Using a VPN to Access Betting and Gambling Sites

A virtual private network (VPN) can be used to avoid restrictions when gambling online. But not only humans are facing IP restrictions, betting bots and software using sports betting APIs can also benefit from VPNs.

Especially when traveling abroad and accessing a betting or gambling site you might have come across a screen which is similar to the following one:

Accessing Betfair from restricted country

What does this mean?

This means that when you request the content behind the URL of your favorite betting site (Betfair in the case above), the betting or gambling site checks the IP address you are using which -according to their database- belongs to a country where betting is restricted. That's why your access is blocked.

How can a VPN help to access betting or gambling sites?

The question is now: How can you get access to your favorite betting or gambling site from the location you are? The simple answer is: Use a VPN! The details on how a VPN works are well described in the wikipedia article on VPNs but as a short summary: With a VPN you don't connect directly to your betting or gambling site but instead use a proxy server in between. When you use a VPN to connect to a bookmaker or betting exchange market, the server only sees the IP address of the proxy server but not your IP address. That's why VPNs are helpful to avoid geo-based restrictions.

There are multiple VPN service provider available but typically they all work the same way: You pay a small fee to use their services and can then connect to many different servers in various countries. Once the VPN connection is established you should then be able to enjoy the betting or gambling site without any restrictions.

Can you use a VPN for betting bots?

VPNs can not only be used by humans but can also be integrated into betting bot or any other software that is trying to access the API of a bookmaker or betting exchange. I remember quite well that in my early days I tried to use cloud infrastructure to deploy a simple script that would record sports betting odds for backtests. Although I selected the UK as the location of the infrastructure, the IP that was used for outgoing traffic was associated with the cloud provider that was based in the US and hence Betfair did not allow any connection.

You might be surprised but VPNs can also be used by betting scripts in case the server location or IP address is blocked by the bookmaker or exchange. Details depend pretty much on the implementation but I would like to give one example for the python requests package along with NordVPN (affiliate link):

import os
import requests

s = requests.Session()
proxies = {
    "https": f"https://{os.environ['NORDVPN_USERNAME']}:{os.environ['NORDVPN_PASSWORD']}@uk1152.nordvpn.com:80",
}
r = s.get("https://www.whatismyip.com/", proxies=proxies)

Pretty simple, isn't it? You only provide your credentials for NordVPN (affiliate link) as environment variables and when using the proxy within the requests framework, IP will be from the location you select (uk1152 in this case).

The question is now: What are the advantages of using a VPN within your automated betting or trading scripts? The obvious reason is again that you can circumvent geo restrictions. If you already have a virtual private server (VPS) or root server infrastructure in a restricted location you can reuse existing infrastructure and you don't need to setup a separate VPS or server.

However, there are also disadvantages when using a VPN within your betting bot: You introduce additional complexity on multiple levels. The first level is the code itself, you need to develop and maintain slightly more code. By using a VPN you also introduce a dependency on the VPN service provider which means that even if your ISP works fine, VPN connection issues can occur which means network interruption. VPN services with good reputation are barely for free so there is also a small cost associated with using VPN services.

I personally would not use a VPN in my trading infrastructure that places bets on sports betting markets which would be too high risk for me. However, I would find it ok to use a VPN to scrape odds when hardware in a restricted country is already in place.

Should you use a VPN?

As a summary: It really makes sense to use a VPN when facing restrictions accessing betting or gambling sites. For bots or automated betting and trading programs it probably doesn't make sense to use a VPN.

And apart from that... I don't want to get into the security / privacy discussion but there are also other benefits such as buying stuff cheaper due to location based pricing models that are used on some websites. I'd definitely encourage you to check out VPNs in more detail. I have been using NordVPN (affiliate link) for over one year now and I am very happy with their service. After signing up with the risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee I was able to access betting markets even when travelling to restricted countries. 

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