VPN usage has significantly increased in recent years as cybercrimes continue to rise in scope and complexity. Internet users commonly rely on this technology to maintain their privacy and protect themselves against malicious third parties snooping on them on public networks.
An increasing number of people also resort to virtual private networks to bypass geographic restrictions and access online content that is otherwise unavailable in their region.
The service masks a user’s real IP address via an encrypted connection, making it look as if they are browsing from a different country.
Virtual private networks are very popular among online gamblers, allowing them to access casino and sports betting sites that are restricted in their countries for regulatory reasons.
But is using a VPN for online gambling legal, and what are the repercussions for those who get caught? Continue reading as we elaborate on this topic.
Common Reasons for Using VPN for Online Gambling
Virtual private networks enable internet users to hide their location by connecting to encrypted servers in other countries.
A person who is physically located in Los Angeles might connect to a server in London and make it appear as if they are browsing a given site from the British capital.
Online gamblers resort to using VPN for two common reasons, to access restricted casinos, sportsbooks, or poker platforms and opt in for multiple bonuses.
2Accessing Restricted Gambling Sites
Gambling sites must hold licenses to operate in a given jurisdiction. Properly regulated gaming operators typically restrict players based in prohibited countries, territories, or states from accessing their products to avoid legal issues. They achieve this by using geoblocking, a technology that prevents internet users in some geographical locations from accessing certain online content.
New Jersey-licensed sites are only available to online gamblers who are physically located on the territory of the Garden State. Such is also the case in Great Britain where licensees of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) can only take bets from British players.
Players from regulated and well-developed markets normally face a decent enough choice of licensed gambling sites. The same cannot be said for those who reside in countries that heavily restrict or altogether prohibit online gambling.
In the second case, local internet service providers are instructed to block all unauthorized gaming sites. Players from such jurisdictions use virtual private networks to circumvent the restrictions and gain access to their desired online casinos despite the ban.
3Abusing Online Casino Bonuses
Bonus abuse is the second most widespread reason why online casino players resort to virtual private networks. Gambling operators offer appetizing bonuses to incentivize players to sign up, maintain their interest, and retain them as customers. Various terms and conditions are in place, however, to prevent keen gamblers from abusing these offers.
To give you an example, each new customer can claim no more than one welcome bonus per account, household, and IP address. Those who violate this condition are in for an unpleasant surprise as they have their bonuses confiscated and accounts closed when caught.
Some players are greedy enough to hide their location through VPN so that they can benefit from the same bonus several times by creating multiple accounts from different jurisdictions. Being caught is inevitable in this case as each new account undergoes obligatory verification.
4Dealing with Blocked Accounts
Online casino players can have their accounts closed down for multiple reasons, including bonus abuse, cheating, collusion, using specialized software to gain an unfair advantage, and various other violations of the terms and conditions.
Gambling operators are quick to block cheaters from accessing their accounts. It is not uncommon for such players to create new accounts by masking their IP addresses via virtual private networks. They often choose a server located in their country of residence. Some VPN services even allow users to pick servers in specific cities, making it easier for such players to register new accounts.
5Circumventing Software Provider Restrictions
Most modern online casinos partner with multiple game providers, with some operators having eighty or more software studios on their roster. With that said, the games of some suppliers are unavailable for real-money play in certain countries and territories due to licensing restrictions.
A gambling software company must typically obtain a license from local regulators before it can distribute its products to customers from a given market. The major supplier of live dealer solutions Evolution Gaming, which operates in multiple regulated markets, is a good example. For instance, the company’s products are available to Canadian customers based in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta, and Atlantic Canada.
Players who fall outside these provinces cannot engage in live dealer games supplied by Evolution even if online gambling is otherwise available to them. The only way to access the supplier’s live portfolio is to establish a virtual private network and connect to a server in a permitted province.
6Circumventing Voluntary Self-Exclusion
This one is perhaps the worst reason for using virtual private networks when gambling online, not to mention it could lead you down a slippery slope to financial ruin. Regulated operators take responsible gambling seriously, offering multiple tools to protect their customers from gambling-related harm.
Players can take temporary breaks and regain access to their accounts after their preferred cool-off period ends. Permanent self-exclusion is also an option for those who feel their gambling behavior has started to become problematic.
Self-excluded problem gamblers sometimes experience a sudden change of heart. In an attempt to continue gambling, such problematic players sometimes try to circumvent their voluntary exclusion by creating new accounts at the same online casinos they have originally restricted themselves from.
Since multi-accounting is also a violation of the terms and conditions, such gamblers have no other option but to hide their IPs via virtual private networks to prevent casinos from detecting them. We at SuperCasinoSites are stark proponents of responsible gambling and strongly urge you to refrain from such practices if you have self-excluded.
Stance of Major Online Casino Operators on VPN Use
1What Our Team Find Out
The SuperCasinoSites team checked a handful of established online casino operators to examine what their stance is on customers who access their products and services via virtual private networks. We carefully perused their terms and conditions, and as it turned out, they all prohibit players from using VPNs to mask their real location.
2Bovada Considers VPN Usage a ‘Fraudulent Activity’
US-facing gambling operator Bovada strictly prohibits access through virtual private networks. The site’s terms and conditions clearly state that the operator considers it a fraudulent activity to use “a VPN, proxy, or similar service that masks or manipulates the identification of [customers’] real location”. Players who violate the rules will have their balances forfeited.
3888casino Collects Information about External Software
47BitCasino Also Frowns at VPN Use
Crypto-friendly site 7BitCasino caters to customers with various decentralized currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. However, the platform’s stance on virtual private networks is rather uncompromising. The casino’s terms and conditions expressly state that “using VPN to bypass a [software] provider’s block is strictly prohibited”. Players found guilty of this violation may have their winnings confiscated.
5Repercussions for Online Casino Players
As you can clearly see, gambling sites do not take VPN usage lightly. While players caught red-handed are not legally prosecuted, they will still suffer some repercussions for violating the casinos’ rules. The operators usually resort to one of two measures:
- Account closure and confiscation of your real-money balance
- Account closure, confiscation of winnings, and deposit refunds
6The Case of Poker Pro Gordon Vayo
The second measure is more commonly enforced. One notable case that comes to mind concerns professional poker player Gordon Vayo who won US$692,000 during the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) in 2017.
The online poker platform denied him payment after establishing Vayo had used a virtual private network to feign he was playing the tourney from Canada while being physically located in California. Online poker is illegal in the Golden State. Vayo subsequently had his account frozen after he attempted to cash out his six-figure profits.
Why Do Online Gambling Operators Prohibit VPN Use?
It is blatantly obvious most online casino operators disallow virtual private networks despite the fact using such services is not illegal per se. So why the big fuss? The answer to this question again has to do with gambling regulations.
All licensed gambling companies must pursue strict Know Your Customer (KYC) policies in line with the requirements of their regulators. Each registered player must thus undergo obligatory verification to confirm their age, identity, location, and source of funds.
As cumbersome as this procedure is at times, online casinos must always go through with it to prevent any potential legal and regulatory troubles. Customers must provide documents for identification, proof of address, and proof of payment method to successfully pass the test and withdraw their winnings.
Verification is obviously impossible if the person uses VPN services to mask their location because the country and address on their real government-issued ID will not match. VPN usage is disallowed by most online casinos for several primary reasons:
- To hinder the access of players who reside in restricted countries
- To curb multi-accounting and potential bonus abuse
- To prevent irresponsible gaming and hinder problem players from regaining access to gambling services
- To thwart fraud, money laundering, and terrorist financing
It becomes clear online casinos prohibit virtual private networks mostly because they want to avoid getting into hot water with their regulators.
Regulatory failings like providing underage or restricted players with access to gambling are heavily penalized with massive fines, license suspension, or even license revocation.
Few, if any, regulated companies would willingly allow or overlook VPN use at the expense of losing their operating permits and having their reputation tarnished.
When Is Using VPN Illegal?
Connecting to virtual private networks for general purposes is legal under most governments but the exact legalities vary from one country to the next. In most democratic countries, citizens can legally use a VPN when browsing the internet to protect themselves against potential hacking attacks and other cybercrimes.
Verified players traveling abroad should contact the support representatives of their gambling sites to inquire whether they can access their accounts from the respective country they are visiting. Concealing your real geographical location via VPN to feign you are in your country of residence while abroad is rarely a good idea as we saw from the case of Gordon Vayo and PokerStars.
The same goes for attempting to register at online casinos from a restricted country. They will inevitably catch you, freeze your account, and confiscate your winnings. You should not forget everything that is already illegal remains illegal whether or not a person is using a virtual private network. We recommend you refrain from using a VPN to access online casinos if the laws in your jurisdiction prohibit remote gambling.