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Is Sports Betting Online Safe?

Tips for Safer Betting Online
For those of you that are new to all of this, you’re probably wondering whether online sports betting is safe. Whether you’re brand new to sports betting altogether or you’re considering making the jump from brick and mortar betting to online, this is a great question, and we commend you for asking. Too often, people jump into things without taking the time to ask the important questions and seek out the necessary answers.

That’s what we’re going to do today. We’re going to answer the question of whether or not sports betting online is safe. We’ll lead off by giving you the short answer and then we’re going to compare the dangers of betting at the book and betting online. Following that, we’ll give you our final verdict on the issue as well as some tips for safer betting.

The Short Answer Up-Front

So, what’s the short answer? Is sports betting online safe? The answer is yes, but with a precondition. The precondition is that you follow some basic guidelines to ensure that you’re safe. Here’s a great analogy. Is golfing safe? Most people would probably say yes. But, that’s only true if you don’t play golf when there’s lighting, look before you cross a road with your golf cart, and don’t stand in front of someone when they’re hitting their ball. Sports betting is a lot like golf in the sense that it can be completely safe as long as you aren’t doing something stupid to make it unsafe.

In the rest of this guide, we’re going to dig a little deeper into this by talking about the individual dangers of each method and then give you the long-answer verdict. We’ll close by giving you those tips and guidelines that you need to follow in order to make sure that your online sports betting experience is safe. The good news we can tell you is that it does not require a ton of work to be safe betting online. It only requires you to take some small pro-active steps that are very similar to any sort of general online safety tips you’ve read before. We’ll cover all of that in the coming sections.

The Dangers of Betting at the Sportsbook

As a lot of you that are here probably already bet in person, we wanted to make sure that you’re aware of the dangers that come along with that. No, we’re not doing this just to badmouth live betting, but we’re doing it because knowledge can keep you safe. Even if you don’t choose to make the switch to betting online, this information can still help to keep you safe. If you know what threats are out there, you can find ways to minimize your risk and keep yourself safer.

Theft and Violent Crime

Sportsbooks have a really bad tendency of attracting the wrong types of people. Because thieves know that there will be lots of distracted people with loads of cash, it’s a target-rich environment for them. This is not just us speculating. If you hit one quick Google search for robbery sportsbook or robbery casino, you will see that there are way too many terrible stories of people getting rolled, beat up, and taken for everything they have.

The craziest part of the stories is that most of them happen on property. You’ll find stories of people getting pickpocketed, beat up and robbed in the bathroom, and followed out to their cars and robbed at gunpoint. It’s scary out there, and the scarier part is that sometimes these crimes happen in broad daylight.

Look, we are not trying to scare you away from betting in person. When you run from the fear, the criminals win. But, we are saying that you need to be aware of the potential risks that you face when you go to the sportsbook. The amount of thieves floating around any sportsbook (including the nice ones) is not something to shrug at.

Getting Followed Home

We wanted to piggyback on the above danger with one more that is strangely seeming to be more and more prevalent these days. People are starting to follow big winners out of the sportsbook and the casino and then following them to their homes. Once they have them away from the hustle and bustle of the casino they are robbing them at traffic lights or right outside their home.

Look, even if you don’t switch to betting online, please at least remember this when you are leaving the sportsbook or casino. Pay attention to anyone following you or anyone that looks out of place. If you get in your car and you suspect you are being followed, do not go home. Drive to the police station or call 911 if you are sure that you are being followed.

Losing Your Bankroll

Thieves aren’t the only threat to your bankroll when you choose to bet at a brick and mortar establishment. Believe it or not, you are as well. You see, when you start to take your betting a bit more seriously, you’re going to be making more wagers. This means that you’re going to have to be carrying a lot more money with you than you normally would. Fast forward to what happens if you win and you’re going to have even more cash on you than you started the day with.

While we aren’t trying to say that you’re forgetful or not careful or anything like that, we are trying to say that you’re human. Humans have a tendency to lose things no matter how careful we are. Things fall out of our pockets, especially things like awkwardly shaped wads of cash that don’t fit into our wallets. Throw alcohol, emotion, and a lot of the hustle and bustle distraction into this mix and the risk becomes real.

We’ve talked with sportsbook managers and people who spend a lot of time in the books, and they say this happens all the time. They’ll have someone come up to the podium in tears because they dropped their bankroll. Or, you’ll hear an announcement with a reward for someone’s bankroll that was dropped or fell out of their pocket.

No one ever thinks they could ever possibly do something like this… until they do it.

Losing Track of How Much You’re In For

The last danger that we want to talk about when you’re betting at a brick and mortar establishment is that you can easily lose track of how many bets you’ve made and how far you’re up or in the hole. When you bet online, you can easily see your account balance and a record of all the bets you’ve made and still have in play. You know exactly where you are and how much you still have on the line.

But, when you bet in person, you usually have a wad of cash and a stack of tickets, and that’s about it. Sure, you could spread everything out on a table somewhere and start doing the math with the calculator on your phone, but that’s really not a great idea. One, it’s no fun especially when you’re trying to watch games or look for other value plays. Two, it’s dangerous because you start to let everyone around you know that you have a lot of cash on you and a lot of betting tickets that could turn into a lot of cash. You put a target on your back without even meaning too.

The Dangers of Betting Online

While we’ve already alluded to the fact that we’re throwing our full support behind the safety of betting online, we wouldn’t be thorough if we didn’t talk about some of the dangers that come with betting online. While there are not as many, there are still some that you need to be aware of. The good news about these, though, is that with a little self-discipline and a few proactive steps (which we will cover in the last section of this guide), you can minimize these dangers extensively.

Ease of Betting

It’s funny that one of the biggest advantages of sports betting from home or on the go is also one of the bigger dangers. When you are betting at a brick and mortar location, you have to actually be at the brick and mortar location to place your bet. This means that you have to go through a lot of hoops (putting on clothes, driving to the book, getting cash out, waiting in line, etc.) before you can make a bet. When you’re betting online, it takes you about 30 seconds to place a bet, and you don’t even have to put on pants or move from the couch.

While this is an incredible perk, it can also be a danger if you’re someone who struggles with self-control. If you have trouble with betting too often or walking away from bets that you shouldn’t make, then online betting might not be for you. In fact, all sports betting might not be for you. This is something that should be a perk for most people, but it can be a danger if you don’t have the discipline needed to keep yourself in check.

Account Hacking

Here’s the biggest threat when you do anything online – hacking. This isn’t something that is exclusive to the online betting world but is the case with anything that is password protected online. Obviously, though, there is a lot more value getting into someone’s sports betting account instead of their Facebook or Instagram account. If someone gains access to your account, they’ll be able to access your money and potentially find a way to try and steal it. (This has gotten a lot tougher because of some things the sites have put in place, but you still don’t want to have anyone near your account or your money).

Here’s the good news. Hacking is not like it is in the movies. There are not a bunch of people in a basement running crazy codes to sneak their way in through the back door of a website. Rarely, things like that do occur, but from what we’ve read over 90% of hackings come from stealing weak passwords or from mistakes that the user does to allow someone access to their account. This is “great” news as it means that with some simple steps you can make your time online sports betting insanely safer and remove a ton of the risk.

The Verdict – Is Sports Betting Online Safe?

So, what’s the verdict? Well, surprise, it’s the same as our short answer from the beginning of the article. Online sports betting is safe and is a lot safer than betting at a brick and mortar establishment. For the record, we didn’t talk about it at all, but both of these methods of sports betting are a lot safer than betting with a bookie. We assumed that everyone here is smart enough to know that already, though. If not, please let us know, and we’ll go ahead and detail the risks that come with betting with a bookie.

Here’s the bottom line. The act of sports betting anywhere is safe as long as you have self-discipline and don’t bet with money that you aren’t comfortable losing. If you do have that self-discipline, the risks that you do face come from outside influences mainly other people trying to get their hands on your money through theft. When you bet sports online, you eliminate a lot of this risk and have a much better ability to control things. You also take yourself out of the possibility of being physically harmed by someone trying to take your money.

So, the bottom line verdict is that YES, sports betting online is a safe and fun way to enjoy games and make money if you’re a sharp bettor.

Tips for Safer Betting Online

We’ve mentioned several times throughout the article that betting online is safe as long as you are taking the right proactive precautions to make sure you are mitigating any risks properly. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the things that you need to be doing to make sure you are protecting yourself and not inviting unnecessary risk into the equation.

As you’ll see, there is nothing challenging on this list. There is nothing that requires a ton of work or for you to go outside of your comfort zone. All that is required of you to keep yourself safe is to follow a few simple guidelines 100% of the time. The last part of that phrase is the key. You cannot waiver on any of these simple guidelines, or you put yourself at risk. Violating any of these guidelines just once can be enough to put you and your sports betting account at risk.

Again, we are not telling you all of this to scare you. In fact, we’re telling it to you to protect you and make sure you’re aware of what you should be doing. You’ll notice that most everything on this list is fairly common sense and the basis of general internet safety. Even if you don’t choose to start betting sports online, we highly recommend you adopt these practices with everything that you do online. These tips will not just keep you safe in the sports betting realm, but with anything else you do online.

Don’t Save Your Password on Your Devices

It can seem really convenient to click that “remember password” button when you’re using any site on the web including an online sportsbook. That way you never have to remember your password, and you can save a few seconds in time when you’re logging into your account. Sounds great, right?

Well, there’s a problem. You see, threats to your account don’t just come from random people on the web who you’ve never met. We’ve sadly heard way too many stories of family members, friends, and people who have found lost devices using them to steal people’s money and account information. If your password is stored, anyone with access to your computer or your smart device can automatically log-in to your sports betting account and now has access to your information as well as your money.

We’ve also heard stories of people losing a lot of money not even for malicious reasons. They have their password saved on their phone or computer, and one of their kids happens to stroll by when they forget to lock the computer. Or, their kid navigates away from their games to try out daddy or mommy’s game. They don’t think they’re doing any harm, but they’re actually firing off your money recklessly. If you think the sites are going to have compassion for this, you’ve got another thing coming.

Yes, it will take you a few more seconds to log into your devices. Yes, you are going to have to memorize your password. But, you can rest assured that anyone who gains access to your device is not going to be able to access your sports betting account. This is peace of mind that you’re going to want to have a part of.

Don’t Write Your Password Down or Store It

As an addition to the above tip, you don’t want to write your password down where someone can find it or store it in a file on your computer. If your computer gets hacked, hackers are going to search through all of your files for passwords or log-in information. You may think that you have it hidden in a file well, but we can guarantee that any hacker worth their weight is going to be able to locate your information.

Additionally, writing your password down on a piece of paper, in a folder, or on a sticky note next to your computer is just as bad as storing it on your device. Sure, this might help keep the young kiddos from accidentally logging in, but anyone that gains access to your desk is now going to have your password. They don’t even have to log-in then. They can write down your password and then log-in later from their computer or from another device somewhere.

Here’s some advice. Memorize your password. It might take you a little while to do this, but it’s going to go a long way for your security. If for some reason you have the absolute worst memory on the planet, there is one way that you can write your password down safely. It is still going to require a little bit of memory, but it’s still much safer.

Come up with a word and a number that are special to you. Let’s say the special word you choose is “Marker” and the number you choose is the year something awesome happened “2016.” Now, you need to come up with a symbol that represents that word and then a letter or symbol for that year. When you write down your password, you’ll write everything but these two components which you will write with those symbols. Unless someone knows what those symbols mean, they won’t be able to guess your password.

For example, let’s say that your password is !2016Marker$#!!. This is a pretty good password as we will cover later. Let’s also say that you decide that “WORD” in all caps will represent the word marker, and “Y” will represent the year. So, when you write down your password on a piece of paper, it will look like this: !YWORD$#!!. If someone tries to type that in to access your account, they are going to have zero luck. You could literally give that piece of paper to someone, and they are not going to be able to access your account.

As long as you never write down what WORD and Y represent, then you’re always going to be safe. You will have to commit those two things to memory, but that is a lot easier than trying to remember your entire password.

Use a Solid Password

While we’re on the topic of passwords, we’re going to beat a dead horse that you’ve probably heard time and time again. You need to be using a strong password. A lot of sites nowadays are forcing people to use strong passwords which can be annoying while you’re signing up but can go a long way to protecting your account from intruders.

What is a strong password? First, it should have at least 12 characters minimum. It should include numbers, symbols, and upper and lower case letters. It should technically not include dictionary words, but we personally end up using at least a few of them because it makes it easier to remember the password with the method we laid out above.

What you really don’t want to use, though, are any words, years, or numbers that have something major to do with your life. For example, using your kid’s birthdays, your birthday, your dog’s name, or anything like that is a bad idea. Come up with things that can’t be connected to you or discovered from looking at your social media accounts.

Remember, most online hackings come from passwords being stolen and a lot of those are coming from people guessing the right combinations. Hackers are looking at people’s Facebook pages and pulling out things like kid’s names, dog names, birthdays, etc. to try and find potential combinations of their passwords. Once they realize that they can’t crack yours with this basic information, they’re going to move on to someone else. Don’t make things easy on a hacker. The harder you make things, the more likely they’ll move onto someone else if they chose to target you in the first place.

One last thing that we want to add here is that a strong password also means that it’s a password that you aren’t using for everything. The problem with doing that is that if one password gets hacked, then everything you have is going to be compromised. You may be betting with an online sportsbook that has fantastic security, but your email provider might not. If you used the same email and password combination for both, your sportsbook account will be at risk if your email account gets hacked.

Use different passwords even if that seems annoying. You can use our password writing tip (using the symbols and codes for yourself) if you need to in order to make sure that each password is different. We aren’t expecting you to remember 20 different passwords, but if all you need to remember are two code words, you should be able to do that with your reference sheet.

Change Your Password Frequently (Every 90 days)

The absolute last thing that we’re going to say about passwords (as we know you’re getting tired of them) is that you need to be changing your passwords frequently. Yes, this is annoying and tedious, and most of us would rather not have to do this. But, we live in a world where hackers are waiting to pray on laziness. The longer that you have a password, the more chance there is that it will get compromised.

This is especially true if you happen to be ignoring our last tip about having different passwords for all of your accounts. There are data breaches in all industry way too frequently for you to feel safe enough to keep the same password forever. Set yourself a reminder for every 90 days to reset your passwords. Yes, this will take a little bit of time to do, but if you care about protecting yourself and your money, you’re going to do it.

Don’t Use Shared Devices to Make Wagers

We get it. You want to make a wager, but you left your phone at home or your computer elsewhere. You can just hop onto your buddy’s computer or the computer at the internet café and pop off a few quick bets, right? 1000% please no, never. Shared computers are a haven for hackers to leave programs to steal your information and track your keystrokes. It doesn’t matter how much good safety you practice. If there is a program on that computer to steal your information, you are toast.

Additionally, we mentioned not using your friend’s device. Are we saying your friend is shady? In almost all circumstances, no. But, what we are saying is that you don’t know if your friend is practicing good security. Do you know if their antivirus is up to date? Do you know if they aren’t opening sketchy email attachments or visiting sketchy websites? You have no idea if they have done something to get their computer infected. The hackers don’t care whose information they are stealing. They’ll happily take your account information if you input it on a compromised computer.

Keep control of where you log into your account. If you don’t have the ability to log in and you’re dying to make a bet, deal with it. Don’t sacrifice the safety and security of your entire account just because you forgot to put in a bet or you want to jump on a hot tip or great line. If it were that important to you, you would have made arrangements to have your smartphone or device on you to make your bets.

Under no circumstances should you ever even log into your sports betting accounts (or any accounts) from a shared device. There are too many variables that are unknown that you can’t control.

Update Your Antivirus Software

You know that pesky reminder that keeps popping up on your computer that your free antivirus software is out of date and needs to be renewed? Yea, you should probably stop ignoring that. Even if you aren’t going to start betting online, you need to make sure that you have antivirus protection to protect you from everything else that you do on your computer.

Antivirus software is not perfect, but it can certainly protect you from a ton of viruses and programs out there that can infect your computer and exploit your information. Yes, we know that it costs a few bucks, but it’s a lot better than the money you might lose if your sports betting account or your email or bank accounts are compromised.

Bet With a Reputable Online Sportsbook

One of the absolute best things that you can do to ensure that you have a safe online betting experience is choose to bet with a reputable sportsbook. If you do everything else on this list to keep yourself safe, but you bet with a scummy sportsbook, your money may still be at risk. You never know if they’re doing what they need to be doing to keep your money safe or if they have some practices that aren’t on the up and up.

How do you find a reputable sportsbook? Well, that’s kind of what we specialize in. We work hard to give the most honest, accurate, and up to date reviews so that you can rest assured that your online sports betting experience is going to be safe. If you’d like, check out exactly how we rank and review sportsbooks and also check out our sportsbook reviews.

Be Careful With the Websites You Traffic

The internet is an interesting place. That’s a nice way of saying there is a lot of sketchy stuff out there. What you may or may not know is that when you visit some of these sketchy sites, you run the risk of picking up a computer virus or program that might infect your computer. A lot of times these programs will allow hackers to access your personal information stored on your computer or even track your keystrokes.

Look, we’re not here to tell you what you can or can’t look at online or even what you should and shouldn’t be looking at. But, we are going to let you know that if you’re visiting sketchier sites like sites with adult content or pirated shows and movies, you’re going to be putting everything else you do on that computer at risk.

What we highly recommend you do is stay away from these sites on the computer that you are doing your betting from. If you only have one computer or smart device, you may want to rethink your priorities. If you are okay with accepting the risk that these sites bring, then go for it. But, just be aware that is ill-advised.

Have a Bankroll Management Plan in Place

One of the great things about betting online is that you’re able to track your bets much easier. You’ll have an account balance that you can look at that will tell you exactly how much you have in your bankroll and exactly how many bets you still have in play. This makes it a lot easier for you to know exactly where you’re at and not lose track of your bets.

That being said, you still need to have a bankroll management plan in place. If you’re betting all of your money or even a large percentage of it on one bet, you’re not going to be around for very long. You need to have a plan in place to make sure that you can weather the storms of a bad run. They’re inevitable no matter how good you are, so you need to make sure to have a plan in place.

Now, what does that have to do with being safe? Well, when you start taking huge chances, you run the risk of losing way quicker than you expected. These are the times that people are tempted to chase their losses and start betting money they are not comfortable losing. This is a big danger no matter where you are betting, and it’s something you need to be on guard for. If you ever feel like you’re falling down this rabbit hole, you need to seek help immediately or at the very least get as far away from the sports betting as possible.

Personally Exclude Yourself When Necessary

Speaking of getting as far away from sports betting as possible, there is a really cool feature that most online sportsbooks have that can really help you out if you’re having problems with your self-control. It’s called self-exclusion. What this is exactly is a program where you can select to block yourself from being able to bet for a certain period of time.

For example, let’s say you make a bet that you know you shouldn’t have, and you realize that you need a little break. You can turn on self-exclusion for whatever time you want, and you won’t be able to bet. So, let’s say you decide that you want a one-week break. You select to be self-excluded for one week, and you won’t be able to make a single bet for that time period. Once the week is up, you’ll have full access to your account again and can exclude yourself for longer or start betting again but with more control.

This is a great little feature that can help you out when you need to take a break. If you are finding that you are using this frequently or the issues are bad enough, you may want to look at finding a different hobby other than sports betting.

Utilize Good Online Safety Practices

We wanted to close out this article and list of tips with a catch-all. We mentioned most of the online safety practices you should be following, but there are some others that we didn’t mention. If you’ve gotten any advice before on what to do to be safe when you’re betting online, you should go ahead and add that to this list. Additionally, if you’re extremely security conscious, we do recommend doing a little more Google searches for safe internet practices. Anything you find is going to be good information.