The following infograph shows the rise to the now current online sportsbooks within the United States territorial market. Please see research following the infograph for further fact checks.
How They Rose to the Top
To start things off, although now more of a footnote more than anything; Intertops was the first ever online sportsbook. Intertops was the first sportsbook to open offshore over 30 years ago in 1983. They took wagers by phone and fax before taking the first internet wager in 1996. It was a $50 bet from a Finnish citizen on an English Premier League match. The bet won.
Intertops is still around today, though they don’t accept US customers except via invite, which is quite easy to get. However, one cannot just go to the site and sign up.
Pinnacle Sports was the firm leader before the UIGEA was passed and still is today. The company began in 1998, and rose to prominence in as the top sportsbook in the world before the UIGEA was passed. They readily accepted US customers until they left a few months after the passage of the bill in Jan. 2007. At the time, their business was 60-65 percent made up of US customers. Source: Wikipedia: Pinnacle Sports, OSGA.
BetCRIS(Costa Rican International Sports) was another sports betting giant leading up to the UIGEA. They were tops in the US online betting industry with Bodog, WSEX, 5Dimes and Pinnacle before leaving the US market in March 2007. However, CRIS was the most prestigious and trustworthy out of any of these books, since it had been in business since 1985. At this point, BetCRIS continued to service international players while Bookmaker.com was converted into a portal for US customers.
While these companies were once one in the same, they become different entities years after the UIGEA. Bookmaker immediately grabbed a huge player base after getting BetCRIS’ US clients in 2007.
Betcris Becomes Bookmaker
Full: Biography of Bookmaker/Betcris (not a “review”)
Today, they continue their long standing goodwill with bettors and still take US customers. The only change his been their move to Bookmaker.eu. They are the US-facing sportsbook with the most volume and highest betting limits, and are a must-have for professional type bettors. Source: Jim Griffin (Regarded Sports Betting Author)
WSEX Belly Up
WSEX was a mainstay in the offshore industry, even after their founder Jay Cohen was sentenced to prison in 2000 by the Federal Government. Unlike many other prominent players, they did not leave the US market after the UIGEA was passed in 2006. They were probably the most popular sportsbook after 2006 for US bettors. However, the story of WSEX does not have a happy ending.
After nearly a decade of running a successful shop, payout delays started surfacing in 2009 and things behind the scenes were spiraling out of control. Things got worse in 2010, as payouts were backed up over two years and there was serious doubt anyone would see their money. Many accused WSEX of “operating on the float”, which means to take deposits from new players simply to pay old debts.
The company closed its doors officially on April 19th, 2013 but the writing was on the wall for much longer. SBR had several hundred players file complaints for over $1 million in account balances, but the true number was probably much higher. WSEX’s closure and bankruptcy is likely the biggest fall from grace out of any US sportsbook. Source: SBR
Bodog was another brand that stayed in the US market after the UIGEA was passed. It was founded in 1994, but didn’t start to get popular with bettors until 2000. They gained a lot of market share before the UIGEA and gained even more after competitors left.
Who’s Bodog, and what’s Bovada?
Bodog had their domain, Bodog.com seized for two years in 2009 before regaining it in 2009. During that time, they used the BodogLife.com domain for operations. Today, Bodog is still a strong force internationally in sports betting markets but no longer takes US players.
In 2011, they worked out a deal to sell off their US client base to the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group (MMGG). In late 2011, MMGG began branding all their online gambling products as Bovada and moved all operations to the Bovada.lv domain name.
Bovada.lv is now a leader in the US market, and the gambling site that nearly everyone has heard of that has gambled online. It is easily the top recreational sportsbook and a top choice for US bettors. Source: Bodog Wiki, MMGG Wiki.
Bovada or 5dimes the Market Leader?
5Dimes is another sportsbook that has been there since the beginning. Established as a toll free betting outlet in 1996, they came online a few years later. Always known as a reliable and trustworthy sportsbook, they gained even more market share after many other sportsbooks left after the UIGEA.
Known for an amazing of proposition bets and alternative lines, their dedication to the US market has been clear. The book moved from 5Dimes.com to 5Dimes.eu several years ago and is one of the top five sportsbooks for US players and rivals that of Bovada and Bookmaker.eu.
Author: Joseph Falchetti