The popularity of online sports betting has led to a surge of bookmakers opening for virtual business. However, not all bookmakers aim to play fair, and can even be out to exploit unwitting customers. Choosing an online bookmaker always starts with ensuring an operator’s reliability and trustworthiness. As we explain below, this is primarily linked to a bookmaker’s license.

Gambling Licenses

Many countries permit gambling within their borders, with conditions attached. Often those conditions include that an operator be licensed with the regulatory body of that country. Becoming licensed means that the bookmaker passes certain requirements pertaining to player protection, game fairness, and responsible handling of information.

However, not all licenses are created equal. Some are significantly more challenging to acquire. A license from the UK Gambling Commission for this reason is considered to be the most valuable, in terms of reliability. Not far behind is a license from the Swedish or Maltese gaming authorities. Generally, you can trust a European license.

On the flip side, there are licenses which indicate a red flag. For example, if a bookmaker only has a license from the island of Curacao, this means that they may have not been reliable enough to get a better one. It goes without saying that a bookmaker without a license should be a dead-on-arrival where your bankroll is concerned.

Aggressive marketing

While the license is the biggest indicator of a reliable bookmaker, actions can speak just as loudly. A bookmaker could suddenly freeze your account after you attempt to withdraw your profits, but it’s much better to judge shady conduct ahead of time. You can often receive negative signals from how a bookmaker chooses to recruit players or keep them returning.

For example, if a bookmaker offers an unrealistically high welcome bonus, this could be because they don’t intend to payout to any winners. This example is doubled when it comes to odds. If the offered odds are far above market standards, this could be another malicious bait and switch.

Another instance of dubious behaviour has to do with how a bookmaker contacts their customers. If you receive calls or texts from a bookmaker, especially if you never offered up your phone number, steer clear (if not report the operator to your local authorities).

Word on the street

Lastly, nothing beats asking other sports bettors what their experience has been. It is relatively easy to find a host of professional reviews and personal anecdotes across bookmaker comparison websites and community forums. By doing some online digging you can uncover a trove of information pertaining to which bookmakers deal honestly, generously, or not.

To conclude, your checkboxes for an unreliable bookmaker should include a license (and which license), realistic offers, appropriate contact, and upstanding reputation. When staking your money online, it’s better to be cautious than careless, so always trust your gut when an operator gives you a bad feeling. You may be on the money more often than you think.