An explosion in online sports betting demand over the last decade sparked a fitting response from sportsbooks around the world that met that demand with countless platforms to satisfy public demand. However, with the arrival of seemingly limitless sports betting destinations comes the danger of those that will try to take advantage of the demand by producing fake or unlicensed sportsbooks.
Whether it’s a dishonest or fraudulent book or a weak site that struggles to deliver when it comes to payouts or customer service, bettors want to do everything they can to stay away from these sites. Fortunately for the betting public, there are ways to identify and avoid these traps. Here is a look at 9 different ways to spot fake or unlicensed sportsbooks.
Issues With Transactions – Especially Withdrawals
One of the top red flags you’re dealing with a shady book is having any types of issues with banking. Usually, the red flags start with withdrawals rather than deposits.
If you go to process a withdrawal and notice that it’s taking longer than expected (longer than the estimated times on the website), then you know something is up. If you speak to their customer service and they dodge your questions or give you the runaround, then you know you’re in trouble.
Any types of issues with withdrawals should set some fire alarms off in your head.
Is Their Website Made With Geocities?
It might not seem like a big deal since there are a number of quality sportsbooks that have never really had an excellent web site design. However, poor web design can be a telling sign of a shady sportsbook. When they don’t have the funds to make their home page – which is basically their storefront – look good, that can be a bad sign.
Some books may not invest a ton into their home page but it should look crisp and clean. If it looks like it was thrown up by a college kid that was hired for $50, that should raise an eyebrow.
If It Looks Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is
One thing that you might notice with certain sites from time to time is sports betting lines that appear to be too good to be true. If you notice a line that is way off of what you expect and doesn’t even come close to resembling the line posted by another sportsbook then there is a good chance you have come across a line that isn’t trustworthy.
Different sportsbooks will have slightly different lines based on the action that they take and where the majority of the money is being bet. However, you really shouldn’t ever see a massive disparity in a sports betting line from sportsbook to sportsbook. For example, if the New England Patriots are listed as sports betting favorites at -5 against the Cincinnati Bengals on the majority of sites and then you come across them listed at +3, that’s probably a sign that something isn’t right. If you notice that a line is far off from where you think it should be then you definitely want to use caution.
Are You Getting Lured In By Too Sweet Of A Sweet Bonus?
With so many different quality sportsbooks around the world, it’s no surprise that they are competing for business with some of the best bonus offers that the online sports betting world has ever seen before. However, fraudulent sportsbooks could take advantage of this by offering bonuses that are simply too good to be true in order to lure you in to betting with them. With a legitimate sportsbook, you might see a 100% match bonus on up to $300 with a 10x rollover. This means that if you deposit any amount up to $300, the sportsbook will match that deposit.
The only catch is that you have to wager that amount 10 times in order to hit the rollover qualification and then cash out. While that is an exceptional bonus, a fraudulent site might try something like a 100% match bonus on up to $500 with no rollover at all. Obviously, no legitimate sportsbook would ever allow this since it would mean players could cash in on the bonus and then just take the money without needing to roll it over. If you see a bonus that is too good to be true, it might make sense to just ignore it and look in another direction entirely.
Is Your Sportsbook Ghosting You?
If you matched with someone on Tinder and they stopped responding out of the blue, that’s one thing. If you’re dealing with a sportsbook that’s ghosting you, that’s another issue altogether.
One of the best things about modern technology (as it relates to sportsbooks) is that it’s not heard to reach a sportsbook. Many will have live chat on the actual site, so you can connect with them whenever you need to, or have a call center that’s open 24/7.
If you notice that a site is taking a long time to get back to you with an e-mail or you can reach them via phone, then be concerned. Excellent customer service is a staple of a quality sportsbook. Keep that in mind when you are looking for a sportsbook to sign up with.
The Verification Process Drags Out
Another potential warning sign is a verification process that takes far too long. This is relevant because no sportsbook – legal or not – will pay you out your winnings until you have been verified. Many will let you deposit, play and have some fun, but if you haven’t properly verified your account by the time you go to request a withdrawal, they won’t give you the money.
So some fraudulent sportsbooks will delay or drag out this process to avoid paying their clients with the claim that they haven’t successfully received the required verification information that they need. They will make multiple requests to the player in order to get the same information over and over again.
While they are acting as though they are working within the best interest of the customer, the reality is that they are just doing whatever they can to avoid making the payout. All sportsbooks should have a simple and easy verification process in place for when you first sign up. After that, any attempts to delay payouts should be considered a significant concern.
Changing Bonus Terms & Conditions On The Fly
“Oh, you thought you were getting a 20% bonus? We’re sorry, that’s actually just 10%. Oh, you thought you were done with your 20-time rollover? Well, only your bets of +250 or more applied.”
If you hear any type of nonsense like this, you’ve likely found yourself a shady sportsbook. If they are moving the goalposts and changing the terms and conditions on you to make it harder to get your bonus, withdraw your money or do anything that you need to do, that’s a really bad sign.
Does The Sportsbook Have A License?
With so many reputable sportsbooks out, there it really shouldn’t be difficult to find one that works for you. It’s important to keep in mind that any legally obtained sportsbooks will have a “license to operate” their website. There are some legitimate sportsbooks that go the extra mile to make licenses visible to their users as soon as they sign on.
Meanwhile, there are others sites that list their license within the Terms and Conditions section of their site. The key is that if the sportsbook is legitimate, you should have no problem finding their license listed somewhere on the site. Whether they are based in Europe, the Caribbean islands or on a Native American reserve, make sure that the sportsbook license is clearly listed before you sign up and deposit your money on the site. Remember, just because a sportsbook has a license doesn’t mean that they are legitimate. However, it is one more step that we can take to make sure that we are signing up with a legitimate and reliable sports betting site.
Do Your Research Beforehand
The final and perhaps best tip that we can offer new players is to make sure they do their research ahead of time when finding the best sportsbook that works for them. There are countless sportsbook review sites in place that offer in-depth analysis, breakdowns of pros and cons and comprehensive customer service reviews for the best and worst sites out there.
By doing your research ahead of time, you can avoid the headache that comes with using a fraudulent sportsbook. By following these simple rules, you will have a much easier time avoiding the types of illegal and unethical sports betting sites that are looking to fraud unsuspecting customers.
Check out also “Why Do Some Sportsbook Restrict Betting Accounts“.