Identity Theft, Loss of Deposits, Funding Criminal Activity: the Risks of Gambling at Unregulated Sites and How to Gamble Online Safely

MGCB warns against playing at unregulated offshore gambling sites, many of which have ties to organized crime.
Identity Theft, Loss of Deposits, Funding Criminal Activity: the Risks of Gambling at Unregulated Sites and How to Gamble Online Safely
December 10, 2021

The online gaming industry has been around for decades, and many international gambling sites have continued to allow American players, including those from Michigan, to play on their platforms, despite the complete lack of licensing on their part.

Just last week, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) put out a warning against playing at offshore sites, citing identity and deposit theft as the main reasons to stay away from any unregulated gaming site.

If you share personal information with an unregulated gambling site, there are no guarantees your information won’t be sold to or used by criminals,” said MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams.

The cost of identity theft & how to gamble online safely

“Identity theft is the most common complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission. In 2020, 1.3 million identity theft reports were made in the US, including more than 24,000 cases of identity theft reported in Michigan.”

According to the Internal Revenue Service, thieves can use a stolen identity to apply for loans, use medical services and file taxes. Each could damage a victim’s credit score and cost time, money and unnecessary stress.

The MGCB said the best way to make sure personal information is safe while gambling online is to play at sites licensed by the board, which guarantees that the site will not sell credentials or allow hackers to easily gain access to them.

Playing at unregulated sites means you will have absolutely no legal recourse if your identity or deposit are stolen, as neither the board nor other state or federal agencies have jurisdiction over sites based offshore.

Unpaid cashouts, funding organized crime

According to the MGCB, getting your identity stolen is not the only risk you run when playing at an unregulated site. Those types of casinos and sportsbooks are also notorious for not paying out their customers when they request a cashout.

Your deposits may be processed multiple times, and you will be allowed to play, but the operator may come up with various reasons not to pay you once you request your cashout.

Unfortunately, due to the sites being unregulated and based outside of the country, there is nothing that either the board or other agencies can do to help the situation.

“Unlike regulated gambling, there is no mechanism for the MGCB to handle a patron dispute with an unregulated, offshore gambling site,” Williams said. “Our agency does not have the authority to pursue a dispute with an unregulated site.”

What’s even more, the FBI reports that numerous offshore online gambling sites have been supporting organized crime through money laundering practices, which makes them even more dangerous and risky to play at.

On the other hand, registering and playing with licensed Michigan online gambling sites prevents identity theft and ensures that your identity is safe, your cashouts are paid in a timely fashion, and that you are not dealing with an operation that supports crime or launders money.

The MGCB recommends looking at their list of licensed and regulated sites and confirming a site is operating under their license before proceeding to play there for your own protection and safety.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500

Keep reading: