Google Play Store Now Offers Sportsbook Apps, But Watch Out For Offshore Impostors

Posted By Russ Mitchell on March 12, 2021

Some offshore wolves have surfaced in BetMGM lion’s clothing.

And, Iowa bettors who use Google Play Store should avoid MyBookie app’s den. The overseas company slipped two BetMGM Sportsbook app lookalikes into the Play Store menu, hoping to lure less-experienced customers.

Two factors play into potential confusion in Iowa:

  • The state is only about 10 weeks into the convenience of remote sportsbook registration.
  • Effective March 1, Google Play Store allowed real-money gambling apps, ads related to real-money gambling and daily fantasy sports apps on its platform.

That means, Iowa visitors and residents can register to make sportsbook bets from anywhere in the state, whether they have an iPhone or Android device. But, be careful what you fish for.

Impostor apps are possible, as PlayMichigan.com learned.

This is what the real BetMGM app looks like:

And here’s what the false BetMGM app looks like in the app store:

 

See how MyBookie is trying to mislead the public with its lyin’ lions?

The offshore platform accepts bets from the United States; however, it isn’t licensed and regulated anywhere in the country. Which means it doesn’t have follow any US gambling laws, including how they handle your bankroll.

Potential vulnerabilities in a new market

That two-pronged convenience of Google Play Store access and remote registration in Iowa creates some opportunities for fraud.

Administrator Brian Ohorilko of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission said his office refers customers to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. The DCI regulates retail casino gambling and sports wagering in Iowa.

“They also handle surveillance at casinos and do background checks. So, typically, when we get some sort of complaint about — or notice of — an illegal bookmaking account or any activity like that, we will contact the DCI and get them involved to conduct an investigation. Some of these types of things also are consumer protection types of issues dealt with by the Consumer Protection Division and the (Iowa) Attorney General’s Office.”

How to spot an offshore sportsbook: Education is key

It’s important to know what the sportsbook app you want to download looks like online before you download the app.

Every legal sportsbook in Iowa will have fine print on the footer of its homepage that states it is “licensed and regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.” If you still aren’t sure the sportsbook is legit, you can visit the IRGC’s licensing page.

Ohorilko encouraged Iowans to check the credentials of apps.

Take extra time to make sure the sportsbook company is both legitimate and licensed in the state of Iowa:

“The thing we try to do is just educate Iowans. But but it does get tricky, especially when these accounts are offshore … I can’t speak directly for the DCI or the Attorney General’s Office. But, when there’s behavior outside of the United States … that it makes it much more difficult to try to stop the activity.”

The IRGC administrator sees very few complaints or incidents like the BetMGM imposter app. But, he adds, “depending on how good the imposter is, Iowans could be vulnerable.”

“I haven’t talked anybody with MGM, but I am kind of curious as to what they’re doing or what they’re able to do.”

A BetMGM spokesperson told PlayMichigan the company is making progress on a BetMGM Sportsbook app for Androids. The company says it “had absolutely no involvement with the misleading listings.”

BetMGM also added they are working with Google to remove the impostor app.

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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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