Safe Sports Betting Sites

Safe sports betting sites are convenient services that provide a trustworthy marketplace for placing wagers on all kinds of sporting events from all over the world.

Naturally, some disreputable sites exist, and because of this, it’s important to learn to tell the difference between sites that are safe and those that aren’t.

A number of popular and totally above-board betting sites exist, as do a number of fly-by-night operations that could completely fold overnight or put your money in the hands of crooked ownership.

But there’s good news - the industry as a whole is relatively safe. That’s because it’s mostly self-regulated and customers indicate their trust in a site with their pocketbook.

We recommend BetOnline as our top choice for a sports betting site

Sports bettors will refuse to do business with crooked websites, their cash reserves will dry up, and they’ll wither on the vine. In other words, it’s easy to identify a rogue bookmaker website provided you know what you’re looking for.

A nice feature of the tight-knit online betting population is their total willingness to warn each other (and the rest of the world) about a betting site that’s operating outside the lines, either withholding payouts, dragging their feet on other financial issues, or just refusing to communicate with customers over concerns.

For Web-based bookmakers to succeed, they need to consistently offer a fair service that handles transactions in a timely manner. Bettors are quick to blacklist bookmakers that aren’t fair or refuse to communicate regarding complaints. This forces them out of the business.

This article will teach you a few simple steps to selecting a safe and above-board sports betting website.

How to Choose a Safe and Reputable Sportsbook

Don’t rely entirely on the kindness of the strangers in the betting world. Even though the sportsbook industry online is self-regulated and consumer-driven, it does include a few very bad apples that are known to be underhanded.

The tips below will help you learn to proceed with caution when placing an online sports bet. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, and combined with good old common sense, you should be able to avoid rogue sportsbook operators altogether.

Do Your Own Research

The Internet is your best tool for researching the legitimacy of online bookmakers.

Reading review sites for details on the sites themselves, browsing gambling forums where you can read about the experiences of real online bettors, and simply checking out sites ahead of time are all ways you can begin to form a picture of a site’s relative safety. It isn’t a quick task, but a few hours of dedication should do the trick.

The idea is to find sources of information about betting sites that aren’t just thinly-veiled advertisements written to convince you to sign up. Some sites are paid commission to send players to a book, so they overlook the negative, accentuate the positive, and the end result is a review that’s not worth your time.

Look for a site with a blacklist – that indicates they’re willing to be honest about sub-par services. You should also be wary if you don’t read anything at all negative about a sportsbook’s services. No site is perfect, and if a reviewer tries to tell you the one he’s writing about is, he’s definitely selling you something.

Stick to Popular Sportsbook Sites

The good news is that the most popular bookmakers on the Internet are generally a safe bet. They have tens of thousands of regular customers that continue to place bets long after signing up - a sure sign that they offer a good service and have the finances to pay winners.

It’s common sense – when other bettors enjoy a site, their recommending it with every wager. That means the world’s most popular sites are also the most trustworthy.

Check Out Customer Support

Another easy way to look into the business practices of a book is to look into their customer support options. Good sites tend to offer some method of contact around the clock, generally a toll-free number that’s answered 24 hours a day. Poor customer service indicates either the site doesn’t have the means to provide around the clock service or they simply don’t want to communicate with their bettors.

By the way, it’s good to do business with a site that has plenty of customer service options so that you can communicate with them about your own issues.

Online Sports Betting vs. Your Neighborhood Bookie

While we’re considering the safety of betting on your favorite sports team online, let’s contrast it to using our friendly neighborhood bookie.

For starters, placing a bet on the Internet is much easier. Once you’ve got your account funded, you research and choose a sportsbook you like, find the bet you want to place, click a few buttons, and wait for the result. You can place your bet while sitting in a meeting, before you get out of bed in the morning, or anywhere you have a Web-capable device and a signal.

Placing a bet with a bookie is not so easy, at least not in our experience. You probably have to deal with a pretty shady character – not all bookies fit the stereotype, but they’re not exactly pleasant guys to be around. To place your bet, you have to call a guy, or maybe even meet some “associate” in a specific location (images of dark alleys are not all that inappropriate in some circumstances), and expose yourself to all kinds of danger.

Even if your neighborhood bookmaker is a totally above-board guy, you may very well be participating in an illegal activity, based not on sports betting laws but on existing anti-private gambling laws. For example, neighborhood bookies are practicing illegally in most American states if they charge any kind of vig or make any profit. By doing hand-to-hand business with this guy, you’re exposing yourself to far more legal risk than with a reputable online casino.

A final benefit of choosing a Web-based book over the guy at your local bar who makes book is variety. If you’re into a number of sports, teams, athletes, and events all over the world, you’re not likely to get the same variety from a neighborhood bookie that you’ll find at the world’s top sportsbooks. I may be wrong, and you may know a guy that will give you a line on next Tuesday’s Bundesliga preseason test match, but I can guarantee you that Web-based bookmakers offer a wider and better variety of options.

US Sports Betting Law

The number of laws in America that regulate gambling is daunting. We have to look at a number of different laws that have been passed over a period of decades in order to get a clear picture of the legality of betting on sports over the Internet in the United States.

Here’s a breakdown on each of the salient regulations on US sports betting.

The Wire Act Of 1961

The Wire Act of 1961 was designed exclusively to cut into the profits of mobsters, who at the time were the main providers of sports betting “by wire” (mostly by phone line). The Wire Act, as it’s called, prohibits specific ways of placing bets. Telephone betting took place because the only city in America where you could bet on sports was Las Vegas, and bettors conducted their business almost exclusively by phone.

The trouble with the Wire Act is that it wasn’t specific enough. It’s difficult, from the language, to piece together which forms of wagers are legal and which aren’t.

Things get more complicated when you throw in the invention of the Internet. The writers of the law in 1961 couldn’t conceive of betting over an Internet connection, so it has been difficult for the federal government to apply the 1961 law to modern-day online betting.

An important note – this law has never been used to prosecute individual sports bettors like ourselves. The goal has always been to prosecute large-scale operations. In fact, the Department of Justice recently clarified the Wire Act, saying that it does not apply to online poker rooms and will not be used to prosecute individual gamblers.

The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA)

Read much about online gambling law and you’ll come across references to the UIGEA. What is it and how does it affect us as sports bettors?

This bill was an attempt on the part of the US government to outlaw online betting through a backdoor tactic – making it illegal for financial institutions to process payments from known online betting organizations. This law does not make it illegal to place sports bets online.

One nasty side effect was that it is a lot harder now for Americans to fund their sports betting and other gambling accounts. Thankfully, some options are still available, and include the usage of prepaid cards, wire transfers, and even postal mail.

If it sounds like the UIGEA makes your online sports bets illegal – remember that you have nothing to fear. In terms of you as an individual sports bettor, the law has no teeth and the government is not interested in your activity. Provided you aren’t using the Internet to run an illegal sportsbooks yourself, you are in no danger from this weird little law.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act

Those of you that are more familiar with US gambling law than others already know about PASPA, as it’s called in certain circles.

The federal government enacted PAPSA in the early 1990's. It’s a complicated act that limits certain states from offering sports bets and allows others to do it explicitly. States in which betting was already going on were grandfathered in, and other states were allowed to apply for exemptions as well. After all the hoopla, only four US states gained exemptions to allow legal bets on sports - Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana.

PASPA governs land-based sports betting, and so far the government has not attempted to use it to cover Web-based betting. PASPA is not a concern, so long as you use an online service.

State Sports Betting Laws

Some US states have specific laws outlawing or tightly controlling betting on sports online (or betting in all forms). Here’s the current list of states that restrict or outlaw sports betting and online betting outright:

  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Both Washington and Maryland are recent converts to the anti-online sports betting movement. But as is often the case in US gaming laws, the bills making the activities a crime target operators and big players, not small-time bettors. If you live in one of these states, you may have a difficult time registering for an online bookmaker account.

Our Opinion on US Sports Betting Legality

From all appearances, it is legal to place sports bets over the Internet in most of the United States. The only areas excepted are those where laws have been explicitly written making any betting activity online illegal.

Take note that no one has ever been charged with the crime of using a website to place a sports bet. It appears the federal government is far more interested in taking down illegal providers of sports betting operations, especially when those operators are tied to white-collars and organized crime.

If you’re a sports bettor, and not some criminal operator yourself, you are perfectly within your right to place a bet on sports on the Internet.

Disclaimer: the information we provide for you in the above paragraphs should in no means be considered legal advice, as no lawyer has ever looked over it. It's simply our opinion based on the existing evidence that we have analyzed for your convenience. If you have any concerns regarding the legality of online sportsbook activities in America, then we would advise you to contact a real lawyer who has experience on the subject and that can answer your questions more directly.

Conclusion

Online sports betting is a completely safe hobby, when practiced with common sense and an understanding of how the crooked operators work. If you stick to the advice above, and check your state and local laws to make sure there’s no existing statute against placing a bet online, you’re making a totally safe online transaction.

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