When Caesars Sportsbook (née William Hill) unexpectedly shut down during this year’s Super Bowl it highlighted one way Las Vegas sportsbooks are behind the times compared to offshore betting and domestic competitors.
Less than halfway through the big game, Nevada’s Caesars outpost couldn’t take bets. Nor make pay-outs on their app or in person. The price of not doing business during the year’s biggest sports betting event had to be a brutal blow to the bottom line.
The most convincing reason for the shutdown I’ve heard? Their software had not been updated since the Great Depression.
Offshore Betting Vs. Domestic Vs. Nevada Account Creation
It’s not just that several Nevada sportsbooks are running on outdated technology. The betting menus and sign-up processes at Nevada books aren’t up to speed with their counterparts in other legalized states or unregulated sites offshore.
Signing up for an account in Nevada requires driving, parking, and talking to people. You don’t have to do any of that in most other states with online wagering. Once in a while you have to make two different stops in the casino, one for a player card and one for the sports betting account. Most of the time it requires pen to paper.
The only way I could convince my 7-year-old to practice his handwriting was to tell him that if he wanted to bet in Nevada he’d have to fill out a handwritten form. His argument that his handwriting doesn’t matter because he’ll always be on a computer was as dead in the water as Caesars was during the Super Bowl halftime show.
In a nod to the 21st century, Nevada sportsbooks have apps. But unlike all the other states, Nevada requires you to physically verify yourself with an identification card and a Social Security number before you can deposit and place a wager. You cannot verify your identity through the app itself.
The Bonus Round
Next, Nevada comes in behind its younger and more attractive American rivals with promotions. Other than a free drink at MGM or Westgate, the next best Nevada promotion is a $500 bonus when you deposit $5,000 at a Stations Casino with a one-time wagering requirement. South Point, it should be noted, does give out fantastic pens to new customers.
Drinks and a 10 percent offer pale in comparison to the $1,000 (or more) risk-free bets and daily profit boosts offered by multiple operators in other states. Offshore sportsbooks also offer bonuses more valuable than the ones in Nevada. But even they can’t compete with the DraftKings and FanDuels of the sports betting world in dollar amount or playthrough requirements.
A free play offer up to $1,000 offshore will likely come with a playthrough requirement of 10 to 20 times the amount of the deposit and bonus combined. The same promotion domestically typically requires a one-time play through requirement.
Finally, Nevada has an overall smaller betting menu than non-Nevada states with legalized betting. There are more prop bets and parlay variations offered on a weekly basis outside of Nevada than there are inside. Joe Public standing in a cornfield in Iowa can bet a same game parlay. Johnny Vegas on the Strip can’t.
The Customer Is Always Right. Sometimes.
Nevada has one thing going for it that other venues do not – it leads the way in customer service. I’m not saying that Nevada sportsbooks don’t ever make mistakes or deliver bad rulings but when you have a gripe you can file a complaint face-to-face with an actual human.
Offshore bettors and those in other U.S. states don’t have this option. It’s not a tie for second place, though. Reputable offshore sportsbooks have better customer service than domestic sportsbooks do.
If your ticket is graded wrong you’re likely to get it solved more quickly by chatting with a customer service rep at Bookmaker than you are with a rep any of the domestics.
Taking this further, Nevada wins on the gaming control front. If a bettor feels they need to escalate their dispute with a sportsbook to a higher entity, they’re completely out of luck with unregulated offshore betting.
Outside of Nevada, gaming boards don’t always align themselves with the players. If I need someone unbiased – or as unbiased as a state agency can be – to make a decision on a betting dispute I want the highly experienced Nevada Gaming Control Board to put the hammer down.
Breaking The Ice
As is the case with customer service, offshore betting sites generally beat their domestic competitors when it comes to verification. The rules around KYP, or “Know Your Player,” tend to be easier to navigate.
Because offshores are unregulated they require less personal information when registering for an account. This makes the process less time-consuming.
Cash, Crypto and Wires: Offshores Betting vs. Domestic Banking
You’ll never receive a withdrawal from a domestic sportsbook without providing verification documents. This is a usual practice for offshore sites as well. However, it’s not unheard of to receive a cryptocurrency withdrawal from an offshore sportsbook with no verification whatsoever.
Overall, banking with an offshore is a breeze compared to U.S. sportsbooks. Besides traditional credit card and legacy banking options, offshores are the only sportsbooks that provide a cryptocurrency option. Using crypto is fast, easy and requires no verification.
Off The Blockchain, In The Account
It’s important to know that crypto rates fluctuate. What a currency is trading at when a user deposits is not the rate they’ll receive when they withdraw.
Crypto transactions are calculated using the rate at the time, so one party doesn’t take advantage of the other. Put in $1,000 worth of BTC and withdraw $1,500 worth a week later, the BTC won’t be linear. Your funds are pegged to dollars and paid at the current exchange rate of the cryptocurrency.
The drawback to offshores is their inability to take cash deposits. Having the option to deposit any amount you want at the counter in Nevada is a nice one. Some domestics offer cashiers who will take large deposits, but there’s no comparison to the way Nevada does it.
Money Doesn’t Play In Domestic Or Offshore Betting
FanDuel only having one cashier in the entire state of Arizona doesn’t help the woman sitting at The Last Stop truck stop on the Nevada/Arizona border when she needs to quickly get thousands of dollars into her account. Heading into a 7-Eleven to do a $500 Pay Near Me deposit is helpful, but not by much.
Depositing remotely in Nevada requires paying a fee to use Play+, a third-party digital wallet that specializes in gaming. Outside of Nevada, books have a multitude of banking issues from near-constant credit card and bank denials, to taking days to credit wire deposits.
Connecting your bank account to a domestic book using ACH is more reliable than other instant options, though I don’t feel completely safe with having my banking information stored after the hacking incidents of last year.
A final category where reputable offshore sportsbooks rule: they don’t limit sharp bettors at the same rate as U.S. sportsbooks.
More options exist today than 80 years ago when my father was taking bets for the Mafia in the back of a pool hall. But like in the last century bettors are limited to the options available in their location.