Conscious Gaming Launches 'Bettor Safe' Education Sites
Sports betting on the Internet can be complicated with all of those point spreads and moneylines and proposition bets.
However, many people apparently are also confused about something far more fundamental: Which sports wagering websites are legal and which ones are not.
A survey conducted by Conscious Gaming, a non-profit recently created and supported by GeoComply to promote responsible gaming, found that from among 500 adults in New Jersey and Pennsylvania respectively, about 75% of those asked admitted that they could not or are not sure if they could differentiate a legal betting website from an illegal website.
Making those findings significant is that New Jersey is arguably the most mature regulated online gaming state in the country and Pennsylvania is right behind. Even though both states have a full suite of Internet gambling, meaning sports wagering, casino games and poker, sizable percentages of those surveyed were even unclear about the legal status of online gambling in their states.
The survey found more than 25% of respondents in New Jersey and more than 30% of respondents in Pennsylvania are unaware if online betting is even legal in their state, or they responded incorrectly that it was not legal.
March is Responsible Gaming Month and March Madness, one of sports gambling’s most frenzied occasions, is approaching. So Conscious Gaming has launched an awareness and education program called Bettor Safe that’s directed toward the gaming public.
What’s Legal and What’s Not
The effort is meant to educate and alert prospective and even seasoned gamblers to the significant differences between legal and illegal online gambling websites, whether it's sports wagering or casino games or poker, and that it is to the bettor’s advantage to stay on the legal side.
The Bettor Safe program consists of advertising that spreads the word about the differences between legal and illegal betting websites, as well as informational websites that alerts players which websites are legal within a specific jurisdiction. The umbrella website is Bettor Safe and the two state websites so far are Bettor Safe New Jersey and Bettor Safe Pennsylvania.
“Unfortuantely, people are exposed to advertising from illegal websites in a variety of ways, whether it’s TV or even radio talk shows, and those websites can be very effective in looking like they’re legitimate,” said Seth Palansky, Conscious Gaming vice president of corporate social responsibility and communications. “Those illegal websites use phony (official looking) seals (of approval) and even the language and imagery they use can be confusing to make you think they’re legal.”
No Recourse with Illegal Sites
But those illegal websites can come with problems for gamblers. For instance, if customers are unable to collect on winning bets or are treated unfairly, there is no recourse with an illegal website, Palansky said. In contrast, with legal websites, complaints can be taken to state regulators. There’s also the possibility that funds on deposit won’t be held safely for the customers. Those who gamble on such websites are also putting their identities and their financial data at risk, Palansky said.
In addition, illegal gambling websites are highly unlikely to offer gamblers the opportunity to self-exclude or set limits on their gambling. And since illegal gambling websites don’t pay taxes, there are none of the financial benefits that legal websites deliver for taxpayers.
Even though many states and Washington, D.C., offer online sports wagering, plenty of gamblers still find their way onto illegal websites. Palansky said that state regulators estimate the amount of money wagered with illegal internet bookies equals the handle generated on legal websites.
Bettor Safe Tips
On the Bettor Safe websites for New Jersey and Pennsylvania, there are comprehensive lists of regulated websites, plus there are tips to help gamblers identify the legal operators. For one thing, they’ll have the logos of that state’s regulatory agency.
On the other hand, a way to spot an illegal website is if they offer financial transactions in cryptocurrencies. Legal gambling websites do not offer that option.
“This campaign comes at a pivotal moment when American sports fans are gearing up for the NCAA Basketball Tournament amid a pandemic that continues to push individuals online,” Palansky said. “Now more than ever we must educate consumers and equip them with the tools to make more informed decisions about online betting.”
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