Bet365 is a major player in online gambling – a sportsbook that has subsequently branched out into poker and casino offerings. It has a fairly recreational leaning, providing a lot in terms of usability, fun factor and promotions. By the same token, the odds you’ll find there won’t always be quite as good as you’ll find elsewhere, so how you evaluate the site is going to depend a lot on how frequently you bet, how much you like to wager, and how much attention you pay to special offers and promotions. You are reading my personal review of Bet365, PTP’s official review can be found here.

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Getting started

Although it takes a somewhat liberal approach in terms of gray markets served – operating in Canada, for instance, while BetStars does not – Bet365 does make efforts to stay on the right side of the law, so there are a few hoops for a first-time user to jump through before being allowed unfettered access to deposit, withdraw and bet. This means providing scanned proof of identity and residence, passport info, and so on, plus a waiting period while these things are confirmed.

All of those hassles are one-time things, however, and once they’re out of the way, using the site and getting money on and off of it are all quick, easy and reliable. Depositing is virtually instantaneous and, although there is some delay involved in withdrawing, the processing time at the site’s end is rarely the limiting factor compared the transit time from the payment processor to your bank.

Instant gratification

One thing you’ll notice about Bet365 from the first page facing you as a logged-in user is that the emphasis is on entertainment and instant gratification. Front and center will be a live-streaming video of some sort of event currently underway, plus odds for various major events that are likewise running or about to start. Further down the page and in the sidebar, you’ll find announcements of whatever promotions and specials are being offered, and teasers for the biggest or most interesting events happening later in the day.

There’s likewise a lot of emphasis put on “in-play” betting, with live, constantly updated odds being offered for nearly every available event. This style of betting is enticing, because it’s easier to feel like you know what’s going to happen while you’re watching a game unfold than trying to call it before it starts. It’s important to note, however, that the juice being charged on In-Play bets is typically twice that on pre-game bets, so if you’re hoping to turn a profit, you’ll also need to be much more accurate in your predictions.

In-Play bets are obviously quite a cash cow for the site, both because of the higher juice and because the excitement of betting in the moment leads In-Play users to place a higher volume of bets than those who only bet before the game. Not everyone is on their computer at the same time they’re watching sports on their television, however, so Bet365 attempts to get you hooked on In-Play betting by bringing the game to you; at any given point in time, there’s always something being streamed live (although on a slight delay), and many other events with audio commentary but no video. There’s a ton of entertainment value in this, particularly for those of us who don’t have a television or a cable subscription, and also provides an opportunity to discover leagues – or even entire sports – you might not have watched otherwise.

One caveat here is that the site’s “Cash Out” feature for bets is a bit of a trap. It makes use of the In-Play functionality to allow you to automatically hedge if you start losing your nerve on a bet or want to lock in a guaranteed profit, but this means paying a lot of extra juice; you’re not really cashing out the statistical value of your bet, but rather placing a second bet against your first bet winning. It can be tough to resist this feature, especially in the dying minutes of a close game when your long-odds bet is close to coming in… but if you make use of it on a regular basis, you’re lighting money on fire.

Generous promotions

So, Bet365 can be an expensive place to bet, especially if you’re making extensive use of the In-Play betting and Cash Out features. A lot of that money goes back to its users, however, in the form of various promotions and special offers.

There are the ubiquitous deposit bonuses, of course. First time users always get a bonus, and there are frequently reload bonuses of various types offered at the beginning of various sports seasons (week 1 of the NFL, for instance) or just prior to major events like the World Cup. There’s also a bonus for starting to use Bet365’s mobile app, and periodic no-deposit-required “loyalty bonuses” which show up in your email when you’ve been doing a lot of betting recently.

All of these bonuses have to be cleared, but it isn’t particularly hard to do so. Typically, you only have to bet the bonus amount in order to open it up to be used for betting, and five times that before you can withdraw it. For instance, if you deposit $100 with a 50% deposit bonus, you’ll have $50 added to your account as soon as you’ve made $50 in bets with your own money, and be able to withdraw it once you hit $250. Note that this is based on settled stakes not money risked, however, so be sure to consider the odds at which you’re placing your bets; if you’re betting on favorites, you may need to wager more than you expected to clear the bonus.

There are also various other incentives offered, such as refunding certain types of bets on soccer matches in the event of a 0-0 draw, or applying a progressive bonus to payouts on accumulators as you add more steps to the bet.

Far and away the best promotion at Bet365, however, is the sporadically-offered “Free In-Play Bets.” There’s a whole article on this subject here at PartTimePoker, but in a nutshell, when such an offer is announced, you can bet up to $50 before the match in question (usually a soccer match) and then a second bet of the same amount during the match, the latter of which will be refunded in full if it loses.

So, as long as you’re not betting large amounts or very frequently, you can largely offset the high juice charged by Bet365 by taking advantage of these various offers.

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UK focus

Bet365 is a UK-based site, and doesn’t serve the United States, so from the perspective of a Canadian user like myself, there’s a distinctly east-of-the-Atlantic emphasis. Of course, hockey, American football and so forth are all offered, but of course anything that networks like ESPN hold the rights to is not available for streaming, and to the extent these sports are acknowledged in the site’s promotions, it’s typically just in the form of beginning-of-the-season deposit bonuses.

In terms of streams, promotions, and front-page real estate, soccer is the site’s biggest offering, followed, I’d say, by tennis and horse racing. That’s fine for those of us who are into those sports, but if you’re curious about In-Play betting but your sports are, say, NFL and NBA, then you’ll want to have a mobile device or laptop and a television with a cable subscription, because your ability to follow the action through Bet365 will be limited to some basic game statistics, with no video or audio.

Mobile support

Speaking of mobile devices, another nice feature of Bet365 is that its mobile app is of very high quality. In fact, having grown accustomed to betting on obscure soccer leagues while watching live streams in bed, then moving back to the browser-based version of the site on my computer, I found the latter clunkier, rather than easier to use.

That’s not to say the mobile app is perfect, however. It occasionally (though rarely) crashes on my iPad and needs to be restarted, and there are some weird glitches involving the “Game Overview” graphics for In-Play events; sometimes the animation for a given event – a corner kick in a soccer game, say – won’t get terminated properly, and will continue to be shown on the screen until you’ve switched to another event and then come back.

For a first-time user, the most annoying and confusing glitch is that the interface element showing you where to tap to get your bet slip is inconsistently displayed. It’s no big deal once you’ve learned that tapping the bottom center of the screen will bring it up even if there’s nothing shown there, but until you’ve figured that out, there will be moments when you’ve selected several bets and find yourself puzzled about where to go to choose your stakes and finalize them.

Poker and casino offerings

Bet365 also offers various other gambling products, including “virtual” horse and greyhound racing (from within the sports betting client), plus casino games and poker. The latter are outside the scope of this review, but Bet365 allows you to use all these products from a single username, and makes it easier to move money around between your various accounts, so if you want, for instance, to use the profit from your Free In-Play Bet offers to supplement your poker bankroll, that’s simple to do.

Verdict

It’s clear how Bet365 wants you to use its services, and provides strong incentives to do so. Essentially, they’d like you to collect money from their bonuses, then give it back and a little more in the form of juice while watching or listening to live streamed events and placing lots of little bets on the In-Play action. That’s a very entertaining way to gamble, and a pretty good way to watch sports, especially if you’re okay with watching late-night, second-division Romanian soccer or whatever it is that’s going on when you’re looking for a diversion.

On the other hand, if you’re looking at sports betting as a long-term income stream, or need to have thousands of dollars on the line to get your blood pumping, then there are better sites. As long as you’re a small-stakes, recreational gambler, the monetary value you’ll get from the promotions and the entertainment value you’ll get from the In-Play action, live streams, and bet-on-the-go mobile app is more than enough to justify the juice… but the more you’re playing and the more you’re betting, the less true that becomes.

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