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Tricks Used by Legit Bookmakers To Deceive Customers

Tricks Used by Legit Bookmakers To Deceive Customers
Patrick Lynch
By Patrick Lynch
Sports & Casino Expert
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Updated Jul 8, 2024
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Read time 8 min
Tricks Used by Legit Bookmakers To Deceive Customers

Perhaps you have read about at least one sports betting scam involving a fake bookie that rips people off before disappearing into the night. Obviously, we all want to avoid such nefarious entities at all costs.

However, not many punters realize that there are different types of bookmaker ‘scams’ designed to relieve you of your money. Worse still, these tricks aren’t considered scams at all. They are performed by legit bookmakers, with bettors the willing victims. For the most part, there is little you can do once a bookie acts in such an underhanded manner, although they aren’t quite as bulletproof as you might think.

This article investigates how supposedly ‘reputable’ bookies deceive you, ensuring you have practically no chance to win. It looks into limiting accounts, voiding winning bets, and much more.

Limit Winning Accounts – The Tried and Trusted Legit Bookmakers Sportsbook Scam

Many bettors have no idea how much information a legit bookmakers knows about them, nor are they aware that they’re under surveillance from the beginning.  For example, bookies know your location from the moment you sign up.

Successful trader and enemy of the bookies Caan Berry created a video on YouTube outlining the process. He spoke to individuals who currently work with, or were once employed by, legit bookmakers to learn more.

According to Berry, bookies use the information you enter during registration to profile you and place you in a group. For instance, they may put you in the recreational punter group if you open an account and put a small wager on a major horse race such as the Gold Cup, Grand National, or Kentucky Derby. In this instance, the bookie believes you are potentially a ‘soft’ touch.

He says that customers are on a “probation period” of around three months, a fact that very few people realize. During this spell, the bookmaker watches you closely to determine the type of bettor you are.

Welcome to Restriction City

If you place ‘value bets,’ your account is sent directly to the fourth stage of the procedure, the trading desk, where they decide to restrict you. The algorithmic bracket is the third stage and is where the majority of bettors spend most of their time. Traders use software to analyze your betting patterns constantly. You get flagged if they determine that you know what you’re doing. Yes, the bookie doesn’t want your business if you show competence!

Perfectly legit bookmakers also look at staking patterns to determine whether you should be flagged. Every account begins with the same staking limits. However, if you begin winning consistently for just a few weeks, the bookmaker will restrict your bet amount.

If you’re profitable in most sports but struggle in one, horse racing, for example, the bookie cuts stakes for every sport, barring horse racing. Indeed, they may increase your staking level for that particular sport since you have lost money on it.

Incidentally, they don’t see you as a threat if you receive plenty of promotional offers. It also means you’re probably not doing very well!

In a nutshell, legit bookmakers operate in a risk-based industry but are permitted to all but eliminate their own risk. Small wonder that the industry reports record profits every year.

Palpable Error – The Lack of Accountability Sportsbook Scam

Everyone makes mistakes; certainly, even the most experienced and successful bettor will occasionally blunder. This could be in the form of betting more than you intended; suppose you stake $200 instead of $20, for example. Alternatively, you may bet on the away team when you meant to back the home side.

That’s okay, though. A quick message to your friendly bookmaker, and you’ll get your money back, right? WRONG! If you make a mistake, tough luck! There’s about a 5% chance of catching a break from the bookies.

Things are very different when the bookie gets it wrong. Suppose you find that Manchester City is available at odds of 6/1 to beat Aston Villa at home. Given the teams’ respective strengths, this is quite clearly a value bet and a pricing error on the bookmaker’s side.

Alas, your joy is short-lived. Once City takes care of business, you can expect to receive a message telling you it was a ‘palpable error.’ The legit bookmaker will void the bet or settle it at substantially shorter odds. A palpable error is classified as an obvious mistake.

Defending the Indefensible

Incredibly, some punters defend the bookie in this case. In reality, the same rules should apply as when a bettor makes a mistake. Bookmakers are experts in their field and should never be permitted to walk away unscathed after a mistake.

What’s worse is that sportsbooks increasingly use the ‘palpable error’ excuse whenever it suits them. It is one thing to make a claim when they price an event at 100/1 instead of 10/1. It is very different if they offer a price of 12/1 when other bookies price the event at 7/1. In that case, it is bad pricing on their part, and they deserve to be punished.

Incidentally, don’t accept the bookmaker’s terms and conditions spiel as the end of the matter. The possibility exists that a specific company’s Ts and Cs are unlawful. Rather than appealing to whatever independent adjudication service is in your region, consider taking action via a small claims court.

Bad Value ‘Specials’ – The Generous Legit Bookmakers Sportsbook Scam

The most popular fiat-accepting bookies sometimes seem to work in tandem, particularly in their efforts to push bad value ‘specials.’ The idea, of course, is to dress up a terrible wager as a good one, hoping that marketing will triumph over reason. Sadly, it often does.

The scorecast bet in soccer is one of the best examples of a wager with value so poor that it almost constitutes a sports betting scam. This bet, usually available for matches in major European leagues, involves selecting a player to score first AND the match’s final score.

In the above screenshot, relating to the Wolves versus Liverpool English FA Cup game, Raul Jimenez of Wolves is available at odds of 136.00 to score first in the match and the game to end 3-2 for the home team.

On the face of it, this seems like great odds. If you bet $10 and win, the total profit is $1,350! There’s one problem: The bet is really bad value! Remember, you need two outcomes for your wager to win; Jimenez has to score first, and the match has to finish 3-2 for Wolves.

A simple way to determine whether you’re getting good or bad value is to multiply the odds of the two independent events happening. The odds of Jimenez scoring first are 7.50 and the odds of Wolves winning 3-2 are 34.00.

7.5 x 34 = 255

Therefore, you get odds of 136.00 when the price is 255.00 once you multiply the two events. The bookmaker will argue that Jimenez scoring first increases the likelihood of the game ending 3-2 to Wolves. However, there should not be such a massive disparity in the prices.

Make You Think Losses Are Wins – The Sneaky Bookmaker Scam

This is one of the most insidious bookie tricks and often happens in slot games, mainly because it is hard to pass a loss off as a win in sports betting. If you back a horse to win in a National Hunt steeplechase race and it falls at the third fence, you’ve lost your full stake!

However, in the online casino section of legit bookmaker sites, something magical happens when playing slots. They display a message proclaiming you a winner, even though you incur a net loss. Suppose you wager $5 per spin. At one point, an animated box appears and says, “Winner paid $3.50.” The accompanying happy music makes you think you’re in luck, but in reality, you have lost $1.50.

Sometimes, the same message appears for these losses as actual wins. Consequently, you’re fooled into thinking things are going well when you’re losing money steadily. You’re also more likely to continue gambling, leading to bigger losses.

In the UK, online casinos are banned from including visual effects and happy music with net loss ‘wins.’ However, this isn’t necessarily the case in every global jurisdiction.

Playing With House Money – The Devious Sports Betting Scam

Let’s face it, most people like receiving ‘free’ money, and hardly any gambler will refuse a juicy $50 ‘free’ bet from the bookie. Of course, such wagers come with more strings than a marionette.

First, you typically only receive the bet if you deposit a certain amount. A “deposit $50 get a $50 free” bet is one of the most common offers. This is a great way to lure punters back in. After all, if there’s a $50 free wager on offer, you’re more likely to scrape together the $50 needed to activate it than if there was no bonus.

One of the main caveats is that you must play through the wager numerous times before withdrawing. Also, the bookie takes advantage of a psychological phenomenon known as the “house money effect.” You’re more likely to take bigger risks with this ‘free’ cash than if you deposited it.

Then, once you’ve experienced the thrill of another wager, you’ll probably continue betting. Even if you profit from that free bet, you must negotiate a lengthy play-through period. Your balance will likely hit zero before that happens, prompting you to deposit once again.

Legit Bookmaker Scams: What’s the Solution?

Without meaning to sound facetious, stopping gambling is one way to avoid the above issues. Certainly, if you’re enduring unsustainable financial losses, it is essential to seek help as you possibly have a gambling addiction. As the sad tales of countless individuals show, things are far more likely to get much worse than better.

Another option is to move away from fiat-accepting legit bookmakers, most of whom have terrible customer reviews. Here is a sample of reviews on Trustpilot, one of the biggest independent review websites in the world.

As you can see, three of the ‘big’ names in bookmaking have appalling ratings of just 1.3 stars each from many reviews. It is quite some feat to be THAT dreadful!

Compare this rate of enormous customer dissatisfaction with the reviews for some of the crypto betting sites we believe are among the best around.

As you can see, both Stake and MyStake have excellent ratings of 4.4 stars, while Bitcasino.io has a decent score of 3.6, far above virtually any fiat-accepting bookie. Are these sites perfect? Of course not! You can see 1-star reviews in each case, as customers have wildly different experiences on these sites.

However, it is a sign that crypto gambling sites are comprehensively outperforming their fiat rivals. These sites know they face skepticism from certain quarters. As such, they try harder than ‘old school’ bookmakers, which means a better customer experience.

We can’t guarantee you won’t run into the above issues. Indeed, some customer reviews suggest that crypto sites engage in similar behavior to fiat bookies. Yet, the overall scores suggest that, on average, you’re less likely to encounter common sports betting scams on crypto betting sites.

Don’t Take Bad Bookmaker Behavior Lying Down

Unfortunately, until government legislation changes, legit bookmakers will continue to get away with disappointing antics. As a bettor, you need to know your rights. Don’t allow such companies to get away with a typical supposedly ‘permissible’ bookmaker scam. In some cases, their terms and conditions are unlawful, which means you could get your money back by taking the appropriate action. There are plenty of resources online to help you, including the very helpful Justice for Punters website. It provides useful information on avenues you can take if you feel a bookie wronged you. You can also send a message via the site’s Twitter account.

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Patrick Lynch
Patrick Lynch
Sports & Casino Expert

Patrick has been a professional writer since 2009. He knows the issues players face when trying to find reputable casinos and performs forensic analysis on every site he reviews. Since joining in 2021, Patrick has had his eyes opened by the potential of the cryptocurrency market. With a background in sports betting, he realizes the possibilities afforded to successful bettors when using digital currency.