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Are you a US resident looking for a legal online betting site? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
We know how frustrating the online betting experience can be for US punters. Ever since the UIGEA (2006) sent American players into online betting exile, it’s been a tough road.
Yet, it is still possible to bet online if you’re American. There are still sites that happily cater to you, and thanks to innovations like cryptocurrencies, there is an increasing number of them. Check out the sites in the table above to get started.
Essential Points for US Bettors to Understand
- In 2006, the US government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This made it tough for American players to place bets online. While the legislation is aimed at operators rather than players, it still makes things a little difficult to understand. One important change is that online providers are no longer able to operate from within US borders.
- As you might expect, since the USA is one of the biggest gambling markets in the world, the US online betting sites simply moved offshore. Places like Costa Rica and Curacao now host most of the top US betting sites.
- There has been plenty of talk about reform in US betting online. That said, nothing concrete ever seems to happen. Luckily, it’s still possible for American players to bet on sports, play casino games, and enjoy poker online.
- Due to the fact that some casinos won’t accept American players, there has been much innovation with US betting sites accepting cryptocurrencies. We’ll talk a little more about this later.
- Because it’s a legal grey area, it’s that much more important to be safe. There are plenty of sharks waiting to take advantage of inexperienced bettors. Below, we’ll explain how to stay safe when betting online.
So, as you can see, the US online betting scene is a little up in the air. It’s okay, though, because we are here to shed light on it for you and guide you through the process of selecting a safe US betting site.
As the old saying goes, it’s easy when you know how!
A Little History of Online Gambling in the USA
Online gambling has always been a contentious issue in the good old land of the free. Even from way back in the ‘90s, there have been attempts to block and curtail US online gambling.
The earliest attempts didn’t work, though, and for a while, the USA was the biggest market by a mile for online gambling. During the ‘90s and early 2000s, there was somewhat of an online gambling extravaganza, and US players lead the pack.
During these boom years, online poker rooms, sportsbooks, and casinos were chockablock with US players. The industry was at its peak, and billions were exchanging hands annually.
In 2004, the Department of Justice took the position that the Federal Wire Act could be interpreted to prohibit online gambling in any form via wire and that those who promote online gambling may be ‘aiding and abetting.’ The response was almost instant, and search giants Google and Yahoo both put a stop to paid advertising for gambling.
While there was plenty of bickering over whether this move by the Justice Department was in accordance with the law, the US continued to take a harsh stance against online gambling. Several executives of major online gambling firms, such as Peter Dicks of Sportingbet, were detained while traveling in the USA.
Then, in 2006, the UIGEA was passed. This made it illegal for banks and financial institutions to make transactions to online gambling sites. What was once a tidal wave of gambling cash was reduced to a river, then a stream, and then barely a trickle by the end of 2008, when the regulations came into full force. Offshore sites in the Caribbean, among other places, never stopped offering services, though, and they have reaped vast profits since the clampdown.
There have been legal challenges since, such as the well-known one by the state of New Jersey to allow online sports betting for its residents, which was successful. There have also been disputes over whether poker can be legally banned, since proponents claim it is a game of skill, and the wording of the law prohibits transactions to sites offering games of chance.
However, as long as UIGEA stands, the US online gambling market is unlikely to ever recover to what it once was.
US Betting Sites – How to Stay Safe
With all those offshore servers hosting US gambling sites, the need to stay safe is great. Don’t worry, though; we’ve got you covered. That’s what this section is all about.
The easiest way to stay safe is to stick with expert-approved sites. That said, we get that you might want to understand the process of picking a US betting site.
It’s hugely important to be cautious when making a decision. Sadly, there are lots of unscrupulous operators willing to take advantage of US gamblers, knowing there’s little legal recourse if you choose to bet online.
Even if a site is hosted offshore in a place like Costa Rica, it should have a license to operate. Curacao is a popular destination for sites catering to US players, so a license from there is a start.
A poor website design, slow or unprofessional customer service, unrecognizable game software providers, or poor English on the website can all be tell-tale signs that a gambling site may be one to avoid. Go with your gut on this, and if you have any doubt, leave it out.
If the site offers casino games and publishes its Return To Player percentages, that’s a good sign. It’s especially good if these are verified by a third-party specialist in this area, such as eCogra.
The customer service team isn’t hired to sit and twiddle their thumbs all day. They are paid to assist you and answer your questions. Ask them anything you want to know and ask for clarification if you find anything suspicious or unclear.
We know — reading betting site terms and conditions is about as exciting as waiting for a bus. However, we suggest skim-reading at the least and paying attention to the deposit and withdrawal policies and the general terms of service. If there’s anything sinister afoot, it will likely be written right there in the terms.
In our in-depth reviews, we always take time to focus on the management. If they have a history of ripping people off, we’ll tell you. If they’re award-winning superstars, we’ll tell you that, too. The people behind the site can tell you a lot about what to expect.
If you have any doubts about the site, don’t be tempted by a generous welcome bonus. What use is that if you can’t ever get your money back? Deposit a small amount, bet, and try to make a withdrawal. You’ll soon find out if the site is legitimate.
We don’t want to scare you off! There are so many more honest and trustworthy US betting sites than there are frauds. We’re just trying to give you a heads-up so you don’t get swindled, especially if you’re new to betting online.
Since knowledge is power and the best way to avoid a scam is to see it coming, we’ve put together a short list of some of the most common online gambling swindles.
Common Online Gambling Scams US Players Should Watch Out For
Unfortunately, because the USA has no official online gambling regulator, scammers sometimes target US players. Don’t be afraid, though. It’s perfectly possible to avoid these scams by knowing what to look out for.
These are some of the most common online gambling scams:
This one is simple enough. It’s the equivalent of being lead up a digital alleyway and mugged. A scam site will entice you to deposit, take your cash, and make it impossible to get it back. Be wary of ‘too good to be true’ welcome bonus offers, and deposit a small amount first to test the waters.
This is a little trickier, but because even legitimate casinos ask bettors to send in ID and a utility bill for verification, it can be harder to spot. Generally speaking, a scam site will be shady in more ways than one. If you have any bad feeling or experience any unfairness or questionable practices, just cut your losses and don’t send in your documents. Sticking with well-known, established brands is a great way to avoid this.
This is all too common among scam sites, and the saddest part is that it’s often plainly obvious when the terms and conditions are consulted. Some sites will return your deposits, but simply refuse to pay out any winnings. Watch out for higher-than-average wagering/rollover requirements, excessive withdrawal fees, and low cash-out or withdrawal limits.
This can be harder to detect because everything else about the gambling site in question might seem legitimate. Rigged games are simply what the name suggests – they can’t be won. Play at sites with reputable software like NetEnt, Playtech, or IGT games. If it’s a sports betting site, be sure to cross-check with other sites and make sure you’re getting fair, competitive odds.
Using Cryptocurrencies at US Gambling Sites
As mentioned a little earlier, there are now lots of US-friendly Bitcoin gambling sites. However, Bitcoin isn’t the only cryptocurrency that can be used to bet online.
Litecoin, Ripple, Ethereum, Monero, Dash, Dogecoin, and some other altcoins can now be used, too.
While we would suggest learning a bit more about cryptocurrency before using them to make a deposit at a betting site, the process itself is theoretically simple enough. Here’s how it works in three steps:
You buy cryptocurrency on an exchange with USD or another currency. If you’re buying altcoins, you will likely need to buy Bitcoin first, then trade that on an exchange for your altcoin of choice.
After you register an account with a US gambling site that accepts cryptocurrencies, you get the wallet address either directly from the cashier section of the site or by asking customer service. It’s extremely important to send the correct cryptocurrency. For example, never send Ripple to a Bitcoin address, or you’ll likely lose your money forever.
You send the amount you wish to deposit, wait for it to show up in your balance, and gamble. It’s just like using any ‘real world’ currency.
It’s really as simple as that. The only learning curve might be in the actual purchasing and sending of cryptocurrencies between addresses if you aren’t already familiar with how to do so.
US Betting Sites – Some Frequently Asked Questions
We get a lot of questions regarding US betting sites, mostly because people are unsure what exactly the legal situation exactly is. We’ll answer some of the most common ones here.
Q. What does UIGEA stand for?
A. It stands for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. It was passed in 2006 and has stayed in play since. You can find out more about it here.
Q. Is it illegal for US citizens to bet online?
A. The UIGEA does not state that it is illegal for US citizens to bet online. It does put the burden on gambling site operators, prohibiting them from knowingly accepting wagers from US players. It also puts pressure on financial institutions like banks to prohibit deposits to sites offering gambling services. Plenty of operators still do, though.
Q. Why do so many US gambling websites accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?
A. Since it isn’t actually expressly illegal for US citizens to gamble online, cryptocurrencies are arguably a legal way around the restrictions. Financial institutions aren’t allowed to transact with gambling sites, and gambling sites aren’t allowed to accept wagers from US players, but with cryptocurrencies, this transaction is peer-to-peer and often anonymous. We’re not advising you to use them, but rather are simply explaining why so many sites accept them.
Q. Which US betting sites accept cryptocurrencies?
A. This is a common question, and lots of Americans use cryptocurrencies when betting online. You can find some US Bitcoin betting sites, as well as those that accept altcoins, in the table above.
Q. What is the safest US betting site online?
A. Every site listed on this page is 100% safe and secure. Our experts have checked them out, they are all running on secure connections, they are all licensed, and they all have a history we can trace, proving they are honest. Pick any one of them, and feel free to do some further research yourself.
Q. Are the approved US betting sites on this page for sports betting only, or do they also offer casino games and poker?
A. Honestly, that depends on the site. There are several, as you can see, and they are all different. Check out the full reviews, or better yet, click through and visit the sites yourself.