Bettors in the United States who wager on sports illegally using an offshore sportsbook are risking their money on more than just the outcomes of the sporting events. They are also blindly trusting that the site’s operators won’t cheat them.
One popular offshore US sports betting website inexplicably disappeared and possibly took bettors’ money with it. Because of the illegal nature, there is little any person who lost out can do about it as well.
Offshore sportsbook suddenly vanishes
Earlier this week, Sportsbook.ag’s home page changed to simply feature a “down for maintenance” image. The negative consequences of betting illegally might be natural. Multiple social media posts about the sportsbook indicated a complete vanishing.
Customers say that Sportsbook.ag’s customer service chat and email were completely unresponsive.
There has been no word out of Sportsbook.ag as to whether customers’ balances were safe during the outage. So far, there are no verified reports of customers accessing their accounts to check their balances.
That lack of verification is enough of an issue on its own, but the illegal nature of the activity amplifies the problem greatly. It could be an expensive lesson for some bettors that not only does crime not pay, but it’s also a legitimate cost as well.
Why there is probably no recourse for bettors
While Sportsbook.ag and other offshore sports betting websites will accept bets from people in the US, it is technically illegal according to multiple federal and state laws to do so while on US soil. Federal and state authorities have yet actually to prosecute anyone for betting on an offshore sportsbook.
However, there’s no guarantee that will remain the case in perpetuity. At any time, governing bodies could start to prosecute the activity with no advance notice. Short of that, though, there is another important distinction between betting illegally and legally.
If a regulated sportsbook simply goes offline with zero warning and is unresponsive, customers of those books can contact the regulatory bodies in their jurisdictions for assistance. The regulators have authority over those sportsbook operators and can ensure customers are taken care of.
If a person contacts the gambling regulatory body in their state asking for help with a grievance with an illegal sportsbook, that person will be admitting to committing a crime. Additionally, those regulatory bodies will have no power to do anything about an offshore operator.
Consumer protection is one of the big reasons why states began legalizing sports betting within their borders in the US. This is a perfect example of exactly what those states hope to protect people from.