Hopefully while betting online, you will never get booted out of a sportsbook. If you spend much time on betting forums, though, you know that it can sometimes happen. Usually people know why they have been banned, but sometimes a bettor may have no idea why the site chose to pull out the ban hammer.
In this guide, I will tell you the most common reasons why punters get thrown out of betting sites. Avoiding getting banned is pretty simple: just don’t do those things.
I will also tell you about other possible consequences for violating betting site rules, and finally I will give you some advice for steps you can take if you have been banned from a sportsbook. Let’s get started.
Offenses Which Can Get You Banned by a Sportsbook
Joining a site you are not allowed to join
If you are not at least 18 years old, you probably should not be gambling on sports online. I have yet to run into a website which has a lower age restriction. Needless to say, lying about your age can get you banned from a sportsbook, because you were not meant to be there in the first place.
My guess however is that far more gamblers lie about their location than their age. You might see a certain betting site which looks like it offers great odds, features, bet types, markets, and bonuses, and you would just love to join—except that you are located in an excluded country.
But if you join through a VPN, no one will ever know, right? Maybe the site doesn’t even have verification requirements, and you can pay with bitcoin.
You may get away with it for a while, maybe even indefinitely. But if you do get caught violating the rules you will probably be kicked off the site. If you are, you cannot expect to lodge a successful dispute. The site is just trying to stay compliant.
Falsifying your registration information or identity verification paperwork.
Maybe to try and prevent a ban, you decide to falsify your street address and country when you sign up. You then submit fake paperwork to try and prove that you are indeed located in a different country.
This is something else you might get away with, but probably not. If a sportsbook does detect any inconsistencies, you can expect to be banned.
Sometimes falsifying information may be an innocent mistake. Particularly if you were an early internet user, you may be in a long-time habit of putting in a fake name and birth date when you join new sites. If you casually join a sports betting site with incorrect information, and then show up later to deposit funds and wager, you may forget you ever did that.
If for whatever reason you put in fake information when you joined a site, contact the site. Explain the situation and correct the misinformation before you submit identity verification documents. Never falsify your documents.
Holding multiple accounts
When you join a sportsbook, check to see what the site’s rules are regarding multiple accounts. Bans on multiple accounts are not necessarily universal, but they are pretty widespread.
What trips up a lot of punters is taking the concept too literally. If a site says it disallows multiple accounts, you may assume that just means that you personally cannot hold more than one account.
In actuality, though, if you read the terms closely, they probably state that you cannot have multiple accounts for a single household.
Is that fair? Not particularly. It shouldn’t really be your business whether your family member, roommate, tenant, or so forth is gambling on the same site you are and vice versa.
But the sportsbook can bring the ban hammer down on both of you if you are found out even if you are in no way, shape or form cheating or abusing promotions or site features.
Have a direct and blatant conversation with other members of your household about the sites where you play. Never make the assumption that someone else doesn’t gamble online, especially if you live in a region where it is a popular pastime.
If you discover that you are both using the same sites and there is a policy against it, you are going to have to come up with a solution. That either is going to have to entail calling up the sportsbooks in question to see if they will make an exception with the right documentation, or divvying up the sites between you to make sure you are not breaking the rules. Temporarily quitting a site is better than being permanently banned from it.
Arbitrage betting, or “arbing,” is a means for generating a “guaranteed” profit betting on sports. It’s a simple process. You join two betting sites, making sure one of them is an exchange. At the exchange, you place a lay bet. Make a corresponding back bet at the other site. One wager will win while the other will lose. You make bank on the difference between the odds.
Because you can in theory make a mistake, making money is not an absolute guarantee—but this is as close as you will find to a sure thing in the sports betting world.
Arbing is not universally considered a “bad” thing by sportsbooks. Some even encourage it (betting exchanges in particular, who attract a lot of customers through it). But quite a few sites do specifically prohibit it. Can you still arb on these sites? Sure, if you are careful, for a while.
How long you will get away with it is contingent on a variety of factors. In some cases, you might manage to arb for quite a long time before you get caught. In others, you might be caught on your first offense.
If a sportsbook bans arbing, do not arb on that site unless you want to risk a ban. It is pretty easy for them to catch you.
Letting your account sit dormant for a long time
This is not actually a matter of getting “banned,” but I will mention it in this list anyway since it concerns account closure, and it can be a hassle to deal with.
Basically, if you walk away from your betting account for a certain period of time as laid out in the terms and conditions, your account status will be switched from “active” to “inactive” automatically.
What happens next depends entirely on the site’s policies. Usually there is a monthly inactivity fee until your account is drained (or until you come back). If you are gone long enough, the sportsbook may even have a policy where your account balance will be reset instantly to zero.
When the site can no longer extract fees from your account, maintaining it drains resources from the sportsbook without providing any returns. At that point, the sportsbook has motive to shut your account down.
Again, this is not actually a ban. You have not done anything wrong, and you are still allowed to wager with the sportsbook. Your account has simply been deactivated.
Opening it again could just be a matter of contacting the site and asking them to reactivate your account, or you might have to go through the registration process all over again.
How to avoid a ban: You will not be banned for dormancy, but it could result in the sportsbook shutting your account down and removing the funds. Avoiding this is a simple matter of making sure that you do not let your account sit around inactive with money in it.
Breaking rules pertaining to player assistance programs
If you check the rules for your sportsbook, there is probably one against the use of player assistance programs or other betting software. If you choose to employ such software despite the warnings in the terms of service, you can expect the site to take action to put an end to it.
Avoiding a ban for using player assistance programs is straightforward. Check if there is a policy against it, and if there is, do not do it.
Most cases of sportsbooks bans probably fall into this pile. Bonus abuse can be deliberate or it can be accidental. Either way, sportsbooks are in the business of profiting, not donating to punters looking for easy cash with no strings attached.
You need to be careful to avoid bonus abuse. Some things are obvious. You should not for example open an account, claim a one-time free bet, use it, and then open another account and do it again.
But some forms of bonus ‘abuse’ are more subjective than that, and not nearly so obvious. A site may consider you to be abusive if you so much as wager only when a bonus opportunity is attached to a bet.
So do not abuse bonuses deliberately and watch what you are doing the rest of the time. Ask yourself if the way you bet could be considered abusive, even if you do not think of it that way.
Make sure that you are wagering in such a way that you do not simply seem to be taking advantage of every freebie you can get. Ask yourself if you ran the betting site whether you would see yourself as a good investment. If the answer is “no” based on your bonus use, there is a chance the sportsbook will feel the same way and kick you out.
Committing any form of cheating
Cheating of any variety is a serious problem. By definition, it is against the rules, and as such, it will be treated as a harsh violation. That means that it will in all likelihood be immediately met with a lifetime ban from the site.
This is simple. Do not cheat.
Participating in criminal activity
This is another easy way to earn yourself a lifetime ban at any sportsbook. If your use of the site involves criminal activity of any nature, you are in serious violation of the terms and conditions. You will not receive any warnings for this type of behavior; you will simply be kicked to the curb, and rightly so.
This too is simple. Do not do anything illegal while you are betting on sports.
Problematic behavior in live chat
One more reason some players get banned by sportsbooks is because they are causing disturbances through live chat. This is applicable in the sportsbook’s card room, if it exists.
Behavior which is inappropriate in live chat can vary. One person might get banned because he keeps revealing his hand, while another might get banned because she’s been abusive to the other players. Being abusive toward live chat agents could also cause a site to throw you out.
Use common sense and decency in live chat, whether you are talking to customer service agents or to other players. If you are polite and follow the rules, there is no reason for the site to kick you out.
The One Thing You Are Unlikely to be Banned For? Winning.
You will notice that one thing I did not mention in this list is winning. This may surprise you, since it is widely believed that sportsbooks will ban you for doing too well.
Is it a complete non-issue? No, unfortunately not. It is hardly a myth; some sites do enact the ban hammer when players start winning big and winning often, even if they are doing so entirely fairly.
But the sites which do this often are those which have no choice. They may be very small and may not have the funding to support high rolling sharps. But it doesn’t look good. When word gets around, players start avoiding those sites altogether. Who wants to wager at a sportsbook which is going to ban you just because you are winning?
That means these instances are not all that common at major sportsbooks. Big betting sites sustain themselves easily since the majority of their customers are not sharp at all.
This makes it easy to pay off the winners while staying in the black. Indeed, stories about big winners make for great marketing. Other punters looking for sites to join hear those stories and imagine that they may be the next to win big. The result? More sign-ups, and more profits for the sportsbooks.
So if you want to avoid being banned for winning, the best thing you can do is just by picky about the sportsbooks you use. I recommend that you take a look at our reviews.
Other Possible Consequences to Rule Breaking
While this article has focused on the matter of total account bans, if you found this page, you are probably concerned about other actions which sportsbooks may take in response to perceived offenses. Let me go over those other possible consequences now.
Losing bonus money or winnings
If you break the rules but a site does not feel a need to institute a ban against you, more minor steps may be taken to get you in line. One of those may be to remove funds from your account which the site does not feel you fairly earned.
For example, let’s say that you abused a bonus by claiming it twice when it was meant to be used only a single time. Instead of banning you, the sportsbook decides to give you a warning.
Along with that warning, the site seizes the amount of the bonus from your account as well as the winnings you made betting with the bonus. An action like this would be entirely fair, since you never should have been able to place the wager using that money in the first place. In this case, you would have gotten off light.
If a punter tells you that he has been “gubbed,” it means that the sportsbook has cut him off from participating in future promotions. This may only apply to a certain type of promotion, or it could apply to all promotions and bonuses site-wide.
Gubbing is another way that a site may choose to give you a “warning.” In some cases, you may never get un-gubbed, but in others, it may be a temporary ban which expires after some time has passed. All other site features will probably be available to you during that time; you just will not be able to use promotions until the gub expires.
Being gubbed is no fun, but it is certainly not as bad as being banned outright from a site. It may give you a chance to prove that you are a valuable customer. With a bit of luck (and likely persuasion), you may get it revoked in time. In the meantime, you can still make great money betting. You just need to lean on your strategies and a smart money management plan instead of relying on bonuses to fund your account.
Finding out your account has been limited
Probably the worst thing that can happen to you other than an outright ban from a sportsbook is when the site limits your account. A limit acts as a ceiling for your bets, and depending on how upset the sportsbook is with you, it can be quite low. If you can only wager $10 or $20 at a time, you obviously can only make so much money, even with really solid bets.
For that reason, some punters may consider a limit like this to be a “ban without a ban.” The site may not actually have booted you, but it may as well have, since you will probably wind up having to wager somewhere lese anyway.
Finally, one more step short of a ban is a suspension. This is where a sportsbook restricts you from accessing your account for a temporary duration. This is done to show you that the sportsbook is serious about enforcing its rules, and to give you a chance to rethink your actions. Your next infraction will probably result in a ban.
What Should You Do If an Online Sportsbook Does Take Action Against You?
If you do end up banned or limited by a sportsbook, what can you do about it? There is no surefire way to get the action reversed, but here are some ideas.
Contact the site via phone or live chat and request to be un-banned.
Your first step is to keep a cool head and try not to panic. You will probably be very angry, but try and put a rein on your temper. You need to find out exactly why you were banned and if there is anything you can do about it.
If there was a misunderstanding, you need to give the betting site a chance to remedy it. That means contacting a customer service agent over the phone or on live chat to discuss the issue. Stay calm, and do not put the agent on the defensive. Explain your side of things and ask what went wrong. If the misunderstanding was yours, accept responsibility, apologize and explain how you will prevent it from happening again.
Some sites will be willing to un-ban you right then and there. Indeed, you may not even be asked to offer up an explanation, depending on how loose the site’s policies are. Of course, if you lose your temper, you could rob yourself of this easy solution. That is why it is so important to be calm and polite.
If the above does not work, request evidence of your offense.
If the agent will not revoke your ban, it is time to ask for some form of written evidence that you have committed an infraction. You want the information to be as specific and complete as possible.
Of course, a site may choose not to give you this information, but many will comply. You may want to stick with live chat for this conversation either way so you can save the chat logs.
Post your story and the evidence (if provided) on internet forums which are monitored by the sportsbook and ask to be un-banned.
At this point, it is time to seek some sort of third-party intervention. Sometimes getting the site to remove your ban is as simple as outing the matter in public. Make sure that you try to resolve the issue privately before taking this step.
There are a number of forums dedicated to sports betting which sportsbooks regularly check up on. If you post a detailed description of your situation there and provide the evidence and chat logs, the sportsbook may feel compelled to take action. No one wants to look bad in public.
If the sportsbook continues to ignore the issue, it is likely because the site either missed the post, or those who run it feel confident that you have no case.
If there is an applicable authority or arbitration group in your region, reach out to them with your case.
If that does not work, and you are convinced that the sportsbook is in the wrong and you are in the right, you can seek arbitration from an organization or authority in your region which handles sports betting disputes. If the authority in question agrees with you, they may have enough sway to get the sportsbook to revoke your ban. If they do not, you probably are out of options.
If all else fails, move on to a new sportsbook.
Finally, you must accept that there are situations where you will not be able to get a ban revoked no matter what you do. Sometimes this is because you are the one who is genuinely in the wrong. Other times it may just be that you are dealing with an especially stubborn betting site.
In those cases, you will need to look for new sportsbooks to join. Make sure that you fully understand what got you banned from the previous site so that you do not repeat that same mistake in the future.
Conclusion: Anyone Can Be Banned By a Sportsbook, But If You Are Careful, You Likely Can Avoid It
It can be devastating to make a simple, honest mistake and find that you are no longer allowed to wager at your sportsbook of choice. Thankfully, if you learn the rules and you follow them to the letter, this is unlikely to happen—especially if you go out of your way to demonstrate to the site that you are a loyal and valuable customer. If the worst does come to pass, you may be able to get the ban reversed. If not, you can join another sportsbook.
The sportsbooks we recommend are known for their fair policies, and are unlikely to ban you if you follow their rules. If you are looking for new sportsbooks to join, give them a try. You may find that you like them even better than the sites you are using now or have used in the past.
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