How to Know if the Sports Betting Website is Illegal?

online sports betting - Man watching football play online broadcast on his laptop, cheering for his favourite team, making bets at bookmaker's website.


In recent years, many states have changed their laws so that online betting is now legal. If you live in New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, West Virginia, Michigan, or Pennsylvania, you can legally place bets on major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Indy 500, UFC, etc. 

You have legal options in all states where online sports betting is permitted, but you may also come across sites that are not regulated by your state. However, while you can legally place online sports bets in the states mentioned above, how do you know that the website you are using is legal? Other than signing up for the states with legal sports betting at, your only option is to stay vigilant and learn what to look out for.

Illegal Offshore Betting Sites

Before many states legalized online sports betting, bettors had just one option if they wanted to place sports bets online. That was to use illegal offshore sports betting websites that readily accepted punters from the US. To this day, many of those websites still exist, with some open to US punters.

Some of you may have used these sites previously, received marketing from them, or have heard of them via betting websites, forums, or social media. These sites have found ways to circumvent banking restrictions put in place to try and prevent US money from leaving the country. Some of these sports betting brands even have strong reputations because of their operations in other countries. However, no matter how trustworthy an offshore sports betting website is or looks, you are not protected if anything goes wrong as an American.

Whether you want to wager on Lionel Messi, to score against Real Madrid, back Lewis Hamilton to win the F1 championship, or place in-play bets on live streams of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches, if the sportsbook refuses to payout if you win, there is nothing you can do. The betting site is not licensed and regulated in your state, so it does not have to answer anyone and can make up the rules as it goes along.

How to Tell if a Sports Betting Website is Legal?

The best way to ensure that the sports betting website you have visited is legal is to check the page’s footer. The gaming commissions license all legal sites in the states they operate in. 

The following are the regulatory bodies that regulate and license sports betting sites in the six states where online sports betting is legal:

  • New Jersey (New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement)
  • Connecticut (Connecticut Lottery Corporation)
  • Delaware (Delaware Gaming Enforcement)
  • West Virginia (Lottery i-Gaming Interim Supplier License)
  • Michigan (Michigan Gaming Control Board)
  • Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board)

When you scroll down to the footer of the homepage on the online sports betting site, if it is legal, you will see the seal of the applicable regulatory body above. In most cases, these seals are clickable links that take you back to the official website of the state licensing body. You can see if the seal and license are valid by clicking these.

The Difference with an Offshore Online Sports Betting Site

At a sports betting site located outside of America, it is unlikely to have that seal of approval. It may have a seal of approval from other regulatory bodies and countries that it is regulated to operate in, but not one from the regulatory bodies listed above. As mentioned previously, these sites might have to license elsewhere, which suggests they are trustworthy. However, why take the risk when you have state-licensed platforms you can use instead?

What are the Legal Ramifications of Betting at Offshore Sports Betting Sites?

While it is unlikely you will get into trouble betting at offshore casinos or sports betting sites, it is possible. It will depend on the state you live in, as each will have its own set of rules. However, most will place the offense on the platform rather than the punter. It is still possible that you could face a small fine or citation. In the worst-case scenario, you could face a misdemeanor, leading to up to a year in jail.

In other words, why take the risk when you have perfectly legal options in your own state? You can place bets on the possibility of the Las Vegas Raiders signing Colin Kaepernick, or West Ham winning the premiership at licensed sites. The sports betting industry is growing in each of the above-licensed states, so more platforms will probably come your way too! Other states are relaxing their laws or considering the legalization of online sports betting, so even more of you will soon have access to trusted and legal sports betting platforms.

How do you know if a Sports Betting Website is illegal?
How do you know if a Sports Betting Website is illegal?
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