Sports Betting with Corporate Bookmakers

Summary

The aim of this review was to objectively grade selected bookmaking services in Australia from the point of view of an average customer. The review below describes how the aim was reached using a pre-calculated ranking process. Finally the review describes the findings with Sportsbet rated in first place.

The inspiration for the review was the commencement of the 2010 Cricket Ashes series. A primary goal was to determine if one or more of the various bookmaking agencies delivered a better level of customer satisfaction than others. That is the one or more agencies found to be most likely to fulfil the demands and requirements of an average customer. It is considered important to emphasise the use of the adjective ‘average’ as a ‘high-roller’ customer may have very different wants and in fact actually receive variations in service levels compared to the average. An on-line/Internet service was selected as the process to be used. Accounts were opened with the selected bookmakers and at least one real bet was placed with each. The overall ranking looked to avoid subjectivity through a disciplined process.

Over many years this reviewer has found that objective assessment of any significant decision is best achieved by the use of a pre-formulated weighted ranking process. There are many such processes described in the literature, however, the one selected for this exercise was MECCA (multi element component comparison analysis). While MECCA, developed by Norwegian citizen Tom Gilb in the 1970s, is capable of being used to avoid subjectivity in any logical decision it is probably best explained in the purchase of a commodity: say a new car from a range of new cars. The next to top line of the decision pyramid might then be: Price (a negative) – the on road cost of the car, Performance (a positive) – the interior size, motor capacity, fuel efficiency etc., Protection (a positive) – the corporate history of the company that made the car. The weighted ranking for each might be: 30% Price, 60% Performance, and 10% Protection. Each primary element is then broken down further with the lower pyramid levels. For example under Performance one item of fuel efficiency could have a lower strata of city running 70% and country running 30% based on the customer’s prior usage. In all levels each of the selected competitors is given a score based upon each component. Obviously the top tier lying above the three ‘Ps’ is the final mark.

In ranking one or more betting agencies as ‘best’ for an average customer the following elements and weights were determined:

Price 20%: sign-on offers, bonuses, specials, apparent margin levels (odds).

Performance 70%: ease of join-up, deposit options, deposit process and length of escrow, withdrawal processes, user friendliness of web site – overall navigation, response times, simplicity, clarity of layout, speed of drop downs; sports covered range, options within a sport, information on a sport, links availability to free form guides, results data, speed of result update and duration of results retention.

Protection 10%: assessed company size, corporate geographic base, and perception of its image in the market.

Weights also had to be assigned to each level below the second tier of the comparison pyramid. This reviewer used his experience from many years in the betting field to determine those weights. This was completed in advance of the actual join and use exercise.

Six agencies were selected for the exercise:

Centrebet

Centrebet offers sports and horse racing markets through its licensed Australian sports-bookmaker, Centrebet Pty Ltd http://www.centrebet.com . Centrebet was first licensed as a sports bookmaker in 1992. In 1996 it was the first licensed bookmaker in the Southern Hemisphere to offer online sports betting. Centrebet Pty Ltd, Australian Company Number (ACN) 106 487 736, is licensed by the Northern Territory Government's Racing Commission under the Racing and Betting Act of the Northern Territory. Administration address: 110-116 Bourke Road, Alexandria NSW 2015Australia. (This information was obtained from the website http://centrebet.com/cust 4 December 2010)

IASbet

IASbet is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sportsbet group of companies and is licensed by the Northern Territory Government and the NTRC in Australia. At IASbet you have 24/7 access to Internet and Telephone betting on International Horse Racing, Harness and Greyhound Racing, World Sport, North American Sport and Entertainment Events. Mailing address: IASbet.com Pty Ltd GPO Box 4755, Melbourne 3001 VIC, Australia. (This information was obtained from the website http://www.iasbet.com/aboutus 4 December 2010)

Luxbet

Luxbet is a racing and sports corporate bookmaking operation, licensed by the Northern Territory Racing Commission in Australia and launched in September 2008. Luxbet is owned and managed by Tabcorp Holdings, an Australian top 50 ASX listed company. Luxbet offers fixed odds betting and tote odds betting on racing, and a full suite of licensed fixed odds sports and novelty event offerings. Its service is conducted through Internet and telephone betting. Mailing address: Luxbet GPO Box 863, Darwin NT 0801,Australia. (This information was obtained from the website https://www.luxbet.com/index.php?content=about-us 4 December 2010)

Sportingbet

Sportingbet Australia (a part of the Sportingbet group) is licensed in the Northern Territory, Australia by the Northern Territory Government to accept bets by telephone and the Internet on Racing, Sport and Entertainment. The Sportingbet Group – Sportingbet Plc has been listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) on the London Stock Exchange since 2001. Mailing address: PO Box 700, Parap, NT AUS, 0804. (This information was obtained from the website http://www.sportingbet.com.au/Default.aspx?#&&s=Info-AboutUs 4 December 2010)

Sportsbet

Sportsbet.com.au has operated in Australia since 1993 and is licensed in the Northern Territory. (note IASbet is a part of the Sportsbet group) In 2009 Paddy Power, Ireland's biggest and most successful bookmaker, invested in sportsbet.com.au, acquiring a percentage of the company. Paddy Power is one of the largest online gaming companies in the UK/Ireland and also operates approximately 300 retail outlets. Mailing address: GPO Box 4755 Melbourne VIC 3001 Australia (This information was obtained from the website https://www.sportsbet.com.au/content/contact-us 4 December 2010)

TAB Sportsbet

NSW (a brand of Tabcorp Holdings operating under license from the New South Wales Government. Note Luxbet is a part of the Tabcorp group) Tabcorp was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) in August 1994. In 2004, Tabcorp completed the acquisition of Tab Limited, the New South Wales based wagering, media and gaming company. Administration address: 5 Bowen Crescent, Melbourne, Victoria 3004. (This information was obtained from the website http://www.tabcorp.com.au/about.aspx 4 December 2010)

Disclosure: Allen Windross does not own or control shares in any of the above six listed agencies. In 2004 he undertook a single consultancy assignment for Tabcorp Holdings. In the years 1999/2000 and 2000/2001 he was a standing consultant to Tab Limited. Prior to 1999/2000 he was an employee of TAB in NSW for many years.

Results

The penultimate tier saw the following weights awarded:

1st - Sportsbet 77.96



2nd - TAB Sportsbet 71.09



3rd - Sportingbet 70.56


Join Sportingbet Australia

IASbet 69.38

Centrebet 65.89

Luxbet 58.47

Observations

This researcher was surprised by the poor design and overall maintenance of some of the websites. Out of date material was noted frequently as well as confusing pointers.

Each bookmaker had a different sign-up process ranging from simple to fairly difficult. It is anticipated that the help services would receive fairly frequent use at certain of the sites.

Allen Windross - December 2010

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