Bet on a big game? Don’t fall for a sports betting scam

Thanks to new legal changes, the popularity of sports betting has exploded. If you think the scammers haven’t noticed, think again. BBB Scam Tracker sees reports of people who have accidentally placed bets with fraudulent sports betting websites or apps.

How the scam works

You want to place a bet on an upcoming match, so you search online for a sports betting service. You find a website or app that seems trustworthy. It may even offer an enticing introductory bonus, so you can make a “risk-free” initial bet.

You place a bet and, at first, everything seems normal. But as soon as you try to cash out your winnings, you realize that you cannot withdraw a penny. Scammers will come up with various excuses. For example, they may cite technical issues or insist on additional identity verification. In other cases, they may require you to deposit even more money before they can withdraw your winnings! No matter what you do, you will never be able to withdraw your money from the site. And all the personal information you shared is now in the hands of scammers.

A victim reported to BBB Scam Tracker: “I deposited money to bet on a sports game. I won the bet [and] tried 3 times to cash out and 3 times it was refused. I spoke to their rep and they needed a picture of my driver’s license, a picture of me holding my ID, and a blank check from my bank. With all the running around me, it prompted me to read their reviews. All horrible reviews of a scam. I called my credit card company to file a fraud report.

How to avoid sports betting scams

  • Look for an established and trusted service. Look for “whitelisted” sportsbooks that have been approved by your local gaming commission. In the United States, ESPN has a list of places where sports betting is legal.
  • Don’t fall for enticing advertisements. Ignore game-related pop-up ads, spam emails or text messages.
  • Read the fine print on incentives. Gambling sites and apps often offer incentives or bonuses to new users and around big games. But like any sales pitch, these can be misleading. Be sure to read the fine print carefully.
  • Even legitimate sports betting sites have the right to freeze your winnings. Gaming companies may restrict user activity for “appearing to have an ‘unfair advantage’ or ‘irregular gaming habits,'” reports Lifehacker. Be sure to check the terms of service.

For more information

See BBB’s tips for spotting a similar website and downloading apps. Visit to stay alert to new and commonly used scam tactics.

If you have come across a sports betting scam, report it immediately to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help other consumers avoid falling into the traps of scammers.

Subscribe to BBB’s weekly scam alerts.

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