At the start of every football season, a new crop of offshore sportsbooks rises from the scum pond. The trend in the last two years is for managers or small-time bookies that have gone to work at an offshore sportsbook in Costa Rica or Panama opening their own online sportbooks. They call all of their former players, give them great offers, badmouth the last place they worked at and hope that thier hand-picked players lose. Because none of these 'book owners' have ever run anything, most are not bookmakers by trade and 90% of them do not have the cash to mask the inefficiencies they have with risk, marketing and players who actually do win sometimes.
Then, at the end of the football season, we sit and wait for these types of places to run out of money, lose backers and processing and go out-of-business, usually stiffing players.
The latest run of online sportsbooks to open in this fashion and then fail miserably began during the football season with the BetIslands debacle in December of last year. Jon was a guy everyone in the industry and many players knew. He had started at JustBet, moved his way into running/managing/owning WagerChief in partnership with BetPhoenix and then moved on to open his own shop, BetIslands. As we all know now, Jon did not know how to handle risk management and his bonus and reduced-juice offers were lose-lose for the book. One day, BetIslands just closed. Ultimately, all players got stiffed and Jon has disappeared into the rain forest.
Starting in March we got reports that Blazing Bet wasn't paying players. This operation was started by a couple of guys who "used to work at BetUS". They mined the lists they took from their former employer and started a book! Well they must have gotten greedy because the reports started to come in with BIG dollar figures owed. More than one player was owed over 30K and several players were into five figures. BlazingBet switched domain extensions (.ag, .eu) and finally shut down the website, referring players to the price-per-head shop at Just4Bettors. Well that only lasted a few weeks and Just4Bettors realized that the BetUS guys had no money. They went out in blaze of nothing and stiffed every player.
This past week betusgame.ag went down and appears gone. This place started as betjefe, with the familiar voice of Andrew at the helm. He had previously been the head of customer service at the old BetonSports shop, Infinity Sports. Then he went to BetOnline before leaving Panama and we thought the industry, for good. But he arrived at the start of last football with Betjefe and 'new, solid' backers, guys that were going to do things right. Well Andrew had some personal problems and while he was gone, the sportsbook went to hell. Players waited to be paid and no new customers were signing up. To give the book a fresh start, 'new backers' were found and a new url was launched - betusgame.ag. Oh yeah, and the place was moving its physical location. In reality, they were shutting down after getting as much as they could. Again, all players will most likely end up losing every nickel in their accounts.
The moral of the story is when the phone rings this year and its "Carlos, remember me from XYZ Sports? I have my own sportsbook now." Just hang up!! There are some success stories when these seasoned people open new houses; SportsBettingOnline opened last year and they are going strong and GT Bets did the same two years ago in the wake of VIP Sports closing. Both shops are doing very well and have no payout complaints. But the rash of scams perpetrated year after year by familiar voices at new places, makes us wonder if any sportsbooks starting from scratch are even worth giving a shot to. At worst just say no! At best, tread very lightly.
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