One simple way to spot regulated Virginia sports-betting operators from offshore sportsbooks is to look for the RG logo at the top of the webpage.
RG, or course, stands for responsible gambling.
On the Caesars, BetMGM and Barstool Sportsbooks online, the RG logo is right next to the log-in button in contrasting green and yellow. Barstool even posts the 1-800-GAMBLER phone number on every page.
Offshore sportsbooks are still popular due to the belief that the odds may be better and it may be easier to skip out on paying taxes on gambling winnings. In March, which is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, it’s easy to see that regulated sportsbooks do a much better job of keeping your best interests at heart.
Offshore markets: Better odds? Worse care?
PlayVirginia.com examined a handful of offshore sports-betting websites that try to cater to US bettors. We compared the posted spreads Wednesday on the NCAA Sweet Sixteen games.
There was only one subtle point spread difference. The legal VA sportsbooks listed Arizona as 1.5-point favorites, and one offshore book had the Wildcats as 2.5-point faves.
However, the biggest tell is where the offshore sportsbooks place their responsible gaming initiatives. They are there, but you have to look for them.
I found that one offshore sportsbook site had it listed under its FAQ section. The section offers tips for when to be worried about your gambling habits and noted that it had a self-exclusion program you could sign up for.
A second offshore site had its responsible gaming policy in small print at the bottom of the web page. Clicking on that sent you to a second page with a listing for help available in the US and Canada.
However, their efforts didn’t really compare to legal sportsbooks in VA. Those regulated operators have RG messaging throughout their websites and apps, often in highly prominent areas.
What’s a self-exclusion program? Does Virginia have one?
There is a self-exclusion program available for people in Virginia. It is a completely volunteer program in which you sign up to be placed on a list that is dispersed to gaming licensees in the state.
By entering your credentials, the operators no longer solicit your business with mailing lists. Additionally, any winnings you acquire can be taken from you and donated to the Commonwealth’s Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund.
As part of the program, you can sign up for a term of two or five years, or a lifetime. After your self-exclusion period is over, you can make a formal appeal to be removed from the list.
Of course, this only applies to legal Virginia online sportsbooks.
AGA seeks crackdown on off-shore sites
Last March, the American Gaming Association reported that more than one-third of responders to their survey were unclear about the rules for online gaming in their state. Officials estimate that $150 billion still goes to offshore sites or unlicensed bookmakers each year.
Of course, that’s just an estimate; that’s what it means to be unregulated.
AGA President Bill Miller has called on the federal government to stamp out offshore sites:
“Raising the awareness and attracting players to legal sportsbooks is how we protect consumers, generate needed tax revenue for states and how we will stamp out the illegal market.”
Legal regulated sites guarantee secured deposits, ensure withdrawals, and promote responsible gaming measures. Legal sportsbooks can also face fines or have their licenses revoked if they don’t stand by RG measures.
Bet with your head, not over it!
A gambling problem can present itself in many ways. Keep in mind: It’s a form of addiction, but it can be treated through therapy other options.
The definition of a responsible gambler is one who always stays within their means and never takes drastic steps to maintain their habit.
Recently, Nevadacouncil.org put together a list of warning signs to tell if your gambling habit has grown irresponsible. Among them are:
- Gambling to escape trouble or worry
- Gambling to earn money or solve financial difficulties
- Inability to stop playing whether winning or losing
- Gambling down to your last dollar
- Losing time from work due to gambling
- Borrowing money to pay gambling debts
- Forgoing family responsibilities because of gambling
- Being deceitful about the time and money spent gambling