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Sportingbet Bookmaker, Casino & Poker
Sportingbet Bookmaker is UK based (licensed in Alderney, Channel Islands) but has a global operation. It is owned by GVC Holdings Plc, who bought the European side of the business in 2012. When SBT first launched in 1998 it was the third, not 'first' as they falsely claim, UK based online bookie. Back then its business plan was to serve the American market. However it had run-ins with the USA authorities, including having a director arrested, and the US government closed its loopholes so it was forced to stop accepting American clients. Since then it has concentrated on expanding its UK and European client base. The site is in choice of 21 languages. As well as the sports betting section, Sportingbet Bookmaker has an online casino and a poker room called Paradise Poker.
OPINION: Sportingbet has demonstrated several examples of devious behaviour over the years. We do not recommend Sportingbet. In contrast, our number one recommended online bookmaker, the excellent Bet365 Online Bookmaker is fair with clients and partners alike and offers £200 (or currency equivalent) in free bets to new clients.
Sportingbet Bookmaker Review
Sportingbet Bookmaker trod carefully around the minefield that was the illegal USA online sports betting market for many years. When the USA government made it illegal for the banks to process transactions from USA-facing offshore sportsbooks then they had to cry enough and stop accepting Americans. It also did not help that their chairman Peter Dicks was arrested regarding the matter while visiting American in 2006.
The firm sold its existing USA-facing operations like Sportsbook.com to a private company, that shared some of the same directors, for a nominal sum. It had to stop accepting USA poker clients from its newly-purchased (for $297.5million in 2004) Paradise Poker site. In this way SBT was no longer USA-facing.
Because of its prior fondness for serving countries that do not recognise it as a legitimate operator, SBT lost out on a takeover by Ladbrokes in October 2011. That was because Sportingbet Bookmaker had been marketing to and accepting clients from Turkey. The government of that country deemed it an unlicensed operator and Ladbrokes felt this issue was too sticky for them to purchase the firm. SBT saw one fifth wiped off the value of their shares in one day after the pull out.
Interestingly only a matter of weeks after Ladbrokes broke off their talks, and still in October 2011, SBT sold its Turkish facing operation called Superbahis, for £125million. In the process they had removed the final element of the business that had not been in a regulated location. As their CEO at the time said, it was the 'final piece of the jigsaw in the regulated market strategy.' That is David Brent management speak for stating they were now completely legit and nobody was likely to be arrested anymore.
Sportingbet are the only major online betting company to have closed its affiliate program and stopped paying its affiliate business partners. There was outcry at the unethical behaviour and after a gap of a few years the crafty firm re-opened the program and tried to forget what it did. But the damage has never been undone.
Having taken the step to start again, they showed their attitude had not changed. In 2009 they changed their terms and conditions retrospectively for affiliates and business partners, shortening the length of the time they would pay commission on referrals from lifetime to 24 months, destroying any fragile trust that had begun to develop towards SBT. Despite a change of ownership in 2012, this clause still remains.
Its attitude to its affiliates remains abysmal, with many reported complaints of revenue terms being changed at will and aggressive email correspondences threatening to withhold payments for minor issues. The firm still has significant ethical and communication issues that affect their public profile negatively within the industry, and particularly among affiliates.
SBT was listed on the AIM section of the London Stock Exchange but in May 2010 joined the main LSE market. In late 2012 SBT was bought by GVC Holdings Plc and William Hill and split between them. Hills took the Australian business while GVC own the European side. Despite Sportingbet's apparent mainstream acceptance, and the change of ownership in 2012, we find their actions unethical and troubling. We can no longer recommend Sportingbet Bookmaker.
Our SportingBet Verdict
Last Update: Nov 29, 2013.
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