Since May 2018, a number of US states have legalized retail and online sports gambling, and the list continues to grow almost every month. Prior to their introduction to the country, the go-to option was the offshore sportsbook, but this is changing as more sports gamblers turn to regulated alternatives. Gaming industry executive and sports gambling expert Adam Bjorn discusses why it’s in the gambler’s best interest to choose a regulated sportsbook over an offshore operator.

Among the states that now have a regulated sports gambling industry are Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Michigan, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Nevada and a handful of others – several of these have also authorized online sports gambling, while a small number decided to not introduce the option. That, however, could change in the future as states with online sports gambling are realizing greater returns with their markets.

Offshore gambling is considered illegal in the US because these are not regulated by any US regulatory body. However, they operate in somewhat of a grey area. Explains Bjorn, “Offshore sportsbooks became a valid alternative because, before May 2018, the US didn’t have any legal sports gambling options and the government wasn’t able to punish offshore operators. However, some of these are regulated by other countries, where they hold a license, which affords users some type of protection should something go wrong.”

It’s always smarter to choose a sportsbook in the US because it’s regulated. In the event there is an issue, consumers can turn to the regulating authority for resolution, and the operator is always just one step away from being fined or, worse, having its license revoked for extremely egregious violations of gambling laws. This level of protection is not possible with offshore operators.

Another disadvantage of using an offshore sportsbook is the banking methods and fees that are associated with these operators. Adds Bjorn, “Often, depositing and withdrawing can be more restrictive and trying to access a withdrawal can be challenging. Withdrawal fees in many offshore sportsbooks are high and the time needed to be able to receive the money is exorbitant. Cryptocurrencies are a good alternative for monetary transactions, but these are becoming more regulated, as well.”

Interacting with a US-based site gives gamblers access to mainstream deposits – bank transfers, credit cards and, if viable, cash deposits at the venue. In addition, in every state that has launched legal sports gambling, protections have been required that are designed to keep gamblers safe. Self-exclusion lists are standard and gamblers can more closely monitor their habits to avoid running into any issues.

When trying to determine whether an online sportsbook is regulated or not, there are a few signs that will provide the necessary confirmation. The licensing authority will be prominently listed on the website, giving its name and the details of the license, such as number, expiration date, etc. In addition, if a sportsbook routinely has difficulty completing withdrawals, it could be a sign that there are issues and avoiding that site is recommended. High withdrawal fees are also a sign that it might be better to seek an alternative.

Sports gambling is increasing in popularity in the US, and this trend is going to continue. Says Bjorn, “Some estimates say that over 40 states could have legal, regulated sports gambling industries in as little as three to four years. This is going to give sports gambling enthusiasts all across the country a number of options to choose from, as it will increase the competitive market. Even though offshore sports gambling is a huge industry, where possible, it’s better to choose a US-based, regulated sports gambling operator.”