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Massachusetts Joins 7 States Calling Federal Action Against Offshore Betting

Written By J.R. Duren | Updated:
MA Gaming Commissions writes DOJ Letter To Crackdown on offshore gambling sites

It’s time for a crackdown on sports betting.

That’s the message Massachusetts gaming regulators will send the Department of Justice (DOJ) via a letter calling for federal leaders to wage a regulatory war against offshore betting sites.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) finalized in a meeting this week the letter it will send to Attorney General Merrick Garland. A video clip of the letter showed:

“The MGC and its regulatory colleagues in other jurisdictions are concerned about the dangers of illegal, offshore gambling websites. We join with the jurisdictions that were signatories on the attached letter in asking that the Department of Justice and your colleagues in the federal government prioritize investigation of these offshore sites.”

The Commonwealth becomes the eighth state to petition the DOJ to take action against offshore sites.

Why offshore sites are a danger to the betting industry

In general, states that offer sports betting have an intricate web of regulations meant to protect bettors, operators, and the sports on which wagers are placed.

  • From the bettor’s perspective, that regulatory safety net ensures they get paid out when they win.
  • From a law enforcement perspective, regulations require technology that can verify a player’s age and identify transactions that could be used for money laundering.
  • From an operator’s perspective, state regulations ensure that the playing field is even—everyone should play by the same rules.

However, offshore betting sites cut cleanly through those regulations, skipping over the safeguards that regulations put in place.

States have argued that this puts the bettor in jeopardy of getting stiffed on a payout. And if that happens, there is little recourse for the bettor—their money is as good as gone.

Simply put, offshore bettors aren’t playing by the same rules that regulated US sportsbooks do.

And, to make matters worse, offshore books have managed to advertise in US markets as well as online.

MGC has had enough of offshore betting

With all the above dangers in mind, the MGC crafted its letter to Garland. Additionally, it attached the letter that a coalition of seven states sent to Garland earlier this year. Those seven states were:

  1. Colorado
  2. Illinois
  3. Louisiana
  4. Michigan
  5. Mississippi
  6. New Jersey
  7. Nevada

The MGC echoed several of the themes in the letter the coalition sent. It noted that offshore sites are not held to the same standard as their US counterparts are. This means there are no rules for responsible gaming, consumer protection, or data integrity. Further, offshore books steal business from legitimate Massachusetts online gambling sites.

“Illegal, offshore gambling operators are not held to these same standards by any regulatory authority, and often take advantage of the legalized landscape in jurisdictions such as Massachusetts to attract customers to their products,” the MGC wrote.

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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