Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

For decades, the black market — which consists of offshore sports books and local "bookies" — has been the only option for U.S. sports bettors looking to place wagers.

  • Now that states can legalize and regulate sports betting, those offshore books — most of which are located in the Caribbean — are facing competition from well-financed companies running legal operations in the U.S.
  • As legal sports betting advances, some believe the offshore market will shrink and become a shell of itself, while others believe the two will live side by side with legal books unable to match what offshore books can offer.

The state of play: Sports betting is currently legal and operational in 18 states plus Washington, D.C. It's legal but not yet operational in four more states, and another seven have active legislation.

  • In states with legal betting in 2019, bettors reported a 25% decrease in spend with illegal bookies, according to a recent survey by the American Gaming Association.
  • Yes, but: 52% of bettors in those states still participated in the illegal market — evidence that offshore sportsbooks may be under threat but aren't going away.

Offshore advantages: Most states still don't offer legal sports betting, so the majority of Americans who want to place a wager end up using an offshore book that they find through a friend or internet search.

  • In addition to ease of access, offshore books also have a pricing advantage since they don't have to pay state/federal taxes or licensing/compliance fees (which often trickle down to customers).
  • While a local sportsbook might offer a moneyline of -115 (bet $115 to win $100) on Team A to win, an offshore operator would maybe offer -105 (bet $105 to win $100) since it doesn't have to make up for lost revenue from taxes and fees.

Stateside advantages: The biggest advantage for legal operators is that they're, well, legal. As a result, customers don't feel like they're taking a risk with their money. Stateside operators can also open retail locations and have more of a marketing presence, whether that's through TV commercials or partnerships with leagues and teams.

What they're saying: "As an operator, you have to recognize that offshore books are the competition. So you've got to beat them on product, on customer service, and on payments," FanDuel CEO Matt King tells me.

  • "And we think we do that. But it's not like when the legal market starts, the illegal market shuts down overnight. I think you're going to have a vibrant illegal market for a long time to come."
  • "The goal for us is, first and foremost, to work with regulators to make sure they put common sense legislation in place that allows us to compete effectively. And then once we have the laws we need, it's on us to deliver a better customer experience than what the illegal market can offer."
Source: Google Trends

The bottom line: FanDuel (yellow line above) and DraftKings (red) have collectively poured about a billion dollars into marketing over the last five years. And yet, offshore giant Bovada (blue) still wins the search interest battle.

  • Just goes to show how big — and how ingrained — the illegal market is, and how comfortable people are with offshore options. This battle is far from over.

Go deeper

Updated 42 mins ago - World

Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" when the gang abducted them in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest later Saturday, per AP.

Kenosha shooting lawsuit accuses police of coordinating with militia

Police and protesters confront in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Aug. 25, 2020. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The only survivor of a fatal shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during protests last year has accused law enforcement in a lawsuit of conspiring with a "band of white nationalist vigilantes," the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Of note: Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, is due to stand trial on Nov. 1, accused of wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, who filed the suit, and killing two other people protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 25, 2020. He's pleaded not guilty to charges including homicide and attempted homicide and maintains he fired in self-defense.