In what proponents of legal U.S. sports betting would consider a victory, popular offshore sportsbook 5Dimes announced early Sunday evening that it will suspend U.S. operations at midnight Sept. 21 in order to “take advantage of the opportunity to offer an improved online sports betting experience to our many U.S. customers.”
The notice sent to customers referenced the “evolving legal landscape in the U.S.,” suggesting that it will relaunch as a legal entity in some/certain sports betting states in the U.S. The company did not specify how it may accomplish a transition from operating illegally outside of the U.S. — to legal operator in a U.S. jurisdiction(s) in some capacity.
5Dimes will remain open to U.S.-based accounts until 12 a.m. on Sept. 21, and customers will have until 12 a.m. Sept. 25 to request balances. Accounts not claimed by midnight Sept. 30 will be turned over to a “third-party claims administrator,” and considered abandoned a year later on Sept. 30, 2021.
News of the account suspensions was swirling on Twitter by late afternoon on Sunday, forcing the company to send a notice to customers ahead of schedule — it had initially planned to send the notice at midnight Tuesday.
There was little information available other than the notice sent to customers (pictured above), though multiple industry sources suggest 5Dimes will attempt to enter the U.S. market in some capacity. Whether it will be able to do so under its own brand, or in some fashion following a corporate restructuring, or simply will leverage its large database of U.S. clients, is anyone’s guess at this point. When lawmakers, regulators and industry stakeholders malign the millions of dollars flowing into the illegal offshore sports betting market, well, 5Dimes is one of the biggest there is.
“While the intent of this is good, this brings to light additional questions of who will be their U.S. partner and how they will pass suitability on a state by state basis,” said consultant Brendan Bussmann of Global Market Advisors. “For those that have operated online or fantasy sports illegal in the past, some regulators have a long memory and it may take some time before they will even be able to be licensed or operate.”
Founded in San Jose, Costa Rica in 1996, 5Dimes offers online sports betting, casino, bingo, poker, and other services. The company is known for its wide range of gambling opportunities, betting markets, “reduced juice,” and also for the demise of “5Dimes Tony.” It is available in countries across the world from the European Union to Australia to China.
Whether 5Dimes made this decision unilaterally with an eye toward the future, or under threat of prosecution, or some combination of factors, that part is not yet publicly known. But the timing — less than 72 hours before before the start of the NFL season with a window of closure in late September — that part is telling. That and reference to a “third-party claims administrator” indicates that there’s much brewing here under the surface.
Since the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act on May 14, 2018, more 20 U.S. jurisdictions have legalized sports betting, and live, legal sports betting is available in 18 states and the District of Columbia. The number should up to 20 states by the end of year, as Tennessee regulators are aiming for operators go live no later than Nov. 1 and Virginia regulators are hoping to launch operators in December 2020.
A series of FAQ’s available to 5Dimes patrons includes:
Q. Is 5Dimes closing permanently for U.S. players? If not, are there plans to come back to the U.S. market and when approximately?
A. No, we will be back, better than ever and hopefully very soon!
Q. Why are you leaving the market?
A. We are relaunching the company into a better one for our customers, and to do it properly, we need to suspend service to U.S. customers, but it is only temporary.
Q. I have an open bet that will not be settled until after September 25th, is it possible to get a refund on that wager?
A. Yes, refunds will be available.