Alliance Sportsbook is another testament to the fragile business climate that offshore sportsbooks operate in, especially those servicing the US market. While the shop had a strong industry veteran running the show behind the scenes, it still wasn’t enough to keep this sportsbook afloat.
The situation of a book closing its door and shutting down seems all too common these days. Not only is it tough to run a profitable online sportsbook, but operators have to deal with flaky payment processors, as well as legal threats from foreign governments. However, what happens after the book is in financial trouble, or has been rendered insolvent, is crucially important.
Few sportsbooks go flat-broke, because as they begin to lose their foothold in the market, their business model changes. They look for outside help or, in many cases, make adjustments to the way they treat customers, such as limiting winning players. When things truly hit the fan, they announce their closure, usually seeking a bailout for players via other industry operators. Sportsbooks that go bust do frequently end up granting their players a bailout (a repayment of their balances), but the terms of the deal can vary wildly.
Alliance Sportsbook opened its doors in early 2012 and immediately offered one of the more lucrative deposit bonuses available online. At the time of their creation, the shop was invite-only, something we will get into later in this article. The bookmaker opened their doors with a large 100 percent bonus offer, and claimed to have over a decade of experience on their management team.
Bettors and community sites were skeptical, but this is only natural in an industry that sees so many sportsbooks rise and fall. Newer sportsbooks are especially risky. However, Sportsbook Review was able to verify that the sportsbook did, in fact, have a veteran linesmaker at the helm, and the feedback they received from players was generally positive. Things seemed to be in place and, from the outside looking in, it appeared as though this shop had a chance.
First Signs of Trouble
By early 2013, the firm had moved into its second year. So far, there had been no complaints made about Alliance Sportsbook at SBR, or at any other industry site or forum. A complaint did surface in Feb 2013 though, and this would serve as a preview of things to come.
In January 2013, a customer had his account closed with a balance of $15,176 dollars. 25 days later, he was still waiting on a payout, and only after contacting did he start to receive partial payments of his $15k+ balance.
The fact that these came in several increments and that many of them arrived 90 days or more after the request, is especially troubling. Even in mid-May, he had only been paid $7,500 of the balance. We understand that payment processor and legal issues mean that it makes sense to keep financial transactions under certain amounts, but that is no reason for spreading out $7,500 over several months, and across numerous financial transactions.
Alliance Sportsbook was simply slow-paying the player. Perhaps they hated rewarding winners, or paying out on accounts they had closed or limited. Or maybe they just didn’t have the money. Whatever the reason, this was not acceptable.
In an update in early December 2013, SBR once again revisits the players complaint, and shockingly, he had still not been paid in full. Alliance’s management had stated over and over again they would pay the player, and when contacted again, management had this to say: “We have an issue with him but this week… the payout [will be made]”.
As SBR states, the email response was not exactly professional, and did little to ease the concerns of the player in question, or those of other customers who play at the shop. Although many of these players were reportedly invite-only, the sportsbook had eventually opened its doors to the masses. SBR demoted the book to a D+ rating, and the news of their recent payment issues may have been the final nail in the coffin for the sportsbook.
On January 14th 2014, OSGA reported that the Costa Rican sportsbook had closed. Alliance stated on their homepage that the sportsbook had been shut down “due to an unfortunate situation regarding its two primary shareholders and financiers.” They also asserted that players would be paid their balances within 45-60 days.
OSGA seemed especially optimistic about players receiving their balances in full, stating that the sportsbook was owned “by stand-up people who have been in the offshore industry for many years.” This echoes SBR’s statement about the investigation of their management team back in 2012.
The statement from OSGA also marked the first time we had heard mention of BetGoldStar.com. Several players reported that their balances had been moved to this agent site and that they were able to keep wagering without interruption.
Forum threads began to pop up at both the EOG and SBR Forums. The SBR thread seems to have posts from the actual management. In one, a poster with the username ‘Alliance’ promises players that they are still working on a deal for a buyout.
Some posters say that their accounts were transferred to BetGoldStar, but many claim not to have been contacted, or not receiving a response from emails to support. This Eye on Gaming Thread piqued the interest of many.
While this information cannot be independently verified, the user called ‘boatboatboat’ seems to have over 12,900 posts to their name, and writes with what appears to be significant industry knowledge. The scenario presented by the thread seems highly likely, based upon other information being reported around the web.
Allegedly, the book had debts of around $125k at the time of closure, and they moved all of their “profitable” players to BetGoldStar to continue operations. Or profitable to the shop, at least. Basically, Alliance were moving their losing accounts to another outfit and hitting restart.
Apparently, this amounted to roughly 30 percent of their client base. The rest of their customers were either breakeven players or winners. The post also alleges that no attempts were actually made to bailout the players, despite the insistence of Alliance’s management that they were looking for a buyer.
Alliance were stripping down their operations, and getting rid of any bettors that took money off of them. They washed their hands of this debt overnight and were now beginning their scam again at BetGoldStar.
The poster also brings up an excellent point about sportsbooks who limit and ban players. This move sometimes brings scorn from the sports betting community, but it is absolutely necessary to protect both sportsbooks and players. If a professional-level sports bettor is beating a shop for big money, it not only puts the sportsbook at risk, but endangers other players at the book as well.
Alliance Sportsbook chose not to limit or ban their winning players, and paid for it with their company. Instead of being honorable about their failures and looking for a bailout, they ran off with the balances of players who had a clue, while continuing to profit from their losing clients.
The Shop Today
As of April 2014, Alliance has not paid all players in full. It is unknown how much of their debt has been transferred to their new outfit at BetGoldStar.com. There is plenty of evidence to suggest a large portion of outstanding balances have not been paid out to players. SBR, OSGA, and other watchdog sites have not reported on a resolution to outstanding debts for all those involved.
Alliance Sportsbook is now offline, but it goes without saying that players should avoid the shop if they open up for business once again. This obviously also goes for BetGoldStar, which for now is just invite-only. Days before Alliance announced their closure, they left voicemails for existing players in which they offered reload bonuses. These guys are scum. The only positive that comes out of this situation is that they are no longer marketing to the masses and duping players into depositing with them.