Sportsbook Review knew something was wrong. They had to know. It would be impossible or next to impossible for them not to know.
Offshore sportsbook BetIslands, a B-rated book per SBR until Dec. 17, folded up shop earlier this week and took an estimated $1.5 million in player funds with them. As you might expect, there was no advance warning or contingency plan in place.
The book enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past 21 months, thanks in part to SBR’s constant promotion, positive reviews and favorable rating, which improved steadily every couple of months since March 22, 2011—the day BetIslands was added to the site’s ratings guide.
SBR provides “independent ratings” of every offshore sportsbook and takes into account numerous criteria, which includes user feedback. But can SBR’s ratings be purchased by a book if the price is right? Given the obvious conflict of interest (SBR has ad deals with all books), it’s a question that’s been asked in the past and will be asked again in the future.
And rightfully so after this.
BetIslands’ SBR rating history looks fishy on the surface. Despite being a newer book, BetIslands went from a C-minus rating to a C in less than two months in early 2011. By mid-June, its rating was a C-plus. Then it improved to B-minus in early August before receiving a solid B three months later.
In the face of skeptics, SBR explained its reasoning.
From Aug. 5, 2011:
BetIslands was added to the SBR Rating Guide in March of this year. Since, SBR has had the opportunity to test the sportsbook, collect user feedback, and speak with majority owners. The veteran ownership group is respected within the industry. BetIslands has excelled with customer support and timely withdrawals. SBR will continue to monitor and evaluate the sportsbook as volume rises with popularity.
Somewhere along the way, it’s apparent that SBR stopped “monitoring” the site, even as user complaints became angrier, louder and more frequent. Many people complained about unusual payout delays and processing issues, only to be ignored.
Those people are now without funds, and one member reported a $50,000 loss.