The following is an in-depth PointsBet review. This review covers the history, features, interface, sports & racing markets, upsides and downsides of the service. Spread betting is also explained.
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
Launched in early 2017, PointsBet is currently the only spread betting operator that is licensed in Australia. With spread betting, the more your bet wins by the more you win, while the more it loses by the more you lose. With a typical line bet you receive the same payout regardless of whether your selection covers the line by 3 points or 30 points, so spread betting appeals when you feel a side or a total has a chance of finishing a substantial distance away from the figure set by the bookmaker.
PointsBet is licensed in the Northern Territory by the Northern Territory Racing Commission. The owning company is Pointsbet Australia Pty Ltd (ABN 91 606 814 920).1 The postal address is PO BOX 4191 535 Richmond East 3121.
PointsBet is an approved betting partner of the AFL, Australian Rugby Union, NRL, Tennis Australia, Football Federation Australia and Cricket Australia.
What is Spread Betting?
Spread betting is a form of wagering that pays a variable amount depending on the accuracy of your prediction compared to the bookmaker’s spread. This in contrast to a fixed odds bet that pays a set amount if a certain criterion is met.
With a traditional bookmaker most sports bets will have one of two outcomes: you either win at predetermined odds (e.g. 1.91), or you lose your stake. There are other scenarios too in Asian handicap betting, but with any given wager you can’t lose more than your stake.
With spread betting, however, how much you win or lose depends on the margin by which you bet wins or loses. The payout equals the stake multiplied by the difference between the result and your chosen line or total. The bookmaker will temporary hold an amount greater than you stake from your account until the bet is concluded. This is to ensure there are sufficient funds in your account to settle the bet in the event of a heavy loss.
With PointsBet you can choose the risk level by setting the maximum win and loss (“stop loss”) amounts prior to placing your bet. The more you restrict your minimum loss, the more your maximum win is also restricted.
The best way to illustrate spread betting is to provide examples. To the right is a screenshot of markets for an AFL game.
With a traditional line bet a bookmaker margin is built into the odds, which is how bookmakers make a profit. If a bet is supposed to have a 50% chance of winning, instead of offering 2.00 odds, the bookmaker will offer around 1.91 odds.
With spread betting there are no odds. Instead the bookmaker obtains a profit by offering different lines/totals on each option. The gap between the the two lines or totals is called the “spread”, which is the difference between the “under” and “over” or the difference between the “plus line” and “minus line” on each market. For AFL lines the spread is typically 3 points, while for a low scoring sport like the English Premier League the spread is typically 0.2 goals.
In the sample AFL fixture you could bet on North Melbourne +36 or Adelaide -39. In this market the spread is 3 points. If Adelaide wins by 20 points then the North Melbourne bet would return 16x (16 times) the stake amount, while those who backed Adelaide would lose 19x their stake amount. As with traditional betting, the losers lose more than the winners win, which is how the bookmaker finances its services.
Note that if Adelaide won by 37 or 38 points then the players who backed North Melbourne +36 or Adelaide -39 would all lose.
In addition to lines, you can also wager on the total score, various match statistics and numerous individual performance markets.
You can also wager on “Time Of” markets, where you bet on whether you believe a certain game event or milestone will be reached before or after a specified time.
Example 1 – winning rugby league wager
Below is a concluded wager with PointsBet. The fixture is a ANZAC rugby league Test between the Kangaroos and Kiwis. A wager of $2.00 was placed on the Kangaroos at -9.0. The max win/loss was set at 40x. This means the maximum the bet could have lost was 40 x $2 = $80 and the maximum possible win was 40 x $2 = $80.
The final score was 30-12, so the Kangaroos won by 18 points. The final margin is 9 points beyond the -9 line, so the bet returns the difference, multiplied by the stake: 9 x $2 = $18.
At first glance this looks like a return of $18 from a $2 wager, but remember that $48 was withheld from the account balance for this bet and the maximum possible loss was $80.
Example 2 – winning football wager
The following bet is a $1 wager on Manchester City -2.1 goals vs. Crystal Palace. The -2.1 bet returns a win if Man City win by more than 2.1 goals and returns a loss if they win by fewer than 2.1 goals, draw or lose the game.
Note that the risk level for this wager is far less than the rugby league bet due to the nature of the sport. The maximum win/loss levels are 5x instead of 40x for the rugby league wager.
The final score was 5-0, so the winning margin was 5 goals. The bet returned $1 * (5 – 2.1) = $2.90.
Example 3 – losing football wager
The following is a bet on Burnley -0.4 goals vs West Brom. For the bet to win Burnley needed to win by one goal or more. A draw or a defeat would result in a loss.
The game resulted in a 2-2 draw, so the final margin was 0. The bet returned $1 * (0 – 0.4) = -$0.40. Note that for this particular bet the loss of $0.40 is less than the stake amount of $1.00.
Varying the risk level
For volatile markets PointsBet enables you to choose your risk level prior to placing a bet.
The following two images show potential bets on the same selection in the same market, but with different risk settings:
In the first screenshot the risk setting is 10x. For a stake of $10 the maximum possible loss is $100 and the maximum possible win is $90. Note that the system would withhold $100 from your account balance until the bet is concluded.
In the second screenshot the risk setting is 75x. For a stake of $10 the maximum possible loss is $750 and the maximum possible win is $750. In this case the system would withhold $450 from your account balance until the bet is concluded. Note that unlike the minimum risk wager, the amount withheld is less than the maximum possible loss because the system has determined that a loss beyond 45x is unlikely.
The above examples show the two extremes for that particular wager. Every option in-between is also available: 11x, 12x, 13x, etc. You can set the risk level based on how much risk you want to take on and the amount you have available in your account balance.
Strategy also comes into it. Someone who believes North Melbourne will cover the line, but only by a small margin, might opt for a higher stake and a lower max/min loss level. This would return a greater profit provided the team doesn’t go beyond the win limit, because a higher stake was wagered. Conversely, someone who believes the team will cover the line easily might opt for a lower stake and a higher max/min loss level. They feel the lower win limits will come into play, and it would be frustrating to have the final margin be, say 30 points beyond the line, but have the win capped at 10x.
When participating in spread betting, keep in mind the following advice:
- Always remember that you may lose more than your original stake
- Establish what the realistic worst case scenario is for the bet and factor this in when choosing your stake
- Recognise that some markets are more volatile than others (e.g. AFL winning margins can be substantial compared to soccer)
- When betting on volatile markets, use the “Stop Loss” feature to set the risk to a level that you’re comfortable with
Spread betting calculator
This online PointsBet Spread Betting Calculator determines the impact of the maximum loss setting on payoffs for spread bets. The calculator is specific to the Australian-licensed spread betting bookmaker PointsBet.
Cash only accounts vs. credit accounts
Members can elect to have either a cash only account or a credit account. The cash only account is provided by default. The credit account comes with a “Deferred Settlement betting facility”, where you have to top up your account if your balance goes into the negative beyond a pre-determined limit. The upside of a cash account is you will not owe PointsBet money if your account goes into the negative. The upside of a credit account is PointsBet will withhold a smaller amount of funds for each bet, so you can place more bets with larger stakes with the same account balance.
What happens in the event of a negative account balance?
It depends on your account type.
If you hold a cash only account and your account goes into negative, if you wish to continue betting you will need to redeposit. Alternatively, PointsBet will return your account to a $0 balance within 24 hours.
If you hold a credit account and your account goes into a negative value of greater magnitude than your Deferred Settlement Facility Limit, if you wish to continue betting you will need to redeposit.
If your account is consistently going into a negative balance, PointsBet may at their discretion increase your withheld amount to 100% of the Max Loss amount of the market you are betting on.
PointsBet Services and Features
|Deposit options||Debit / credit card, bank transfer|
|Withdrawal options||Bank transfer|
|Transaction fees||None that we’re aware of|
|Odds formats||Not applicable – there are no odds in spread betting|
|Minimum deposit||None that we’re aware of|
|Maximum payout||The maximum payout (total winnings) in any 24-hour period is $50,000. This maximum win applies regardless of your stake. All betting markets offered by PointsBet are subject to maximum win/loss multiplier levels. These levels vary from market to market and are displayed when you place a bet.|
|Deposit turnover requirements||1x. Only spread betting markets with minimum spread levels of 2 points count toward the minimum turnover requirement. The spread level is the difference between the “under” and “over” or the difference between the “plus line” and “minus line”.|
|Bonus turnover requirements||1x. Only spread betting markets with minimum spread levels of 2 points count toward the applicable minimum turnover requirement. The spread level is the difference between the “under” and “over” or the difference between the “plus line” and “minus line”.|
|Credit facilities||Members can apply for a credit account which will reduce the amount of funds PointsBet will withhold for each bet|
|Forbidden Jurisdictions||Only Australian residents can open an account|
|Mobile betting||The website uses a responsive web template that will tailor itself to the screen size of the device you’re using. An Android app is available.|
|Identity checks||You are only required to send in ID documents to verify your account if your VEDA verification is not successful. If you are not sure if you have to send any documents in, go into My Account and see if you have a ‘Not Verified’ link available. If there is one, it means you VEDA verification may not have worked and you will need to send in certified documents. PointsBet will attempt to contact you if you are required to send in certified documents. You can send your completed documentation to: email@example.com.|
|Dormant account fees||If your account is inactive for more than 18 months, a fee of $10 per month which will be deducted (unless your account balance is $0). To avoid the fee you can either place a bet or withdraw your funds. If this occurs your account will no longer be deemed inactive.|
|Support||Email (both a general support address and the email address of your account manager, phone|
Because PointsBet is a spread betting bookmaker, there are no odds. Instead they make their profit through the spread. The spread level is the difference between the “under” and “over” or the difference between the “plus line” and “minus line” for each market. The spread depends on the volatility of each market. For example the spread for an AFL line bet is 3 points, while the spread for an English Premier League line bet is 0.2 goals.
Sports & Markets
PointsBet offers betting on the AFL, American football (NFL), athletics, baseball, basketball, boxing/MMA, cricket, cycling, darts, e-sports, golf, ice Hockey, motor sports, netball, rugby League, rugby union, snooker, soccer, surfing, swimming, tennis and volleyball.
PointsBet boasts that they offer up to 300+ markets per game. They claim to offer over 100 NBA markets that are not currently offered anywhere else globally. Some example exotic markets are:
- NBA: Time of first free throws to be made by players and teams, time of first 3PT FG by teams and players, time of first 2PT FG for teams and players, time for players to pass 3pts, 5pts, 10pts, 15pts, time of first fouls committed and much more
- AFL: Time of first goal, time of first behind, time of team passing 10pts, 20pts
- League/Union: Time of first try, time of team first try
- Ice Hockey: Time of first goal, time of team goals, time of first penalty, time of first shot
- Soccer: Time of team and match first goal, time of second goal, time of third goal
It’s not just fixtures that you can bet on. PointsBet also offers futures betting using a points system. For example in Super Rugby, points are awarded for the position a team finishes in the playoffs. Points are awarded as follows: Winner = 50pts; Runner-up = 30pts; Lose Semi-Final = 20pts; Lose Quarter-Final = 10pts; All others = 0pts. At the time of writing the tournament favourites are the Hurricanes, who are listed as under 28 / over 31, while an outsider such as the Reds are listed as under 0.1 / over 1. This approach means that unlike futures markets with traditional bookmakers, you can bet either for a team or against it. If you think the Reds have a chance of making the quarter-finals you could back over 1, while if you think the Hurricanes are overrated you can select under 28.
Betting Interface and Website Layout
The PointsBet websites uses a responsive web template, which means the display depends on your screen size. The right hand column, which features a list of upcoming sports,
will not appear if you are using a small tablet device or smart phone.
The interface looks to have mobile betting as a big priority, because it arguably looks and feels better on a small device than on a large PC monitor.
A menu icon is displayed in the top left hand corner. When clicked, it displays a list of sports. In the top right hand corner is your account name where you can access your profile settings, pending bets and transaction history. Also listed in the top right are your account balance and available balance. The available balance will be less than your account balance if you have any pending bets. This because PointsBet will withhold funds from your balance to cover your liability in the event that a bet results in a big loss.
When a sport is selected a list of fixtures is provided. The most popular league is displayed by default, with a ‘Change League’ button to select a different league where applicable.
No markets are shown at this stage. To view markets you must select a fixture. Numbers are provided to indicate the number of markets available for each fixture.
When a fixture is selected a list of featured markets is provided, followed by additional markets, if available.
Each market will either be in a line format, e.g. +36/-39 for an AFL line, or over/under format, e.g. under 213 / over 216 for an NBA total score. Under selections are marked in red with a down arrow and over selections are shown in blue with an up arrow.
Because PointsBet is exclusively a spread betting operator, there are no odds. The spread between opposing selections is how PointsBet makes its money.
When a selection is made the betting slip appears as a pop-up box. Multi betting isn’t applicable to spread betting so you only submit one bet at a time.
With all bets you select a stake. $10 is shown by default, but this will likely be too high for most punters, with the exception of low volatility markets like soccer betting. Once a stake is entered, the maximum win & loss amounts and the balance withheld are automatically calculated.
For volatile markets where large wins and losses are possible, you will also be able to change the max win / loss level by moving a red box along a sliding bar. The interface defaults to the highest risk setting so you drag the box to the left until you reach a risk level that you’re comfortable with. As you reduce the risk level beyond a certain point the balance withheld figure will drop in line with the reduced risk setting.
PointsBet launched fixed odds and Tote racing in September 2017. Australian and New Zealand thoroughbred, harness and greyhound events are covered along with selected overseas meets.
Best Tote + SP is offered for win betting and Best Tote is offered for place betting. Estimated Tote odds are displayed for each race. Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta and First Four exotics are available.
Live Sports Betting
Live betting is not currently available. PointsBet have stated that this option will be available in the future.
- The only Australian-licensed spread betting bookmaker
- Australian owned
- Extensive range of markets
- In the same vein as ClassicBet, PointsBet offers a more personalised service, with an account manager assigned to you after signing up
- If you hold a cash only account and your account goes into negative, PointsBet will return your account to a $0 balance within 24 hours
- Estimated Tote odds are displayed in the racing section
- A new service so little is known about the owning company
- Limited deposit options, with POLi3 not offered
- No live online betting (due to Australian law)2 or in-play phone betting yet
- To be eligible for the first deposit bonus (excl. VIC, NSW, WA, SA), the deposit must be made by credit card
- Dormant account fees
PointsBet is an exciting new entrant to the Australian betting scene because since the departure of Sports Alive there have not been any Australian-licensed spread betting operators. Spread betting provides risk/reward elements that you simply don’t get with typical bookmakers or exchanges, so betting enthusiasts will enjoy the added diversity of betting options that PointsBet brings. Because it is a spread betting website, PointsBet has a higher learning curve for betting novices and it’s a high risk option for ill-disciplined punters, but for experienced, disciplined sports bettors, PointsBet will make a great compliment to existing bookmaker and betting exchange memberships.
Notes and Sources
- 1 http://abr.business.gov.au/SearchByAbn.aspx?SearchText=26167422406
- 2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactive_Gambling_Act
- 3 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.