BetCSI, not to be confused with BetDSI (Bookmaker), or the hit TV show CSI, is the perfect example of a total scam sportsbook. The list of issues with BetCSI is lengthy. Lying, stealing, and cold calling are just the beginning for this outfit.
For these reasons and more, BetCSI dropped from a D- to an F in the SBR ratings guide in July 2004 and then earned the coveted and rare F- just two months later. Online sports betting was at or near its peak popularity around that time which makes this disaster even more outlandish. While other books were busy earning money honestly and building a solid reputation, BetCSI had no time for that. They were busy scamming.
Cold Calling Stolen Phone Numbers
BetCSI offered a juicy 40% sign up bonus for new customers. That is higher than average, and we all know about things that seem too good to be true. Nothing out of the ordinary there, however. Many shady books offer high bonuses to bring gullible players in and fleece them. What made BetCSI unique was the way they marketed their bonus. The company stole a competitor’s contact list and then cold called customers to alert them of this excellent 40% offer.
The combination of a much too generous sign up bonus and the desperation of cold calling for clients are just a tad suspicious. BetCSI also took it a step further by making up stories claiming reputable sportsbook professionals loved the site. Once you steal the competition’s customers, maybe nothing is off limits. Lying was just another part of the con.
While there are many bookmakers on the web, there are also many eager players who are looking for a new out to get action down. Instead of cold calling, BetCSI could have taken the longer road of building their own customer base one at a time with features like reliable payouts. Sadly, the payouts were just another weakness over at BetCSI.
Slow Pays, No Pays and Informants?!
By now you probably have guessed that BetCSI was not exactly a fast paying book. In fact, the company had repeated complaints from customers that they were slow paid or worse yet totally screwed. Not exactly surprising stuff, payout issues are probably the number one complaint amongst all types of online gamblers. Not to be outdone, BetCSI takes it to a whole new level yet again. On December 9th, 2004 SBR reported that BetCSI management (yes, not customer service but the actual management) gave a customer an unlikely choice: State or Federal?
In a new twist, the bookmaker was threatening to become informant.
The customer’s only real “crime” was only trying to withdraw some honest winnings. Playing off the fact that online gambling is a legal gray area in many countries, BetCSI used this bully tactic to convince the player simply to keep his funds deposited and eventually lose them all. Of course, if the player didn’t want to keep playing then he just wouldn’t be paid at all.
If all of that was not enough, on January 2004 there was also a complaint about a “glitch” in BetCSI systems that cost a player a winning bet. The player claims he bet a game with a noon start time well before tip-off and was confirmed to have action. However, after the bet won, he found out that he was not paid. Customer service claimed a computer error allowed some players to past post bets and thus all bets on the game would be voided.
Anyone else starting to sense something shady was happening at BetCSI?
False Tracking Numbers and a New Website
Not satisfied with all the other theft, deception, threats, and unethical business practice, BetCSI was also allegedly giving out false tracking numbers from FedEx. The company was in a total death spiral and told players management would figure out later if and when they would be paid. They also stopped accepting deposits. The jig was up. Or was it?
A few short months after BetCSI stopped taking deposits, SelectWagering was introduced. This book was opened by BetCSI to trick players who would have otherwise not deposited because of BetCSI’s poor reputation. SelectWagering used the same old tactics to get players to sign up. Cold calling and using fake endorsements were common. This time they even told players that SBR was on board with the idea that SelectWagering was legit. If customers had done an online search they would have found that not to be the case at all. The owner was someone by the name of “Duane Tough” who may or may not threaten to rat winning players out to the Feds.
SelectWagering used its new name as well as an added wrinkle to con players. The book offered PayPal as a deposit option as of February 2005. The only problem is that PayPal was not accepting any gambling deposits or withdrawals as of 2002.
Unfortunately, BetCSI Just One of Many
During the heyday of online sports betting, many scams such as BetCSI popped up. During this golden age, making money in the online sports betting business wasn’t easy, but conditions were about as optimal as possible. This was pre-UIGEA, and long before the huge crackdown on offshore sites and payments processors.
Today’s market is much more difficult, and few sites that enter the market in 2014 have a large chance of success. However, this doesn’t mean it is impossible, more-so that scams in today’s market are much more prevalent.