winnings will withhold the federal taxes and deduct it from the amount you are scheduled to receive. 

Offshore vs US Regulated Online Sportsbooks

US Regulated Online Sportsbooks: A Good Idea or Not? 

While there are lots of good sides to the regulated online sportsbooks, the fact that they are not available in all U.S. states makes them fitting for just one small portion of the American population. Also, they are still new on the market, so we expect to see some growing pains that might interfere with the proper betting experience. 

Final Thoughts: Which Ones to Choose? 

Despite regulated U.S. online sportsbooks entering the picture, it is hard to expect that offshore online sports betting sites will go bankrupt anytime soon. There are some states that have strong opposition to sports betting while others require that the betting gets done in person. Also, the states that decide to legalize online sports betting will enter this process with caution. 

All of this will not only leave a significant market for offshore sportsbooks but also might bring them to some new customers. Since online gambling in the United States is now practically legal, Americans will be eager to get in on the fan. With some states not being equipped to handle this demand, they will turn to offshore alternatives. 

With that being said, the fact is that regulated online sports betting is always a better option. You’ll get a better betting experience, knowing that you can always access your winnings and deposit the money anytime you like. Also, as more sportsbooks enter the market, the players will benefit from the competition. Most of the companies behind the new sports betting sites are well experienced in this field and are bringing in an already proven system. This will mean better platforms, innovative types of betting, more bonuses, and bigger odds. 

If you want to learn more about the sportsbooks in the US, here you can find a comparison article of the best sportsbooks in the US! 

Offshore vs US Regulated Online Sportsbooks Last Update: September 2019