By Ray Monohan
In Las Vegas, you never place a bet at sportsbook and wonder if the company will pay you back your winnings.
Unfortunately, the online betting world is a little different. On land, they’ll all pay you your winnings but online, it can be a different story.
With plenty of landmines in the online sportsbook industry, it’s important to see the red flags of a scam sportsbook before you deposit your money. Since we’re dealing with our hard-earned coin, it’s very important that we avoid the shady operations preying on new players.
We do our best here to try to review as many books as we can to keep you with secure sportsbooks, but for the times you are out shopping on your own, here are five telling signs that are likely to indicate whether or not you’re dealing with a scam sportsbook:
1. Plenty of Outstanding Complaints
If you visit some forums, chat with a few friends and see several bad reviews, that’s your first telling sign that you should stay away from the scam sportsbook. You have to take everything with a grain of salt but when it comes to sportsbook reviews, where there is smoke, there is also fire.
One or two odds customer complaints isn’t unusual. There are some bettors who try to steal bonuses, game sportsbooks and bend the rules only to claim that the sportsbook is the one scamming them. Make sure you filter those out of your judgment as those people will give bad reviews to any books that they can’t fool.
But if you see a sportsbook that has plenty of complaints regarding payments that haven’t come on time, payments that haven’t even been processed after multiple requests, bounced checks, unfair canceled bets and just general screwing with the customers, you’d be best to stay away.
2. Zero Transparency
We find this one to be the most important in regards to the five on this list.
If a sportsbook has an outstanding customer complaint and they can publicly explain what the problem is and elaborate on their side of it, that’s a good sign.
A scam sportsbook usually just takes your money without communicating to you or any other watch dog. Or if you reach out to them, you’ll hear a slew of cheap excuses or stall tactics (your account is being audited, offering you a bonus to keep your money in the account instead of withdraw).
So if they are will to keep the lines of communication open, that’s already a good sign.
While scam sportsbooks will disappear in the middle of the night without telling anyone, a good sportsbook will reach out to you when a payment has been delayed or when they are having issues with a processor. Often times, they’ll also give you other options so that you can access your money sooner.
Fluid communication is a good sign. Lack of communication is a bad sign.
3. Few Methods Of Contact
And continuing the logic of the first two points on this list, if a sportsbook severely limits their methods of contact to you, that can be a bad sign. We’ve debated whether a sportsbook need phone service in the past and it really depends on the reputation of the book you’re dealing with.
Companies like Pinnacle Sports (Pinnacle Sportsbook review) don’t offer phone service of any kind but their customer service responds to every e-mail very quickly, so you know you’ll never be left hanging.
But companies like Sportsbook.com (Sportsbook.com review) don’t have phone service for a reason. They don’t pay players out and they don’t want to deal with those phone calls.
If a sportsbook doesn’t have live chat or phone service, make sure they have a great reputation and very good customer service before you deposit. Otherwise you might be left with a scam sportsbook without any tangible way of contacting them.
4. Big Bonuses
Don’t get me wrong: there are some sportsbooks that offer great bonuses and are by no means scam sportsbooks.
At the same time, a sportsbook that is running a scam tends to offer huge bonuses to attract bettors to get their money into the book with no intention of ever letting that money out of the book.
If you see a 200% bonus, that should be a red flag. Some companies will do whatever it takes for you to get your money in there because they know they’ll never give it back to you.
Just double check that the company has a good reputation and actually pays out its players before you dive into that tempting, juicy bonus.
Also, keep an eye on the rollover as far as how it correlates to the bonus. The bigger the bonus, the bigger the rollover should be so if a sportsbook is offering a massive bonus with a tiny rollover, that should be another red flag.
5. Short History
A sportsbook with a short history can be a concern. There are sportsbooks like BetIslands (BetIslands Review) that climb the ladder very quickly in a short period of time and do it based on good customer service, fast payouts and a steady rep.
But at the same time, when you’re dealing with a sportsbook that has a short history, you just never know.
It’s like dealing with a new cellphone carrier or a brand new tech company. Will you get service everywhere you need it? What happens when you call their customer care? How quickly do they respond to your requests?
It’s best to watch from a distance at first and see how they are doing in the early goings and if the company is a success, then you can join the party.
Otherwise, save yourself the potential headache and stick with the tried, tested and true sportsbooks.