Are American Online Casino Operators Better or Worse Than Offshore Alternatives?

September 26, 2019 John Isaac

Many recent stories covered online betting legality in US states. In most cases, the extent of the news in 2019 is “talks of legislation” or petition circulation for the upcoming 2020 elections. But Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware currently offer licensed online casinos to residents. The question is: how do they compare to offshore alternatives? Because in all fifty US states, Americans have access to legitimate online casinos that are not licensed by a local governing body.

Game Selection, Betting Options, Legitimacy

Smartphone with online casino imagery on the felt of a betting table next to poker chips

American online casinos do not equal online casinos available to American players © BCD Associates

An online casino differs from an online sportsbook, poker room, or any other form of gambling outside of casino games. What one will find: Slots, Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, and the like. So unless the state in question allows both online casinos and online sportsbooks, residents are stuck with one or the other. Alternatively, offshore casinos can house an “all under one roof” betting experience that includes all the different categories (hybrid casino, sportsbook, poker, and bingo platform).

But, specifically in terms of digital casinos, it’s not just the operators who need licensing within the US – the software providers do too. As it stands, the most robust state licensed online casinos offer one or two providers, so the game selection is starkly limited compared to offshore competition. The difference can be over a thousand games versus a few dozen. Further, some games one might otherwise assume were present, like Blackjack, aren’t present. Their presence is assured at a legitimate foreign casino.

What’s meant by “legitimate operator”? A legit casino is one that accepts deposits without egregious fees; offers games that are guaranteed fair, random, and as-advertised; and pays out winnings without issue. Those are the barebone requirements of a legitimate online casino – everything else simply sets the different options apart.

Bonuses and Rewards Programs

Sometimes, two online casinos can offer what appears to be the same exact catalogue. This is presumably because they’ve partnered with the same software providers. So what’s an online casino to do? Offer bonuses and reward points.

Luckily for those adamant about playing at an online casino licensed by their state, they’ll find competitive bonus offers and a reward point program. While better bonuses might be found at offshore alternatives, one may find that the terms and conditions are better at the American choices. For example, pay attention to “rollover requirements.” The higher that number, the more the player has to bet before they can make a withdrawal. If the bonus is $100 for depositing $100, they’d have $200 in their account. Let’s say the rollover requirement is 30x – the player has to bet $6,000 (200 x 30) before they can take their money out. And some games might not qualify for the requirement, like Roulette, and get stuck playing just slots. Fine and dandy for slots players, but deal-breakers for exclusively table players.

Is It Worth It to Risk It with Offshore Online Casinos?

Typically speaking, a legitimate online casino offers better odds than a brick-and-mortar alternative for one simple reason: geographic competition. A brick-and-mortar casino need only compete with casinos within driving distance, while online casinos have thousands of competitors. For example, slots at a land-based casino might average a 70% return to player (RTP). Online casinos, on the other hand, commonly offer RTP closer to 95% or higher.

So in terms of online vs. brick-and-mortar, online often gives the player the best odds of winning.

But if comparing online casinos servicing American players, a bettor is (historically speaking) just as safe with a legitimate online casino not licensed in the US as they are with a state sanctioned casino. Be sure to look for seals of approval by reputable third-party auditing firms, licensing by a trusted governmental body, and player and expert reviews. If an online casino can check those boxes, it’s safe to play.

In terms of legality, never has there been legal action filed against an American playing and winning money at an offshore online casino, and they’ve been playing them since 1994.

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