Congress Taking Aim at Offshore Sportsbooks
Sports betting was recently a topic in the United States Congress last month, but it had nothing to do with the legal industry that is growing throughout the country. Instead a group of Congress members are hoping that they can find a way to get offshore sportsbooks shut down for good.
There were 28 signers on a letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland, and a number of those were from the state of Nevada. A reply was requested by September 6, but it’s unclear if one will be granted by them.
Offshore sportsbooks have been around for decades and they have been accepting customers from the United States. Even in states that have legal sports betting, bettors are still seeking out these websites as a way to place wagers.
One of the biggest arguments included in the letter was the fact that these sportsbooks are not regulated in the United States and therefore do not have to pay any taxes to the government. Several states have actually used this argument as a way to get legal sports betting implemented so that they can have a new source of revenue.
Members of the Congress are also worried about the lack of safety and security that these sites provide sports bettors. Regulated sites in the United States take additional steps to ensure safety and security, but personal information might not be secure at these offshore sportsbooks.
Bovada A Big Target
There are a large number of offshore sportsbooks on the internet, but this letter specifically called out three of those options. BetOnline, Bovada, and MyBookie are well known in the sports betting community, and members of the Congress cited the growth of Bovada in the letter.
According to data that was included, Bovada represented half of all internet searches for offshore sportsbooks, and those searches grew by over 40 percent in 2021. Bovada was founded all the way back in 1997 and has built up a big customer base since that time.
Since this letter was written there have been some big proponents step up and help push the issue. Groups that want to shut down offshore sportsbooks include the American Gaming Association, the NFL and MLB.
Hard to Monitor
Even if Attorney General Garland does respond to the letter, critics wonder what exactly can be done to keep this from happening. Garland, and the United States, do not have the power to shut these sites down completely because they are operating from a different country.
There weren’t any solutions or ideas included in the letter as the Congress is simply hoping that the Department of Justice gets involved. Blocking a website’s domain could be one option, but that would also create some additional issues.
If there is a response from the Attorney General by the beginning of September then that is when this battle could really begin.
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