North America is set to become a gambling goliath in the coming years with many states acting on legalising sports betting since the laws were changed in early 2018. New Jersey lead the charge but it has not taken long for other states to see the benefits of regulating and taxing sports betting.
What makes a good online racebook or sportsbook?
There are thousands of online sportsbooks and racebooks which ake bets on racing events worldwide. As with anything, however, some operators are better than others, while there are a few sports bookies out there which should be avoided entirely.
Best online racebooks for North America
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All the top-ranked bet sites have a few crucial aspects in common:
- Valid gambling licenses
If you cannot find any evidence that a sports betting site is fully licensed and regulated by a national or provincial gaming authority, steer well clear. All trusted sportsbooks will display their licensing information on their websites, usually towards the bottom of the homepage. If you want more detailed info, try the ‘About Us’ section.
- Certified SSL encryptions
Every legitimate betting site employs at least a 128-bit SSL (Secure Socket Layer) digital encryption. This technology protects every shred of information you share with the site, including personal data and banking details. This is essential if you intend on transferring funds to any real money gambling site.
- Extensive betting options
Of course, you can’t have a top-notch sportsbook without a complete range of betting markets to choose from. The leading gambling sites for North America will offer dozens, even hundreds of diverse wagering options for individual matches, with thousands upon thousands of unique bet selections available each day across all major sports divisions.
- Outstanding customer service
This goes for pretty much every business that has ever existed. Top US betting websites will offer big sign-up bonuses, lucrative regular promotions for loyal customers, and round-the-clock assistance for all manner of technical issues, betting enquiries and general information.
One sports bookmaker which passes the test with flying colours is Bovada. Licensed and regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Quebec, it runs an enormous spread of daily betting markets for American gamblers and currently offers new players a free bet bonus up to $250. It uses fully certified SSL security systems, too, so all real cash transactions are as safe as humanly possible. Check out www.Bovada.com for more details.
Racing Online recommended betting sites for North America
5Dimes: Universally regarded as an A Grade sportsbook with extremely competitive odds.
- BetOnline: Accepts both USA and Canada bettors and has a good range of sport and racing markets, prop bets and lines.
- Bovada: From the powerful Bodog stable. Only caters to USA residents and has an outstanding reputation for fast cash outs.
How to make secure deposits & withdrawals
Most Web-based sports betting operators accept Canadian dollars (CAD) via secure instant deposit methods such as Visa and MasterCard, Neteller and Skrill Moneybookers e-wallets, and direct online banking. There’s also the ever-reliable wire transfer, as well as regular bank deposits and checks for withdrawals.
When it comes to US dollars (USD), on the other hand, options are a bit more limited. Even credit cards and debit cards can be troublesome, especially if they are linked to your personal bank account. This is all down to the federal government’s Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which aims to prevent American financial institutions from allowing its customers to engage with online sportsbook sites, Internet casinos and poker rooms.
As such, there are fewer convenient money transfer options available, but these two are reliable, secure, and accepted at trusted betting sites like Bovada.com:
- Prepaid credit cards
Available at convenience stores, gas stations and other such outlets all over America, these provide a great way to sidestep any issues you might have with your standard MasterCard or Visa credit card.
- International wire transfers
You may yet be able to wire money direct from a US bank account, but this is something the UIGEA aims to discourage. An easy alternative is to use an independent wire transfer system such as Western Union or Moneygram. Gaming sites which accept these transactions will often cover any transfer fees.
Common sports wagers
Once you’ve got cash in your account, you can lay your money down on any of thousands of active betting markets for sports events all over the globe.
These bet types are available at all the best online bookmaking websites:
- Point spread
- Proposition bets
- Progressive parlays
- In-play betting
- Head-to-head wagers
- Run/puck/goal line bets
Best Sports for Online Betting in North America
The National Basketball Association is one of the world’s most popular sporting divisions, with an enormous domestic following and an ever-growing international fan base. If you love prop wagers, NBA betting is the way to go. Many of the best bookie sites also cover the major European pro leagues.
The National Football League might take a strong stance against sports betting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put some money down via the Net. Online sportsbooks run heaps of NFL betting market – especially for the Super Bowl, which boasts tons of futures and props.
Whether it’s the US Masters, the Ryder Cup, or any regular event on the PGA Tour, professional golf provides a unique betting scene — especially for head-to-head wagers and future bets on the Majors.
- Ice hockey
NHL wagers are great additions to any bet slip, especially during the Stanley Cup — the oldest professional sports trophy in North America. Many trusted betting sites also run markets on Russia’s KHL (Kontinental Hockey League).
Whether you love it or hate it, “association football” is growing in leaps and bounds in North America thanks to Major League Soccer (MLS). Of course, the biggest betting markets are to be found in Europe with the English Premier League (EPL), Spanish Primera Division (La Liga) and the UEFA Champions League. Oh, and there’s the FIFA World Cup — the single biggest sporting event on Earth.
More popular sports for online betting:
- Field hockey
- Formula 1 racing
- Gaelic football
- Moto GP racing
- Olympic Games
- Snow sports
- Yacht racing
Is Online Betting Legal in the United States & Canada?
This is an extremely hot topic right now, and one which has baffled sports gamblers all over North America for the past few years. There are laws which prevent operators from offering bets to residents of certain states and provinces, but there is very little clarity regarding the legal status of the bettors themselves.
Certainly, residents of Canada have very little to worry about. There are plenty of digital sportsbooks operating within the country itself, and the vast majority of online gambling sites accept CAD currency. There is also the Kahnawake Gaming Commission — a prominent online gambling regulator which operates on the fringes of Montreal, albeit independently.
South of the border, things are a little murkier. Nevada and Delaware are the only US states known to have land-based sportsbook operations — although it also allowed in Oregon and Montana, while New Jersey has been debating the matter for several years. In any case, it is widely assumed that online betting is illegal in most parts of the country.
That assumption is not strictly true. For one, while the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 does focus on sports betting, it has no bearing on Web gambling as it was written many decades before such a thing existed. For another, the previously mentioned UIGEA of 2006 has nothing to do with prosecuting sports bettors, but rather is aimed at stopping financial transactions between punters and betting operators.
So, what does it all mean? Let’s take one key point into consideration: to the best of our knowledge, not a single person in the US or Canada has ever been prosecuted for placing a sports wager via the Internet. Governments and law enforcement agencies are much more concerned with stamping out dodgy operators and money laundering schemes, which was the initial aim of the Wire Act in particular.
So, from our point of view, there is nothing stopping anyone in North America from having a bet online. Having said that, there is no law degree from Harvard or Stanford hanging up in this office — so if you have any doubts, seek the advice of a legal expert.