18bet are one of many new Asian style bookmakers emerging on the betting landscape. Operated by Delasport Ltd and with a registered address in Gibraltar, this new kid on the block are regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. Priding themselves on competitive odds and an ever evolving service, how do 18bet rank against the established Asian firms, and can they compete with their European counterparts?
The 18Bet website is well designed and easy to navigate around. A simple black, gold, grey and white theme is used, with log in credentials at the top of the page and the list of sports down the left hand side. There is the option for customers to view the sports, live betting, live casino, casino, games or mobile sections of the site.
As a new company, it is no surprise to see regular changes and updates to 18bet. One of those improvements has been the addition of a mobile site. While there is no dedicated app, customers can now access m.18bet.com from their phones.
There are eighteen sports listed on the 18bet website. Obviously football is the most popular, with nearly 700 markets at the time of review (the number of markets is indicated in brackets next to each sport). Other mainstream events such as basketball, American football, tennis, rugby, golf and boxing are covered, and the more obscure discipline of bandy is also listed. Horse racing and greyhound racing are not yet coverd. In total there are 18 different sports on the 18bet website, however only 8 of the sports actually had any events to bet on at the time of review. Major sports such as golf and boxing were without markets and the depth in that respect, is poor.
There Asian influence can quickly be seen by the set-up of the football markets. Essentially the site, like many, seems geared towards its football offerings. When clicking on the tab, a list of matches for that day appear with odds for the half time and full time 1X2, Asian Handicap and Over/Under markets. These three types of bet are prevalent with all of the low margin, high turnover Asian firms.
Unlike many of the European bookmakers, the different matches are automatically segregated by date as opposed to league or country. Five days of matches are displayed and then customers have the option of a ‘later’ tab which shows a list of games later on in the week/month. This is not an ideal format for users who quickly want to navigate to a game. There is a small tab at the top of the page which allows users to select the top leagues, but it is not very visible.
The number of additional markets for each game is also fairly limited. There are typically around 21 extra types of bets customers can place on a football match, with correct score, both teams to score, total goals etc. available. On match day, looking at the Real Valladoid v Girona Copa Del Rey game, 18Bet had their usual 21 markets. 188Bet offered 54 additional markets and Bet365 (79) and BetVictor (89) also had significantly more options.
American Football which has the second largest number of markets, is presented much in the same format with 1X2, Asian Handicap and Over/Under for each game. There are another 3 markets for each match with alternative handicaps and points totals. This again compares poorly with the likes of Bet365 who regularly offer 100+ additional markets for each game.
It appears that the 18bet modus operandi is to focus on the more serious gambler, providing the low margin markets that the bigger staking customers usually operate in. First scorer and novelty markets etc. which are absent from the 18bet service, are rife on the websites of the vast majority of European bookmakers, although these bets usually attract small stakes and have low limits.
Live betting is a significant aspect of 18bet’s operation. There is in running action from all over the world, with the main sports football, tennis, American football covered. Leagues as obscure as the Saudi Pro League have live 1X2, Asian handicap and over/under betting, all displayed in the same format as the pre match fayre.
How Competitive Are the Odds?
The 18bet Asian handicap odds on football matches typically work out to a book of around 102.5%. This is very similar to the likes of SBObet and 188bet. A book which did not include any profit for the bookmaker would equal 100% and therefore the closer to 100%, the better value the odds are.
18Bet appear to have a slightly higher margin when it comes to the 1X2 market. For instance, their odds on the MLS Houston Dynamos v New England Revolution match were compiled to 107.5%. Whilst this is in line with many firms, it still falls behind market leaders Bet365 (106%) and William Hill (105.8%).
Interestingly when accessing customer services, there is no available telephone number to reach staff at 18bet. There is a live chat feature which is said to be manned 24/7, but is also accompanied with a message that if an agent cannot be reached, then an email should be sent. This is slightly confusing. More transparency required when it comes to this aspect of the operation.
There are currently just six different ways of funding a 18bet account. This falls behind the established firms but is no surprising given the relative infancy of the company.
18bet have definitely done plenty right in their short time in the ultra-competitive online betting climate, but in the same breath they also have plenty of improvements to make.
The site appears very much geared towards the more seasoned gambler who focuses on small margins and high turnover. There are no specials or novelty markets, ante-post betting or anything that the lower stakes punter would generally plump for. Customers are merely able to bet on forthcoming matches, with a limited number of different bets attributed to each game. To attract a wider audience, more attention needs to be paid to catering for the masses. This will increase customer base and brand reputation.
No horse racing or greyhound racing is a negative for many customers, especially in the UK. It takes a dedicated trading team to man the racing markets, and with football and American football appearing to be 18bet’s priorities, it is questionable as to whether these sports will be implemented any time soon.
The number of sports could also increase, with markets available for less than half of the sports listed on the website at the time of review. Customer services should also be more transparent.
All in all, a website for the more seasoned gambler who likes to bet in low margin markets on major sports.