Unless it's an established sportsbook, buyer beware
The start of football season is when sports bettors around the globe begin to look at betting tips sheets, listen to podcasts and load up online sports book accounts. Its also the time of year when less-than-honest sportsbooks pop up out of the blue and offer big bonuses and incentives to get unsuspecting players to signup and send money.
After 21+ years online, we have seen too many scammer start-ups flood the Internet with websites, started only in the last few months before football season begins, claiming to be "top rated" or the "best offshore sports book". These places will appear to be legit, creating fake posters, Twitter and Facebook accounts with players saying how quickly they get paid, what great customer service they got, etc. Generally, these books pay for a few months and then sadly, too often, disappear.
Most of these operations are nothing more than a guy or few guys who have enough money to get a price-per-head provider to supply a website, betting software and call center services. It’s generally a couple of bookies with a list of bettors, and maybe a few customers, who employ a minimum wage local support staff. Though the place might look good and sound good and offer something players are looking for, super high bonuses, etc., nothing can replace the safety of an online sportsbook that has a decade or more of experience.
We have also been horrified to see that sports betting services are using Twitter to not just find players, but to have them signup, play and get paid all through the social media site. Some may be legitimate local bookies looking to expand beyond their region, but just the thought of it reeks of scam. Playing with a Twitter handle vs. a 5Dimes or BetOnline. Sorry, no thanks.
We have told players for years that playing at a sportsbook that has not made it through one football AND baseball season is asking for trouble. If players must try a brand new place, certainly don't fire away with large deposits and big bets and definitely do not make it the only out.
Is PayPal Back?
One way to tell if an online website is legit is checking on their deposit and payout methods. We are seeing a bit of a trend where smaller betting shops and start ups are using PayPal as a deposit and payment method. It's not that PayPal is a bad thing, it's just a tough payment method for sportsbooks to keep up and running. That's one of the main reasons you wont see a Heritage or Bovada using it. In reality no sportsbook should be using it and here's why.
PayPal was a huge way to send and receive money in the 90s and early 2000s. It was probably the preferred method at the turn of the century for sportsbooks offshore. But, in July 2002, PayPal got bought by eBay for $1.5 billion and that was the beginning of the end for most mainstream sportsbooks that used PayPal to process player funds. PayPal left the online gaming business after it merged with eBay in 2003. Then the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) came along in 2006 and any wallet provider in the U.S. that processed for online sports books became a target of the Department of Justice.
But, if a book does offer it to you go ahead and use it. However, keep in mind that since the operator must cloak PayPal transactions to avoid detection, sometimes it may take a few days to get paid out. If Paypal is the only way a sports book pays out (or it's their #1 method), that's a problem. If the book does any kind of volume at all, PayPal will notice and shut them down immediately.
As a side note, PayPal does operate in Europe to process betting funds and they are again in the United States processing for the licensed gambling companies in New Jersey and other states.
The betting world was on fire on Thursday after the Houston Astros, priced at -550 or more behind Justin Verlander, lost to the hapless Detroit Tigers Wednesday night. This was one of the highest lines ever posted on a baseball game and the upset was a nice windfall for most sportsbooks. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, MGM Resorts sportsbooks reported several mid five-figure straight bets on the Astros to win the game outright and we spoke with a couple of online sportsbooks who told us similar stories. One book reported a player who plunked down five figures to win four!
Betting huge MLB favorites is a giant double edged sword. A player who regularly bets on favorites in excess of -200 stands a huge chance of getting hurt. A loss at -200 or more will take 3 winning games to make back up.
When NFL Pre-season ends so do offers
Players who are looking to get involved with any early season or preseason promotions at online sportsbooks should take action soon. Almost books all will cut the offers, lower bonuses and void contest entries once the season starts. And most will adjust their offers right after the final gun of the last preseason NFL game.
BetMania has an early bird offer that will expire on Sunday, so to get in on their raffle and 200% free play offer today. JazzSports' Early Bird Football Madness promotion, where players can get a risk-free $50 wager on their first NFL wager of the regular season, will end the day after Labor Day
Check back every week for The Betting Scene as we will highlight new items of interest in the world of online sports betting.