Some bookmakers have been around for donkey’s years and have established their reputation over time. They have become part of the fabric of the gambling world, recognisable even by people who have never placed a bet in their life. Others, meanwhile, are part of the ‘new breed’ of bookies that has come into existence far more recently. They took advantage of the explosion of online betting and catapulted themselves into the public consciousness through clever advertising and good use of modern betting facilities. 888sport fit firmly into the latter category.
Part of the larger, award-winning company called 888 Holdings, 888sport is the bookmaking arm that was launched in 2008. Though the website doesn’t have overt links to 888 Holdings’s other operations they are there. As well as a casino and bingo site there’s also 888 Bingo, a site that won the Best Digital Operator award at the Global Gaming Awards in Las Vegas in 2016. The company may be new when compared to the likes of Bet365 or Coral, then, but it’s earned a reputation as being fair and dynamic very quickly indeed.
So what do they offer that might tempt you to use them? What is there that makes them stand out from the crowd? Good odds and decent coverage of the main sports watched in the UK are both important, but what’s the point in having them if the main facilities of placing bets are missing? Here’s a look at how 888sport handles things:
If you’ve used Windows 10 or other such operating systems then the 888sport homepage will be immediately recognisable to you. Events, offers and links are all split up into ’tiles’, meaning that you can navigate around them to find what you want. I mention this because the vast majority of these ’tiles’ on the sportsbook homepage are filled with information about whatever live events are taking place at the time that you log onto the site. That is as clear an indication as you’ll find that 888sport think live betting is important to their customers.
That’s hardly surprising, of course. Nothing has influenced the gambling industry quite like in-play betting. If you don’t want to have to dig through adverts or offers and want to get straight to the live betting then there’s a tab at the top of the page imaginatively labelled ‘LIVE BETTING’. Click on it and the Windows 10 style tiles will be replaced by banners, giving you information about current events divided by sport. You can click a square at the top with a specific sport on if that’s the only thing you want to look at, or you can scroll down and just if there’s a live event on right now that tickles your fancy.
If you want to bet on football then you’ll have an option to quickly select the match winner or whether you think it will be a draw. If it’s a game like tennis, cricket or basketball that tends not to end in a draw all that often then you’ll just have the option to select the winning team. Helpfully, just next to the name of the event and the teams participating you’ll see a number informing you how many additional bets there are, should you wish to click into a specific event and look for one that suits your betting needs. As an example, there are currently 42 different additional bets I could place on a international friendly football game between China and the Philippines.
If tennis is more your thing then you’ll be able to choose from 57 different options in the French Open match where Caroline Garcia is up against Karolina Pliskova. There’s slightly less choice in the ICC Champions Trophy cricket match between Pakistan and South Africa, with only 22 more bets to peruse, but still more than enough for a casual punter. Though I’m not personally a big fan of the ’tile’ system they use on their homepage, I think 888sport’s general set-up for live betting is great. You click into the sport but the other events taking place live remain on-screen down the lefthand side of the page, meaning you can keep up with things as they happen.
As I write this it’s only horse racing and greyhound racing that can be streamed live via the 888sport service. You’ll know if you can live stream something because there’s a small symbol with what looks like a ‘play’ button next to the letters ‘TV’ alongside any event that you can watch online. Streaming is also available through both your mobile device and tablet thanks to the 888sport application. Handy if you’re the sort of person who is often out and about and doesn’t particularly fancy carting your laptop everywhere you go. You’ll need to bet a minimum of £1 or 50p Each-Way to live stream racing.
For the events where live streaming isn’t available you’ll find that 888sport offer a nifty graphics package that makes an attempt to keep you up to date with proceedings. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, essentially just telling you the score and things such as who is serving, but it’s not bad. In tennis you’ll get information such as how many aces each player has served, or what the percentage is of their first serves that are going in. You can also click a link to an external set of stats, which tells you stuff in a degree more detail. Again, not life changing but it will probably help you make some decisions for your bets.
888sport’s Cash Out service is perhaps a touch more basic than most other big betting companies. Instead of offering things such as Partial Cash Outs or direct links to pages specifically listing all of the different events that you can bet on with a Cash Out option, you need to actively seek out the right to Cash Out. You’ll need to head to your betting history, find the bet that you want to take a settlement on before the outcome has been decided and click the market name that you bet on. If the option to Cash Out is live on that bet then it will appear and you make use of it.
I was a little surprised that it was all so complex when I first used 888sport, but you soon get used to it. As things currently stand you can only Cash Out Win single bets anyway, so it’s not as if you’re going to be toying with the possibility of doing it on every single bet you place. If you’re someone that really loves the Cash Out option then I’d suggest that 888sport probably isn’t for you on that front. From my experience it tends to be a feature that people either love and take advantage of all of the time, or else it’s something that people can live without. Given that it’s a feature that essentially lets the bookie take an edge twice, I try to use it as little as possible.
At the time of writing 888sport are the principal partners of both Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City football clubs. Obviously being aligned with football teams doesn’t automatically mean that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to the sport itself, but it’s fair to suggest that you’d make sure you were able to cater for the business that would likely come your way as a result of the sponsorship.
When it comes to their coverage of the beautiful game, 888sport have pretty much got it nailed. If you want to break the UK market then having good football coverage is a must, so I think you’ll be impressed by what you see when you head to the correct page on the website. The link you’re looking for is over on the left hand side of the screen, under the list of sports that the company covers. You are then faced with three options; you can look at the live and upcoming events, search through any Outright bets of the moment or simply browse all of the site’s football coverage.
Live and upcoming events speak for themselves, with Outright markets most clearly defined as who you think is going to win a particular event or which manager you think a club will appoint permanently. It’s the browsing of their coverage that I want to draw your attention to, given that the options here are so plentiful. The first thing you’ll want to do is decide whether you want to look at an international tournament, such as the World Cup or the Champions League, or whether a particular nation’s football leagues are more your cup of tea. If it’s the latter then you’re going to be delighted by the number of options you’re presented with.
Have you ever placed a bet on the Algerian top-flight, for example? How about the Elite One league in Cameroon? Maybe you’re a big fan of Colombia’s Primera A division or Kazakstan’s Women’s League. Whatever your taste in football is there’s a strong chance that 888sport have got you covered. The coverage of league’s in England goes down as far as the National League, though I weirdly haven’t been able to find the Scottish Premiership in order to put a bet on that. There is a search function within the sport that lets you look for a specific term, but if they offer odds on football in Scotland then I haven’t been typing the right thing.
888sport’s odds on football aren’t the best you’ll find on the market, if I’m being honest. The thing is, though, they’re not exactly terrible either. To give you some real time examples, the best odds I can find right this second on Italy to beat Uruguay in an upcoming match are 4/5. The odds for that from 888sport are 5/7, which is a sliver away from the best around. That’s the sort of thing you get time and again, with 888sport being close but someone just about beating them to the punch. It’s certainly not enough to get stressed about, put it that way.
Football is the most popular sport in the world, so it’s little surprise that there are a number of great promotions on offer during the season. You’ll want to keep your eye out for enhanced odds, for example, or the Goals Mean More offer. That allows you to place a bet on a team to win a match and every they score you’ll get a free bet. Obviously 888sport like to keep up with their rivals, so they’ll analyse their offers all of the time and keep them fresh as much as they can.
One of the promotions that they’ve run in the past was called Goals Bonanza and it offered punters a bit of protection against a sudden surprisingly leaky defence. The offer gave people their stake back as a free bet on First, Last or Anytime Goalscorer bets when the match they’d bet on turned into a goal scoring frenzy. The promotion was on matches in most of the big leagues across Europe as well as the Champions League and you got your stake back if the match you’d placed a bet on featured five goals or more. It isn’t on offer right now, but that gives you a good indication of the kind of promotion you can expect.
Back in 2010 888sport took on sponsorship of the grandstand at Fontwell Park Racecourse. It was renamed as the 888sport Grand Stand and is indicative of the sort of moves the company has made over the years to get in with the racing crowd. Again, that’s not necessarily an indication of them being geniuses in the world of horse racing, but you don’t try to win over racing fans and then have terrible offers.
The fact that you can stream horse racing via 888sport’s site and app is a good indication of the level of their coverage, especially when you remember that it’s the only sport you can stream at the time of writing. Hamilton, Kempton, Ripon, Uttoxeter and Wolverhampton are all the UK based courses that I could place a bet on right now, with La Teste De Buch in France, Scotsville in South Africa and Wexford in Ireland also available to me, should I fancy betting on a race slightly further afield.
Despite the fact that both the Grand National and the Cheltenham Festival are around a year away from me as I’m typing this, you can place ante-post bets on them already. You can look to stick on a long-term special bet, a daily special or you can just head to a racecourse and see what events are coming up soon. I would be hesitant to say that their coverage of racing is market-leading, but if you’re just a casual punter then there’ll be enough there to keep you happy. It’s only if you want to get more specific that you might find 888sport wanting.
Much as with their football coverage, the odds you’ll get on horse racing through 888sport are fine even if they’re not exceptional. More often than not you’ll find that they’re equal to the best odds around or, at worst, only slightly off the pace. If you simply have to have the best odds or you won’t place a bet then you might not be blown away, but if you’re anything like me and you value an experience over the slightest change in odds then you’ll be pleased enough, I’d suggest.
If you’ve read any of my other guides to bookmakers then you won’t be even slightly surprised to learn that 888sport are in-line with their competitors by having a Best Odds Guarantee. This means that if you place a bet first thing in the morning of a race and the Starting Price ends up being bigger than the one you took then you’ll get paid out at the bigger price. I’ve been a beneficiary of that more than once and I can tell you it’s delightful!
If you’re looking for an example of a more specific promotion that 888sport have offered then consider the Money Back If Beaten by a Head special. The clue is in the title with this one, really. If you’d placed a bet on a horse to win a race and you’d have received your stake of up to £25 back had your selection been beaten by a head or less. Not the same as walking away with a good chunk of winnings, of course, but at least it would have made up for losing in such tight circumstances. That’s the sort of offer that crops up regularly with 888sport.
A lot of 888sport’s coverage is based around trying to find something that other bookmakers aren’t covering. They still cover all of the big sports, of course, but looking at slightly rarer ones gives them an edge with those of you that like to bet on the random. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
I can’t imagine I’m the only one who has no idea what Pesapallo is. I’ve already done the Googling for you, though, so you don’t need to – it’s a bat and ball game that is considered to be the national sport of Finland. So now you know. That you can bet on it is a good indication of what I’m talking about when I say that 888sport like to find less covered events!
You’ll find regular promotions for the less mainstream sports, such as a 25% profit boost on Formula 1 qualification races that you can use to bet on the main race. If there’s a big tennis tournament on then you might get on offer like double the odds for certain in-play bets. If you’re a fan of the NBA then you might like to know that previous offers have included a free bet for people placing a pre-match or in-play bet on NBA play-off matches. Much like with the horse racing and football coverage, 888sport keep these offers as fresh and relevant as they can, so it’s always worth checking in regularly to see what they’ve got going.
Avi and Aaron Shaked got together with Shay and Ron Ben-Yitzhak back in 1997 and formed a company that they called Virtual Holdings Limited. It would go on to become 888 Holdings plc and have an operating subsidiary called Cassava Enterprises. That comes under the jurisdiction of the laws of Gibraltar, owing to the fact that the company moved there in 2003. Technically 888sport comes under the arms of Cassava Enterprises, but given that everything’s owned by 888 Holdings that’s quietly irrelevant.
Even to this day both sets of brothers that set up the company are still involved with it. The Shaked brothers own around 50% of 888 Holdings, with the Yitzhaks controlling around eleven percent. There were plans for the company to merge with Ladbrokes back in 2006, but an alteration to the tax laws of the UK meant that this became more complex and so both parties decided to walk away from the deal in 2007. They tried again in 2011, but that ended the same way. A £700 million takeover attempt was made by a different company in 2014, but the two sets of brothers resisted. Two years earlier Brian Mattingley had been appointed as the company’s CEO, but in 2015 he left that post to become the Executive Chairman of the board.