Scam Sportsbooks To Avoid

Written by: Joseph Falchetti, Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert
Last updated:
10 minute read
Scam Sportsbooks

Many websites 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 betting sites. But we’ve got you covered.

In this guide, we’ll show you which sportsbooks out there are not safe and the things you should look for to spot scam betting sites right on time. Let’s dive in!

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Scam And Failed Online Sportsbooks

The industry 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 or withdraw your money.

Safest Online Sportsbooks For US Bettors

Now that you’ve seen a list of scam sports betting sites, we want to show you the top sportsbooks we recommend to our readers.

Use the following sites if you are looking for safe and secure sportsbooks, and they offer great betting bonuses and odds for you to take advantage of.

Rank Top Betting Sites Deposit Bonus Get Started
1 Deposit Bonus 100% Up To $2,500 Bet Now
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3 Deposit Bonus 125% Up To $1,250 Bet Now

Read Our Review Of The Best Online Sportsbooks

Tips To Avoid Scam Betting Sites

Tips to spot sportsbook scams

Scammy gambling sites will do it all to claim more victims while making a profit.

Luckily, scams are getting easier to identify and prevent with the help of the Internet and people sharing their bad experiences.

It may look scary to get into online sports betting, but don’t worry, our experts are ready to help you.

Here are our best tips to spot scam sportsbooks and avoid falling into their traps.

Expert Tip #1Longevity Means Everything In Offshore Betting

Sportsbook longevity

This advice may hurt some 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.

Too many “fly-by-night” operations will happily take in deposits only to disappear months later. Like I mentioned above, some sportsbooks are opened specifically to steal from players. Management has no intention of paying out.

One or two years of operation are nothing in the offshore betting 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 new bookmakers is potentially risky.

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.

Expert Tip #2Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Sportsbooks have to look legit

The goal of every online sportsbook is to entice players to deposit before they leave their webpage.

To do this, they have to look legit. 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 betting sites have live chat support. It’s an excellent feature for resolving issues instantly but has little meaning if they are slow on payouts or if the sportsbook is not paying out at all.

Expert Tip #3Be Diligent In Choosing Online Betting Sites

Choosing a sportsbook and depositing money isn’t something that should be done off the cuff.

Safest Betting Sites is an excellent source, but so are sports betting forums and a simple Google search on the prospective betting site.

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.

Think Before Accepting An Offer

Analyze sports betting offers

Scam bookmakers 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 previously given this information to the sportsbook, but managers may share marketing lists at other times.

It’s all too common for an employee to leave a sportsbook only to start their own shop and then 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.

Expert Tip #4Impractical Sportsbook BonusES aND Promos

Almost every online sportsbook in existence offers some form of a deposit bonus.

The most respected and reputable online bookmakers have large deposit offers. However, deposit bonuses are only good if they are actually honored when players request a payout.

Sites can offer players bonuses because they come with a rollover rate. This rate is the number of times the bonus (and usually deposit amount) must be wagered until bettors can cash out their funds.

Taking The Rollover Into Account

Bonus Rollover

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 the 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.

Large bonuses are not an indicator of financial stability. In fact, often enough, it means just the opposite.

Expert Tip #5Sportsbooks With Predatory Terms And 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, which actively negotiates 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.

Why Sportsbooks Void Winnings?

Sportsbooks To Avoid - Complaints, Payout Problems & Scams

Scam sportsbooks void winnings for a variety of reasons. These can range from using the old “syndicate betting” clause or because they were too 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 sportsbook’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 than paying out will put them in a dangerous situation.

Expert Tip #6Slow-Pay Means No-Pay At Online Sportsbook

Sportsbook payouts

This seems like an obvious red flag, but you would be surprised how often this is overlooked.

A clear sign of a troubled sportsbook is extended payout delays or working out payment plans with bettors.

This can be followed by the sportsbook not paying out at all, 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 that operate this way 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% 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.

Looking For A Safe Sportsbook?

More Resources About Sportsbook Scams

There are several reasons that a sportsbook will “go rogue” and be added to our list of blacklisted sportsbooks.

Some sites sprout up intending to defraud 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 reasons a sportsbook can become insolvent.

Here are some good articles that can help in specific situations:

Scam Sportsbooks – How To Stay Safe?

How to stay away from scam sportsbooks

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.

The worst part about these situations is that those new to sports betting or online gambling are the most susceptible. If their first experience betting sports online is poor, 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 key.

Still not sure about the safety and security at online betting sites?

Sports Betting Safety And Security – FAQ

Does it matter where or if my sportsbook has a license?

Gambling Regulatory agencies aren’t created equal. Some allow sportsbooks to operate freely, provided they pay the licensing fee. Others are a lot more stringent.

Regulations in Europe are going to be a lot tougher than most offshore regulatory bodies. However, even in regions where regulations are relaxed, valuable operators emerge.

A focus on the sportsbook itself, not the country it is located in or regulated by, is the best approach.

What should I look for in a sportsbook if safety and security is my primary concern?

You want to take all aspects of a sportsbook into account before depositing, but if safety and security are your primary factor, looking at longevity and payment processing speeds should be your primary concern.

Sportsbooks operating longer in the industry are typically more trustworthy. Our monthly U.S. Offshore Online Sportsbook Payout Report covers the top offshore sportsbooks, and we do our best to keep our reviews as updated as possible regarding withdrawal methods and speeds for each sportsbook.

What practices do sportsbooks use to maintain safety?

The reputation of a sportsbook is important when it comes to keeping their customers’ identities and funds secure. Most use multiple security measures, including encryption of sensitive information.

Security does differ depending on jurisdictions and regulatory bodies. As always, it’s important to read up on a sportsbook before depositing.

Can I trust these sportsbooks with my information?

Once again, this depends on the operator. We trust some sportsbooks a lot more than others. Generally, we would say yes, but there have been plenty of times that offshore sportsbooks sold off client lists or used the customer data from one sportsbook to begin another operation.

What recourse do I have if I have a problem with a sportsbook?

From a legal standpoint, not much. However, emailing us at Safest Betting Sites and letting us know the situation may allow us to start a dialogue with the sportsbook and perhaps work out a solution.

Sportsbook Review does a lot of a lot of mediation between players and sportsbooks as well. In disputes, we highly recommend that players keep things civil, even if they are frustrated with the sportsbooks decision or angry about a slow payout.

Ultimately, working with management and not name-calling is the best way for a positive solution.

What if my sportsbook is not paying me?

We cover this under our scam sportsbook section. We encourage players to be polite in communications with management and if you deposited with a credit or debit card, not to threaten a chargeback.

I have a gambling problem, where do I go for help?

Gamblers Anonymous is a good start. You should never gamble more than you can afford to lose. If you think your sports betting is turning into problem gambling, seek help.

How can I set self-exclusion limits on my bets?

It may be a feature inside your sports betting account. You may also be able to permanently ban (self-exclusion) yourself from betting at an offshore website. If you have a gambling problem, we encourage you to seek help by visiting Gamblers Anonymous.

About the Author

Joseph Falchetti

Joseph Falchetti

Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert

Joe is the author of the majority of sports betting pages on SBS and he serves as a gambling consultant to our content team. He's been mentioned on as a gaming analyst, and his articles have been linked by larger publications, such as the New York Times.

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