It only takes one day for a small online sportsbook to be down to cause panic among players
The online sportsbook industry has been around for over two decades, but sometimes it still feels like it is in its infancy. Such is the case with shady deals, oddball characters and less-than-honest business practices that simply would not fly in today’s regulated jurisdictions around the world.
Case in point, the sudden changes made by HRWager in the last week.
HRWager.ag came onto the scene back in 2012 utilizing a price-per-head (PPH) back-end behind a head man who had been in the offshore gambling industry for many years. Located in Costa Rica, they grew slowly, usually via referrals and word-of-mouth but also from some advertising on a popular gambling forum at the time.
Though we got a few complaints on HRWager in their early years, the main man, George, was always responsive and each complaint was handled professionally and in a timely manner. HRWager continued to grow, complaints dissipated and three years ago they made the leap from their PPH provider to a sort of partnership with the much larger BetPhoenix group.
For the first year or so this appeared to work out very well for all parties, but cracks began to form when George felt HRWager wasn't achieving the results that were promised at the outset of the partnership. So, they left the BetPhoenix group. Literally, in the middle of the night.
Players up in arms
When HRWager went down for a day last week, players immediately thought the worst, that HRWager had run off with their money, despite the fact that there has never been a no pay complaint on the sportsbook in 7+ years. But then, the site returned within a day. Still, to the dismay of many HRWager players it wasn't the same, with a completely different website and wagering menu, and to top it off, contact with the book was sketchy.
We contacted all of the parties involved and found that this was more 'offshore drama' than an actual problem that players need to worry about. HRWager was quick to reply that player balances are safe and they simply switched platforms for their systems. RDG Systems, the former and now current PPH provider, told us HRWager is solid and they are, in fact, providing them service again. And BetPhoenix let us know that the split with HRWager was 'less than amicable'.
Things got ugly quickly when many of HRWager's players were contacted by Stacy from BetPhoenix, who insisted that HRWager was bankrupt and was really in the process of running off with players’ money. Several players that contacted us had no idea of the partnership between the two organizations and were dumbfounded and alarmed by the call. But the reality of the situation is that BetPhoenix claims that HRWager left without paying their bills and Stacy was just trying to recruit HRWager players to recoup the outstanding balance owed.
OSGA has been around for over 21 years and we have seen it all. And as one operator discussed with us, often the industry is like a 'soap opera'.
So, we will continue to watch, listen and inquire regarding the situation with HRWager, as all of this only happened in the last seven days. For now, everything looks to be working out for both the sportsbook and its players and we remain cautiously optimistic that HRWager will continue on and BetPhoenix will get over it.
Check back every week for The Betting Scene as we will highlight new items of interest in the world of online sports betting.