The various trade publications of the sports betting industry are inundated with advertisements for sports services, organizations willing to sell you betting advice for a price. To our knowledge these publications do not require verification of claims made by advertisers. It seems that the publications in question want only the sports service's money. Most will print whatever you want as long as you pay. Similar claims are made through the mails, to anyone who has answered a sports service ad or subscribed to a sports betting publication.One of the problems with many sports bettors is they are willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for advice from sports services without checking out the validity of the claims and the quality of the advice they are purchasing. Many of these individuals are astute businessmen who wouldn't think of making a business decision without checking it out first from every conceivable angle. They protect themselves by insuring their homes and valuables, yet they are ready to believe any lies the gimmick-oriented sports service will tell them.
What are some of the more common gimmicks used by the majority of sports services intent on getting the customer's money without necessarily producing winners?
The word lock has been used more than any other to convince the naive sports gambler to give his money to self-proclaimed geniuses. When the sports service uses the word lock, they are stating that the game cannot lose. They have found that if they say it loud enough and print it bold enough, a certain percentage of players will believe them. They have also found that the more money they ask for their lock, the easier it is to sell.The lock concept preys upon the bettor who has been losing and wants to recoup quickly. This kind of player is looking for the miracle that will bail him out. In this quest for a miracle, the bettor loses sight of reality. Always keep in mind that a play is a play. It can lose or win. The "expert" with the lock is implying that he knows more than the lines maker, the bookies, the wise guys, the players and the officials. Almost anything can happen in a football game and a turnover or bad punt can totally alter the course of a game.Never forget that a lock is an even-money bet, minus the juice. It should be treated no different than any other play on a justifiable rating system. If the play is so good, why is the service selling it to you? For the price of a plane ticket, the seller could come to Las Vegas and clean up. The fact that none of these "locksmiths" ever do this should be cause for caution.
Imagine a sports service that is not monitored by any reputable monitoring service. Let's suppose also that the sports service claims it wins 70% of its selections. With this hype to substantiate its offer, the service offers a 1000-star lock for a game next weekend and the cost to you is $150, $250, or even more.If the sports service gets 500 people in its net, it is easy to calculate what they can realize. All they need do is deal half the customers one side of the game and the other half the other side. This guarantees 250 winners. Now the ante goes up. The next week the salesman talks with the winning clients and asks, "How did you like that big winner we gave you last week? I hope you got down big." If the price was $150 for the first game, the price may rise to $200 or $300 for the next release. The second week cuts the number of winners from 250 to 125 and continues until the final split. No matter what week you lose, you'll end up a victim, disillusioned and broke, while the service has extracted thousands of dollars in fees with their scams.
The Lay-Off Scam
The tout service offers you the so-called "can't lose" pick for $300, guaranteeing your money back if you lose. The service lays $165 ($150, plus $15 vigorish) on the other side, leaving him $135. If you win, the service loses $165 to the bookmaker and profits $135. If you lose, the service collects $150 profit from his bookmaker and returns your $300. This accomplishes two things for the scam artists. They have gained your confidence. They also will be back for more easy money. It doesn't really matter whether the service picks 50% or 60% winners; at $150 a pick (assuming 50% winners), the service will do very well.Returning More Than You Paid "Pay me $300 for the game and I'll pay you $450 if it loses." Have you seen this one in sports publications? Here's how it works. The service gets perhaps 100 responses. They give 50 people one side and 50 people the other side. At $300 a pop, they take in $30,000. But they don't keep it all. They continue the scam, week in and week out, until their customers run out of cash. In the scenario described here, the 50 losers will receive $450 each, a total of $22,500, and the sports service pockets $7500.Another version of the same scam has the service charging $50 a game and offering a pay back of $60 on losers. This scam can have you paying for net losers. Suppose you bought seven plays at $50 each. The service deals you three winners and four losers. They return you $240, leaving them a profit of $110 for one net loser. Seeing the check from the service for your losers can lead you to proclaim, "What an honest service!" You're right back the next week with $350 more. The service can't lose unless they come up with a 1-6 or 0-7 weekend. After a week or two, they think they have you and may suggest, "Just apply the $180 (for three losers) to your next week's fee of $350."There are a number of other scams, but these provide you with a number of examples to consider.
1. Be skeptical when anyone offers you a sure thing. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Anyone who offers you a lock is insulting your intelligence. 2. If a service tells you they are great or hot, ask who monitors their selections. Make sure the monitoring service they cite is credible and not in collusion with them. Subscribe to a monitoring newsletter. Ask for credentials and valid testimonials. Have they entered any handicapping contests? What was their record? Be sure to evaluate their performance in terms of net winners or units, because this is the only true barometer. If they win the most "funny money" in a contest, it might only reflect the luckiest crapshooter in the competition.
3. Beware of the "infinite star" approach to rating selections. This is where the service rates their plays on too broad a spectrum (one to 20, for example). A good rating system should use a ratio of one to four. Two- or three-star games should make up the bulk of the plays. Under such a scheme, one would be a light play, two a regular play, three a strong play and four an exceptionally strong play. Be careful buying rated plays and be suspect if they induce you to load up on one play.
4. Check out any sports service before paying anything. If a service offers you a money back guarantee, get it spelled out in writing. Be sure they are a legitimate business. Do they have a business license? Obtain bank references. Ask if they are monitored. Are they incorporated? Who are the principals and what are their personal credentials and references? Above all, make sure there is no way for them to win if you lose. A money back guarantee is only as good as the integrity of the guarantor.
5. If a service should offer you a net winner program, make sure it's equitable. If they come up with net winners, pay them. If they deal you net losers, they should carry the losses forward. The net winner program is not good business for the service, nor totally good for the player. On a weekly basis, the service can hold back its plays if it is ahead (to guarantee a payday) or load the player up with plays near the end of the week (to bail out and make some money from the client). It's a bad deal for everyone involved.
6. Make sure the service you are buying from is not connected with several other services owned by the same principals. You could find yourself being bounced around following a losing streak by one of the services. There are several big operators who have extracted many thousands of dollars from clients in one season using such techniques. With certain types of clients, it is more profitable to sell losers, then use a "bail out" pitch from another of their services. Beware!
7. Be careful when giving your credit card number to any sports service. You might be better off using another form of payment. There have been instances where salesmen have intentionally billed credit cards long after a client has ceased doing business with a service. I know this is the actual policy of one service. Keep in mind that an otherwise honest service can be victimized by its own commissioned salesmen who engage in this practice.