The introduction of proline sports betting was like a dream come true for us sports fanatics. However in time all proline players starting looking with interest at all those internet ads for offshore sports books. They're everywhere and they seem to make it look easy : big payouts, bonuses, low vig. Well before you go wiring money to some small island you've never even heard of I want to fill you in on not only the benifits but also the pitfalls of offshore gambling.
I have had offshore accounts since the late 80s and have learned the hard way to be careful. Currently I have about a dozen offshore accounts which I use for placing bets, either as a result of handicapping, or to hedge a proline position. All of these books meet the most important of all criteria for selecting a book - you must be 100% confident that your money is secure. I feel sure that if I win, no matter how much it is, I will be paid promptly.
Why bet offshore?
Reading posts on the proline forums it seems that the number one reason people have for opening an offshore account is that they're sick and tired of losing money to the lottery corps. The reasons for these losses are usually the high vig or the requirement to bet 3+ team parlays. Unfortunately this is just not going to work out that well. Of the two, proline or offshore, the easy money is betting proline! Poindexter put it well in the interview I did with him. Given the choice of low vig and highly efficient odds (offshore) or high vig and very ineffiecient odds (proline) he'd prefer the latter very time. I agree.
Now for a very good reason. Like most of us you probably consider yourself an expert handicapper. At the end of year a key factor on whether you're plus or minus will be your ability to find the best price on a game. Games that pay 2.00, even money, can often be found offshore at prices like +180. The difference that taking the best price can make to your bottom line should be obvious.
The main reason I maintain offshore accounts is to hedge postions I have on proline. We've all been in the position we're it's shaping up for a great week but it now all comes down to that Sunday Nfl game which seems to have found its way on to most of the tickets. An offshore account often leaves open the possibility of hedging this money and guaranteeing all or part of the profits. Once you start you'll find all sorts of favourable situations where this tactic can be used to increase the effectiveness of your proline play.
What are the negatives?
Your major concern in this area should be the almost total lack of regulation of the sports betting industry. If you have a winning proline ticket you know you're going to collect the cash. Things are not so certain offshore. Of the thousands of books operating online I woiuld rate only a small percentage as totally reliable. Many are nothing more that outright scams - they have no intention of ever paying if you win. All will tell you that they are legal and licenced in the country in which they are located. With the exception of England and Australia that means nothing! They may be licenced so that they can be taxed but do not assume that they are either regulated or monitored in any way. If they refuse to pay you will find that you no have recourse whatsoever in regards to collecting. That sounds scary but fortunately there is a good part. The offshore industry has been with us for a while and some firms now clearly stand out as both honest and reliable. The bigger ones report annual earnings in the 50-100 milllion dollar range and are obviously in it for the long haul. I'm glad to say that it must be at least 10 years now since I had a problem that wasn't resolved.
The bad line rule. Don't you just love it when the proline people mix up the odds for the favourite and the dog? Same thing happens online too! One problem - you won't get paid. All the books have hidden in the fine print a rule which allows them to void a bet if the posted line was incorrect. It gets worse. This will usually only happen after the game. Expect the bet to be fine if it loses!! And it gets worse... Many books are suspected of deliberately putting out bad lines. Why not? Void the bet if it wins, collect if not. What could be better. Again how much of a problem this is will depend on the integrity of the book itself. But take my advice - if you see what you know should be an 8 point favourite at +8, don''t play it! In fact call them and tell them of their error. You may receive a small thank you in your account balance the next morning!
Bonuses. Almost all books offer a bonus on initial deposits and most on redeposits. This is free money which should be taken advantage of. But be aware that there are strings attached. All books will require that the money in your account be rebet a required number of times before any withdrawals are allowed. The number of 'rollovers' generally is between 3x and 10x. In other words a deposit of $1000 with a 20% bonus (200) may require $12,000 in total wagers before any money can be withdrawn. Other less clear conditions may apply. For example Sportingbet, a very large international company, says that professional bettors are not eligible. There have been many winning players who have been later reclassified as such. Not only was the bonus cancelled but all winnings were deemed to have been won from that bonus and were also confisicated. Again, stick with the major and reputable firms and you should have no problems. When I make a deposit it is with the intention of betting the money, the bonus is just that - a bonus. I have never even bothered to track my wagers to see if the rollover requirement has been met and never personally had a problem in this area.
In the next section I'll detail how to go about setting up your offshore account.