According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), Americans wager around $150 billion annually on the underground and offshore sports gambling markets. The offshore market is large and so deeply ingrained that offshore oddsmakers’ lines are routinely referenced in mainstream media and on TV. The Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 to dissolve the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) has given way to the ability of states to launch legal sports gambling markets, and there has been no shortage of interest. Adam Bjorn, a gambling industry executive, discusses why legal, regulated sportsbooks are the better option for sports gamblers.

There are numerous different reasons why you shouldn’t give offshore sportsbooks a second thought. In any case, by a wide margin, the greatest is the issue of security. In many instances, there are no standards set up for offshore sites to hold fast to with regards to securing delicate financial and personal data, as well as money deposited on the site. Additionally, if you stake a sizable sum and win a wager, there’s no assurance you’ll be paid out, which creates another problem. Explains Bjorn, “Since there is no administrative body to screen operators and ensure the security of players, gamblers are limited on their legal options should they need to file a claim. While this isn’t meant to say that all offshore gambling operators are crooks, the inevitability of not having oversight is obvious.”

“Offshore” is not precisely synonymous with unregulated when discusses US sports gambling. There are a number of offshore sites that are regulated by the countries where they are headquartered; however, gamblers should always first properly identify any site before deciding to sign up and make a deposit. There are now several offshore sites that are seeking US-based licenses, and this list will only grow as the sports gambling industry matures in the US.

Some offshore sportsbooks are controlled by unreputable organizations that can basically go about as they wish, unafraid of discipline. In a worst-case situation, gamblers could wake up one day to discover the site, and your cash, is no longer there. Perhaps the organization has either been forced to shut down or decided to close on its own – either way, there’s almost nothing that can be done about it.

On the other hand, regulated sites offer a greater amount of security. Standard methods of funding an account, such as credit cards or PayPal, have implicit client insurance. The sites also often have better gambling platforms and options that provide for a more entertaining, pleasant experience. Adds Bjorn, “In many cases, regulated platforms offer dependable advancements and rewards, and practically all will give you some cash to play with in advance. They also give customary promotions through things like boosted odds or insurance that can lessen the sting of taking a close loss.”

Regulated sports gambling sites also offer greater responsible gambling protections. These managed books have controls set up to ensure minors and problem gamblers are protected and allow users to establish deposit limits or to “self-exclude” if they feel they need to take a break.

Since 2018, a number of states have launched their own regulated sports gambling markets. There are now regulated sportsbooks in Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, DC, Tennessee, Nevada (one of the original sports gambling states), Colorado, Rhode Island and more. A number of other states have either recently approved sports gambling legislation or could approve it within the next two years, and the total number of states to offer regulated sports gambling markets is predicted to reach more than 35 by 2023.

Although some states don’t have complete positions on sports gambling, each has a legal definition of what constitutes an illegal gambling operator. This helps residents understand their place and opportunities for dealing with regulated or nonregulated entities. Asserts Bjorn, “Be wary of unlicensed and unregulated operators. Those who want to serve online gamblers in a particular country where they don’t hold a license could launch from another country and provide unregulated gambling options.”