Transparency is very important when it comes to the world of sports betting, but unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of it. Sportsbook often keep their guise up when it comes to how they are doing financially, their customer service and how they set the lines.
In the world of Wall Street, these types of things would make a potential investor shy away but in the world of online gambling, this is just a formality.
But we’ll offer some transparency where we can. Here’s a look at five key indicators we use when doing our sportsbook reviews:
1. Personal Experience
Sure, you can read a lot about a sportsbook, you can visit tons of websites that say it’s great, but until you use it, you don’t really know. Picking a sportsbook involves us sending our hard-earned money offshores, so we have to be comfortable with the company.
The best way to get there is through personal experience and that’s why we pass that along to everyone else. Between Ray, Dave and myself, we’ve got more than 30 years combined of online betting and handicapping, which means we’ve come across a book or two in our time.
Needless to say our experience is the preeminent indicator in how we review our books.
2. Customer Service
Customer service is a big indicator as to how we rate a book – and we’re not talking about just being there to answer the phone.
In our experience, there’s no problems calling in and placing a bet or getting some cordial guidance when you’re making a deposit.
But what happens when you request a withdrawal? Are there hoola-hoops to jump through? Do the checks bounce? Does it take forever to get your money?
And what about when there’s a problem – say you made an accidental bet and want to cancel it? Or they are having payment processing delays – do they communicate that to you or leave you hanging?
Customer service in our view is how does the company deal with problems. That’s a priority for us as that’s a telling sign about whether you’re dealing with quality or not.
It’s easy for us to say that we go on experience, but what about the newbies that are just turning legal and are looking for an online shop? Or how about the old school players that are tired of meeting on Tuesday nights to either pay or collect, and just want to get their betting done online and at home?
Reputation is a big key in that regard.
It’s like being a first-time home buyer or a first-time car buyer. You’ve never owned before, but you’re investing your money and you want to make sure that you’re buying in a good neighborhood or that you’re sticking with a good brand.
When you buy an Apple product, you know you’re getting a great product with great support. When you buy a Gateway computer, you know you’re rolling the dice.
Sportsbooks are the same and reputation is a big factor as it indicates how the company is perceived.
It almost feels odd to list this as the fourth priority on this list, but you have to consider that shady betting companies can close up shops and take your money (see: Full Tilt Poker). That’s why security has to be the primary goal and once that’s checked off the list, then we can worry about what they offer.
Variety is one of the key differences between many sportsbooks. Some sportsbooks only offer betting lines on the major four sports. Other sportsbooks offer live in-game betting every single night. Some shops will let you bet on handball, Moto GP and cricket, others will think you’re crazy for asking. Some offer a smorgasbord of props and some don’t do any.
It really depends but as a bettor, if you’re trying to make some money – or even if you just want to have some fun – you want as many options and opportunities available to you.
5. Betting Experience
Some people are skeptical of this last point (mostly sharps or professional bettors) but we feel this is an important aspect of reviewing a sportsbook. This is different than the first type of experience on this list as that one refers to our own history with the sportsbooks. This refers to the user experience and general sentiment you’ll get from using your sportsbook.
It’s something that’s often talked about when you evaluate the sportsbooks and casinos in Las Vegas, but it’s not bandied about nearly as much about online shops. In Vegas, bettors will go back to Caesars Palace or MGM Grand time and time again because of the great experience they have. Truth be told, bettors can play a hand of blackjack virtually anywhere in Vegas so the difference is really the atmosphere, environment and setting that makes you most comfortable.
Realistically, we’d all love to win money in the world of betting but anyone who regularly visits Vegas knows that if you don’t win, then you want to have a good experience.
That is what we’re referring to here: which sportsbooks have a nice, sexy website and stay up-to-date with the times either with content on their site or on their Facebook/Twitter profiles, which books take better care of you with loyalty/VIP programs and which books really change your experience from just clicking away to a fun time that you would recommend to your friends.