Top 5 Betting Sites for US Bettors in the United States

Monday, 21st August 2017

Since online gambling began to take the world by storm at the turn of the 21st century, the United States has had an up and down history with betting on the web. Today’s US-facing online sports betting market pales in comparison to the heyday of online gambling in the US but is still more than a viable market.

For a long period, the US Department of Justice held that all forms of online gambling were illegal and did not allow US companies to offer online gambling to citizens or to regulate the activity at the state level.

This changed in December 2011 when the DOJ reversed their opinion on the longstanding 1961 Wire Act. Previously, the government held that the act made all forms of online gambling illegal, including poker, sports betting, and casino gambling. Their new interpretation of the law was that only sports betting, not poker and casino gambling, was illegal under the Wire Act.

This shift in opinion led several states to legalize online poker the following year. Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey all have legal and regulated online poker at the intrastate level as of August 2014. Delaware and New Jersey offer online casino gambling as well.

It’s terrible that sports bettors were left out of the new change in Federal attitude toward Internet gambling, but it’s important to recognize the difference between allowing US companies to offer online betting sites to players and the act of simply betting on the Internet.

The UIGEA and How it Impacts Betting Online

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) was a crushing blow to gambling operators servicing US citizens. It forced many online gambling companies out of the US market almost immediately.

The Feds backed up their talk by spending millions to take down online gambling sites that offered their services to Americans. Most notable was the April 15, 2011 indictment, known as “Black Friday” in the online poker community, where owners and employees of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Cereus (Absolute Poker/Ultimatebet) were charged with UIGEA violations and other crimes. The sites pulled out of the US market on the same day.

However, even with all the money spent trying to stop overseas and offshore online gambling operators, American citizens have hundreds of sites where they can bet on poker, sports, and casino games online.

Of course, sports betting isn’t legal under the Wire Act, so there aren’t legal and regulated online sports betting options outside of Nevada, which offers online accounts at state-licensed sportsbooks.

Individual Bettors Have Nothing to Fear

Even though the government criminalized online sports betting sites offering their services to Americans, there is no Federal law or anything mentioned in the UIGEA that criminalizes individual online bettors.

While some states, such as Washington, have made online gambling a Class C felony, no one in the state has ever been charged with the crime of gambling online. State prosecutors, like Federal ones, are after the offshore gambling sites, not individuals placing a bet on football at an online sportsbook.

As an individual bettor, you have little to worry about from a legal standpoint when it comes to betting on sports online. It’s always good to know the law in your state and keep abreast of the news, but the chances of you getting into legal trouble over betting on sports online is slim to none.

Current US Betting Market

US sportsbooks are fewer than those in regulated markets, but there is still a plethora of options for those looking to bet in the States. Longevity is paramount when it comes to choosing a sportsbook.

Sites that have been around awhile, preferably 3–5 years at minimum and the longer the better, are going to be your better options.  New sites pop up all the time looking to scam bettors, so it’s best to look for a site with a long track record of fast withdrawals and excellent customer service. There are plenty of options that fit these criteria for US bettors.

Take a few minutes and do a simple Google search on the name of your prospective sportsbook. Reading online betting forums is another valued resource. You can get feedback directly from players in regards to support and withdraw times.

Be wary of sportsbook review sites or “authority” sites. Even some of the largest or well-known pages may not be presenting the full picture when it comes to each sportsbook. They have a vested interest in directing players to deposit because they receive commissions.

Betting Options

Most US-facing sportsbooks have a distinct focus on US-based sports. This means a wider variety of markets for the NFL, NBA, MLB, and both college football and basketball. However, since many of these operators take players from other countries, and many expatriates live in the United States, they also have a wide variety of international markets as well.

As a whole, US betting sites aren’t nearly as advanced as those in regulated markets, but the top online sportsbooks servicing US bettors are on the same playing field. They offer odds on just about every sport in the world, have lucrative bonuses and VIP programs and excellent customer support.

Depositing and Withdrawing

This is the one area that differs the most from the regulated markets of Europe. Those in regulated or legal grey areas in regards to online sports betting will have a much larger list of deposit and withdraw options at their disposal.

For instance, US citizens can’t use Neteller or MoneyBookers due to the UIGEA. These are both well-trusted online e-wallets that process the vast majority of online gambling transactions worldwide. They are essentially an online bank account that is also connected to a personal bank account. They can be used to deposit and withdraw from just about every online gambling site in the world.

Players from the US will use more traditional methods. The most popular method is depositing via credit or debit card, which is instant and generally comes with no fees. Another option is a person-to-person transfer, otherwise known as Western Union or MoneyGram. This method comes with upfront fees and takes a few days to process, but the vast majority of sportsbooks will reimburse players their fees on deposits of $300 or more.

Other deposit methods include bank wires or simply mailing a check. These can take a week or more for funds to hit your sportsbook account, but bookmakers will allow you to deposit much larger amounts compared to credit card or person-to-person transfer deposits.

The most popular withdrawal option, by far, is check. Withdrawal times vary depending on the sportsbook, but the best ones usually get checks to players in about a week. Most sites also offer one free check withdrawal per month.

Person-to-person transfer is another withdrawal option along with bank wire. These are both slightly more costly but have some advantages.

Person-to-person transfers are usually processed within 48 hours or faster, which is great for a player who needs their funds quickly. Bank wires have similar speeds for checks but have a higher maximum withdrawal limit, making it easier to get a large amount of funds after a big win.

Future of Online Sports Betting in the United States

Online sports betting is still alive and well in the Land of the Free, despite the government’s best efforts to shut out the offshore sports betting industry. The market is still flourishing for both professional-level bettors and those who bet recreational. It’s unknown if online sports betting will someday become liberalized like online poker and casino games, but for now, there’s no shortage of sites for Americans to bet online.