As the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments begin Thursday and March Madness gets underway for the next couple of weeks, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown wants consumers on guard to avoid sports betting scams.

Brown and his office are cautioning Marylanders to be “vigilant and wary of scams and aggressive marketing” meant to persuade bettors to make bigger and riskier wagers, Brown said in a statement. An alert was also issued to all consumers who primarily use their phones to place bets on games and players or have subscribed to receive consumer information from the attorney general’s office.

Sports bets can be placed in Maryland on mobile apps, such as FanDuel or DraftKings, online or in person. In November 2022, Maryland awarded its first licenses to 10 companies to offer mobile sports gambling in the state.

Online and app-based gambling is a target for cybercriminals hoping to defraud a bettor out of money or personal information, according to Brown’s office. Brown’s office said, “there is no such thing as a completely risk-free bet, or free money, when it comes to gambling.”

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“These entities and venues are good at enticing bettors, and very good at getting you to bet more money than you were planning to spend in the first place but are hoping that you won’t take the time to read their fine print,” Brown said in a statement.

Consumers can protect themselves while using sportsbook platforms by perusing reviews and ratings with the Better Business Bureau or calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 410-528-8662 to ask if any complaints have been filed against the platform.

Brown’s office recommended reading the fine print on all promotions, “especially those that look too good to be true.” Penalties placed by the sports books that may limit how and when you can cash out winnings should also be reviewed.

Information about legitimate, licensed sports betting programs and entities is also available from the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

Online gambling pop-up ads and unsolicited emails, text messages or social media messages should be ignored. Bettors can report suspected scams to the AG’s Consumer Protection Division or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Penelope Blackwell is a Breaking News reporter with The Banner. Previously, she covered local government in Durham, NC, for The News & Observer. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Morgan State University and her master’s in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

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