Beware the Airport Bet: Dangerous Times for Sports Bettors

Sportsbooks taking bitcoin are like weeds cropping up after a rain. Good news for bettors who like line variety. Bad news for bettors who know which sportsbooks are trustworthy. There is no Better Business Bureau for sportsbooks. While outstanding work is done over at Bitcointalk.org, there is still the inherent risk factor involved in sending hard-earned money to unknown, anonymous businesses on the internet.

This time of the year is especially dangerous for players at bitcoin sportsbooks. Football is king to American bettors, and (in theory) a cash cow for sportsbooks. And sadly for those bet makers and bet takers, football is almost over. Just three games remain, with the conference championship games taking place this weekend.

With the end of football comes the possibility of “airport bets”. Years ago, a sportsbook called Ace’s Gold found itself in trouble. Loose bonuses and poor bookmaking put the company on the brink. Desperate to survive, Aces’s Gold owner Charlie Therwhanger made one huge gamble. Therwhanger offered New England +14.5 in the 2002 Superbowl while the entire world was offering New England +14. Sharp bettors, always out to find the best line, hammered New England. Rams backers, on the other hand, bet elsewhere.

The inevitable happened. New England won the game outright. Therwhanger and Aces Gold vanished, screwing over his customers for up to $10 million.

Bitcoin has made such scenarios much easier to pull off. Thanks to the anonymity offered by the cryptocoin, a man living in his parent’s garage can set up his own sportsbook and quickly be in business. A player’s only defense is his own due diligence.

A key part of the due diligence involves the length time a sportsbook has been in business. The test of time will destroy fragile, poorly run sportsbooks. The ones that have already survived the ups and downs will be more likely to survive future hard times as well.

Betcoin.ag is one of these long-surviving sportsbooks. Betcoin opened up shop in 2013, a year that began with bitcoin priced at $12. It ended 2013 at $752, and has bounced between $175 and $1,100 since. A sportsbooks that can handle such swings has proven it is in the game for the long haul. Betcoin has shown that. Nitrogen is also in the same category, a book that has shown strength through the good times and the bad.

Yet due diligence is still needed. A player should limit the amount of bitcoin stored in offshore sportsbooks as the football season winds down. Keep just enough on hand to make that day’s bets. If you need more money in your account, it shouldn’t be a problem. It should take minutes for quality bitcoin books like Betcoin and Nitrogen to handle the deposit. Good sportsbooks make withdrawing and depositing quick and easy. Those that don’t, avoid.