One of the biggest mistakes you can make in sports betting is to open an account at a blacklisted bookmaker or sportsbook. If you deposit funds into an account with one of these companies, you may run into problems when trying to collect winnings or get your money back out of your account.
Continue reading for a detailed guide to identifying and avoiding disreputable bookmakers. Alternatively, skip to a list of blacklisted bookmakers at the end, to make sure that the bookie you’re thinking of using isn’t a known fraudster.
If you’re looking for a reliable bookmaker, check our bookmaker reviews for details of some of the top and most trusted bookmakers.
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What are blacklisted bookmakers?
Blacklisted bookmakers are betting companies, or sportsbooks, that engage in fraudulent or dishonest conduct.
There isn't a central authority that blacklists bookmakers. Bookmakers may be blacklisted by gaming regulators in a specific region, but still be considered legal in other regions. In addition, bookmakers may be informally considered as blacklisted once they have attracted a high enough number of complaints from users.
A variety of behaviours can result in a bookmaker being included in a blacklist. These include:
- operating without a license – this may mean that some bookmakers are blacklisted in your geographical region but not in other regions
- violating good conduct rules, including cancelling bets or changing the rules that apply to a bet after the bet has won
- providing very poor customer service or consistently failing to respond to customers
- frequently being unable to pay out funds, or withholding funds
- serving as a front that allows for the confiscation of deposits
- mismanagement, resulting in inferior service delivery.
How can you spot a blacklisted bookmaker?
It’s easy to imagine blacklisted bookmakers as grubby, seedy websites with unprofessional designs. Unfortunately, identifying blacklisted operators isn’t that simple.
In fact, fraudulent bookmaker sites may have very professional designs because they exist purely to tempt you into making a deposit. If you suspect a bookmaker may be disreputable, you should research its location, check for suspiciously exaggerated special offers and check the internet for customer complaints against the bookmaker.
Check the bookmaker’s location
Find out where the bookmaker is located. As a rule of thumb, bookmakers hosted in Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Malta are less likely to be illegal operators because these companies are subject to regulation by gaming commissions. Fraudulent bookmakers are more often located in countries where you’d find it difficult to take legal action against them, including countries in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia.
If a bookmaker is located outside the UK or Western Europe, you should be cautious – do some research before sharing any financial information with it or making a deposit.
Reputable bookmakers usually display information about their locations and the gambling regulators for their regions on their home pages. However, be aware that blacklisted bookmakers may publish fraudulent information on their websites. If you’re suspicious about a particular bookmaker, you need to contact the relevant gambling commission directly to find out whether that bookmaker is registered with it.
Be suspicious of exaggerated specials
The sole purpose of a fraudulent bookmaker site is to convince people to deposit funds (so that the funds can be stolen). Those designing the site will do anything they can to encourage you to make a deposit.
Accordingly, one sign of a fraudulent bookmaker is a free bet or signup bonus that looks too good to be true. If an offer seems too generous in relation to what’s being offered by other, trusted bookmakers, chances are that the site can’t be trusted.
Keep in mind that high free bet offers often require that you make large deposits in order to redeem the bets – which provides a perfect way for blacklisted bookmakers to trick you into depositing large sums of money.
Check for customer complaints
Fraudulent and poorly run bookmakers attract customer complaints. Customers may complain in bookmaker or betting forums, as well as on consumer complaint websites. Although even legitimate bookmakers will attract occasional complaints, you should regard a high volume of complaints that consistently mention the same problems as a red flag.
A number of websites and forums maintain records of blacklisted bookmakers. Some examples are the blacklists maintained by BookmakerReview.com, the Off Shore Gaming Association, King of the Spread and Bookmaker Update. These can be a useful resource for checking the status of an established bookmaker.
However, keep the following in mind when using these websites:
- Some websites may report bookmakers as blacklisted because they’re not legal in a specific region or country where gambling is strictly regulated. As a result, legitimate bookmakers may be reported on blacklists.
- Most fraudulent bookmakers won’t operate at a fixed web address or using a fixed brand. Instead they disappear and reappear under different branding. This means that lists of blacklisted operators easily become outdated.
- If a bookmaker doesn’t appear on a blacklist, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s legitimate. There are thousands of betting providers on the internet, and more appearing by the day, and it is difficult to track and report on the legality of each of these.
The easiest way to avoid blacklisted bookmakers is to use only bookmakers with established, reputable betting brands. These bookmakers rely on their reputation for honesty and good customer service to attract new customers, and they take all complaints and disputes seriously.
When you use a trusted bookmaker, you’ll generally also get better value. This is because well-established bookmakers often offer daily betting specials, enhanced odds and a greater variety of sports betting markets than smaller, less well-known bookmakers. Check our bookmaker reviews for information about some of the top (and most reliable) bookmakers.
List of blacklisted bookmakers
Remember that no list of blacklisted bookmakers will include every fly-by-night bookie – unscrupulous companies come and go overnight. So as well as checking the list here, always use your common sense and do some research before placing bets on a particular site.
Online bookmakers to avoid
Due to scams, bankruptcy or other widely reported issues, you're better off avoiding the following online bookmakers:
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