Update February 2018 – We no longer recommend this bookmaker.
One of the success stories of the Australian bookmaking industry in recent years, Sportsbet has grown considerably since Matt Tripp bought the business in 2005 and developed it to such an extent that Paddy Power stumped up big money to buy it, acquiring 51 percent of its shares in 2009 and assuming total ownership of the stock two years later.
Currently, Tripp is Chairman of Sportsbet, with Cormac Barry succeeding him as the bookmaker’s Chief Executive Officer. The senior management team features many executives, including Barry, who cut their teeth with Paddy Power and it is no coincidence that their distinctive marketing approach in Australia is similar to the one that has served Paddy Power very well in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Undoubtedly, part of the bookmaker’s success has been due to the fact that many recreational Australian punters do not know the difference between Sportsbet and TAB Sportsbet, which is the sports betting arm of the massive TAB operations in New South Wales and Victoria. The brand confusion has worked to the advantage of Sportsbet, not that it is complaining.
Like Paddy Power’s website, their online presence runs off the OpenBet platform and is easy to get around. It has a lot of quick links on its front page and several promotional boxes that highlight feature events and special offers. The book has mobile betting apps for both Apple iOS and Android devices, which is a plus in these times.
In the rest of this review, we will look at wagering options, bonuses, its security and licensing, how it treats professional and recreational punters and its banking practices, before providing an executive summary.
Sportsbet’s proposition to punters is that it gives them a fair go – something that is a major part of Australia’s ethos – it makes gambling fun and it offers more value.
It makes betting fun with its irreverent advertising campaigns that carry through to its product offering. Like its parent company Paddy Power, Sportsbet prides itself on enabling its clients with opportunities to bet on special novelty markets that relate to the major news of the day. In the 2012 US Tennis open, it offered a super money back special (even trumping PaddyPowers offer) where up to AUS$100 was refunded on a losing bet in the men’s singles tennis if the game was decided in the 5th set.
Sportsbet clients do not have to worry if they miss the start of an event because its live in-play service is superb, although Australian punters are barred from gambling on the Internet during live sports events because of federal government legislation. They must place bets via the telephone.
Australian residents who do not live in Victoria – the Garden State has tough laws against bookmakers offering free bets and/or bonuses as inducements – get two bets for the price of one when they open and account. Simply place your first bet, and it will match your first wager with an instant free bet, up to a maximum of $100. There are terms and conditions attached to the special offer, the most important of which is the requirement for Australian punters to turn over any proceeds from winning free bets at least once before they are able to withdraw them from their account. Non-Australian residents can take up the special offer as well but they must turn over any proceeds from winning free bets at least five times before they are able to withdraw them from their account.
Sportsbet runs regular promotions across its core sports – for example, its Protest Payout protects punters who back the winner of a horse race only for the result to be changed in the steward’s room. On one incredible occasion this year, the Protest Payout cost the company more than $300,000.
Security and Licensing
Sportsbet is licensed in Australia’s Northern Territory and, therefore, operates in one of the world’s most tightly regulated gaming environments. There are strict rules as to the types of bets that this and other NT-licensed bookmakers can offer and a long list of provisions that ensure that punters can bet with considerable confidence.
Sponsors of, among others, the Collingwood Magpies, Newcastle Knights, and Sydney Roosters football clubs, this is a trusted name in Australian sport and gambling and, fully regulated by the Northern Territory Racing and Gaming Commission, it is a very safe place to bet online.
Professional vs Recreational Bettors
Sportsbet’s marketing is aimed at recreational punters, sports betting fans who do not take themselves or their punting too seriously. It targets, smartly, punters who view having a punt primarily as a means of enhancing their enjoyment of sports events. Its advertising campaigns are risque by Australian standards and position it as the fun bookmaker in the increasingly competitive Australian market.
That is not to say that professional punters cannot get on here but there are much better options out there for people who are looking to make a living from gambling.
Depositing money is a very quick and simple process. They accept credit/debit cards, PayPal, SecurEFT, POLi, Neteller and Moneybookers for instant deposits and supports other deposit methods, including cheques, bank transfers and BPAY. Clients can open accounts in seven currencies – Australian dollars, New Zealand dollars, American dollars, British pounds, Hong Kong dollars, Singapore dollars and euros.
Sportsbet offers six withdrawal options. It favours bank transfers but also supports credit/debit cards, PayPal, cheque, Neteller and Moneybookers.
Sportsbet has come a very long way in a short period of time. Its promotions are good but it is a bookmaker more suitable for the recreational punter, rather than those who take their betting seriously. There are much better betting sites for Australian punters. Despite Sportsbet’s initial appeal, it falls short as a long-term option for bettors who prefer substance over style.