Bet Islands is one of the worst sportsbook scams in recent memory. While many offshore sportsbooks turned their back on the market due to UIGEA regulations and laws after 2007 and went bust or disappeared, Bet Islands was one of the few sportsbook to enter the US market after the online gambling crackdown.
We always recommend bettors be careful about using newer sportsbooks, even if other players report being paid and their bonuses and odds are attractive. The downfall of Bet Islands is the reason for this warning.
The sportsbook was heavily promoted by many watchdog sites, including Sportsbook Review, which pushed it heavily until its demise. The insolvent bookmaker not only cost only players over $1.5 million in balances, but left a permanent black mark on one of the most trusted authority sites for online sports bettors.
Connection to Sportsbook Review
SportsBookReview.com, as of this writing, is still the most trusted source online when it comes to the offshore betting industry. As we mentioned above, their connections to Bet Islands and the way they did their best to hide the sportsbook’s financial situation, even when they almost certainly knew they were broke has been shocking.
A user on PeepsPlace.com, a well trusted offshore betting forum with tidbits of inside information from time to time linked to a thread at Sportsbook Review Forum. In the thread, SBR’s owner, John Walker, asked to have a beer with John Kreta, the guy who started Bet Islands.
A user at PeepsPlace.com noticed this in 2012, after Bet Islands closed for good. It was quite “eye opening” said the user. That’s sound about right.
BetIslands opened in early 2011, and was quickly picked up in the SBR Rakings. They initiated their ratings at a C-, which is actually quite high for a new sportsbook.
As we mentioned above, newer sportsbooks don’t usually get even an average rating at SBR. Many sportsbooks can stay unrated for six or more months, but Bet Islands made the list immediately. They also got a rating that is assigned to an average sportsbook.
A month later their rating was changed to a C+. Sportsbook review also heavily promoted the room by writing up a news story that promoted Bet Islands to their readers and forum posters. Many of the posters who were thought to be credible ended up being Bet Islands’ shills.
Later in the year, Bet Islands once again had their rating upgraded. By December, the sportsbook was rated at a B-. They were also getting the A+ treatment from SBR, despite their B- rating and being less than a year into their operation.
SBR’s relationship with Bet Islands was the same one they had with other sportsbooks that they promote. It’s the same thing we do here at Safest Sports Betting. We post links to sportsbooks and receive a commission when our links are clicked.
There’s nothing wrong with that. The issue that SBR runs into with Bet Islands is that their deal with them may have blinded them of the risks associated with promoting them so heavily. It’s likely that Sportsbook Review referred 80% or more of their customers.
Without SBR, Bet Islands was just an online sportsbook less than a year old, looking to break into the tough US betting market. There is a lot of risk associated with the US market for reasons we’ve outlined on this site, so this type of excessive promotion could certainly be described as reckless.
There should have been some serious concerns from the beginning. Bet Islands quickly became a favorite of many professional type players. The book offered excellent odds overall and the best teaser odds in the US market. They ran several promotions, including large deposit and reload bonuses.
Bet Islands’ Downfall
AskTheBookie.com has an excellent post on the closure of the sportsbook and the SBR connection to Bet Islands. They reported after the sportsbook closed that they owed players at least $1.5 million.
Bet Islands fall from grace and ratings decrease on SBR was faster than any other sportsbook in history. Their rating was lowered from a B to a C sportsbook on Dec. 17th, 2012. This was reportedly due to processor issues and Bet Islands maintained that some payouts would go out that day.
In less than a day, Bet Islands was once again downgraded to an F rating. SBR reported that the sportsbook lost its financial backer and the remaining staff was unable to continue operations.
Players held out hope of a bailout, which seemed likely given the prominence of the Bet Islands brand, and supposed, “established bookmakers” that were running the site. As we saw with Legends Sportsbook’s closure, sometimes players can be bailed out at the 11th hour. The players at Legends got a bad deal, but it was better than losing their balances outright.
However, no such deal came for Bet Islands. The main reason for this – which AskTheBookie.com covered well – is the number of winners and sharp bettors that the sportsbook had on their balance sheet.
No one wanted to bail out a bunch of sharp bettors. The several accounts which held six-figure balances were large winners and most of the other clients weren’t in the recreational mold either. There was little value in picking up the balances of a group of players that were winning.
Connection to EZStreet Sports
Rumors surfaced long before Bet Islands closure that they had ties to a borderline scam sportsbook in EZ Street Sports and 7 Red Sports. We’ve covered EZ Street at SafestBettingSites.com and while they aren’t a recommended option – they have improved recently and do play their players, but are constantly subject to slow-pay complaints.
Their software is different but players noticed the same music being played when they were on hold with EZ Street, as they did with Bet Islands. Notice the date of a thread, just four days before Bet Islands went bust. Bettors also reported being called by EZ Street shortly with deposit bonus offers shortly after Bet Islands folded.
SBR Washes Hands, Players Still Out $1.5 Million
The real question here is why did SBR continue to promote a sportsbook that was so clearly in trouble till its final hours? It’s as if they led them right to the slaughterhouse and then cleared themselves of any responsibility players losing their deposits and winnings.
We’ve said in other sections of our site the dangers of trusting random “authority” sites and betting portals when it comes to choosing a reliable and trustworthy sportsbook. Even sites like SBR, which was at the time and still is – a highly respected source in the offshore world – it’s tough to take jus their word alone.
However, it would be unfair to brand them as a source of misinformation. They have helped many players in disputes with sportsbooks, which have ultimately resulting in them being paid large amounts of money, which they still do today.
Using multiple outlets to research sportsbooks is especially critical. The writing was on the wall at Bet Islands, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t made public. No one truly knows what happened behind the scenes, but the end, but in the end, it was the players who ultimately paid the price with their bankrolls.