Canbet started accepting bets all the way back in 1995 via phone, making it one of the longest operating offshore operators. After all, you would have to trust a book that has done business for many years and remained viable, right? In the sportsbook market, especially online, your reputation and your promises are what make or break a company. Canbet was a rising star of a book, according to Sportsbook Review’s ratings. However, this position did not last and eventually Canbet plummeted like an internet stock after the dot com bubble.
In April 2002, Canbet moved from a Top 20 book up to a Top 10. In January and February 2004 they were actually lowered a notch each month, from an A- down to a B. After that, the rating bounced back and forth, eventually reaching A- status again in May 2005. After that, the steep decline began. From May 17, 2005 until January 21, 2014 Canbet was downgraded 7 times and did not come back from this downward spiral. The rating went from the lofty A- all the way to a D-.
How did this happen? It wasn’t one single reason, but a series of many bad decisions that led to the downfall. There were shady bonuses, canceled bets, late payments, and an almost constant runaround from management.
The book was also sold twice. Once on May 13, 2009 to a company called Yin King Investments Ltd. and then again to Interactive Gaming and Sports Group in late 2012.
Canbet bonuses were used to lure in new and existing players with juicy terms, but a look at the actual conditions revealed an almost laughable, scam-like nature to these bonus offers. Canbet required a 6x rollover on its bonuses. However, there were lots of strings attached. It reminds me of an infomercial where the host claims “but wait!!! There’s more!” (And then they end up charging extra shipping and handling which makes the deal decidedly different than it first seems.)
As a user posted in this thread, “The only way you can turn the deposit bonus into cash is if you lose it all at Canbet. If you win with your cash balance you won’t be able to use the bonus balance and will have to withdraw and forfeit the bonus.”
The bonus was also only released slowly, to entice players to lose more money. There were reports of it being released €10 at a time. Players frequented the forums and tried to figure out workarounds in order to meet the ludicrous rollover and other requirements. They were restricted from withdrawing until the bonus was cleared or they would forfeit the bonus. It had to be cleared in 90 days. Players could not transfer funds to the poker room or the bonus would be gone. And so on. Reading and fully comprehending the terms and conditions from Canbet would require a law degree, and even if you figured it out, the site often went against its own policies or did things not clearly defined anywhere in its terms. Many players reported bonuses were retroactively changed, and always on terms that were worse for the customer. Live chat representatives for Canbet seemed to take a hostile approach with customers instead of a friendly tone.
In May 2009, there was a report of Canbet canceling a so-called correlated parlays on NCAA football games after the games had been settled in customer accounts.
Correlated parlays are parlays where the player picks either a massive favorite and the over in the same game, or a huge underdog and the under in the same game. An example would be Texas -37 and the over 50 in the same Texas game. Obviously, if Texas covers the 37 point spread, the over is also highly likely to cover.
Canbet did not have a clear written policy on these correlated parlays, and a player discovered that the system accepted any and all of them. He made many wagers, and only after he won a sizeable sum did Canbet go ahead and cancel the bets retroactively. They claimed that an error in software accepted the bets when it should not have and that normally any parlays with a ratio of spread to total above 33% are declined.
So, not only did the site free roll the customer, they also used terrible logic and claimed that since the player was betting larger than normal, this somehow made the bets invalid. Canbet is not the only book to shy away from accepting these bets, but other more reputable books simply decline them when you try to bet, and certainly don’t go back and take away winnings after you put money at risk. One wonders if Canbet would have discovered its error if the player hit a cold streak and lost money.
Collapse, Millions Owed
The first rumblings of slow pays were in September, 2013. Canbet claimed that technical issues were causing payment requests to build up in the system and asked at least 10 players to be patient while waiting for the issues to be sorted out. At this time, the company still continues to take in new money with no warning that there may be issues getting it paid back. That is an enormous red flag.
By Halloween, the number of complaints had swelled to at least 24, with only five players being paid off from the original list. This caused a sort of run on the bank type situation and now the amount owed was over $28,000. All the company did was issue a threat mixed with empty promises and full of excuses. Players grew tired of the runaround and wanted cash.
Just a few weeks later in mid November 2013, the company now owed six figures to frustrated players. And then on December 13 2013 there was word that payment was due in one week.
The company blamed its software, claiming that players received bonuses that they were not entitled to due to software problems.
On New Year’s Eve 2013, Canbet stopped taking in deposits, and also stopped taking new bets. Almost a month after players were promised to be paid in a week, this was troubling news to say the least. The frustration only grew, and Canbet (now dubbed “Can’tBet” by many online) was in a world of hurt. Fast forward to January 21, 2014 and the amount owed was a staggering $250,000. At this point, SBR decided to add them to the infamous blacklist. Essentially, the company’s reputation was shot.
On February 17 2014, there was a report Canbet was for sale. However, by late April, the company’s debt had skyrocketed to over one million dollars.
At this point, Canbet is essentially finished and buried. The company that was one a top 10 online destination has utterly fallen apart and players are still owed over a million dollars as of this writing.
The overriding lesson is to always keep your eyes and ears open when it comes to online books. Early warning signs often lead to much bigger problems down the road. In this example, Canbet was well known online to offer bonuses that were nearly impossible to clear and often had to be forfeited by players. This is no way to treat players and should have at least given people pause.
A change in ownership is also a red flag. Why is the company being sold? Who are the new owners? Those are some questions players should seek answers to. As always, keeping your bankroll spread out over a handful of books (or even having a chunk sitting in the bank) is a smart strategy. Books will almost always accept new deposits, but withdrawals can sometimes be slow or impossible if things take a wrong turn.