All Your Questions About Sports Betting Site Deposit Methods Answered!
Getting your money into an online sportsbook (and your profits back out again) can be achieved in many different ways. The single most important factor is your location. US based bettors have to deal with federal restrictions on financial transactions to the offshore sportsbooks. There are some restrictions from other countries too – though in general outside of the US it is more a matter of finding a sportsbook deposit method that works for you – rather than finding one which works at all.
There are a lot of questions answered below. To keep things clear I have divided them up into 3 groups.
First, you’ll find some general overview type questions on sportsbook deposits. These include questions of legality and my opinion on which is the best method overall. After that the specific methods are covered, including credit cards, bitcoin, transfers and eWallet options. The final group of questions cover withdrawing your profits.
I often get asked which is the easiest sportsbook overall to deposit at by US readers. Of the big and legitimate brands, Bovada stand out both for their record of taking credit cards first time, innovations including Bitcoin deposits and for their flawless track record of fast withdrawals. No other sportsbook has as many promotions (or as interesting ones!) either. Check out www.bovada.lv for the latest specials!
Sportsbook Deposit Methods FAQ – Part #1 – Overview
#1 – Is it Legal to Deposit at Online Sportsbooks?
This always depends on which country’s legal jurisdiction you belong under – though the question is most commonly asked by US based bettors.
The answer is ‘yes’, there are no laws targeting individual bettors at the federal level which prevent you from making a deposit at a sportsbook and betting for real money. You’ll find the banks and sportsbooks are subject to federal laws which limit their financial transactions. This explains why making deposits can be difficult. Some states expressly ban all forms of online gambling, though I do not know of a single person who has ever been indicted simply for betting on sports online. Find out more in my detailed article looking at whether US friendly sportsbooks are legal.
#2 – Is it Safe to Deposit at Online Sportsbooks?
Another ‘qualified yes’ for this question. The majority of sportsbooks are completely legitimate and have built reputations for prompt payments over many years. Some of the biggest offshore sportsbooks which welcome US players have more than a decade of experience already. If you are planning on stepping out from the most popular brands, then it is worth doing a few more background checks.
Here is the minimum I would look out for before making a deposit at an online sportsbook (or casino!) anywhere in the world.
- An operating license which has been issued by a known gambling authority. For US books this list will include the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, Antigua, Curacao, Panama or Costa Rica.
- A track record, preferably of 5+ years, demonstrating that bonus deals are honoured and winning bettors are paid out quickly and easily.
- Multiple contact points: If a sportsbook has anything to hide, then you will likely see only a simple web contact form. Look for clear ownership information, phone numbers (if toll-free, all the better) and e-mail addresses as a minimum! Live chat is a nice extra.
- Deposit options are always a great sign. If a sportsbook only has 1 or 2 niche options, then you’ll need to ask why – any legitimate book should offer at least 1 credit card brand.
The best way to verify that a sportsbook is safe to deposit at is to search for major issues and scandals online. Bettors are very quick to ‘out’ rogue books. If you find a book with all of the above in place, no evidence of scandals and 5+ years of service – the chances are that your money will be completely safe.
#3 – What is the Best Sportsbook Deposit Method Overall?
This depends more on individual factors than some over-arching rule. If your credit cards go through, then this is by far the quickest and easiest deposit option. Outside of the US and Canada, these transactions will go through without a hitch. Inside the US you’ll have to dodge payment processing gateways which would like to identify and block gambling transactions completely.
If you are looking for a super-reliable US deposit option, then Money Transfer services are the answer. These include big names like Western Union. You’ll be wiring cash to an individual (the sportsbook will give you the name). There is some more effort required to use money transfer services – you’ll often need to locate a local branch and physically take the cash there.
If privacy is high on your priority list, then Bitcoin is emerging as a contender for the best sportsbook deposit option. This is no longer a ‘geek thing’, with easy to use Bitcoin Wallets available online and very fast transaction speeds. Once you have the setup in place, then Bitcoin is no more difficult to deposit with than PayPal.
#4 – Can I Make Sportsbook Deposits Anonymously?
You can certainly make deposits without the transaction appearing on your bank account or credit history records. Bitcoin, Money Transfer Services and prepaid Visa cards will all allow this.
What you will not be able to do is completely shield your identity from the sportsbooks. They protect themselves and their players from fraud and money laundering by requesting back-up id documents from their customers. If you are not asked right away, you will almost certainly be asked for these when you make a withdrawal.
Sportsbook Deposit Methods Complete FAQ – Specific Deposit Methods
#5 – Can I Deposit at Sportsbooks with my Visa, MasterCard or Amex Credit Card?
Yes, this process is very straightforward. The only ‘must have’ for US bettors is that your card is able to make purchases internationally. Some cards are limited in this for security reasons, though your bank will help if this is the case.
Depositing at a sportsbook with your credit card follows the same process as making any purchase of physical or virtual products. You’ll add the long number, expiration date, CCV (security) number and amount to deposit – then click ‘submit’.
What the offshore sportsbooks do is find a payment gateway back to the US that will not flag your transaction as coming from a gambling site. Most of the time, this works and the money will be available to play right away. Sometimes, the banks manage to block these transactions, in which case I recommend you speak with a CS rep at your book. They might advise trying the transaction again a little later, or they might direct you to one of the alternative sportsbook deposit options which are working.
#6 – How Do Bitcoin Sportsbook Deposits Work?
Many readers think of Bitcoin as something firmly in the realm of computer geeks – or somehow more vulnerable to hackers than (for example) PayPal accounts.
Times have moved on and Bitcoin is firmly in the mainstream. There are just 2 steps to take to get set up. Once you are up and running you have a deposit method which is out of the hands of any financial authority which can be used for all of your sportsbetting activities!
Step #1: Set up a Bitcoin wallet. I use blockchain.info for this. Unless you are dealing in $10k+ transactions, the online wallet should be fine. If you are a high roller, I recommend you take some time to look into the wallets you can hold on your own machine. Once you have a wallet (it only takes a few minutes to register), you can buy Bitcoins at an exchange to load up your account.
Step #2: Get a receivers id from your sportsbook and send some BTC to this address. This is a slightly different process than with regular online payments. If you go to the cashier at your sportsbook, they will give you a string of letters and numbers called a receivers Id. You then go back to your own wallet, hit the ‘send Bitcoin’ button and insert the sender’s id here.
When you come to withdraw you’ll do this in reverse – generating your own receivers id and giving this to the sportsbook.
This is very easy and will not be blocked by the US or any other financial authority. Bovada are leading the way for US bettors with Bitcoin - and have some pages walking you step by step through the process as well as very helpful staff. See www.bovada.lv for more.
#7 – How Can I Deposit Using Western Union or Other Popular Money Transfer Services?
Money Transfers or ‘Person to Person’ transfers are a very reliable way of depositing onto online sportsbooks for US bettors. There is a little more effort involved using these, which explains why they are not so popular outside of the US.
Companies like Western Union and their ilk specialize in wiring money around the world. They will not knowingly support a transfer to a gambling site, which is why some ‘creativity’ has been used by the sportsbooks in order to use them.
What you will do is make a wire transfer to an individual recipient – usually offshore in the same country as the sportsbook is licensed. This is then reconciled with your account, and the money yours to bet with in around 3+ hours. The extra work involves taking the cash physically to an office to make the transfer – or using an online app like Western Union’s SpeedPay instead. The sending companies will also charge a fee based on the size of your transaction.
#8 – Do Online Sportsbooks Accept PayPal?
Only a limited number of sportsbooks from the UK and Western Europe will accept PayPal deposits. This is not available in the US or Canada at all. PayPal are very strict on which gambling brands they work with – only allowing the biggest and best known operators to use their service. PayPal will also restrict countries which have above average levels of fraudulent activity (for example most of Eastern Europe can’t use this).
Here are two sportsbooks which welcome PayPal deposits:
#9 – Can I Use Skrill, Neteller or Other eWallet Services to Deposit at Online Sportsbooks?
Again this depends on where in the world you are located. If you are in the US or Canada, then these services are not available. Most other countries can use them. Skrill and Neteller work in much the same way as PayPal. You create an online wallet, fund this from your bank account and then use the balance to deposit at online sportsbooks. The main difference is that transactions can’t be reversed or disputed as easily as with PayPal. On the plus side, the transaction fees are usually lower.
There are many other brands of eWallet available. Some are country specific (for example Poli or WebMoney) while others – for example EcoCard – can be used from many countries.
#10 – Can I Use Prepaid Visa Card or other Prepaid Vouchers to Fund my Sportsbook Account?
US bettors who run out of other options can check with their sportsbook which prepaid Visa cards are working right now. These cards are the type you can find at convenience stores or gas stations, and are usually purchased in fixed denominations (for example you’ll pay $105 for a $100 value card with the balance going to the provider and retailer).
Make sure that you speak with your sportsbook before you buy – as some brands may not work out at all.
If you are outside of the US there are local equivalents. These allow people without bank accounts to deposit. Brands including PaySafeCard can be purchased in fixed amounts, and if you wish several cards can be aggregated using a web interface.
#11 – Can I Deposit at Online Sportsbooks Using a Bank Wire?
If you want to move a large amount of money, Bank Wires become economical. For smaller amounts the fixed fees imposed by your bank will usually make these difficult to justify. US players should speak with their Sportsbook. While difficult, high rollers can be worth the extra effort of getting the transaction through.
Outside of the US wires should not be a problem, though you might have to wait a few days while your money exists in banking ‘limbo’ before it gets through!
#12 – Does Interac Work with Online Sportsbooks?
Yes, this is now the single most popular deposit method for Canadians at the major online gambling sites and sportsbooks. Credit cards still work in many cases though some banks (including TD) restrict these. There is no legal reason to restrict any deposit options, this is thought to be a spill-over from the restrictions south of the border.
Sportsbook Deposit Methods FAQ – Part 3 – Withdrawals
#13 – What Are My Options for Withdrawing Winnings from a US Friendly Sportsbook?
Unless you are a high roller, you have three main options for withdrawing sportsbook funds. These are:
#1 – A Check: Yep, a good old-fashioned paper check is the single most common form of withdrawal. Most sportsbooks will process at least one per month without any admin or processing fees and some (Bovada included) will even courier these to your door. US banks do accept these checks without any restrictions. The only real downside is that you have to wait for them to arrive and for the bank to process them.
#2 – Bitcoin: Withdrawing with Bitcoin is super-easy, you simply generate the Id and give this to your sportsbook. There is one requirement – you need to have deposited with Bitcoin in order to make the withdrawal this way. This is a simple fraud protection strategy.
#3 – Money Transfer: In exactly the same way you sent money to a sportsbook using Western Union et al wires to an individual recipient – the sportsbooks can do the same for you. This method is fast (you’ll usually need a couple of days for the book to process, though once they send the wire this is instant). The downside is that your sportsbook will usually pass on the fees that these companies charge, and some will even add their own administration fee on top.
High-roller / VIP bettors might also be able to arrange a bank wire with some sportsbooks.
#14 – I’m Outside the US, Are Other Withdrawal Methods Available to Me?
Yes, though this will usually depend on which method you used to make your deposit and where you are located. It is possible to withdraw with PayPal, Neteller, Skrill or via a bank transfer (if you used your debit card). The local options like WebMoney, Yandex, Poli, Sofort and others can sometimes be used for withdrawals too.
#15 – My Sportsbook Requested Id / Documentation When I Tried to Withdraw – Do I Need to Send it?
Yes. This is part of the ‘KYC’ (know your customer) regulations which most licensed online gambling sites use to protect themselves and their legitimate players with. There is a lot of money laundering around, and Id verification makes this more difficult. I look at it this way: If laundering / stolen credit cards etc were allowed to get out of hand, it would not be possible to bet online at all. By providing backup documents, you protect the industry and yourself at the same time.
One last mention for the easiest US sportsbetting site when it comes to plenty of deposit methods and an impressive track record when it comes to speedy withdrawals. Bovada are also the number one choice of many bettors for their cool promos - particularly around the big events of the sporting calendar. Check out www.bovada.lv for the latest deals.
If you are outside the US, then there are plenty of options for easy deposits and withdrawals and almost all the big sports betting brands. Check out the guides below to help you find the best deals at the safest books: