Legal vs Offshore Sportsbooks: Spotting the Difference

Daniel Collins

Written by: Daniel Collins

Last Updated:

Read Time: 3 minutes

In 2018, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, opening the way for legal sports betting to take place across the country.

In the years since, many states have taken advantage of the opportunity to offer regulated sports betting.

As of June 2023, the following states, as well as Washington D.C., offer both legal online and in-person sports betting:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • Washington D.C.
  • West Virginia

That list may see at least a couple of additions before the end of 2023.

Kentucky is set to join that list in the near future after legalizing sports betting in March 2023.

North Carolina, which currently offers only in-person betting, will soon offer online options as well after passing a bill in June 2023.

And Maine, which legalized both online and in-person sports betting in 2022, could begin operations either sometime in 2023 or in early 2024.

In addition to the above places that offer both online and in-person betting, these states offer regulated in-person betting:

  • Delaware
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Also, both Tennessee and Wyoming offer legal online sports betting but not in-person betting.

More states could join the party in the near future. Online betting is on the verge of being given the all-clear in Vermont, while in-person betting has been okayed in Nebraska.

That leaves a number of states that have yet to get in on the action, and the residents of some of those states may be waiting a while for it to happen.

That doesn’t mean that they can’t bet on sports, however.

It just means that if they want to bet on the week’s NFL action from the comfort of their home, they must turn to offshore sportsbooks to do so.

The Offshore Market

Attaching the word “illegal” to betting with offshore sportsbooks might put some people off, but it shouldn’t.

The biggest difference between legal bookmakers and offshore (illegal) versions is the regulation aspect.

Whether you are able to bet at a regulated sportsbook or must use offshore sports betting sites—or you simply choose to—you still should focus on entrusting your funds with reputable, trustworthy sportsbooks.

Whereas the pool of legal sportsbooks is relatively small, the same can’t be said for the offshore market.

And with so many options out there, sportsbook reviews can be a big help with knowing who to trust and who to avoid.

Here are some of the offshore sportsbooks that we recommend:

Do Offshore Sportsbooks Offer Different Betting Options?

One draw of offshore sportsbooks is the variety of betting options they often provide compared to regulated sportsbooks.

For example, while regulated sportsbooks in the U.S. are unable to offer Super Bowl national anthem betting, offshore sportsbooks do.

Also, if you enjoy betting on U.S. elections or award shoes like the Oscars, you can do that at offshore sportsbooks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between legal and offshore sportsbooks?

Legal sportsbooks are regulated and subject to the laws of the states and territories in which they operate, while offshore sportsbooks are not.

How do I know if a sportsbook is legal?

A sportsbook operator that is officially licensed will have a declaration showing that it is authorized to conduct business in a particular location.

Are offshore sportsbooks safe?

There are a number of reputable offshore sportsbooks that have been in business for a very long time and can be trusted with your sports betting funds.