Congressional Lawmakers Seek Crackdown on Illegal Offshore Accounts

Congressional lawmakers are requesting a crackdown on offshore sportsbook accounts.

Sports betting advocates across the country argue that bets are being placed in offshore accounts from states where betting is illegal, including North Carolina and Missouri – two states that tried unsuccessfully this year to legalize it. 

Now congressional lawmakers want the Department of Justice to do something about it. 

On Wednesday, Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania, sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking his office to crack down on illegal offshore sports betting.

We write today to request that the Department of Justice make a concerted effort to fight illegal offshore sports books,” the lawmakers wrote

“These predatory operations expose our constituents to financial and cyber vulnerabilities; do not have protocols to address money laundering, sports integrity, or age restrictions; and undermine states’ efforts to capture much needed tax revenue through legal sports betting channels.”

Legalization of Sports Betting has Increased Urgency

Kansas and Maine have approved sports betting in 2022, bringing the total to 35 states that have legalized the practice since the Supreme Court declared PAPSA unconstitutional in 2018. PAPSA was the law passed by Congress in 1992 that outlawed sports betting except in Nevada and New Jersey.

Titus and Reschenthaler noted the increased legalization as reason for a crackdown. 

“Over 157 million Americans have, or soon will have, access to legal channels to place their bets, with millions more in proximity to a neighboring state where they can wager legally. As this nascent legal market continues to expand, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the illegal market is thriving and operating unfettered,” they wrote. 

They specifically called out Bovada, MyBookie, and BetOnline as bad actors who have platforms “nearly indistinguishable from those of legal providers.”

The bipartisan letter was signed by 28 other members of Congress.

Industry Also Supports a Crackdown 

The American Gaming Association praised Titus and Reschenthaler’s request.

“Offshore websites are a significant threat to consumer protections and the economic benefits legal gaming provides for communities across the country,” Bill Miller, president and CEO of the AGA said in a statement.

“We look forward to continuing to work with allies on the Hill, the sports leagues and the Department of Justice to prioritize robust enforcement that will protect Americans from the predatory illegal marketplace.”

Deadline for Response

Lawmakers asked DOJ to respond by September 6.  The date is significant because it is right before the start of the NFL season. 

The NFL, for its part, is on board with DOJ looking into offshore accounts. 

“We appreciate Congress’s continued engagement and join in urging the Department of Justice to address problems posed by illegal offshore gambling operators, an issue that affects all who care about the integrity of sports,” NFL Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer Sabrina Perel said in a statement provided by Titus

About the Author
Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with a focus on legislation and political content. Mary is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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