SkyBet Bookmaker Review – Not Recommended

SkyBet restrict winners, withheld funds, use tax haven, bad customer service

SkyBet Review - Not RecommendedWe no longer trust SkyBet. Our betting account was limited and restricted quickly. They have a terrible reputation for restricting winning players or even those punters who just string a few fortunate winners together. They are on record admitting to this deliberate policy. They only want losers. They are owned largely by a venture capital company whose only interest is money. Little wonder their customer service is abysmal.

If you think we must have a grudge, then think again as on the famous site TrustPilot they have a rating of just 1 out of 10 based on around 500 independent SkyBet reviews. So it is not just JustBookies that believes you should run a mile from this firm.

They were also fined for, among other devious behaviour, withholding the funds of self-excluded players. We have more about that in the next section.

The gambling industry should not host dishonest bookmakers

SkyBet manages most of their betting operation through an offshore tax haven, using the Alderney-registered “Bonne Terre Ltd” that is identical in name to the one that they quietly dissolved in the UK. It looks like that was done to deflect suspicion and obscure their tax avoidance strategy. They even disingenuously give a Leeds address for this Alderney company on their licence application to the Gambling Commission. This sleight of hand, passing off an Alderney company as an English one, may come back to haunt them. It is a situation that the Gambling Commission, HMRC and investigative journalists should be looking at.

Whatever way you angle it, SkyBet is bad news. We strongly advise that you not to join them, instead try this list of honest bookmakers.

  • If you are or have been a customer of theirs, please leave your SkyBet review and feedback at the bottom of this page.

SkyBet Withhold Customer Funds: Fined £1m

There are many examples of SkyBet’s money-grabbing behaviour and contempt for clients’ funds. One of them relates to a £1 million fine SkyBet received in March 2018 for a catalogue of wrong-doing in relation to clients who had chosen to self-exclude. SkyBet took advantage of these players in several ways:

  • 736 players who self-excluded because of their problem gambling were allowed to open duplicate betting accounts and keep playing.
  • 50,000 who self-excluded were still spammed by SkyBet with promotional offers by text and email.
  • It gets worse: SkyBet stole the client balances of players who had self-excluded, failing to return account balances to these players.

Rather than fining SkyBet a paltry amount, the Gambling Commission should be withdrawing the licenses of corrupt operators. The gambling industry should not play host to dishonest bookmakers and SkyBet should be put out of business.

SkyBet Bookmaker Historical Review

SkyBet BookieHere we take a look at the history of SkyBet and chart its reputational rise and fall. As the name suggest, it was formed through the Rupert Murdoch-backed company of the same name. Nowadays the majority shareholder is CVC Capital Partners, a venture capital company only interested in profits to the exclusion, seemingly, of all else. It is under CVC Capital’s watch that the company has become so hard to trust.

Let us rewind for a moment, to when Rupert Murdoch was the man behind the vision. You would expect a Murdoch company simply to go out and buy an online betting company when he wanted to get involved in that market. In a sense that happened but it was an organic growth of acquired companies, if you follow that drift, that he built up the client base.

The first acquisition was a strange one. At the start of this century they bought a company called Hestview Ltd that traded as Surrey Sports. This company was the foundation stone of the SkyBet betting division. The reason this was a particularly odd purchase was that Surrey Sports was so small and was not even trading on the internet. It was basically a minor telephone betting company. You would be forgiven for thinking it was some sort of mistake, for the Murdoch empire had bought an irrelevant minnow of the gambling world. This was not an appropriate beginning for such a big fish and there was work to be done.

Meanwhile, in a parallel world, a company called ukbetting started from scratch in a London kitchen in August 1998 as the first UK-based online bookmaker. ukbetting was sold in 2000 to ENIC Plc, the then investment division of the current owners of Tottenham. Current Spurs chairman Daniel Levy negotiated the purchase. Levy then sold on a controlling share and at the same time floated the firm to create ukbetting Plc. It was a very quiet transaction, but the new public company followed the advice of ukbetting’s original founder and bought the Sporting Life website. The next purchase was the Tote’s badly-run and rather rudderless Totalbet internet betting site. Then the company bought a host of other media sports sites.

Well, what has that got to do with SkyBet Bookmaker? You guessed it. Spotting the potential, they bought ukbetting Plc, which by now had changed its name to the 365Media Group. That name was an eye-raising choice given the fact there was the completely unrelated and already booming Bet365 operation. But you sort of got the impression the directors of 365Media Group, prior to Sky’s purchase of it, did not know the betting industry too well. Perhaps they missed the fact that one of their chief competitors was called the remarkably similar Bet365. Despite their ignorance, they did do well out of the sale.

Sky merged the ukbetting and Totalbet brands into SkyBet and suddenly Murdoch had a serious gambling company on his hands. They set about a review of the business and ensuring all the media sites, as well as their own websites and sports TV satellite stations, fed the betting operation. The synergies were obvious and the firm has taken full advantage, turning that once ugly duckling called Hestview Ltd into an online gambling empire.

If you have made it this far with this Sky Bet review then you have read a unique and accurate history of the birth and development of Murdoch’s betting business. What was created had been the envy of its rivals: sports content sites and media organisations feeding millions of punters per annum to the online interactive betting site.

It is unfortunate that under the watch of CVC Capital Partners, who took over the reins in 2014, SkyBet’s reputation has declined and its structure has been taken offshore in the most shady way possible, by dissolving an England-registered company and creating in its place an Alderney company, Bonne Terre Limited, of identical name. You would almost think they didn’t want anyone to notice! Perhaps HMRC are not that easily put off the scent, but who knows?

In addition, in 2017, CVC Capital conned, scammed and ripped off their affiliate partners, ignoring the terms and conditions of existing contracts. They cancelled agreements and stole the forward earnings that had been promised to affiliates as part of those contracts. They used the excuse of the Gambling Commission’s tightened regulation and compliance. That is all it was – an excuse not to pay money that was due in perpetuity on player bases built up over many years. The proof that their ‘compliance’ reasoning was merely a lie is that they continue to deal with some of the biggest affiliates, ironically including the ones who were least compliant. It was just a cash grab, perhaps better known as daylight robbery, a scam or theft.

The way SkyBet has been run by its majority owner, CVC Capital Partners, means it can not possibly be trusted with players’ funds. This is a firm that boasts about limiting players who dare to win at sports betting. So with SkyBet, you lose when you lose and you lose when you win. This SkyBet review conclusion has to be that it is a firm to be avoided at all costs. Don’t get suckered in by the wall-to-wall advertising (only lemmings need apply) or the fact it shares its name with Sky TV. The profits are not being taxed at English tax rates, yet that is the territory where their company, staff and most players are actually located. All decision-making goes through Leeds, but the company chooses the tax haven of Alderney to file most of its returns. How nobody has noticed this possible tax scam beggars belief.

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 19 reviews
by Phil on sky bet
Ripped Off

Initially thought was a good site, however I have been ripped off so many times it is no coincidence. I used to think it was me, but the amount of times the bet has changed from what I thought is very suspicious. The way they word the bets is dodgy as well. For example I put a bet on a tennis match for the correct score of the next set. However despite the set not even being started, they put it on the following set, as if the one I bet on was already in progress. I even showed them the times of when I placed the bet. All they said was I should check my bet and make sure it's the right one. Well I didn't know their wording was deliberately misleading. Also, I've noticed they will occasionally not allow you to place covering bets in play, despite offering odds on the home screen and other sites allowing bets for the same result, i.e. they will suspend the betting, just for your account. I know I sound crazy, but I know I'm right. Avoid.

by Dick on sky bet
This is a ridiculous review

A gambling company operating from a tax haven. I'm shocked. Come on, that's standard practice. What bad odds would we get if they didn't. I've been matched betting with them for ages and have made a tidy profit, whilst making some hefty withdrawals from them. It's an easy to use site and any bonuses are added promptly, probably the only site that I haven't had to email at some point, regarding bonuses not being applied. Ok, I have just been gubbed, but hey, I had a good run with them.

by Norman on sky bet
Sky Bet

Their website operates well, hence this is *** rather than *. However, in 2017 I think they refused to pay a withdrawal. I threatened legal action and it was paid. I still have the a/c - no idea if they'll pay out next time I win. On politics, which is the main area I bet on, my impression is that their odds are better than some other well known bookmakers who possibly employ more experienced odds-setters. They do restrict some bets but have not yet done this enough to persuade me to close the a/c.

by Jamie Hobson on sky bet
SkyBet Limited My Bets

My bets have been restricted recently. I used to be able to get maybe a hundred pounds on football matches. Now I am down to silly limits of a few pounds only. They haven't outright closed my betting activity but have deliberately reduced it to a level where I can't use them any more. They have done this yet all the time I am seeing their stupid and annoying TV adverts everywhere claiming they are Britain's most popular bookmaker - which is a pack of lies. The trade press seem to crawl up their backside too, yet this is a very bad bookmaker. How can they be allowed to behave so badly in a regulated environment like the UK? What is the feeble Gambling Commission doing? Nothing. Just taking money for licenses and slapping the odd wrist. SkyBet should not be allowed to operate in such a rogue manner. Your negative SkyBet review on this page is the most honest and accurate assessment of this bookmaker that I have read.

by Gary Rofofskie on sky bet
Virtual Racing

I lost a lot of money on their virtual racing it takes thousands of pounds off of you and the win percentage is awful.

by Steve Ball on sky bet

Worst betting company I've ever had the misfortune to bet with. Great when I was losing, but when I managed to have a winning run, had restrictions slapped on me, best odds guaranteed withdrawn. Tried to place an even 30 quid, and told they would only lay me an even tenner, and the last straw, when trying to have 30 quid at 7/2, was told they would only lay me £2,15p at 7/2! Stay away from these conmen. They should have their licence revoked.

by Philip Cottrell Gibraltar on sky bet
Philip Cottrell Spain reviews SkyBet

My name is Philip Cottrell-Spain and I have used SkyBet on several occasions and have found them to operate fairly. My bets were paid promptly and the customer service team were helpful. That's my experience of course but it was a positive one.

by Frederick Smith on sky bet
Great Skybet Review

This is the most accurate and comprehensive Skybet review that I have read. I got sucked in by all their wall-to-wall advertising. Given the slick nature of the adverts and the use of z-list celebrities, I thought betting with them would be a good experience and it started well but soon I was not able to get my usual bet sizes on. I think it was because of the winner I backed. I contacted customer service and got some snotty response that they can manage their risk how they like. It was a far cry from the adverts and they couldn’t give a fig. Skybet has to be the worst bookmaker I have ever used. What’s all the regulation for if they get away with such bad service . . . and now I see they don’t even pay proper taxes, using a scam scheme via Alderney to avoid corporation tax due.

by Unhappy Customer on sky bet

Avoid at all cost! Nothing but bad experience with SkyBet! (Hestview Ltd) apparently a Leeds based bookies how this company is able to get away with all they do is obviously not right doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out exactly what’s going on?! But why aren’t HMRC aren’t chasing them for millions when they are clearly massive tax avoiders. I know some one taken to court and prosecutors over £2,300 for not declaring profit on pet puppies they sold, it just doesn’t make sense it would’ve cost more to gather the information and evidence and take them to court than the fine exposed? But HMRC aren’t bothered that this company is tax avoiding on a massive scale as well withholding winnings and in my case even withholding my own money I deposited! 100s of unhappy customers and fines imposed on them. How can the gaming and gambling commissions say this company complies with its licensing? They are not responsible in any way and are only after one thing “ Money” they want to take all their customers' money irresponsibly. They never want to pay out winnings using different loop holes to suspend accounts, and they don’t want to pay full tax why aren’t they being investigated further I wonder?! Instead of lining their pockets we should be asking questions! Bet somewhere else, I know I am from now on!!

by Phil McKenzie on sky bet

I bet with them at the Cheltenham Festival for the first time. Slow site, low limits and less markets than the likes of Bet365. I guess this site is OK for 50p each-way punters but if you actually want a few proper bets then this is the worst all-round experience that I have suffered. When I contacted customer service, no help at all. Waste of time.

by Peter Waight on sky bet

I have been a regular customer for just over 10 years,making probably 90% of all my bets with this company. Will definitely be down over all that time and never had any problems until the last few months. But now it's gone beyond a joke. They offered me up to £10 back as a free bet on a roulette promotion. Cut a long story short on two separate occasions I kept to their terms and conditions but never received £10 back as a free bet. I have now emailed them four separate times and they have not even had the common decency to reply. BASICALLY THEIR CUSTOMER SERVICE IS NON EXISTENT. To be honest the £10 back as a free bet is not the main thing that has annoyed me, as it's not a massive amount. It is the fact that i don't like it when you are promised something and the company does not deliver. Basically the whole thing comes across as a whole big lie, if not a scam. I call on others to hurt these people where it hurts them the most, their profits. Use one of their competitors. I do now. It's Paddy Power and Ladbrokes for me.

by Nigel Phibbs on sky bet

I want to give no stars at all but that is not an option. They started reducing the amount of money I could get on. Now it is unworkable. Customer service refused to sort this out and just wanted me to get lost. Why not simply close my sports betting account entirely? SkyBet have as good as done that. They advertise all over TV and I have seen them saying they are the UK's most popular bookmaker. That should be 'least popular' if honesty and quality of service mean anything. Do not join SkyBet.

by Lewis Johns on sky bet

Bit by bit they have been reducing the betting stakes sizes I can get on sports. I am a losing customer overall but I am now at the stage where trying to bet with SkyBet has become soul-destroying. I did enjoy using their website at the beginning, but have been forced to move on. If they think I am shrewd then they must be stopping hundreds of thousands of people from getting their requested stakes on. This bookie is fine if you want to bet a few pounds at a time, any more than that and if you have a few successes then you get on their radar.

by Mike Smith on sky bet

How come SkyBet let me lose and then stop me when I started winning? They have not stolen any money from me, but this is not bookmaking. How does their betting license allow this?

by Matt P on sky bet

Skybet is a dreadful betting firm if you want a regular place to bet. As soon as you start winning they make changes to your betting account to stop you from playing. Integrity is not a word they know.

by Harry Schofield on sky bet

Uncompetitive with their pricing. I have registered with most of the big names online bookmakers and Sky Bet Bookie is certainly one of the worst. I get the impression that they do not try very hard to compete and you can't get a three digit bet on to save your life. In fact some of my stakes have been outright rejected. Are they in business or not?

by Sky Punter on sky bet
Slow and Difficult

I was a regular punter at Sky Bet but it has got worse recently and they have started to refuse some of my bet sizes. Website slow and difficult.

by C Hart on sky bet
For Losers Only

One of the worst bookies I have bet at. Just don't start backing winners or you soon get restricted. Losers only wanted here.

by Simon Ross on sky bet

I took advantage of their no deposit bonus. £10 for nothing but registering is not bad. Then deposited some money and had a few bets and was limited quite quickly, probably because I had a lucky streak. Not worth the hassle.

Sorry to hear that, we are aware that you are not the only one with these problems.