The advent of the internet made online betting available to anyone on the planet with a connection. When bettors deposit at online betting sites and follow the terms and conditions, they rightfully expect to be paid on winning wagers.

Sadly, it doesn’t always work out that way.

While most betting sites are honest and trustworthy, some are not. Every industry has its rotten apples and online gambling sites are no different. There are just enough bad actors out there that it’s worth exercising a little caution when choosing where to bet online.

It all comes down to trust. In this industry, reputation is everything. Once an operator loses its reputation for security, it’s gone forever.

The good news is it’s fairly easy to avoid online betting scams. Stick to popular and well established betting sites, read our reviews, and you’ll have a safe experience. A few basic precautions will take you a long ways.

Reputable Betting Sites

Betting Site
Get up to $600 back if your first wager loses21+ to Play, T&Cs Apply
$50 No-Deposit Bonus + 2 Risk Free Bets Worth up to $1,000 Total21+ to Play, T&Cs Apply
Betting Site
Your First Deposit Matched up to $5018+ to Play, T&Cs Apply
Up to $200 extra for new customers18/21+ to Play, T&Cs Apply
Up to $300 Risk-Free First Bet18/21+ to Play, T&Cs Apply
10% Back (up to $500) on Win and Exotic Wagers for 30 Days18+ to Play; T&Cs Apply

Looking for safe betting sites? Any listed here fit the bill. We’ve worked with these recommended betting sites for years and experienced gamblers agree: these are the safest betting sites in the industry.

One of our guiding principles with this website is to earn our readers’ trust. We do that by making responsible, dependable, and safe recommendations.

Why Do Rogue Betting Sites Steal From Players?

Rogue sports betting sites are rarely started by people with the sole intention of stealing from players. What often happens is a sportsbook experiences financial difficulties and starts misusing player funds. For example, it’s common for poorly-run betting sites to start using new player deposits to pay off old debts. It turns into a type of Ponzi scheme where the book needs a constant flow of new customers just so it can pay off the old customers.

Occasionally, people do start betting sites with every intention to steal from others. The people who run these sites have no intention of ever running a legitimate operation. It doesn’t take much know-how for some scammer from a third-world nation (that happens to have lax business laws) to set up a quick website that looks legitimate.

Still, whether bettors are dealing with a gang of thieves or broke businessmen, the outcome is the same. The players get the short end of the stick.

Email and Phone Marketing Betting Scams

Operators of dubious sports gambling operations will go the extra mile to get potential customers to sign up and deposit. This includes bulk email mailings and in some cases harassing phone calls to customers. All of the company representatives that contact potential gamblers are just trying to get them to make a deposit, and will guarantee almost anything to get them to do so.

The calls are unsolicited, unprofessional, and not the way a legitimate online wagering site does business. These bookmakers make thousands of calls, and send millions of emails looking for suckers to deposit. Don’t fall for their tactics.

Hang around in the gambling scene long enough and you’ll probably eventually receive one of these calls. I received one myself once from a Costa Rican outfit. The guy sounded like Tony Soprano and was using high-pressure sales tactics straight out of your city’s worst used car lot. It was a big turnoff and I never did business with that betting site. Don’t be afraid to say no.

Looking the Part

For a scam sportsbook to con a customer, it needs to look and feel like a legitimate betting operation. Lots of scam betting sites have professional-looking sites, many betting options, and an easy to use wagering menu.

Sometimes they offer special promotions, an online casino and poker room, and many other features that give it the look and feel of a serious operation. They may even go as far as to offer support via live chat to potential customers, feeding them lies to get them to deposit. The old saying rings true for online gambling sites, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

You’ve got to make your judgment based on outside facts. Look around and see what types of third-party reviews the site has and what people in discussion forums have to say. If you can’t find useful information about a particular betting site, it’s best to move on. There’s no need to take your chances at unknown bookmakers when there are so many legitimate options out there.

Not Honoring Bets

Rogue betting sites write their own rules and some have been known to change their own terms and conditions retroactively after a wager is placed. They may promote certain wagers that are different from market value to increase betting action at the book. Of course, they have no intention of honoring the wagers if they should win.

If these wagers win, the book will argue that there was a line error, which in the vast majority of cases isn’t true. It’s just another scam to fleece players of their money. This is called “freerolling” because the bookmaker acts only disputes the wager if the player wins.

Scam betting websites will void wagers for a number of reasons and in many cases will provide no evidence to support their claims. Players who win a lot of money will sometimes be accused of being part of a betting syndicate and the book will void winnings on the grounds that they are professional bettors. Scam operations will find any reason to invalidate winnings.

What’s even worse is some sites selectively target customers. The casual gambler who places bets that are obviously bad will be treated well. If he gets lucky and wins a little money, the site will even honor his cashout request and maybe even give him a bonus. That player will speak well of the betting site while it turns around and fleeces people with bigger balances or who look like they know what they’re doing.

Rogue Affiliate Promotion

Affiliate marketing is one of the main methods used by legitimate and illegitimate betting sites to build up business. When a customer is referred to a sportsbook by an affiliate website, the bookmaker pays the affiliate a fee.

Many blacklisted betting sites still pay their affiliates, while simultaneously stiffing their players. In fact, some of the biggest scam sportsbooks actually have the most lucrative affiliate programs. These fake betting sites can afford to pay affiliates generously because they aren’t paying their customers!

Are the affiliates complicit in the scam?

Not technically, some likely don’t even realize the site is a sham but without affiliates promoting scam gambling websites, they would have significantly less business. So essentially, these affiliates are keeping these criminal gambling operations from going out of business.

Sadly, some affiliates write reviews praising rogue bookmakers, endorsing them as wonderful operators that are highly trusted.

Invalid Gambling Licenses

Betting sites are required to operate with a license and be regulated by a gaming body in most countries. Sometimes scam sportsbooks are awarded licenses initially but eventually have their licenses revoked after the governing body discovers their thieving business practices.

Of course these rogue betting websites refuse to remove the seal of approval form their websites. They continue to claim that they are licensed by so-and-so authority when in fact they are not. In some cases, scam betting sites will even fabricate regulatory bodies and give themselves an A+ status.

It’s also worth noting that not all gaming licenses are equal. All a book needs to be licensed in Costa Rica, for example, is a “data processing” license. This license means very little as all it requires is a few papers and the right amount of cash. That doesn’t necessarily mean any site licensed in Costa Rica is bad. In fact, Costa Rica is a popular host country for lots of legitimate betting sites thanks to its favorable tax and banking laws.

A betting license from some jurisdictions isn’t enough on its own to guarantee everything is good.

NFL Season Attracts Ripoffs and Cons

The kickoff of the NFL season sees a sizeable jump in deposits into online betting sites. New brands will often appear just before the season starts, and some of them may be scam outfits. Because so many bettors are depositing online, it’s easy for some of them to fall through the cracks and end up depositing in a less than reputable operator.

Because so many bettors are depositing online, it’s easy for some of them to end up depositing at a less than reputable gambling operator.

These are your basic “fly by night” organizations. They pop up and then disappear a few weeks later leaving customers scratching their heads. That is yet another reason to stick with well-known betting sites with positive reputations dating back many years.

Choose Your Betting Sites Wisely

Even experienced bettors get scammed by rogue betting sites from time to time. This is especially true for US-based players who cannot play at the big-brand European sites. It is absolutely crucial to research any prospective sportsbooks before depositing. Use multiple sources and read what other customers have said in forums.

Keep an eye on the scam reports offered by SBR as well. Just keep in mind that SBR has suffered a number of accusations of treating high-paying betting sites favorably.

Avoid all sites on this blacklist and use your good judgment in where you choose to play. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Like this article on social media or share it with your friends to help others avoid rogue gambling sites and shady operators.

Use Common Sense to Avoid Betting Scams

Despite the negative tone of this article, most betting sites are safe places to bet online. Just use your common sense and trust your instincts. If a betting site gives you a sense of unease, stop and reconsider. There are always other options out there.

Whenever you try new betting sites, start with small deposits and work your way up from there. Let the brand earn your trust as it processes a couple of withdrawals.