Licensed sportsbooks are more than a way for the state to make money off sports betting. Sportsbook licensing also keeps bettors safe from predatory practices that plague other parts of the industry. At their worst, illegal sportsbooks can be part of international criminal organizations that fix games and abuse their patrons. The least insidious illegal sportsbooks are merely incompetent–which endangers bettors’ financial information. But they’re all unlicensed and unaccountable to any regulatory authority. That is what makes them so unwise to use.
Why State Licenses Keep Bettors Safe
When bettors hit the craps table in Vegas, they know that if they win, they’ll get paid. They know when they exchange their chips that they’ll get real money in return–and in the full amount. One of the reasons is customer retention. No one would visit Vegas if they didn’t know they’d receive their winnings.
But the only reason the threat of customer losses work is because of each casino’s accountability to the city. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has great influence over the casinos. The Board can suspend or revoke a casino’s gaming license. There’s a place for bettors to file complaints about the casinos. So, the Strip has good reason to operate fairly. The casinos know they have to operate legitimately, or the full force of the law will crash onto them.
It’s the same reason Colorado’s licensed sportsbooks are so much safer than their unlicensed counterparts. Maintaining control of Colorado sportsbooks allows regulatory authorities to:
- Set rules for sportsbooks to follow.
- Decide which players can operate sportsbooks.
- Discipline sportsbooks when necessary.
But the Colorado Division of Gaming has other regulatory authorities too. It sets the formula for sportsbooks to determine how much cash they have on hand. That way, licensed sportsbooks are less likely to run out of cash. How it compares to private formulas for preparing for underdog wins is unclear. However, Colorado set this safety net to make sure bettors got paid. Under this consumer protection group, bettors can wager safely under Colorado’s licensed sportsbooks.
How Bad Sportsbook Security Can Hurt Bettors
The mild alternatives to licensed Colorado sportsbooks are offshore betting sites. Federal law doesn’t allow for international sportsbooks. That keeps international sportsbooks from setting up shop in the United States. But Americans can still access those sportsbook sites. They can even wager on them.
But security isn’t just about safe emails and passwords. It’s about wagering somewhere that will keep a safe watch over bettors’ bank information and social security numbers. American sportsbooks are required to know the identity of each bettor to comply with the Patriot Act. Consequently, they need security measures to protect these vital bits of bettor information.
Sportsbooks that don’t have to comply with strict know-your-customer protocols may not have the security in place to protect bettor information as securely. The United States has cautiously legalized sports betting state by state. American bettors will likely find the most security at their own state’s sportsbooks.
But offshore sportsbooks that aren’t regulated by any government pose some of the greatest security threats. Some sportsbook sites are run by websites whose infrastructure is spread across multiple countries. The server, oddsmakers, and technical staff could all be in different countries. That makes them harder to shut down and keeps any single government from being able to shut them down. These types of sportsbooks also don’t have to face consequences for mishandling bettor information.
If bettors want to make sure they get paid, keep their information secure, and avoid the unnecessary risk of fraud, they should stick to the sportsbooks close to home.
The Most Insidious Sportsbooks
While many unfamiliar sportsbooks may be incompetent, a few are criminal. These sportsbooks are run by cabals that take bets, then fix matches so they always come out on top. Match-fixing is a $1 trillion industry, and it’s difficult to snuff out.
However, data analysts can watch odds change throughout a game to infer whether the match is fixed. One analyst caught match-fixing in a 2016 FIFA match by noticing the odds for scoring a goal were the same halfway through the match as it was at the beginning.
The sportsbooks that profit off this tend to not only be shady but also profit the people who are in on the match-fixing scheme. Analysts uncovered the FIFA fraud by comparing legitimate sportsbooks with a few hundred other sportsbooks from around the world. Strange betting and odds patterns can lead investigators to fraud quickly.
But bettors won’t know anything about this during the game. They may just trust their sportsbook, place their wagers, and hope they chose wisely. But sportsbooks that support match-fixing are hard to pin down without access to their background data. Bettors may be funneling money to criminal organizations without realizing it just by choosing an unfamiliar sportsbook site.
The Worst Bookies
Although bookies aren’t online websites, they’re the final alternatives to licensed Colorado sportsbooks. Many bookies are just running small businesses for themselves. Often, the worst thing that can happen is a bookie running out of money to pay winnings.
However, the worst-case scenario is betting with a bookie who lets bettors stretch themselves on credit. Criminal bookies can let bettors who can’t wager money upfront bet with credit. If bettors lose, bookies can begin harassing them to get the lost stake back. The worst bookies could resort to violence to beat the money out of their patrons. Some bookies also work for crime syndicates, making them easy to replace if caught. Bettors are better off staying away from bookies now that legal sports betting options are available.
Colorado Sportsbook Safeguards
Coloradans have many safe sports betting options at their disposal. Online and retail sportsbooks are available across Colorado. Big brands and homegrown sportsbooks are represented across the Rocky Mountain State. They’re among the most secure because of the United States’ regulatory environment and conservative pace of legalization. Bettors are less likely to have their money, bank information, or social security numbers stolen at a licensed Colorado sportsbook than an offshore site. Colorado sportsbooks are a vast improvement on all types of bookies, from the clumsy to the criminal.
If bettors want a secure sports betting outlet, they won’t do better than Colorado’s licensed sportsbooks. They offer more consumer protections than any available alternative.