Early this month, offshore sportsbook 5Dimes announced that it was closing to U.S. customers and would update on next steps by Sept. 30. The announcement caused plenty of speculation, lots of frustration and confusion among customers, and left open the question of “what now?”
With Sept. 30 upon us, there has been no word from 5Dimes — to its customers or the media — about what to expect. The company parted ways with its media relations firm shortly after an industry expert prematurely tweeted about the shutdown, and its new crisis management firm, Levick, wasn’t sharing ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.
To catch us all up to date, just after Labor Day weekend, the San Jose, Costa Rica-based sportsbook announced that it would suspend service to U.S.-based patrons on Sept. 21, and it strongly suggested that is was going to find a pathway to operate in legal U.S. jurisdictions. The company wrote that patrons had until Sept. 25 to request payouts.
“5Dimes is excited to announce that it is embarking on a new business venture,” the notice to customers read. “With the evolving legal landscape in the United States, we want to take advantage of the opportunity to offer an improved sports betting experience to our many U.S. customers.”
The announcement resulted in swift — and often negative — reaction from customers, many of whom were caught off guard and concerned about outstanding wagers and their balances.
Waiting for payouts and future plans
👇 Today's the last day for US customers to request payouts.
— 5Dimes (@5DimesSB) September 25, 2020
Some 5Dimes patrons took to Twitter to share frustrations over long wait times to get paid out. Withdrawal methods (some use Bitcoin) and experiences varied. A head’s-up thread on Reddit titled “Today is the last day to request 5Dimes payouts” also served as a forum for discussion about the sportsbook closing shop to the U.S., at least for now. Some had better experiences and provided advice for others situated similarly.
Here’s a small sampling:
Waiting on 5Dimes payout like… pic.twitter.com/YXPCnu40mJ
— David Klen (@D_Klen11) September 25, 2020
Also, please be advised to stay away from any future dealings with a certain sports book that is closing. Let's just say they are good at taking your money but they make you jump thru hoops to payout. Cheers
— rob pearson (@beniciarob) September 21, 2020
If anybody is waiting on 5dimes payouts, you HAVE to call 5dimes to confirm your payout. Your request will stay pending forever until you call. Good news is that when I did call, I confirmed all my information quickly and the call lasted less than 5 minutes.
— John Martian MMA (@UFO_UFC) September 28, 2020
Since the early September announcement, the only “official” word from 5Dimes came via a statement from Laura Varela, the widow of 5Dimes founder Sean “Tony” Creighton, who was kidnapped and killed in Costa Rica in 2018. Creighton’s relatives reportedly paid $1 million in ransom, though the kidnappers demanded $5 million. His body was found a year later.
“But there are definitely some positive surprises in store for you,” Varela wrote. “I am working with experts and consultants to make sure that the brand that you have come to love is well represented in the regulated US market.”
Among industry insiders, there has been speculation that 5Dimes cut off U.S. accounts because it was forced to by the Department of Justice, which previously labeled Creighton a “bad actor” for operating an offshore book that illegally transacted with U.S.-based patrons, and in 2016 investigated him for money laundering.
Whether or not the DOJ is involved with 5Dimes’ sudden decision to shut down U.S. operations is unclear, though it would seem to fit the storyline. 5Dimes appears to have shut down U.S. operations of its own volition or at the suggestion of the DOJ, rather than publicly being forced to. Given the rigorous and invasive vetting process to become a licensed sportsbook in most/all U.S. jurisdictions, it would seem that cutting a deal with the Department of Justice would be the only way into the legal U.S. market for 5Dimes. The question is what the DOJ would require 5Dimes to do or pay.
However, even if it has/does make a deal, working with the DOJ is working the federal government, and sports betting is a state’s rights issue. The Department of Justice likely can’t promise entry into the U.S. market. Of course it is possible 5Dimes has a tentative deal with a state willing to license it, perhaps as a vendor of some kind. This is speculation.
How much or how little the 5Dimes brand, its technology, and database may be worth in the U.S., is yet another story altogether.