The following is an in-depth review of the betting agency Betstar. This review covers the history, features, interface, sports & racing markets, upsides and downsides of the service.
This review is part of our comprehensive Bookmaker Reviews section. The Betting Agencies page provides information and reviews for other sports betting agencies that are suitable for Australians. The following details are updated periodically to keep them up to date.
History, Location and Licence
Betstar (originally Eskander’s Betstar) was founded in 2007 by father and son bookmakers Michael and Alan Eskander. They operated through offices in Melbourne and Darwin and were bookies to high profile clients including Kerry Packer.1
Citing a tough operating environment due to the influx of foreign investment, Alan Eskander sold Betstar to the UK gaming giant Ladbrokes plc in April 2014.2
Ladbrokes plc., whose origins date back to 1886, employ over 15,000 people across the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Spain and Australia. They also have a physical presence in Europe, with over 2,800 retail-betting shops. Ladrbokes plc is publically listed and trades on the London Stock Exchange.3
In addition to Betstar, Ladbrokes owns and operates the Australian licensed bookmakers Ladbrokes.com.au and Bookmaker.com.au. The three websites share the same odds and markets but vary in promotions. All three services are licensed and regulated in the Northern Territory.
Like it’s parent site Ladbrokes, Betstar now offers a pre-paid VISA card. The card is linked to the member’s betting account with winnings available to be withdrawn from an ATM somewhere between 20 and 40 seconds after a bet has been concluded. Customers can use the debit card to withdraw up to $1,000 cash per day from ATMs or complete EFTPOS transactions of up to $2,500 a day. One caveat is that to prevent money laundering, customers can only withdraw winnings. You can’t transfer money into your betting account and then withdraw those funds straight away.
Services and Features
|New member offers||New customers receive a 100% first deposit bonus up to $250. The bonus may be used as a single bet or divided in to 2, 3 or 4 equal-sized bets. Bonuses can only be wagered on markets with 1.50 odds or greater. Only available to QLD, NT, TAS and ACT residents.|
|Deposit options||Visa, MasterCard, bank transfer, BPAY, POLi 5|
|Withdrawal options||Bank transfer|
|Transaction fees||None, however fees may be charged if you attempt to deposit and withdraw funds without betting.|
|Minimum bet||$0.50 online, $20.00 by phone|
|Maximum payout||Between $10,000 and $50,000 per day, per sport.. For horse racing, the maximum daily win limit depends on the venue and bet type, and peaks at $100,000.|
|Deposit turnover requirements||1x|
|Bonus credit turnover requirements||2x at odds of 1.50 or more within 90 days. Note that this applies to both the bonus credit and any winnings accrued from the bonus. For example, if you have a $25 bonus bet that you successfully wagered at 2.40 odds (for a $35 profit), then you must turn over 2*($25 + $35) = $120 at odds of 1.50 or more.|
|Bookmaker margin||5.5% (see below for more details)|
|Credit facilities||Members may apply for a credit level between $200 and $5,000.|
|Forbidden Jurisdictions||United States of America. Racing and sports wagers will not be accepted if you are physically present in Hong Kong. Sports wagers will not be accepted from any residents of any countries other than Australia and New Zealand.|
|Mobile betting||A mobile version of the website is available|
|Identity checks||Australian residents can verify their identity online by entering details from sources such as a driver’s license, Australian passport, Medicare card, tax file number and more. We found the process to be quick and easy. If you are unable to verify your identity online, you can send in certified copies of identification. If you make a deposit by credit card, you must provide a legible copy of both sides of the card.|
|Dormant account fees||An account management fee of $25.00 may be debited from any account that is dormant (inactive for six months or more).|
Betting Interface and Website Layout
Betstar uses the same interface structure Bookmaker.com.au and Ladbrokes, but with a different colour scheme. The interface is one of the best we’ve reviewed. The website loads quickly and the numerous dynamic features make betting quick and easy.
Users of other bookmakers will find the interface intuitive. On the left is a sports navigation panel with the number of active markets displayed to the right of each sport. Quick links are provided at the top of the left panel. These provide convenient access to the most popular markets.
The markets and odds displays are concise and intuitive. When you select a sport (i.e. soccer), the primary sub markets (i.e. various European leagues) are displayed in the left column, with a full list of sub markets (leagues and fixtures) displayed at the top of the main column. When you select a specific fixture the odds are displayed in the main column with related sub categories displayed in the left column.
The service boasts the provision of ‘Quickbet’, which is a ‘betslip-skipping’ feature that enables punters to swiftly bet a pre-configured amount with just three mouse clicks. Even without Quickbet pre-configured, whenever you click on the odds for a selection you have the option of instantly placing a wager or adding the selection to your betting slip. Quickbets can be made without clearing existing items in your betting slip.
The betting slip itself is feature-packed and dynamically displayed at the top of the screen when a selection is added. The betting slip can be minimised while your browse other markets. When entering a wager amount, you can either input a stake amount or input the amount you aim to win, with the stake amount automatically calculated. Where applicable, multi bet options are displayed at the bottom of the slip, featuring every combination of the selections in your slip.
A really nice feature of the interface is that for any selections with promotions attached, those promotions are displayed both alongside the odds and on the betting slip.
Overall, it’s hard to find fault with the betting interface. The same goes for the account area and dashboard. The website has a very polished, professional look about it.
Betstar offers the same odds as its sister sites Bookmaker.com.au and Ladbrokes. In our most recent bookmaker margin survey, Betstar had an average margin of 5.5%, which was higher than the survey median of 4.9%. From a punter’s perspective, the lower the margin, the better.
The Betstar sports betting selection is identical to Bookmaker.com.au and Ladbrokes. The depth of markets for the popular Australian sports is on par with the largest Australian bookmakers. In 2013 for Bookmaker.com.au we observed up to 24 markets per Super Rugby fixture, up to 47 markets per NRL fixture and up to 142 markets per AFL fixture. The popular American codes are catered for, although not with the same depth of markets as the Australian codes. As seems to be the case with all bookmakers, football (soccer) is heavily covered, featuring numerous leagues around the globe. Tennis is also well catered for. A good selection of other sports, including cycling, golf, snooker, surfing, boxing and motor racing are also covered. A novelty section is also available, featuring current affairs, elections and entertainment (reality show winners, etc.) betting.
The selection is strong enough and odds competitive enough that Betstar is suitable as a stand-alone bookmaker membership for casual punters.
Betstar offers a range of markets including best tote, top fluctuation and fixed price on all racing markets including thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds.
Win, Place, Each Way, Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta, Quadrella and First Four wagers are available on most race days.
The interface is intuitive and looks great. Race betting beginners will appreciate the website’s ease of use. When you select a racecourse all upcoming races at that venue are displayed in the left column, with the time to run dynamically updated without the need for page reloads.
One interesting feature is the ‘Pick Your Own Odds’ option where you can choose a winning minimum margin for the runner with the odds updated dynamically to reflect your selection. This enables you to opt for more risk and reward by selecting a winning minimum margin between 1/2 a length and 6+ lengths. The options are offered in 1/4 length increments.
Form guides are available for each race and racing wagers can be combined with sports wagers on the same betting slip.
Live Sports Betting
Due to Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 4, live online betting is not available. Australian customers must phone in to bet live. If live online sports betting is what you’re after, be sure to check out our survey of betting agencies that offer live online betting.
- Good selection of deposit options, including POLi 5
- Easy sign up and verification process
- Slick betting interface
- Low $0.50 minimum online bet
- Can split bonus credit into up to four bets
- Good multi betting functionality
- Owned by the respected gaming giant, Ladbrokes plc.
- Can opt in to receive a Betstar pre-paid VISA Card that is linked to your betting account
- No live online betting (due to Australian law) 4
- Fewer promotions than sister site Ladbrokes
- Doesn’t yet offer the QuickCall live betting feature that Ladbrokes offers
- Higher than average bookmaker margins
- Dormant account fees
Ladbrokes plc’s 2014 takeover of Betstar represents yet another expansion of a UK betting giant into Australia, with the UK parent now owning three Australian licensed bookmakers. With the same markets and odds, Betstar is effectively now a clone of Bookmaker.com.au and Ladbrokes, but with different promotions and a different colour scheme. The website interface itself is state-of-the-art, with excellent betting functionality and a well-designed account management area. The betting selection is strong, with an especially large range of markets for the popular Australian codes. We also like the fact that bonus credit can be split up into multiple wagers rather than forcefully wagered in one hit. A key downside of Betstar, however, is the fact that it offers fewer promotions than its sister site Ladbrokes.
Notes and Sources
- 1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betstar
- 2 http://www.smartcompany.com.au/finance/investment/41491-alan-eskander-why-i-sold-betstar-for-25-million-to-ladbrokes.html
- 3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladbrokes
- 4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactive_Gambling_Act
- 5 POLi facilitates online bank transfers that are acknowledged by the bookmaker instantly. This enables you to log into your banking provider, transfer money to the bookmaker, and place bets immediately.