SBS has long preferred to err on the side of caution when it comes to increasing the ratings of online sportsbooks servicing residents of the United States. This is a risky industry. For legal reasons, most reputable sportsbooks do not accept US players. This is a market where players have no gambling commissions, court systems, law enforcement, etc. to turn to. Thus ratings are by far the most important to players living in the USA. This is how they know which online sportsbook are worthy of trust and which should be avoided.
There are however USA friendly sportsbooks that have been long overdue for an upgrade on the SBS Ratings Guide. Today we increased the rating of four sportsbooks, while giving a small downgrade to one other. This is a report on the rating changes and the reasons involved.
Bovada Rating Increases from B+ to A-
www.bovada.lv for a couple years now has been the fastest at issuing free payouts. They offer one free payout per month. When done via paper check, this can be for an amount up to $3,000. It comes FedEx in a matter of days and can be cashed without much hassle. If choosing a free payout by wire transfer, this can be for an amount up to $9,500. These come a little slower than checks by courier, but quite often the money hits player’s bank accounts within a week.
To be absolutely clear, there are no other highly rated US betting sites offering the ability to cash out such amounts for free. Bovada has had a spotless track record for over 2-years now. There were however reasons they were rated only B+.
7 years ago they had some serious payout struggles. At the time those came as a shock, because in the 5-years previous to that they paid lighting fast. Before UIGEA, they paid to e-wallets in minutes. That period of delays was resolved by 2009. But we had a short period in 2011 of Bovada Payout warnings too. Those proved to be much less severe. Their domain was seized, founder indicted, there was a most wanted list scare, an Asian office raid etc, too. But the bottom line is this…
Other than those two periods mentioned, Bovada has a long history of paying withdrawals fast. These guys have long treated player’s right. For 2-years now they are the fastest provider of free payouts to gamblers living in the United States. Considering they also have a history in the industry dating back to 1994, and have open communication with SBS in times there are rare disputes, I feel good about moving them to A-. You can learn more about value they offer in our Bovada Review.
BetOnline Rating Increased from C+ to B+
www.betonline.ag has received the largest rating jump in this round of upgrades. This might seem like a major jump, and thus is why some explaining is in order. Dating back to our original website, BetOnline was rated B+ from September 18, 2007 to November 18, 2011. The final of those dates seen their rating drop all the way to C-. The issue related to their newly launched online poker room which had serious issues.
It has now been a few years since those poker issues. There are other little things that keep them rated B+ such as stacking bonus rollover, the way they have handled credit card deposit fees, some customer service issues etc. But other than those old poker issues, and a hacking complaint (all of which were resolved favorably in the end), this site has NEVER had a legit payout complaint. They pay fine. As long as you know your way around their little quirks, and can deal with sometimes LOL support, players can use this site comfortably knowing they will get paid when they win. I used them all of the football season that is ending soon with the Super Bowl, cashed out 4 figures multiple times and had no problems.
The benefits to using BetOnline are also many. They have more markets than many of their US friendly competitors. They have constant live betting on multiple sports per day, including ones no other US sites cover in-play. Though often with a relatively small $500 max bet, they have some of the softest openers ever. They attempt to be the first to post lines for all sorts of games, and it is not hard to find value with what they toss up. All this and more about them will soon be covered in my BetOnline review. In short they are being given back the rating they held 3-years ago. They are not perfect, but the B+ as opposed to A- or A properly reflects that.
GTBets Upgraded from B- to B
www.gtbets.eu is a purely recreational online sportsbook. These guys stemmed from the original VIP Sports, which was a reputable site that should not be confused with the less than reputable VIPSports.eu. When VIP.com closed some of the past management used the database and software to keep the company going as GTBets. We were a little hesitant at first and rated them at C+ when they started in Aug 2011. After two years in business we raised them to B- in August 2013. With now nearly a 3.5 year track record and no complaints we are very comfortable upgrading them to B.
We feel rather strongly that at GTBets player balances are safe. This is due to their track record but also their business model. These guys run one of the most conservative sportsbooks we have seen to date. The first plus is the fact their website covers all the bases in extreme detail in their betting rules. This tells us they take fair gaming seriously. Every little situation someone can think of coming up is already clearly defined how it is handled in print right on their website. They also have VERY GOOD customer support. Using them I was extremely impressed with their response times and how helpful their staff is.
GTBets does offer a bonus choice of either “100% up to $250” or “50% up to $500” and these are cash. When sites offer such large sports betting bonuses it is normally a warning sign. However, anyone sharp can soon see it is not too risky of an offer. Once they read the not so fine print, and start using their website, this becomes clear.
For starters the GTBets bonus is cleared by earning points. At sports betting it will come to being a MINIMUM of 12 times rollover. However, try clearing by only betting baseball, which earn less point, and it is a 30 time rollover. Next, you’ll find that a minimum of standard full vig is used on all markets, and the maximum bets are small. My limits on major markets were just $200 per bet out of the gate.
There is nothing at all dishonest about GTBets’ business model. It simply shows they are a purely recreational sportsbook, that manages their risks well while taking fair gaming and customer support seriously. They are using a model that as long as managed correctly, is destined to last and be profitable for a long time to come. As we see them being very low risk, I am more than comfortable now rating them B.
Topbet Upgraded from C to B-
Topbet.eu is using the same domain and backend as a formerly blacklisted sportsbook that had went offline for multiple years. Approximately late 2011, the website came back online having been acquired by new management. It still however used the same software as Futurebet, which you can read about in our oddsmaker.ag review.
SBS was tipped early by Bodog staff that this site was being ran by former Bodog employees. One of our top contacts, who is very helpful in sharing knowledge about sportsbooks and helping players, informed us he knows the owners personally. While he said he would not go as far as to absolutely vouch for them, he had no reason to suspect they are not legitimate, knows for certain this is not merely a Futurebet clone, and believes it is very likely the case that it is fine for players to use this book.
Due to the above feedback we decided to rate Topbet C in a September 2012 ratings update. Since then this has been a heavily promoted site on sports betting information sites. This is no longer a small start up without many players, they are at least a medium sized sportsbook. With over 3-years of operation now under their belts, they have had no serious complaints come up. There was never any betting disputes that lingered for any period unsolved, and there are plenty of positive feedback reports on payouts. As a result, they were upgraded to B- in late January 2015. We still encourage bettors to err on the side of caution due to their futurebet host, but we finally feel this might be a sportsbook worth giving a try for bonuses and/or any other value they might offer.
Carib Downgraded from B to B-
There are no complaints that caused us to lower Carib’s rating. This one is simply because there is less and less to go by. This site has barely done any marketing in almost 5-years now. A number of the contests they were famous for are no longer in place. As their popularity declines each year, there is of course far less player feedback. B- is still a very respectable rating but for most reading our rating guide it takes them out of what some players might view as being full green light territory. This is where we feel comfortable having them for now, due to lack of information to go on.