Western Union is one of the oldest money transfer services in the world having been founded back in 1851 in New York. Although they started as a telegraph company, they quickly rose to become one of the most trustworthy ways of transferring money in the United States. Nowadays, Western Union have entirely given up on communications and solely focus on offering "the fastest way to send money worldwide" as their slogan states. Given that their services can be used on any online vendor, a great number of bettors, especially from the United States prefer to use Western Union to top up their accounts.
Western Union and the UIGEA
Alhtough things were pretty straightforward up until 2005, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act brought significant changes to the gaming industry. The UIGEA strictly prohibits gambling on any online game of chance in the USA, which means that American bettors are forced to punt on bookmakers based mainly on the Caribbean (offshore bookies). This was bad news for most payment service providers, given that transactions to online bookmakers corresponded to a significant portion of their revenue. Amidst all this confusion, the Western Union managed to strike a deal with a great number of Central American bookies, thus creating a monopoly on deposits made from the US, that pretty much exists to this very day. Lately, there have been certain instances were the WU has not allowed payments on certain bookies to be completed, however this is done in collaboration with the US government on their effort to crack down on illegal gambling sites.
Western Union & Online Betting
Although most European bookmakers will not accept Western Union, given that bettors tend to prefer other payment methods, there are still a few betting sites were you can use WU. The main reason is because it offers unparalleled security on every transaction while their endless resources and long history are a clear sign of reliability. You also do not have to share your private financial information, given that it is not necessary to link your bank account or credit/debit card on your Western Union account in order to make a deposit or a withdrawal. Additionally, you can claim any first deposit or reload bonus by using Western Union, which is not the case with certain e-wallets.
However, Western Union are first and foremost concerned with money transfer activities and not online payments. As a result, the procedure of a deposit is a bit inflexible and time consuming, given that you may not be able to make an online payment on a bookie, but instead will have to go to a land based shop in order to send and receive your money. Certain charges are also imposed on every deposit and withdrawal, which can prove to be rather detrimental to your bankroll, while you also have to wait for a few hours before your payments are confirmed.
Top Bookmakers that accept Western Union
Opening up an account
There are two ways of signing up on Western Union. The more traditional one, is to go to a land based shop and give certain personal information to a clerk, before you can start making transactions. These include a form of personal identification (ID, passport etc.) and a document that validates your residence, such as an electricity bill. You can then send or deposit money either by cash, by charging your bank account or by credit/debit card.
You can also sign up on the internet by visiting online.westernunion.com/online/signup and filling in your personal information. After that, you must check your e-mails and follow the on screen instructions in order to validate your e-mail address and log in to personalize your account and link a credit/debit card or bank account.
NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard
If you wish to be able to complete online transactions faster and receive money directly on a card instead of your account, then you should obtain the NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard. By getting this pre paid card, you can check your balance wherever you are through the mobile application, make instant payments and withdraw money from any ATM in the world (as long as there is some money in your balance). Please note that the NetSpend card is available only in limited countries.
Making a deposit
There are basically three ways of making a payment on an online bookmaker through Western Union. In the first case, you must go to a land based shop and send money to the WU account your bookie has provided. For example, you wish to deposit money on your account on Coral. In order to complete the transaction, you must state the betting company's name and your WU account's number on the Payment Services form. Following that, you will receive a Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN), that serves as a tracking number.
You can also top up your account by using the online services of Western Union. In this case, you have to go to the payment section and find Western Union, fill in your WU account’s info and the required amount and click the confirm button.
Finally, you can use the NetSpend card as a regular pre paid card. This means, that you must go to the “card payments” section and enter your card’s information (number, date of expiration, CVV code) and proceed with your deposit.
MAKE SURE that you are sending money to a legitimate betting company, given that you can not get your money back in case of a scam. Also, remember that you will be hit with certain fees that depend on the deposited amount.
Making a withdrawal
If you do not have a NetSpend card, this might prove to be a bit complicated, since in most cases, a bookie will not send money directly to your WU account. Instead, you will have to provide a bank account were your bookmaker is able to send your withdrawn amount, or an agent who will complete the transaction, for a slight fee.
You can use the charge calculation tool found on www.westernunion.com/au/en/send-money/start.html in order to find out the fees that will be placed on your transactions.
Pros & Cons
The main advantages of using Western Union while betting are the following:
- Safety. With over 150 years of experience, the only risk you will take concerns your bookmaker
- Keep your personal and financial information private from any bookie
- Claim first deposit and reload bonuses
- Withdraw money from any ATM in the world through the NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard (available to limited countries)
The main disadvantages of using Western Union while betting are the following:
- Very few bookmakers accept Western Union
- You can not get your money back in case of a scam
- You will be charged on every deposit and withdrawal (starting from 4.99)
- Making a withdrawal through WU can be time consuming.
To sum things up, Western Union offers various positives to every bettor, mainly in terms of security and privacy. However, due to the fact that every transaction is charged and given that most bookmakers do not accept payments through WU, they are slowly but steadily losing ground to the more flexible e-wallets, such as Skrill and Neteller that are closely associated with gambling. If you do decide to start punting by using Western Union, we advise you to get the pre paid Mastercard in order to save time and money.