NFL WEEK ONE. Capital letters. Liftoff, kickoff, whatever you want to call it-this is why we're sports fans. And really, is there any better time to lay down a bet? Instead of piling the kids into the minivan for a road trip to Las Vegas, consider the bettor's choice for convenient, hassle-free betting from the comfort of your home computer: offshore betting.
For those of you that think offshore betting is a nice collection of queen-sized cotton sheets from Costa Rica, you're wrong. That's offshore bedding (hardy har har-but seriously, there's nothing like good bedding.)
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Instead, offshore betting is proving to be a safe, secure, customer-friendly, billion-dollar industry, complete with sportsbooks and online casinos. Every year, more and more serious bettors flock to Internet sportsbooks like Bodog Sportsbook, BetUS, Sportsbook.com, BookMaker, 5Dimes Sportsbook, JustBet, SuperBook, and WagerWeb. The biggest reason?
"Availability!" says Mickey Richardson, general manager of BetCRIS. "The fact that you can wager, 24/7, from anywhere in the world online or over the phone gives the offshore books a big advantage over the walk in environment. The offshore books make the wagering experience more convenient and pleasurable because of the instant access along with a much larger betting menu and high wagering limits."
And seriously, who wants to dump $3.20 per gallon into an SUV to drive to Las Vegas just to drop $500 on the Browns to win the Super Bowl? Bet offshore and make a wider variety of picks at anytime of day from the comforts of your La-Z-Boy. Nothing beats the thrill of betting in a Las Vegas sportsbook, but offshore betting is an easy alternative for Americans that like to wager but don't necessarily have the resources to travel to Nevada every weekend.
But do your research. Doc's only recommends sportsbooks that are proven safe and secure. There are plenty of snake-oil salesmen offering too-good-to-be-true bonuses in their offshore betting operations.
"Unfortunately our Industry has some used-car salesmen, promising the moon but delivering an eclipse," says Scotty Johnson, general manager of BetJamaica. "The very best thing any new client can do is to spend plenty of time researching a company's background and history of complaints. Fortunately there is a lot of easy information to be found on just about every sportsbook."
Still, the customer is still king, and successful offshore betting sites recognize this. Jim Mason of Nine Sportsbook says companies are out to prove themselves to a growing base of customers.
"Consider the fact that most offshore companies are licensed and bonded in their home country, have multimillion-dollar advertising budgets and have invested literally millions of dollars in state-of-the-art technology and, in most cases, have constructed their own offices," Mason says. "To me, that says 'We are in this for the long haul and are much less likely to stiff you than Vinny-the-guy-you-meet-in-the-parking-lot-of-the-shopping-mall.' "
And leave it to good old-fashioned competition to improve the betting industry. With more offshore betting sites being established, customers are winning with nice bonuses and freebies as companies duke it out to win new business.
"Bonuses, overall offerings including seasonal promotions, and a variety of wager limits are all advantages to playing with an offshore rather than a land-based sportsbook," says Luke King, CEO of Legendz.
Betting offshore from home also allows the bettor to shop around for the best lines, which encourages bettors to have accounts at different sportsbooks. Rob Gillespie, president of Bodog, elaborates.
"Books move lines to balance action and because the action at every book is different, lines are always different. If we take a really large bet or large number of medium size bets on the Chargers without equal action on the other team, we need to adjust the line to discourage further San Diego betting," Gillespie explains. "Some books move lines on opinion as well. If book A thinks the Chargers are likely to cover and book B thinks they won't, they may adjust their lines to attract action in different directions. Lines won't always be different, but they are different enough that you need to have 3-5 accounts. Every half point adds about 2 percent to your chance of winning the bet in football and basketball."
That kind of choice is not available with a single bookie with their take-it-or-leave-it philosophy. Shopping lines in Las Vegas is akin to running a marathon since you have to physically go to many different casinos and the line you wanted may never materialize. By shopping around for that extra point, bettors increase their winning percentages dramatically.
"Half a point to a point in your favor can be the difference between a winning and losing season," says Alex Reed of England-based Canbet. "A bettor with a 50-percent strike rate is a loser in the long run. A bettor with a 60-percent strike rate is a huge winner in the long run."
So there you have it. Convenience. Value. Availability. Security. Choice. The positives of offshore betting are hard to ignore, whether via Internet or telephone. Still, the point of gambling on sports is to have fun, as Mason of Nine Sportsbook points out.
"Entertainment!" Mason says. "Does your local bookie run contests where you can win trips to the World Series, football games, Las Vegas and sunny, tropical locations? Does your local bookie give you access to stats, scores, hot babes, jokes, entertainment and sports articles? Offshore sportsbooks offer you a complete playing and entertainment experience."