While online gambling continues to grow, the real explosion in this market over the past few years has been in the mobile gambling sector.
Juniper Research revealed in March 2013 that by 2017, the global mobile gambling market will be worth more than a hundred billion dollars and that mobile gambling now accounts for 15% of the entire UK gaming market.
Further research revealed at the Mobile Gaming & Gambling Summit in September 2013 revealed that 2.2 million people in the UK gamble via their mobile or tablet alone, out of a total of around 5 million people who said that they gamble via their handheld device.
Given that this is still a fledgling industry, these figures are remarkable and it is therefore incumbent upon betting sites (and their sister sites linked to poker, casino, bingo or games) to ensure that they offer mobile customers the best possible service and the latest, most up-to-date, secure, reliable and user-friendly software.
So in this article, we are going to put four of the leading sports book operators who have a mobile client to the test and compare them against each other across a number of important aspects.
To ensure a fair comparison, we will be reviewing each bookmaker using the same device (an iPad).
The four sites we are going to compare against each other are:
Paddy Power – One of the leading Irish bookmakers, Paddy Power is well known across the UK for their unusual betting markets, quirky promotions and offbeat sense of humour.
888 Sport – One of the best new gambling sites. 888 offers a wide range of products under the 888 branch and won the Best Getting and Gaming Company Leisure Report Awards in 2007 and 2008.
SkyBet – Part of the hugely powerful Sky family of companies owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, SkyBet has strong links with both the television network and its sister sites including Sky Poker, Sky Casino, Sky Bingo and more. It enjoys particularly strong promotion across the Sky platform, particularly on its sports channels.
Bet365 – Based in Stoke-on-Trent and with over 7 million customers, Bet365 is one of the foremost gambling sites in the world with several sister sites available. The company has a very strong media presence with adverts for the company shown before, during and after most top sporting events.
The aim of the article is to discover which company’s mobile app – or site – offers people who want to make sports bets via their mobile the best possible opportunity to do so. We will do this reviewing several key aspects of each site in turn, before we reach our conclusions.
So, to begin with, let’s consider how easy it is to locate the app or site of each company, how quick it takes to download, register and log in so you are ready to make your first bet.
Finding the app/site, registering and logging in
All of the sites shown above have their own easily downloadable app which can be downloaded either direct from the site, or more easily from App Store.
From App Store you can not only download all four apps for the sports betting companies listed above but there are many more sports betting apps besides.
Having opened an account on each site, there is very little difference between any of them when it comes to finding the app, downloading it, installing it on your device, registering an account and then logging in.
Although each site looks different, the process the user follows to achieve those aims is intrinsically the same for each of the four companies, with no discernible advantage for either, but perhaps most importantly, there is no discernible disadvantage using one site over another.
To summarise, there’s little difference in downloading and getting set up with any of the four companies and there is little difference between which devices each company offers mobile support for.
Paddy Power Mobile – Compatible with iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Android, Nokia and non-smartphone users can connect via a mobile website.
Bet365 Mobile App – Available for iPhone, iPad and Android. Other smartphone users (Nokia, BlackBerry, Windows Phone – can access through the mobile website)
888 Sport App – Available via App for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, while all other smartphone or web-compatible users can access the site via browser.
SkyBet App – Available for iPhone, iPad and Android. It is unclear whether other smartphone users can access the site from their mobile using a mobile browser.
So as can be seen from the list above, most apps are available for the vast majority of smartphone devices in the UK, with only SkyBet’s offering being slightly less clear cut than the other apps.
Of course, this doesn’t help us decide which offers the best mobile experience, but our next category certainly will start to shed some light on the issue: New player bonuses.
How do new player bonuses compare across the sites?
To begin with, let us summarise each of the new player bonuses on offer from each company:
Bet365 Sports – New customers can receive a 100% initial deposit bonus of up to £200 once they make their first deposit into their account. Deposit up to £200 and receive the same amount from Bet365 as your welcome bonus. To access the bonus you need to play through your initial deposit once (so if you deposit £20, you need to make £20 worth of bets before you can access your bonus cash). In addition, when you make your first bet from a mobile device, you will receive a free 100% bonus of up to £50 on your first bet stake.
SkyBet – Skybet have changed their new player offer in recent times and now all new customers receive a £10 free bet when they register. In addition, new customers can opt in to the Skybet Free Bet Club, which offers free £5 bets every week, provided they place a £5 accumulator bet of odds of 5/1 or more each week.
888 Sport – 888 Sport offer a range of different bonuses for new players that tempt them to use more than simply the site’s sports betting service. New sports betting customers earn a free £10 bet when making their first bet of £10, plus they can earn up to £88 in free bets in subsequent wagers. In addition, new 888 Sport customers also receive a £5 cash bonus for use in 888 Casino when making a bet of £5 and mobile customers can receive a free bet of up to £5 when placing a bet of at least £1, with minimum odds of 1.5 (1/2), via their mobile device.
Paddy Power – Paddy Power offer new users a 100% first bet bonus of up to £50. Simply make a bet of up to £50 after opening your account and whatever you bet with your first wager, Paddy Power will give you back as a free bet.
In truth, which is the best new player offer depends very much on the type of sports betting person you are.
If you are a committed sports betting fan and want to deposit a decent amount into your account and bet frequently, then the Bet365 Sports new player bonus offer is clearly the most suitable one for you.
However, personally, we found the continual inputting of codes to register and qualify for bets a little time consuming.
Moreover, it can be very easy to not enter a code and miss out on an offer, especially if you are new to sports betting.
If you are a fan of acca bets and want to receive free bets on a regular basis, then the SkyBet new player signup bonus offer arguably the best choice for new customers. Skybet are also a good option if you want to sample a site free of charge with a completely free bet.
If you like sports betting but are fond of other forms of gambling, such as playing in the casino, then 888 Sport’s offer is worth considering.
Lastly, if you like a simple offer, that is easy to qualify for and easily redeemable then Paddy Power’s offer for a first bet bonus is certainly worth considering.
In simple terms, this offer just means whatever you bet on your first bet of up to £50, you’ll receive the same amount as a free bet token, effectively giving you a second bet to the same amount as your original bet, for free.
In purely financial terms, Bet365’s offer seems to give you more chance of more money and greater freedom with which to bet using that cash, however the insistence of using codes to qualify for bets does impact on how easy this is to use for newcomers.
Site design, ease of navigation and placing a bet
One of the most important factors about any app is how easy it is to use, how user-friendly it is and in the case of sports betting apps, how easy it is to find your chosen market and place a bet.
Each of the four sites compared in this article has a slightly different look to their site.
888 Sport’s home page is somewhat bare and simple when compared to the Bet365 homepage. You can see the difference between the two in the picture below.
The same is true for the SkyBet and Paddy Power site, each is different to the other, but each performs essentially the same task in the same way.
As such, this makes this very much a personal choice.
Personally, I prefer to have as many markets on screen as possible at one time (as in the Bet365 app), yet other users may prefer a less cluttered screen and fewer options (SkyBet, 888 Sport and Paddy Power apps) so they can find their chosen markets more easily.
Navigating on all sites is very easy, simply click on which sports you want to bet on, find your event and then from each event find your chosen market and select the bet you want to make.
Again, placing a bet with each bookmaker is completed in a similar fashion, by entering your stake, selecting your bet type (if applicable, such as an Each-Way or Win bet in horseracing) and then clicking the button to place the bet.
Once again, there is no discernible site at any great advantage or disadvantage when it comes to design, navigation and placing a bet, it is purely down to the personal choice of the punter.
Choice of markets
If you look at the home page shown above for Bet365 and 888 Sport and those shown to the right from Paddy Power and Sky Bet, you will notice that all four of the apps tend to offer similar markets.
A quick review of all four apps revealed that Sky Bet offer 25 different sports in their A-Z list of sporting markets, Bet365 was next with 33 sports, Paddy Power 35 and 888 Sport came top with 37 individual sports listed.
However, there is more to a good choice of markets than a good choice of sports and looking into the specific betting markets further there were notable differences between apps.
While all four apps offered a vast range of all the most popular betting markets, all easily navigable by clicking on the desired option, there were big differences in the number of markets each app offered per sport.
As an example, I took a recent football match between Everton and Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League and two days before the game was due to be played, the number of markets on offer from each bookmaker was as follows:
SkyBet – 54 individual betting markets for this one game
888 Sport – 67 individual betting markets for this one game
Bet365 – 71 individual betting markets for this one game
Paddy Power – 86 individual betting markets for this one game
It should be noted here however that as the time gets closer to kick off, all bookmakers will offer more markets on each game, some in excess of 100 different markets on a typical Premier League game.
Equally, similar investigations into other matches from both the Premier League and other top leagues around Europe, produced a similar kind of result.
Generally though, it seemed there were more markets to select from with Bet365 and Paddy Power than there were with 888 Sport and SkyBet, although it should be noted that all four apps had all the most popular forms of bet available (in this case, correct score bets, first/last goalscorer, scorecast bets, both teams to score bets, Over/Under 2.5 goals bets etc etc).
Our view is that unless you were so specific in your betting that you wanted to bet on an obscure market, there is little tangible difference between the markets available on each app.
How do the odds compare for popular markets?
Fortunately, checking how the odds compare for each of the four apps is relatively easy to do nowadays thanks to online comparison tools like Oddschecker.
So let’s take a look at the odds for a simple bet on the Everton v Liverpool game outlined above.
The bet we want to place is a £10 bet on the game to finish in a 2-1 victory to Everton. How do the odds compare?
With Paddy Power, SkyBet and 888 Sport – Everton 2 Liverpool 1 was 10/1
With Bet365, Everton 2 Liverpool 1 was 12/1
Clearly, Bet365 was a winner here, offering two more points for a 2-1 Everton victory than their rivals, in essence meaning a £10 bet with Bet365 would return £20 more for a win than their competitors.
However, not all punters are interested in betting on football, so we looked at some comparable odds markets from other sports:
For a £10 win bet on Colbert Station for the 2014 Grand National at Aintree in April
With Paddy Power and Sky Bet, the odds on Colbert Station winning were 21/1
With Bet365, the odds on Colbert Station winning were 26/1
888 Sport did not offer a price on any runner for the 2014 Grand National.
This means placing a £10 antepost bet on Colbert Station winning the Grand National would mean you get an extra £50 if Colbert Station wins the race when placing the bet with Bet365.
With several other markets and events, similar results were repeated.
It is therefore clear that in terms of odds for the most popular sporting events, the Bet365 app offers punters better value for money in the shape more consistent, better odds for the same selections, with little to choose between the odds on offer for the other three bookmakers.
Other site features, in play betting, live streaming etc
A summary of other site features listed by site is shown below:
Bet365 – In addition to sports betting, your Bet365 log in allows you access to an extensive In Play betting service, plus a chance to play at sister sites Bet365 Casino, Poker and Games. Bet365 also offers extensive Live Streaming of thousands of sports events each year, free to customers who either have cash in their account, or have made a bet on that event.
Paddy Power – Paddy Power offer their own Live Betting service, which allows live in play betting on a number of sporting events across the globe and your Paddy Power sports betting log in will get you access to sister sites PP Vegas, PP Live Casino, PP Games and PP Casino.
888 Sport – 888 Sport have a limited in play betting service which tends to focus on the major sports. Your log in will also give you access to 888 Casino and 888 Poker.
SkyBet – Your SkyBet log in gives you access to Sky Vegas, Soccer Saturday Super 6’s free weekly football prediction competiton, Sky Fantasy Football and Sky Poker. The site also offers in play betting on a number of the more popular sporting events.
In terms of additional features, while Paddy Power, 888 Sport and Skybet have enough to keep the vast majority of punters happy, the sheer wealth of options, extensive in play betting markets and as the only site to offer live streaming, Bet365 is a clear winner when it comes to additional features and by a considerable margin.
Number and type of promotions
When it comes to promotions, Bet365 once again, this time with Paddy Power, has the opposition well beaten.
SkyBet, for example, offers the chance to join the Free Bet Club, which offers £5 free bets every week that the player makes a £5 acca bet within a stated time frame. Other than that and the occasional ‘price boost’ on certain sporting event markets, there are not too many offers available on Skybet.
888 Sport offer a few more promotions including an 88th Minute Special deal for football bets which mean if your bet loses due to a goal in the 88th minute or later, your stake will be refunded as a free bet.
The app also has its own “acca club” for fans of accumulator bets, which offers free bets each week as well as the chance to take part in other promotions via Social Media, or to do with other 888 sites (such as 888 Casino or 888 Live Casino)
In contrast, Paddy Power have become synonymous with the rich variety of promotions and offers that they run on a daily basis.
What is impressive about Paddy Power’s offers is that they cover a wide range of sport and are targeted at the most popular bets that people will consider making.
In the picture to the left, you can see they have targeted the in-form Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero as part of their promotion for the forthcoming Manchester City v Tottenham clash.
This is a bet that will appeal to many punters given that Aguero is in a rich vein of form (although more astute punters will also realise that it is a good bet for the bookmaker as Aguero seldom finishes the full 90-minutes of a match!).
Paddy Power’s selection of promotions and offers is well worth looking at if you like event specific, new promotions on a weekly basis.
However, if you like your promotions to last all-year round, to be consistent and potentially worth a huge amount, then Bet365 is the app to consider.
From the Bet365 app you can access a number of superb promotions including free bet offers for horse racing and greyhound racing, eachway first goalscorer bets, money back on soccer bets if the match finishes in a 0-0 draw and other bonuses for other sports including US Sports and European Basketball.
Arguably the king of offers from Bet365 however is their Euro Soccer Bonus, which allows punters to make an acca bet on matches involved in one of five top European competitions (Champions League, Serie A, Bundesliga, Primera Liga and the Premier League).
The more successful selections on any single acca bet made using matches from these five competitions, then the bigger the bonus Bet365 will pay you, ranging from 5% on top of your winnings for 3 successful selections, to a huge 100% bonus if you manage to predict 14 games successfully on a single acca bet.
This bonus really starts to pay huge dividends when you start landing 6 or 7-fold bets or more and vastly increases your winnings from a single bet.
In short, Paddy Power and Bet365 clearly lead the way when it comes to offers for punters, with 888 Sport and SkyBet lagging a little behind at the present time.
Financial transactions & customer services
This is another aspect were all of the four apps available fared particularly well.
Each processed a number of financial transactions both paid into and out of the account very speedily and each offers excellent security for these transactions to protect your financial information.
In terms of customer services, any enquiries made were dealt with expediently and while it is hard to cover all eventualities in a review, there was no discernible difference between the level of service received from the staff of any of the four apps and all service was of a good, or better, standard.
Certainly if you were trying to decide between which app to join on this criteria alone, it would be an impossible task as each offers an excellent service to the customer.
Having looked at each of the four apps in detail, it is fair to say that any of them would offer a novice sports betting fan a very positive experience when betting from their mobile. All sites have what would be deemed as the ‘necessities’ in order to allow anybody to bet with them safely and enjoyably.
However, when it comes to added features, promotions and perhaps most crucially, better odds on your betting, then it is clear that the Bet365 app offers users more than the others. In addition, it also offers year-round promotions, which are easily accessed.
The down side of the Bet365 app however is that to access your new player offers, you need to input codes, which is a little time-consuming and makes the process unnecessarily complex, especially when compared to the offers from Paddy Power.
Crucially though, this minor inconvenience is worth it as the long term value of betting with the Bet365 app in terms of longer usable bonuses, improved new player bonus and better sporting odds, make this app the best value app for mobile and tablet users in the UK.