Creating a healthy and sustainable sports betting industry requires discussion on several topics none more prominent than bonus abuse groups.
Getting a free bet as a welcome offer from a sportsbook is intended to be a good thing, a reward for the player to choosing that sportsbook as their preferred destination to have a bet.
The rise of bonus abuse groups has meant that many players often get penalized for depositing via a certain payment method, taking a welcome offer or placing certain bets. This naturally leads to frustration on the behalf of the recreational player and so a negative perception begins, often ending up being documented and misrepresented in the mainstream media.
The impact of these bonus abuse groups is often kept in the background mainly because sportsbooks don’t publicize details of their daily operations, the cost or impact on other genuine players.
For most players who partake in bonus abuse they do so innocently or recreationally as part of their overall betting portfolio. Most importantly they do so using their own identity and on one account per sportsbook. However, for a handful, bonus abuse is a full-time business that is sucking money away from operators and preventing genuine players being awarded bonuses.
Operators are often perceived as making huge profits from the betting public, but the reality is that on an average their sportsbook margin is around 7% so for every £100 spent they would make £7. Obviously, they deal in big numbers but costs around bonuses, taxes, marketing, employees and other is deducted meaning there is small profit margins for many operators.
A recent article on an industry publication laid bare to the practices of these professional networks. The article is an advertorial from a group called ‘Ada Lovelace’ who want operators to engage their services on improving measures for abuse detection. After setting out their background in a paragraph aptly named ‘Loopholes and exploits’ the article goes on to reveal some interesting insight into the practices of bonus abuse groups.
Their long-term success of bonus abuse mainly lies with the ability to operate multiple accounts. ‘The main six bonus groups in the UK have 184,000 paid subscribers. Many of these members will operate multiple accounts. Although it is difficult to quantify, our rudimentary calculations put the total figure at roughly 1 million identities being used in the UK.’
‘Bonus abuse forums are now focusing on automating matched betting, with tools such as the Each Way Sniper becoming widely available. This bot integrates with the front end of many operators to automatically place value bets 24/7.
The available profits decrease over time as accounts become bonus banned or stake restricted. This naturally leads individuals to recruit their friends and family so they can continue and increase their profits, which in turn breeds multi-accounting.’
This bonus banning or restricting of stakes is done by operators to protect their business but is often unintentionally imposed on genuine players. More worryingly the article goes on to detail the lengths that some of the bonus abuse groups go to:
‘With the law untested on multi-accounting in this industry, others have adopted less discreet recruitment methods such as gathering identities from outside job centres or posting ads on social media.’
‘Stratsol’ is one of many large multi-accounting operations and they recruit publicly online. They have over 3,600 members, a referral scheme, a registered company name, 20 staff members – and a driver that comes to your home to take KYC photos and apply for a bank card.’
How is this good for the people who give up their identity to an unknown 3rd party and have them apply to a bank card on their behalf. Regardless of the industry, identity theft is a big issue in the UK and can have devastating consequences.
Indeed, it can be argued that the practice of bonus abuse groups in targeting ‘new identities’ who are sold a message of risk-free money is one of the main gateways to players becoming problem gamblers in the UK.
‘Depending on how much time is invested, individuals in the UK can realistically make £4,000 from welcome offers and then £1.5k+ per month profit from retention offers.’
The same individuals gathered from ‘outside job centres or on social media’ who are most likely the least knowledgeable about responsible betting and most vulnerable to addiction.
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