Despite the legalization of sports betting in 37 US states, illegal gambling operations continue to thrive in states where this form of gambling is not permitted. A recent report by Covers revealed that there were over 201 million visits to illegal betting sites in the US during the first three months of the NFL season, indicating that illegal gambling activities still pose a challenge for authorities and regulated markets across the country.
This issue was a topic of discussion at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States meeting in Florida, where lawmakers expressed concern about the availability of illegal offshore gambling sites to bettors in states where sports betting is prohibited. The report from Covers also highlighted that the total US sports betting handle exceeded $100 billion in 2023, yet there were still over 201 million visits to illegal websites in just the first three months of the NFL season in states without legalized gambling.
After the recent College Football Playoff semifinals games, Lindsay Slader, senior vice president of compliance at GeoComply, emphasized that illegal offshore betting sites are still popular options for Americans, with Bovada.lv being the most visited site, drawing around 115 million visits from US bettors.
Slader also pointed out that regulated online sports betting sites in certain states saw a significant number of attempted visits from neighboring states, indicating the demand for regulated gambling options in areas where it is not yet available.
The significant number of visits to unregulated offshore betting sites represents a missed opportunity for the regulated sports betting industry to generate additional revenue. The 201 million visits during the first three months of the NFL season could have contributed to the record-breaking $100 billion in sports betting in 2023 if they had been placed with regulated operators.
Overall, the prevalence of illegal gambling activities in states without legalized sports betting continues to be a concern for authorities and the regulated gambling industry, highlighting the need for continued efforts to curb illegal betting operations and expand regulated gambling options across the country.