While battles for sports betting in Texas continue to take place at an accelerated rate, there is another side of the coin that demands more consideration: The Lone Star State’s attempt to take action against offshore sports betting.
Officials from Texas recently joined a bi-partisan group that sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking the Department of Justice to take action against offshore sportsbooks. No official response has been given from the D.O.J. on the matter, but members of the coalition who signed the request are hoping to hear a resolution sometime before the end of September 2022.
If successful, this letter would crack down on offshore sports betting across the United States—not only in places where online sports gambling remains illegal, but everywhere. In fact, it isn’t just states like Texas that have supported the proposed measure. Elected officials from Pennsylvania, which has already legalized sports wagering, have been driving forces behind the letter’s creation and intent.
Why, exactly, are Texas and other states looking to crack down on offshore sports betting? And what does this even entail? And will it be successful?
Offshore Sports Betting Becoming Increasingly Common in United States
Even with the increase of legal sports betting throughout the USA, offshore transactions appear to be on the rise. According to the group of 28 officials who signed the letter to the D.O.J., internet searches for “offshore sports betting” spiked by 40 percent in 2021, and they expect that number to climb higher in 2022.
Statistically speaking, these searches are most prevalent in states that haven’t legalized any form of sports betting. But they are also common in states with some form of sports betting. Many places, such as Wisconsin and Kansas, have legalized only in-person sports betting at casinos. And in locations like this, there remains a robust market for online wagering, which can only take place via offshore sportsbooks.
The bi-partisan group looking to police offshore sports betting has also noted that these overseas transactions remain prevalent even in states with no restrictions on how they take sports bets. Plenty of people in Nevada, for example, are still placing their online wagers with offshore bookies.
Oftentimes, this is the result of confusion. Many new bettors cannot discern offshore sports betting from domestic wagering. If online sports betting is legal in their state, they simply think every gambling website falls under that purview. In reality, however, it does not.
Finally, officials continue to worry about people who engage in offshore betting as an attempt to evade detection. It is much harder to track transactions from overseas companies, an obstacle that appeals to anyone who doesn’t wish to claim their winnings when filing taxes.
Can Texas Realistically Police Offshore Sports Betting?
From a purely financial perspective, the attempt to eradicate offshore sports betting in the United States makes sense. States that have legalized gambling naturally want that revenue flowing through their own system, while places such as Texas that have so far opposed sports betting altogether, are looking to better enforce their stance.
The issue, though, is this idea won’t be easy to execute in practice. Geo-tracking data remains the best defense against prohibiting transactions at certain sites and in certain countries. The United States can absolutely beef up web security while also instructing credit card companies and banks not to process deposits and transfers from known offshore sportsbooks.
Still, this is an incredibly heavy lift and will take a vast amount of time, energy, and financial resources. And even if the United States dedicates itself to halting offshore sports betting, there will remain ways around any new initiatives. Prospective gamblers can use VPN services or even change their method of payment to cryptocurrency in order to fly under the radar.
Of course, states with legal online sports betting can try incentivizing residents to use their domestic partners. Online sports betting promotions have become much more lucrative over the past couple of years for this exact reason.
But that doesn’t do much for Texas. So long as they remain without legal online gambling, there will be a high demand for offshore sports betting.
Offshore Sportsbooks are Likely to Hear to Stay
As noted previously, the D.O.J. has yet to act or turn down the bi-partisan group’s request to impose stricter offshore sports betting policies. To be honest, though, we don’t expect much to come from it.
Most offshore sportsbooks have been around longer than the domestic online bookies now operating in the United States. Heck, scroll through our reviews of the top online sportsbooks, and you’ll be treated to a catalog of reputable sites that have been in business for decades. With the exception of on-site sportsbooks in Las Vegas, Nevada, no company in the U.S. can say the same.
This invariably matters to many bettors. They more implicitly trust offshore sportsbooks because they’ve generally been around the longest. So even in states with legal online sports betting, there will remain interested in placing wagers overseas.
As such, you can’t kill offshore sports betting entirely. You can only hope to limit it.
For Texas specifically, this has nothing to do with authoring new policies and laws that make gambling overseas prohibitive. But rather, it has everything to do with finally embracing the legalization of sports betting when they have the next chance to do so…in 2024.
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