Here at Poker Refugees, we've relocated over 550 online gaming pros, and what some people don't know is that many of them include professional sports bettors in addition to online poker players.
In today's blog, we will be sharing a very in-depth interview with one of our sports betting clients who relocated from Canada to Costa Rica to bet on sports.
Read on to find out Ryan's educated insights on:
- How to get starting betting sports professionally, coming from a backgroud in financial trading
- Why it's important to move abroad for success in your sports betting or online gaming career
- How you can bet on sports full time without physically living in Las Vegas
- How using a relocation company like Sports Refugees or Poker Refugees is massively helpful
- What he was most worried about when moving to a different country and how Poker Refugees resolved those concerns
- In what ways will the sports betting industry evolve in the future and will it help or hurt pros?
Q: Where are you from and how did your career betting sports develop?
A: I’m from Canada and I started out
working as a financial analyst with an economics degree.
It was approximately in 2002 that
online prediction markets like Transports.com developed and I quickly realized,
just from browsing competing websites, that a new set of opportunities was
emerging as a result. I started exploring the sector by arbitraging financial
binary options, which turned out to be a good way for me to capitalize on my
strengths: I'm more introverted than many in the financial industry, and online
gambling allowed me to take my skills and apply them in an environment that was
a better fit for my personality. It turned out that this emerging sector not only presented exciting opportunities
for financial growth but that it was a kind of work that made me happier.
Once I ventured into the sector I
noticed that these sites also offered sports betting, which is structured in
exactly the same way as binary options are, but comprises a larger market.
Migrating was a no-brainer. I did sports arbitrage for about six years, until I
stopped hedging off the other side of the bet. Now I take the liability of the
side that has value, thus becoming a real professional gambler.
Why is it important for sports bettors to have access to international betting sites like Pinnacle and Bet365 compared to US- or Canada-facing sites?
It’s essential that anyone working
as a professional sports gambler have access to as many sites as possible. You
would need bookmaker accounts just to check prices. You would need bookmaker accounts to know where value and
opportunities are – and not just one or two, but accounts at many sites to
transact at the best odds, especially if you have any kind of arbitrage
There are very limited betting
opportunities in the local U.S. and Canadian products that are currently
available. You can make a living on sports betting in Las Vegas, for instance,
but it requires a physical presence in Nevada to do so without the hassle and
uncertainty of dealing with brokers. You can also make a living from local
Canadian products – for example, by taking advantage of palpable errors in
provincial lottery markets (which, in Canada, are never busted). But prices in
the betting market move based action that is now global in scope. You cannot
have access to the entire market if you are physically based in Canada or the
You also need to be operating in a
manner that is consistent with your bookmaker's terms and conditions if you
want a reliable annual income. For most casual sports bettors, violating the
terms and conditions is not a big deal – but if your income depends on the
viability of your account, you’re better off in a jurisdiction like Costa Rica,
which allows you to conduct transactions across borders seamlessly, and in
compliance with the relevant terms and conditions.
Would you consider betting sports to be your primary career and source
of income? What is your normal schedule/day like throughout the course of the
year and sports seasons? Feel free to elaborate as desired.
Absolutely. Betting on sports, and
earning interest and dividends on those resulting profits, are my only sources
Like most other jobs, mine has
both weekly and annual rhythms. My schedule is driven by the sports leagues:
I’m typically working when there is an NFL or NBA game on. And like a teacher,
I get July and August off, when those leagues have a break in common.
What was your primary motivation in moving abroad and why? What factors
affected your decision to move?
It's really very simple: I moved
to Costa Rica in order have the legal standing to access the entire global
market in sports betting.
You just can’t do that in Canada. Costa Rica is a
special kind of jurisdiction – it has created a global niche for itself in
facilitating this type of work. Nobody is afraid to do business here, while
other jurisdictions tend to be more conservative.
What type steps did you take in researching the move?
With a relocation of this scope –
we're talking about my livelihood, not just a sideline business – due diligence
was vital. So was drawing on local experts who could help me navigate the
transition confidently. There are times in business when you can afford to take
certain kind of risks – when it's an advantage to do so. But you also need to
know when to take those chances, and when to go back to the basics and ensure
you're starting from a sound foundation. After years in the business Kristin
developed an impressive reputation and I knew I could rely on her to help me
manage the relocation without exposing me to unnecessary risks along the
How did you come across the Sports Refugees relocation service?
I first learned of Kristin via anarticle on Bloomberg back in 2011 - “Poker Expats in Paradise.” I didn't have
any immediate plans at that point, but her name stuck in my mind: I knew her
services might be valuable if I ever decided to expand my sports betting
operation, and following her work was good way for me to learn more about what
that kind of expansion might entail. By the time I decided make the move,
contacting her was one of my first steps – her track record make it an easy
What were your top concerns in moving by yourself and how did SportsRefugees address/resolve those concerns?
Moving to a new country by
yourself is tough, not just practically but on a very human level. In the
highly distributed world of Internet work, in particular, the experience can be
socially isolating and overwhelming. Something that drew me to online gambling
in the first place – the fact that it was a good match for my introverted
personality – became a bit of a liability in the context of moving, because I
wasn't going to have a ready-made community of colleagues to join, or an easy
way to develop a support network in Costa Rica. Kristin creates paths for
people like me to make the transition less unsettling – her personal
connections and local knowledge made a huge difference in getting me settled.
Walk us through the relocation itself in your eyes. How long was it
from the time you contacted Sports Refugees and signed up through actually
arriving to Costa Rica and getting set back up with the sites?
Once I'd made the decision to
move, I wanted to make the transition as efficiently as possible, so even
though it cost a bit more, I decided to use Kristin's expedited service. I was
even able to sign the lease on an apartment she recommended while I was still
I landed in San Jose on a Monday
afternoon, about two weeks after first contacting Kristin. From the moment I
landed, Kristin's local concierge manager kicked into high gear. He was a
tremendous help: thanks to his efforts I had essentials like a cellphone as
soon as I walked off the plane, a hotel to stay at while I took meetings and
got up and running, and a meeting at my first bank the day I arrived.
After that, things kept moving at
a good clip. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were “work days” - I would wait by
the InterContinental’s pool until the Sports Refugees rep, picked me up and
took me to that day's slate of meetings, with banks and the local lawyer we
were working with. As we prepared all the local documentation, including bank statements
and notarizations, I provided the documents to the bookmakers I dealt with. I
don’t speak a word of Spanish, and I didn’t have to – the Sports Refugees
employees were my translators as well as my guides.
I set up accounts with two
different banks in three days. By Friday, just four days after I arrived, my
betting accounts were all switched over to Costa Rica and I was able to open
new accounts on sites where I was previously barred from operating, due to
How do you like Costa Rica? Do you find it to be safe, have good
infrastructure, have sufficient amenities, shopping, banking services
Costa Rica is an excellent place
to do business. From a gambler’s perspective, the Internet and banking services
are first-rate: there's a reason that many large American companies – behemoths
like Amazon and Baxter – have huge operations here.
Outside of business operations, it
feels quite different. Costa Rican life is obviously a big shift from what I'm
used to in North America – you often see it in the smaller details, like the
way so many homes are surrounded by security fences.
Do you feel that the Poker Refugees relocation service was priced fairly and provided
significant value for the money? Would you recommend Poker Refugees to others? Why or why not?
Since I moved my operations to
Costa Rica [with Sports Refugees] my average monthly profits have at least doubled. And now that I
have the stability and scope to operate on a larger playing field, I’ve been
able to invest a considerable amount in software development, to increase the
speed with which I place bets and access data. Definitely value for the money.
How was the experience working with Kristin and her local employees on
the ground? What are some of the things that most stick out from this
Everyone was very warm and
Looking forward, how do you see the future of online sports betting in
the US and Canada progressing? Do you think that regulation will create future
roadblocks for pro bettors or create more opportunities?
Canada and the United States are
sophisticated countries that want to a capture as much value from gambling
markets as they can. The regulation of the gambling industry in these countries
is a protectionist restraint of trade masquerading as consumer protection; all
of which is ostensibly justified by the negative externalities of gambling. If
anything protectionism should intensify because it has the twin engine of a moral
cause and a profit stream. Combine this with the fact that because gamblers
themselves have no union and no rights. So I don’t see the legal situation
in North America improving.
Are you a sports bettor or poker player who wants to maximize your earning potential in your career? If so make sure to contact us at
www.pokerrefugees.com or www.sportsrefugees.com
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