Sports Book Scene June 5th 2000

Offshore Sports Books look to stop credit card fraud on the Internet

There are wise guys, and then there are wiseguys, and if off shore books are weary of the first type, they are declaring war on the second type.

We’re not talking about the poker players, kosher boys, Billy Walters and other sharps who beat the books to the number.

The characters we’re referring to are the scamsters and frauds who see off shore books as pigeons for various schemes.  Bookmakers are vulnerable because the business is so competitive, sometimes they ignore sound business practices or cut corners in order to accommodate what they believe is a good customer.

So anxious are the books to take care of us, that they can get taken advantage of by people who are sting artists.

We spoke with a veteran bookmaker who runs a competitive shop.  He told us how he shot himself in the foot, and the measures he’s taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The sports book admits it violated good business principles after taking a credit card deposit of $500 over the phone.  Immediately after opening an account, the bettor made a $500 four-team baseball parlay that paid $3,000.

“It landed,” said the BM.  The next day, the player called and asked for his $3,000.  He also wanted the funds to be sent to a different name.

The BM said he would credit back $500 to the customer’s credit card, and send the balance as requested.  “We’re trying to build our reputation and our ability to pay quickly which, in this case, was my mistake,” he told us.

“I’m not supposed to send the money because I don’t know if the credit card is good yet.  It wasn’t.  But in my eagerness to see that a client is paid promptly, I made a costly mistake.  After all the legitimate customers we’ve serviced, it didn’t occur to me that we might be getting chiseled.”

Does the fact that the parlay hit mean anything, we asked?

“Not at all.  He bet fraudulent money.  He put up nothing, therefore he doesn’t get anything for his trouble, or at least he shouldn’t.”

After getting nailed by one fraud, the bookmaker said he has plugged his system to avoid such occurrences in the future.

If a customer does win in a similar circumstance, he’s not going to get paid for three days, while the book monitors the credit card to see if it is good.  Also, under no circumstances will funds be mailed out to any name other than that which the account was opened under.

Additionally, after making a deposit, all clients will be sent a credit card authorization form in which they acknowledge that the account is for gambling purposes.  The 10 percent signup bonus due to new customers will not be credited to the account until the form is signed.

Finally, a picture of a driver’s license and a copy of the front and back of the credit card must be faxed to the book before it will authorize a payout.

These are not Draconian measures, the BM insisted.  But they are the antidote to sloppy or expedient procedures which are simply counterproductive.  Eliminating fraud means being vigilant.

Florida Feedback.  Last weekend’s column, exposing the Florida Attorney General’s overwrought attempts to stifle freedom of the press, drew a flurry of support for our criticism.

We don’t have room to print all the emails we received, but here are a few representative samples.

“Amen Buzz,” asserted Cdjchuck.  “This is the same conglomerate of jerks trying to outlaw casino boats, and won’t let the Indians open a full service casino.

“Millions of dollars would go into the state coffers, but no, these jerks would rather have the other states taking all of Florida’s business, while the state slowly goes broke.”

Another point of view is offered by Boblynch, who noted, “it seems that attacking gambling is a no-lose proposition.  It calms the ‘moral minority’ and allows legislators to take ‘soft money’ from the gambling interests that are already established like Vegas, Indian casinos, etc.

“But if gamblers got together and voted as a block (like the NRA), if off shore books hired a lobby to spread some ‘soft money’ around, then man maybe things like the Jay Cohen case wouldn’t happen, and we could enjoy our hobby.

“At the rate our government is going, we’re going to need a lot more prison space (at about $100 per day per inmate).”

It is encouraging to see people who enjoy gambling speaking out about their lifestyle choices, rather than making excuses or apologizing.

Meanwhile, we didn’t hear from anyone who could tell us whether the newsstands in Florida are swept clean of publications with ads for off shore books. | June 5th, 2000

– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
A long time sports betting columnist, Buzz Daly

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