As we mentioned on our homepage, many affiliates are ignorant about some of the sportsbooks they recommend. Even worse, some will actively promote scam sportsbooks. This leaves players open to potentially losing their money to dishonest sites. Our goal is to inform bettors about which sportsbooks out there are scams, and the things to look for to spot these operators.
The industry as a whole has a lot of excellent and honorable online bookmakers, but there’s a fairly sizeable segment that players should avoid altogether. Some of these guys will flat-out steal deposits from players while others will do their best to bend the rules and make it an uphill battle to earn a profit and withdraw.
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Sportsbook Scam Articles
There are several reasons that a sportsbook will “go rogue” and be added to our list of blacklisted sportsbooks. Some sites sprout up with the goal of defrauding players from the start. Others start their shops with good intentions, but things just don’t work out. Running an online sportsbook is a tough business. Financial difficulties, potential legal troubles, or payment processing issues are just a few of the reasons a sportsbook can become insolvent.
The one positive of a maturing online betting marketplace is that scam sportsbooks are getting easier to identify. Many use similar tactics to lure in players, and the signs that a sportsbook is heading for financial trouble are becoming more and more apparent.
Scam and Failed Sportsbooks
This advice may hurt some of the newer operators who have good intentions, but longevity means everything in the offshore industry. Trusting a sportsbook with ten years or more in the industry is much easier to do than trusting one that has been around for six months.
There are too many “fly-by-night” operations that will happily take in deposits only to disappear months later. Like I mentioned above, some sportsbooks are opened specifically to steal from players.
One or two years of operation are nothing in the offshore world. Even if a sportsbook has gotten rave reviews from bettors after a few years, we would still exercise caution. Keeping a semi-large balance at these books is potentially risky. Almost universally top-rated sportsbooks have gone from paying out hundreds of thousands a month to going broke months later. These situations can cost players millions of dollars in bankroll.
It’s only natural to trust sites that have been around longer. Five years or more is good, but the longer the book has been around, the better. Again, we’re not advocating that players avoid all new sportsbooks. We’re only informing them of the inherent risk of playing at a new shop.
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
The goal of every online sportsbook is to entice players to deposit before they leave their webpage. To do this, they have to look the part. A professional design, excellent features, and a large variety of betting markets all help present the image of a sportsbook that is on the up and up.
While these are all valid things to consider when choosing a sportsbook, looks can be deceiving. After all, if a sportsbook is scamming players, they certainly have more money to devote to design, betting software, and support staff. Paying for a professional looking or flashy website is easy – running a sportsbook is not.
Just because a sportsbook looks great on the surface and has the customer service staff to match it, doesn’t mean they’re not a potential scam. For instance, many poorly rated sportsbooks have live chat support. It’s an excellent feature for resolving issues instantly, but has little meaning if the book is slow on payouts or not paying out at all.
If you haven’t discovered by now, choosing a sportsbook and depositing isn’t something that should be done off the cuff. This website is an excellent source, but so are sports betting forums and a simple Google search on the prospective shop.
Sportsbooks and online gambling sites of all kinds regularly send out promotions in mass emails or newsletters. They may also call players offering them these promotions. This in itself is fine, but the issue here is that scam sportsbooks swear by these tactics.
They send out mass emails hoping to get a bite, and call players at home with offers of a nice deposit or reload bonus. Usually, players have given this information to the sportsbook previously, but other times managers may share marketing lists.
It’s all too common for an employee to leave a sportsbook only to start their own shop, and then begin to recruit the same group of clients. This often happens when a sportsbook goes under. A book may fold and leave players without their bankrolls, only for the same management group to call them months or weeks later offering a bonus at their “new” sportsbook.
The bottom-line for players is to be wary of any email promotions, but especially telephone offers. The representative might be offering you a large bonus, “That you have to take advantage of right now!” That’s almost certainly a lie. In fact, extremely lucrative bonus offers are an almost exclusive trait of a scam sportsbook.
Impractical Bonus Offers
Almost ever online sportsbook in existence offers some form of deposit bonus. These can be quite large even in the US market, which has been subject to harsher treatment compared to regulated sites. The most respected and reputable online bookmakers have large deposit offers. However, deposit bonuses are only good if they are actually honored when players decide to request a payout.
Sites can offer players bonuses because they come with a rollover rate. This rate is the amount of times the bonus (and usually deposit amount) must be wagered until bettors can cash out their funds. The average rollover is usually between 3 and 4 times the amount of the bonus and deposit.
A rollover of 2x or fewer is dangerous to the overall longevity of the sportsbook. Essentially, they are putting themselves at risk by giving away too much free money. On the opposite end, a rollover of 5x or more stacks the deck against players.
A 5x rollover has an expected loss of 25% after players meet the rollover requirements of the bonus. The higher the number of rollover, the larger the sportsbook’s edge. Considering the vig alone on each bet is 10%, the added edge from even a 5x rollover makes it almost impossible to walk away as a winner.
Contrary to popular belief, sportsbooks that heavily offer promotions and bonuses usually don’t have the best odds. That’s a subject for another article, but the underlying point is that large bonuses are not an indicator of financial stability. In fact, a lot of time it means just the opposite.
Predatory Terms, Poor Management
All sportsbooks have terms and conditions that must be agreed to when players sign up, but whether the sportsbooks follow these rules is a different story.
When an offshore sportsbook voids player’s winnings or chooses not to honor a payout request, there’s little that can be done from a legal standpoint. The player’s best course of action is to call them out in public. This can be done through a forum, or watchdog site like Sportsbook Review, who actively negotiate with management in some cases. Ultimately though, if a sportsbook doesn’t want to honor a wager, there’s basically nothing that can be done.
Scam sportsbooks void winnings for a variety of reasons. These can range from using the old “syndicate betting” clause or because they were to slow to move a line, which they then count as an error. If a sportsbook doesn’t want to pay you, they will find a reason.
The most surprising part about all of this is that it’s often done in the public eye. A shop’s management knows that other players or potential customers will read or hear about these disputes when things go public. They often still decide to rule against players, despite heavy disagreement from the community.
The public relations hit they take far outweighs the funds in question in the vast majority of cases. These sportsbooks either don’t care how it affects their image or are in such terrible shape financially that paying out will put them in a dangerous situation. This brings us to our next topic.
This seems like an obvious red flag, but you would be surprised how often this is overlooked. We discussed in our deposit article that players shouldn’t have to wait longer than two months for a payout request of any kind, but most withdrawals should be processed a lot faster.
A clear sign of a troubled sportsbook is extended payout delays or working out payment plans with bettors. This can be followed by the book not paying out at all, and eventually closing their doors, and running off with whatever is left of players’ funds.
One aspect that is overlooked is the type of bettors who are being paid. Is the sportsbook quickly paying out lower balances, but giving the run-around to those that have beat them for big money? There are many sportsbooks which operate this regularly. They still pay most players, but will do their best to slow-pay or void winnings of their largest winners.
Remember, a sportsbook can easily reach profitability if they fail to pay the top 5-10% of winners. There’s no reason to fault a book for banning or limiting players once they have taken them for a sizeable amount of cash. They just need to pay them their winnings and send them on their way. You can tell a lot about the makeup of a shop by how they treat their biggest winners.
The worst part about these situations is that those who are new to sports betting or online gambling are the most susceptible. If their first experience betting sports online is a poor one, they may swear off the industry for life. There is still a lot of money to be made betting offshore, but becoming a profitable sports bettor is hard enough without having to worry about getting paid.
The best way to keep yourself away from potential sportsbook scams is to keep up with the latest news and happenings in the industry. We will do our best to keep bettors informed, but doing your own independent research is important.