Last updated on: September 14th, 2023

Local Bookies – Are Local Bookies Legal?

This page is dedicated to all of the local bookies in the United States that are taking sports bets. While most of our visitors will definitely appreciate what they read here, the local sports bookies currently taking bets in the back alley will not. Legal sports betting in 2023 continues to face the challenges of local illegal bookies. The truth is that if you are betting with a local bookie, you need to stop immediately, especially if they are not one of the legal online sportsbooks that take U.S. players. Now, this isn’t because we disapprove of local bookies in any way. We love sports betting, and anyone that supports the pastime (it’s a lifestyle, really) has our moral support. That said, betting with your local bookies in the USA is simply too dangerous.

Local bookies operate without licenses, often in areas that are actively hostile towards unregulated gambling. In other words, local bookies are not legal. In offering you odds on sporting events and accepting your bets, these bookies are breaking state and federal laws, and you could get caught up in some major unpleasantness dealing with them. It’s not worth the risk, especially since legal sports betting is available in all 50 states over the Internet, making it more convenient and secure to begin with.

Legal sports betting can be done in many US sports betting states, but none of these ways involve your local bookie. There are both state and federal sports betting laws that prevent the use of an unlicensed, unregulated bookmaker, for good reasons. If looking for how to find a bookie, turn your attention to the online betting sites reviewed on this page.

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Using a Local Bookie Is Extremely Illegal

It is illegal in every sense of the word to use local bookies to bet on sports. For starters, these bookies tend to be independent of the state, making their business practices against state laws. It is required that all sports betting operators apply for a betting license from state gaming commission or lottery commission. This is how all regulated land-based sportsbooks provide legal sports betting. With local bookies, since they are operating without a license, there are no taxes being taken from the transaction. This makes it illegal in another sense as tax evasion is a federal crime. There is the potential of serious fines or even jail time if you are caught participating in illegal sports betting at local bookies. Not only are bookies illegal, but they are also one of the more difficult options for placing sports bets and receiving winnings. Any of the online legal sportsbooks on this page offer a secure and easy experience. 

Local Bookies That Use Websites Are Even More At Risk

Even if your local bookie claims that their operation is above board because they handle bets through a website, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to bet with them. In fact, it usually means the opposite. On one level, the website, along with your money, could be seized by the government at any time because of violations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). On another, the lack of regulatory oversight means that the bookie is free to fleece you by posting lopsided odds, charging hidden fees, or stealing and selling your personal information. As an interesting example of the potential negative effects of betting online through a local bookie, Brian Urlacher’s brother in Chicago was criminally charged in February 2020 for working with such a bookie. The best solution is to simply avoid local bookies altogether, especially local bookies that funnel you through a website.

Local Bookies Can Take Your Money And Run

When you use a local bookie, you have no security to fall back on. There’s nothing stopping this guy or gal from just taking your money and running. There’s also nothing guaranteeing that he or she doesn’t show up at your house in the middle of the night demanding more money. You never know what you’re going to get when you’re using your “friendly” neighborhood bookie. Some of them might be stand-up folks just trying to make an honest living. There are definitely good, moral people out there engaging in this business. But most local bookies bring to mind dark alleys and shady deals, and there’s no guarantee as to what you’re going to get. So why risk it?

Local Sports Bookies Sometimes Have Ties To Organized Crime

Have you ever wondered why so many movies about gambling involve the mafia? It’s because organized crime has traditionally had a huge hand in sports betting bookies, lotteries, and most other kinds of gambling. They know that many people who resort to using back-alley black market dealers are the kind of players who are going to continue digging themselves into holes, time and time again. Not only does this pose terrible financial problems for you, but it also increases the danger in an already unsafe situation. Nobody wants to get mixed up with the mob, after all. What’s to stop the mafia from sending someone to break your legs and crack your skull when you don’t have the cash to cover your wager? Who would you be able to call if your bookie doesn’t pay out on a significantly lucrative wager? There’s just too much risk involved when it comes to bookie betting, especially if their backing involves a crime syndicate. This is probably the number-one reason why you should never use a local bookie.

You Can’t Shop Betting Lines With A Local Bookie

Okay, so let’s step away from the scary stuff for a minute and just look at this from a pure betting perspective. Local bookies will more than likely have the least amount of sports to cover. They’ll have the major games, of course, but do you really think they’ll be covering every college football game, every international soccer match, or all of the MLB’s 2430-game season? No way! If you’re using a local bookie, you are truly selling yourself short.

Aside from just the small coverage that a local bookie would have, you also wouldn’t be able to shop lines via this avenue. The idea of shopping lines is likely the most important aspect of making money when betting on sports. If you are using only one avenue to wager, you are stuck with whatever betting lines and odds are presented to you. By having multiple offshore accounts or using the state-licensed books as well, bettors can discover the best price and payout for the same betting line. Over time, these small variances make for an enormous difference in terms of profitability.

Local Bookies Do Not Offer Very Many Betting Lines

Local Bookies also don’t give you the options for parlay cards, pleasers, teasers, props, and other types of wager types that legit, legal sports betting venues have. So not only are you putting yourself into an illegal and potentially dangerous situation, but you’re also limiting yourself to basically spreads, totals, and moneyline wagers. That’s all well and good for a few games, but it becomes very limiting very quickly, and the moment you start becoming a successful gambler, your bookie will limit how much money – and how often – you can wager. As a sports bettor, you train yourself to seek out value above all else, and there’s just no value in wagering with sports betting bookies that are not regulated. 

Should I Bet At Legal Sports Betting Sites Instead Of Using A Local Bookie

I’m so glad you asked. Yes! No matter which state you live in, you can easily and conveniently – and, most importantly, safely! – access legal sports betting websites from your computer or smartphone. Online, offshore sportsbooks have been providing US residents with legal sports betting options since the late 1990s. There have been no cases of mob connections, cheating, or busted kneecaps when using online, offshore sportsbooks. iPhone sports betting and Android sports betting are growing in popularity and give you the freedom to bet with these online sportsbooks at your convenience. So long as you use a licensed and registered sports betting site, you’ll be able to bet on every single game or match you’d like. There’s nothing stopping you.

When you use a legal sports betting site, you’ll also have access to welcome bonuses, free play credits, and tons of other promotions. I’m pretty sure your local bookie, that fat dude named Steve (but that’s probably not even his real name), doesn’t offer that. Just make sure you’re using a legal site like Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting, BetDSI, or BookMaker. These sites are reputable, safe, and have great track records for everything they have to offer. They also have casinos and racebooks, so you can expand your legal betting acumen in any direction you wish. If searching, “Bookie near me”, make sure to use a legal sports betting site instrad of a local bookie. We just want you to stay safe when placing your wagers. 

What Will Happen If I Decide To Bet With A Local Bookie Anyways?

If everything goes well, you would place a bet, give the bookie your money for the wager, and you either win or lose. You’d then either be out of that cash or you’d collect your winnings, and everything would be peachy.

But, the deal could go south and not if the cops had a sting operation. You could get robbed, assaulted, or receive threats against your family. Another possibility is that you bet on credit with a bookie. If your black market bookmaker allows you to draw from that credit, you could find yourself deep in a hole. Some bookies are ruthless and all they want is money.

Look, there are a million different things that could go wrong if you were to bet with a local bookie. And maybe nothing would go wrong at all. But the examples aren’t hypotheticals but rather past historical and referenceable situations.

Benefits of a Regulated Book Over Local Bookies

There are many benefits of ditching your local bookie for a regulated sportsbook especially at a time where there are so many legal options. The US sports betting market is growing constantly and it would be a waste of stress to rely on illegal bookies. With local bookies, players have to wait for the settlement days to possibly receive winnings as opposed to regulated sportsbooks who have payouts returns in as quickly as hours for players. Regulated sportsbooks will most likely have more bet options because it is tailored to a larger amount of customers and will have the infrastructure to do so. The security of using an online bookie that is regulated allows for a better wagering experience.

Most of the regulated sportsbooks that accept U.S. players that we have suggested have the unique feature of live betting that allows you to bet on continuously changing bet lines within a sporting event. When betting with your local bookies in the USA, it is extremely unlikely that they are giving you accurate lines. Many regulated sportsbooks are also available on your phone with mobile versions which gives you a great layer of convenience. Deciding to use regulated books instead of local bookies provides you with great benefits on top of the most important benefit of not having to worry about legal consequences.

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