March Madness 2023 Online Sports Betting is a Slam Dunk: How Can Consumers Protect Themselves?

You can bet that online sports betting for March Madness 2023 will be the biggest yet with four states allowing internet sports books to open in the last year. Unfortunately, with so many off-shore sports betting sites operating illegally, consumers stand to lose more than just their wagers.

Illegal online sports betting platforms offer no protections against fraud and other crimes, have no accountability to keep children and problem gamblers off their sites and don’t pay taxes.

iDEA and its members, including some of the world’s leading online gaming and sports betting providers, encourage consumers to bet safely during the NCAA playoffs and always.

“Online sports betting is a fun and safe activity when people play on legal, regulated sites,” said iDEA Founder and General Counsel Jeff Ifrah. “Knowing the warning signs for problems allows players to enjoy online sports betting with peace of mind.”

Here are iDEA’s top five online sports betting safety actions to take before the next tipoff:

  1. Take a moment to be sure the sports betting site is legal before engaging. A quick Google search of the site name and your state will let you know if it is operating legally — and safely.
  2. Set limits for yourself and abide by them.
  3. Read the fine print on free bet and other offers.
  4. Know that a risk-free bet isn’t always risk free.
  5. Educate yourself on the signs of problem gambling. These include going over your limits or letting other responsibilities slide to spend more time betting. Help is available by calling the National Council on Problem Gambling at (800) 522-4700.

Leading into last year’s March Madness Final Four weekend, 31% of Americans ages 21-64 bet on the annual college basketball tournament, according to a study by National Research Group and Interestingly, more than half of sports bettors who place bets with illegal operators believed they are betting legally, according to the American Gaming Association. Placing wagers with illegal online sports betting sites puts players at risk in a variety of ways:

  • Personal information, including credit card information, is not safe since unlicensed operators have no obligation to implement measures to protect participants. Further, these sites are notorious for selling personal information to third parties.
  • Since unlicensed and illegal sites are not mandated to use high levels of digital security, players’ accounts are vulnerable to cyber-attacks and hackers who withdraw money from users’ accounts.
  • High withdraw minimums, hidden terms and conditions and non-competitive odds are the norm on illegal sports betting platforms and they all dupe players out of money.
  • Importantly, when an illegal, unlicensed site victimizes a player, there is nothing the player can do about it.