The Rise of Bitcoin Sportsbooks

For most American online sports bettors, depositing and withdrawing funds is as painful as a visit to the dentist. Western Union is typically one of the more common ways of withdrawing from an online book. This, however, is expensive for the bettor. A sportsbook like Bookmaker can charge up to $100 for a $900 withdrawal via Western Union. Checks are also a method of withdrawing funds. The downside to checks is the fact that most are from foreign countries and need weeks to clear your bank.

The crypto-currency known as bitcoin is being used to solve these problems. Bitcoin is defined as “a consensus network that enables a new payment system and a completely digital money. It is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. From a user perspective, Bitcoin is pretty much like cash for the Internet.” In other words, Paypal without Big Brother keeping an eye on you.

Sportsbooks taking bitcoin for payment  have started cropping up like mushrooms after a rain. Good news for bettors who like line variety. Bad news for bettors who know what sports books are trustworthy. There is no Better Business Bureau for sportsbooks. For many of these, it is a shot in the dark. A guy living in a basement gets some knock-off sportsbook software, open the doors with a big bonus, and watches the money roll in, all the while knowing he doesn’t have the bankroll to pay out winners.

StakeBTC.com is the latest fly-by-night sportsbook to disappear. StakeBTC was a new book that promised low vig, big bonuses and quick payouts. It didn’t last a month. Other bitcoin books have survived longer. However, most of these books have no long-term future. With little experience, low bankroll, and high degree of anonymity, it is just a matter of time before these sportsbooks take the money and run, closing up shop and leaving customers wondering what just happened.

Anonibet.com is an exception to this rule. Established in 2011, Anonibet is the oldest bitcoin bookmaker in the world. From day one, anonymity was their key selling point. A bettor only needed an email address in order to open an account.

“We do not require any personal detail from our customers thanks to Bitcoin,” says Anonibet on their website. “All we require is a valid email address and a password.  Anonibet is just like a corner betting shop that accepts cash and do not record any personal information. But we also bring all the advantages of an online sportsbook with hundreds of markets and thousands of selections, live betting and very soon a top of the line casino and other fun games.”

Bitcoin allows Anonibet to get away with only knowing a bettor’s email address. There is no need for a bettor’s real name or mailing address because payouts aren’t mailed out. Within hours of sending in a withdraw request, the bettor has his money secured safely in his wallet.

Anonibet has shown it is in it for the long haul. They take only bitcoins for payment. They do not offer huge, money-draining bonuses. A few other quality bitcoin sportsbooks have also climbed on board the bitcoin future, combining the professionalism of a well-run internet sportsbook with the ease of bitcoin payments. In theory, these bitcoin sportsbooks are the future of sportsbetting. However, it remains to be determined if these books can overcome the stench left by scam books like Stake BTC.

Roper’s Ramblings: Wednesday College Hoops

We are just a few weeks away from the March Madness and things are starting to heat up. Kansas, with two of the top five players in the country, looks to be the team to beat. They are young, however, and we’ve all seen young Bill Self teams self-destruct in the past.  Nadir Tharpe may be the most important player on the team, even more so than Andrew Wiggens and Joel Embid. If he struggles with his shot, Kansas can get beat. If he plays like he has on Monday, they will roll.

Kansas clinched its 10th straight regular season basketball title in the Big 12 with their win over Oklahoma. While the Big 12 outside of Kansas may have had some down years and done little damage in the tournament, it is still impressive that the Jayhawks have maintained excellence for so long. Elite programs usually have some hiccups along the way. Kentucky was an NIT team last year, and struggled with Billy Gillispie at the helm. Arizona was really bad for a time. UCLA has also had some down years. North Carolina, Louisville, even Duke has gone into the tank at some time. Not so with Kansas. Outstanding coaching job by Bill Self. At some point in time, the NBA will come calling.

My play for today: Cal at Arizona
Arizona has hit the skids recently, winning games but struggling in the process. They are coming off a dominating win at Colorado on Saturday, and returning home after a three game stretch on the road. Arizona will have revenge on their mind as California gave them their first loss of the season on February 1st. Arizona since lost their big man Brandon Ashley and it has had to adjust to a new rotation. Head Coach Sean Miller has moved hot-shooting Gabe York in the starting lineup. York gives Arizona another perimeter shooter that they have been looking for. The bench is starting to develop as well. Freshmen Hollis-Jefferson and fellow freshman Elloit Pitts are now getting comfortable and this is a statement game for Arizona after battling on the road for the last two weeks.

Cal has been inconsistent all season. They were crushed by UCLA last Wednesday at home, then easily handled a mediocre USC team on Sunday, winning at home 77-64. Cal held Arizona to their worst shooting performance of the season when they upset the Wildcats; that won’t happen tonight. Arizona turns it up a notch on defense at home, holding opponents to 36% shooting from the floor and allowing only 54 points per game.

Arizona -12.5

Bodog Refusing to Pay Winning Bettor

Bodog is refusing to pay out a bettor who won big on the Olympics, according to a poster at Sportsbook Review.

I have had a successful few weeks betting on Olympic hockey. I bet fairly large amounts and have won about $20k on Bodog over the course of the Olympics.

I requested a cashout from Bodog the other day, and as they were reviewing the cashout, they decided to cancel almost all of my winning parlay bets while leaving many losing bets active.

Bodog is claiming the bettor wagered on correlated parlays, giving them the right to void the winning wagers more than a week after those bets were graded winners.

Dear Mr. P,

This is just a quick note from the Sports team letting you know that your wagers xxxxxxxx, yyyyyyyyyy, etc, on Winter Olympics – Hockey In Play have been settled as ‘No Action’ because of a system error allowing you to make a parlay with co-related lines on a single event. In these situations, if one leg wins it is considered likely that the other will also win. Because of this likelihood, correlated lines cannot be included together in a parlay.

If there’s anything else we can help you with, please let us know.
Best regards,
Sports Customer Service

Bodog didn’t cancel all the correlated parlays, just the losing ones.  They initially offered parlays on alternate spreads and totals, but took those down after the first few days of Olympic action.

“At this point they did not cancel any of my past bets, even though they had clearly realized what they considered a mistake,” the gambler said. “They also allowed further parlaying of the spread and total on the primary lines. I thought this was a very clear indication that they were happy taking this kind of action and it was not a system error.”

Bodog is blaming a software issue for allowing these correlated parlays.  This is a common practice when sportsbooks get caught with their pants down. In 2009, Wager Web initially refused to pay a bettor over $20,000 in winnings when they determined the player had used correlated parlays to rack up the profits. “A software glitch” allowed these parlays to be made, said Wager Web. Eventually, Wager Web paid out.

Bodog is in the same situation as Wager Web was in 2009. Bodog’s software can be set up to disallow these type of parlays. They disallowed similar parlays using alternate lines in the Olympics, but allowed spread/total parlays using standard lines.  They refused to offer spread/total parlays in selected college football games, but allowed those type of parlays in others. Bodog has a opportunity to reject these parlays if they don’t want them, just like they would do in an Alabama football game where the total is 52 and point spread is 48. It is Bodog’s decision to allow these parlays. Software has no role to play in this.

A honest book will pay out on its mistakes. The term “take the bet, pay the bet” motto is not just a cliche. It is how they do business. Bodog clearly doesn’t follow that principle. Given the choice between honoring a wager made and saving some money, they chose to save some money.

Penny wise, pound foolish, as the saying goes.

World Cup TV Schedule is Released

There’s still over three months to go before the start of the World Cup, but the buildup is getting started. ESPN released the television schedule yesterday.  The first game will take place on Thursday, June 12th between Brazil and Croatia.

There will be a total of 64 games in the Cup. ESPN will air 43 of those games; ESPN2 will show 11 with ABC showing the remaining 10 games. The US team will open against Ghana on June 16, Portugal on June 22, and finish with Germany on June 26. All three games will be on ESPN.

Date Time TV Teams Group Site Match
Thu 6/12 12:30 p.m. ESPN Brazil vs. Croatia A Sao Paulo 1
Fri 6/13 8:30 a.m. ESPN2 Mexico vs. Cameroon A Natal 2
Fri 6/13 11:30 a.m. ESPN Spain vs. Netherlands B Salvador 3
Fri 6/13 2:30 p.m. ESPN2 Chile vs. Australia B Cuiaba 4
Sat 6/14 8:30 a.m. ABC Colombia vs. Greece C Belo Horizonte 5
Sat 6/14 11:30 a.m. ABC Uruguay vs. Costa Rica D Fortaleza 7
Sat 6/14 2:30 p.m. ESPN England vs. Italy D Manaus 8
Sat 6/14 5:30 p.m. ESPN Ivory Coast vs. Japan C Recife 6
Sun 6/15 8:30 a.m. ABC Switzerland vs. Ecuador E Brasilia 9
Sun 6/15 11:30 a.m. ABC France vs. Honduras E Porto Alegre 10
Sun 6/15 2:30 p.m. ESPN Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina F Rio de Janeiro 11
Mon 6/16 8:30 a.m. ESPN Germany vs. Portugal G Salvador 13
Mon 6/16 11:30 a.m. ESPN Iran vs. Nigeria F Curitiba 12
Mon 6/16 2:30 p.m. ESPN Ghana vs. United States G Natal 14
Tue 6/17 8:30 a.m. ESPN Belgium vs. Algeria H Belo Horizonte 15
Tue 6/17 11:30 a.m. ESPN Brazil vs. Mexico A Fortaleza 17
Tue 6/17 2:30 p.m. ESPN Russia vs. South Korea H Cuiaba 16
Wed 6/18 8:30 a.m. ESPN Australia vs. Netherlands B Porto Alegre 20
Wed 6/18 11:30 a.m. ESPN Spain vs. Chile B Rio de Janeiro 19
Wed 6/18 2:30 p.m. ESPN Cameroon vs. Croatia A Manaus 18
Thu 6/19 8:30 a.m. ESPN Colombia vs. Ivory Coast C Brasilia 21
Thu 6/19 11:30 a.m. ESPN Uruguay vs. England D Sao Paulo 23
Thu 6/19 2:30 p.m. ESPN Japan vs. Greece C Natal 22
Fri 6/20 8:30 a.m. ESPN Italy vs. Costa Rica D Recife 24
Fri 6/20 11:30 a.m. ESPN Switzerland vs. France E Salvador 25
Fri 6/20 2:30 p.m. ESPN Honduras vs. Ecuador E Curitiba 26
Sat 6/21 8:30 a.m. ESPN Argentina vs. Iran F Belo Horizonte 27
Sat 6/21 11:30 a.m. ESPN Germany vs. Ghana G Fortaleza 29
Sat 6/21 2:30 p.m. ESPN Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina F Cuiaba 28
Sun 6/22 8:30 a.m. ABC Belgium vs. Russia H Rio de Janeiro 31
Sun 6/22 11:30 a.m. ABC South Korea vs. Algeria H Porto Alegre 32
Sun 6/22 2:30 p.m. ESPN United States vs. Portugal G Manaus 30
Mon 6/23 8:30 a.m. ESPN Netherlands vs. Chile B Sao Paulo 36
Mon 6/23 8:30 a.m. ESPN2 Australia vs. Spain B Curitiba 35
Mon 6/23 12:30 p.m. ESPN Croatia vs. Mexico A Recife 34
Mon 6/23 12:30 p.m. ESPN2 Cameroon vs. Brazil A Brasilia 33
Tue 6/24 8:30 a.m. ESPN Italy vs. Uruguay D Natal 39
Tue 6/24 8:30 a.m. ESPN2 Costa Rica vs. England D Belo Horizonte 40
Tue 6/24 12:30 p.m. ESPN Japan vs. Colombia C Cuiaba 37
Tue 6/24 12:30 p.m. ESPN2 Greece vs. Ivory Coast C Fortaleza 38
Wed 6/25 8:30 a.m. ESPN Nigeria vs. Argentina F Porto Alegre 43
Wed 6/25 8:30 a.m. ESPN2 Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran F Salvador 44
Wed 6/25 12:30 p.m. ESPN Ecuador vs. France E Rio de Janeiro 42
Wed 6/25 12:30 p.m. ESPN2 Honduras vs. Switzerland E Manaus 41
Thu 6/26 8:30 a.m. ESPN United States vs. Germany G Recife 45
Thu 6/26 8:30 a.m. ESPN2 Portugal vs. Ghana G Brasilia 46
Thu 6/26 12:30 p.m. ESPN South Korea vs. Belgium H Sao Paulo 47
Thu 6/26 12:30 p.m. ESPN2 Algeria vs. Russia H Curitiba 48
Sat 6/28 8:30 a.m. ABC 1A vs. 2B Round of 16 Belo Horizonte 49
Sat 6/28 12:30 p.m. ABC 1C vs. 2D Round of 16 Rio de Janeiro 50
Sun 6/29 8:30 a.m. ESPN 1B vs. 2A Round of 16 Fortaleza 51
Sun 6/29 12:30 p.m. ESPN 1D vs. 2C Round of 16 Recife 52
Mon 6/30 8:30 a.m. ESPN 1E vs. 2F Round of 16 Brasilia 53
Mon 6/30 12:30 p.m. ESPN 1G vs. 2H Round of 16 Porto Alegre 54
Tue 7/1 8:30 a.m. ESPN 1F vs. 2E Round of 16 Sao Paulo 55
Tue 7/1 12:30 p.m. ESPN 1H vs. 2G Round of 16 Salvador 56
Fri 7/4 8:30 a.m. ESPN2 Winners 53 vs. 54 Quarterfinal Rio de Janeiro 58
Fri. 7/4 12:30 p.m. ESPN Winners 49 vs. 50 Quarterfinal Fortaleza 57
Sat 7/5 8:30 a.m. ABC Winners 55 vs. 56 Quarterfinal Brasilia 60
Sat 7/5 12:30 p.m. ESPN Winners 51 vs. 52 Quarterfinal Salvador 59
Tue 7/8 12:30 p.m. ESPN Winners 57 vs. 58 Semifinal Belo Horizonte 61
Wed 7/9 12:30 p.m. ESPN Winners 59 vs. 60 Semifinal Sao Paulo 62
Sat 7/12 12:30 p.m. ESPN Losers 61 vs. 62 Third-place Brasilia 63
Sun 7/13 11:30 a.m. ABC Winners 61 vs. 62 Final Rio de Janeiro 64

 

Scam Sportsbook StakeBTC.com Disappears

Another bitcoin book has taken the money and ran. StakeBTC.com is now offline, owing thousands of dollars to its clients.

StakeBTC first made it’s presence known last month with an initial post on Bitcointalk.org. They promised instant deposits and withdrawals, top-notch customer service, wide-ranging lines, standard juice, and extensive live chat with its representatives.

They also gave a 25% bonus on a bettor’s initial deposit, requiring a three times rollover before withdrawal. That was just the beginning, however. They soon offered juice free wagering; each winning bet received an additional 10% bonus. Another bonus offer rewarded a bettor .5 BTC for winning three straight bets, with the minimum wager being .1 BTC.

Then the “free money” began to be handed out. StakeBTC’s next bonus offer was a gift to gamblers, a clear red flag: 100% bonus requiring just 3x rollover. That brought in a nice chunk of money. They next offered the same 100% bonus with just a 2x rollover. Still in effect was the juice free wagering with winning bets receiving a 10% bonus. The ponzi scheme, paying off early investors with new money, was well under way.

The first sign of trouble occurred on Thursday. A long-time forum poster, known to many as Doc Dekay, reported on Bitcointalk.org  that a Wednesday payout request still hadn’t been processed. He then stated StakeBTC was taking a shot at him:

-Last night at 12:53 am Eastern I made a withdrawal request for 15 btc

-This morning my request had yet to be fulfilled.

-Since live chat was down i asked at 932 am est what the status was in this thread.

– at 1014 am est a reply on here said my account was entirely pending.

– these bets were made at 1012 and 1015 est.

– the three bets were on cbb moneylines. I have never once bet cbb MLs and have never bet this much. All my bets range from 500 credits to 2500 credits. i give this book a lot of action and have never once bet more than that (500 credits = 1btc).

StakeBTC replied that the withdrawal request had come in that morning, not the previous night. This was shown to be a lie when Doc Decay produced an email from him to StakeBTC requesting the payout from the previous night.

And that was the last we heard from StakeBTC. The site is now offline. Emails are bouncing. Reports of other thefts are starting to trickle in as well.

“Most bitcoin sportsbooks have no history,” says Adam Hart, known as Raiders at PeepsPlace.com. “The anonymity that makes bitcoins popular also allows bitcoin sportsbooks to be anonymous as well.”

Hart is in the process of rating these new books specializing in bitcoins. “The benchmarks are different from regular post-up sportsbooks,” says Hart. “Payout speed is the key determination. With post-up books, it might be a week before a bettor has his check in hand. A good bitcoin sportsbook will pay out in hours.”

They will also be unknown to all. “We know who runs Bookmaker. We know who runs 5 Dimes. But we don’t know who runs Bitbook.”

That’s not entirely a bad thing, as anyone familiar with The Greek and Legends sportsbooks know. It does, however, increase a bettor’s risk. “There’s going to be a lot more StakeBTC’s crawling out of the muck,” says Hart. “That’s the nature of the business. The key is to shine a little light on these guys before too many players gets burned.”

Kentucky Basketball: Transcript of John Calipari’s Post-Game Press Conference

Julius Randle grabbed a loose ball in the lane and scored with 3.9 seconds left to give the Kentucky Wildcats a 77-76 overtime victory over LSU on Saturday. The Wildcats improved to 21-6 overall and 11-3 in the SEC. Coach John Calipari had this to say in his post-game conference:

COACH CALIPARI: Folks, I got my assistant coach here. From Make a Wish, spent day and a half with us, gave us the game plan. Told us we should trap Johnny O’Bryant, don’t do what you did last time. So I listened to them. Brought us a lot of luck. We appreciate you, man.
Questions.

Q. You’ve talked before about wanting your team to stick with it when things don’t go their way. How much is today an example of it?
COACH CALIPARI: We’re getting closer. But when we missed a basket inside and we fouled, we had four guys walking back to the other foul line with their heads down. I had to yell, We’re winning this. We are going to win this. It proves we’re still coach driven instead of player driven. We’ve got to get to where I’m doing less and they’re doing more.Julius’ big rebound, James Young, Aaron, how they played, blocked shots. That’s a good team. Everybody can say what they want about all this, but you guys have watched teams come through here. The only way we could stop Johnny O’Bryant is put two guys on him and sometimes three. Their guards made threes. They go 7?17 from the three?point line. How we got out of here with an W… We went 1?9 from the three. Told our guys, Keep driving the ball, keep driving the ball.

Q. The fact you can get out with the W, we saw some emotion from your team there at the end. Is that a step?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, oh, yeah. We’re making strides. We started the half, started the game. I had to call a timeout. Had a couple guys that didn’t have enough energy. Had to take them out. We got right back into the game. You’re not going to play great every night out. We missed a bunch of shots. We missed every three. The game is never over until the horn sounds. That’s what I just kept telling them, Just play. But that’s an NCAA tournament game there. That’s what it’s going to be like, that kind of game.

Q. You have guys who are passing up open 15?footers to take contested shots in the lane. Is that just how this team is going to have to play?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, you have to understand what we were telling them every timeout, which was, Drive the ball, do not settle. Johnny had four fouls. He was not going to foul. So he may put his hands up. Sometimes he got out of the way. The jump shot that Andrew took, I’m like, Why did you shoot a jumper? Drive it.
From that point on, he and his brother and James just drove the ball. We cleared out the court, spaced it out, said, Forget about the offense, pass it twice and drive it. That’s what we were doing.

Q. Was this one of those games you felt like Julius was struggling offensively until that last one went in?
COACH CALIPARI: I was telling him in every huddle, Just get an offensive rebound to win the game. Quit getting blocked out, quit getting in a mud wrestling match with somebody. Release, run and go get the ball, which is what he did on the last play. The two plays before that, he had opportunities to rebound that. He was in a mud wrestling match. Just release, go run and get the ball. He just released it, grabbed it, stuck it in, we win.

Q. Can you talk about the excitement level in the locker room, how this helps in February, propels your team.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, you know, to win in overtime with a freshman team like we were playing with most of the game, the plays they made down the stretch, the baskets they made. Even though the other team would not go away, they weren’t going anywhere, it was almost like whoever had the ball last would win. The guys that have watched me coach know I don’t call timeouts in those situations. 15 seconds to go, I’m not going to call a timeout, especially when he doesn’t have a timeout. I’ve got ridiculed for that. But I just think, Let these guys make a play. James Young went in there, Julius got fouled on one. It’s how we play. We had timeouts late, they didn’t have any. I wasn’t going to stop that clock and give them a chance to interject coaches. I just said, Let us play. Our kids are ready for this. And they were.

Q. What does it say about Andrew’s progress?
COACH CALIPARI: He had six rebounds and four assists and two blocks. I don’t want him to judge himself on shooting. You know what I told him after the game? We came out of that timeout and twice I ran a play for him to get a wide?open shot on that wing and he missed. I said, I’ll run it again for you ’cause I know you can make that. Don’t you worry about missing. If we give you a play, you got to make it. So he’s getting better. We had heads hanging a couple times. You really choose how you’re going to react to situations. 100 times better than we were, but they still had the dregs of that. For me to have to say, We are winning this game, we are going to win this game. One of them had to huddle and say that, We’re winning this. Just settle down, we’re fine.
So…

Q. Was that more the way you want James to try to play through contact?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah. I thought he did good stuff. Again, here he is, he’s 1?4 from the three. I’d like him to make a few more foul shots. If he goes 7?9 from the line instead of 5 of 9, you’re the best shooter in the gym, how can you go 5 for 9? We’re working on a lot of stuff right now. A lot of it’s the inner dialogue they have with themselves, a lot of it’s recognizing your teammate doing something good. We had a bench cheering. Each guy has one guy to talk about energy. We’re doing everything we can to get these guys to think different than they’ve ever thought in their life. No one’s ever attempted to do what we’re doing now. All freshman. All McDonald’s All?Americans. Bring them together, win a national title. Brought in a few players, but never tried this. I’m having to do stuff I’ve never done before. I had them take out the table in my office. I got a couch in there now. Some of you got that.

Q. I got it, but it wasn’t that funny (laughter). Usually when your big guys switch on a guard, they really defend. Hickey was able to do some business. Why do you think?
COACH CALIPARI: Because our hands were down. He’s six foot tall or less. You’re seven foot tall and you make yourself six?foot?two by doing this. All you have to do is this. I’m here. He goes to shoot it. The ball is already over my head and I go like that. Well, your hand wasn’t up. The ball already was over your hand. Just go like that. If you watched the last time, what Julius did, he went like that and stayed like that. The kid couldn’t get a good shot off. But once on Willie, once on Julius, they were like this. Well, now all of a sudden you’re his size. Again, we had some breakdowns. Let me just tell you, folks, in a game like this, with this team, we’re growing in so many ways, to come down and come together and do whatever you had to do to win. How about the ball that got tipped that was just out of our reach, out of our reach, and they score? That could have taken the wind out of your sails, and it didn’t. We just kept playing. Like I said, I’m proud in a lot of ways. But let’s give credit to LSU. They beat us by a hundred down there and had us here. Someone wants to question whether they’re an NCAA tournament team why? So no one else loses? LSU is the only one that lost a couple games? You have teams with the same record that are five seeds. They’re doing great. This was a great game for both of us. I’m just happy we pulled it out at the end.
Thanks.