Online sportsbooks fall into two general categories. There’s the licensed, legal bookmakers that obtain the proper licensing in each market they serve. Then, there are the offshore bookmakers that serve markets where they don’t hold licensing.
At one point, all online betting sites were in the offshore category. Countries didn’t have regulated online betting markets early on, which meant there were no rules.
Times have changed greatly today, though. Many brands now focus on states and nations with licensed and regulated markets. 5Dimes is not one of these brands. This operator is one of the most notorious offshore bookmakers in the industry.
Does a sportsbook with 5Dimes’ past actually stand a chance of getting licensed in the US? I’ll cover this matter below by discussing more on this operator’s plans along with what could keep them out of America.
What Is 5Dimes’ Plan to Become a Legal Sportsbook?
5Dimes has been serving American customers for over two decades. With that said, the US customer base was surprised to receive an email from 5Dimes stating that their action would no longer be welcome.
5Dimes doesn’t come right out and say it, but they’re closing down the US operations in hopes of currying favor with American regulators.
This bookmaker is rumored to be run by new management after the kidnapping and murder of its previous owner, Sean “5Dimes Tony” Creighton (more on this later). It’s essentially starting anew regarding the ownership team.
5Dimes Has a Murky Past
This operator has a long history of success thanks to its commitment to customers. Not many offshore sportsbooks boast the longevity that 5Dimes does.
In the eyes of regulators, though, this operator isn’t exactly the most reputable bookmaker. Here are a few reasons why they’ll draw scrutiny while pursuing licenses in America.
Amazon Gift Card Scandal
Creighton was one of the pioneers of internet sports gambling. He launched 5Dimes in 1998 when the industry was still wide open.
However, the US government took aim at offshore operators in 2006, when it passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The UIGEA doesn’t explicitly outlaw offshore betting. But it does create lots of hurdles for unlicensed bookmakers that accept payments from Americans.
Simply put, every legitimate US bank and payment processor stopped working with unregulated gambling sites. 5Dimes and other bookmakers had to get creative to circumvent the UIGEA.
Creighton urged customers to accept payments through Amazon gift cards. These gift cards are commonly used to bypass banking restrictions because they’re not a regulated financial instrument.
5Dimes Tony eventually drew the ire of US prosecutors. They charged him with money laundering due to the gift card scandal.
No Licensing Outside of Costa Rica
5Dimes has operated out of Costa Rica for the entirety of its existence. As far as offshore operators go, they’re one of the best and most reputable.
However, the fact that 5Dimes has never gained licensing outside of Costa Rica doesn’t bode well for them. After all, the Costa Rican government merely requires that bookmakers obtain a business license, not an actual betting license.
Given the lack of oversight, Costa Rica features one of the lowest reputations among online gambling jurisdictions. 5Dimes must really step up their game if they’re to get licensing in any of the 50 US states.
Murder of 5Dimes Tony
Creighton never saw the inside of a US courtroom after being indicted in 2016. Part of the reason why is because he was abducted and murdered in 2018.
In an elaborate kidnapping plot detailed here, 5Dimes Tony was pulled over by crooked Costa Rican police on his way home from the office. While he was talking to the authorities, a car pulled up and gang members piled out to kidnap him.
The gang called Creighton’s wife and demanded that she pay them $5 million in Bitcoin for his release. She was able to piece together $1 million in Bitcoin payments before all communication with the gang ceased.
Unfortunately, Creighton’s body was discovered in a small cemetery located over 100 miles from where he was abducted.
His murder doesn’t officially have any bearing on whether 5Dimes can gain licensing in American states. However, it does serve as yet another strange incident in this bookmaker’s past.
What’s a Reasonable Route for Getting Into the US?
5Dimes’ business is all about determining the odds on different outcomes. If they were handicapping themselves getting approved in any state, they’d probably set themselves at +1000.
The odds certainly don’t look good for this operator gaining a foothold in America. Then again, though, a bad actor before them has set the precedent for this very scenario.
PokerStars took a huge hit after it became part of the Black Friday scandal in April 2011. They had to stop accepting US customers and settle with the Department of Justice (DoJ).
The settlement included a $731 million payout.
Most of this money went toward helping the DoJ repay players from other sites. Full Tilt Poker and the CEREUS Network (UB and Absolute Poker) didn’t have the funds to repay their customers.
With that said, PokerStars’ blueprint for getting back into the US essentially included:
Leaving the US
Breaking free of the previous ownership (Isai Scheinberg)
Paying a giant fine
Applying to be regulated state markets and waiting for approval
Some states considered PokerStars to be a bad actor and still do. Therefore, Stars waited quite a while before the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) finally approved them for a license.
5Dimes has already completed a couple of these steps. They’ve been under new ownership for a short while, and they’ve banned US customers for the time being.
Of course, the biggest step will be settling things with the US government. 5Dimes almost assuredly doesn’t have $731 million sitting around.
However, they may still be able to work out a deal with the DoJ. Assuming this deal happens, they’ll need to apply to various states and hope that one or more accepts them.
Is 5Dimes Still Holding Onto Its Offshore Betting?
It seems highly strange that 5Dimes would up and close its US business after serving American players for 22 years. The timing is especially odd when considering that the lucrative NFL betting season is just kicking off.
Perhaps 5Dimes isn’t exiting the offshore business after all.
Many customers have seen their accounts transferred to another unlicensed and offshore bookmaker called Betanysports.
These transfers have been made with no trouble at all. The ease of which of these this transition has occurred is enough to make one think that 5Dimes and Betanysports are closely correlated.
Speculation on Reddit is that Betanysports is a clone of 5Dimes and is run by the same people. After all, both sites look quite similar in terms of layout and options.
On the other hand, speculation and similar sites don’t guarantee that 5Dimes owns Betanysports. The latter could be a product of the old ownership.
In any case, regulators may look into this matter closely before considering this bookmaker for licensing. Continuing to provide offshore betting while seeking US licenses would no doubt be a dealbreaker.
5Dimes is currently trying to do something that’s never been done in the legal betting world before. They’re attempting to go legit after a long history of illegally serving the US market.
The prospects of 5Dimes pulling off this feat appear slim. They feature a checkered past that includes weak licensing, a gift card scandal, and a murdered founder.
Sean Creighton’s murder gave way to new ownership. The new group is hoping that a change in management and blocking US customers are enough to catapult them into regulated markets.
The jury is out on whether this plan will work. Based on PokerStars’ experiences, though, 5Dimes will need to wait quite a while to find out if they’re successful.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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