In the 10 years which I’ve been around the online gambling industry as a sports punter, poker player and recreational casino gambler I’ve seen a whole host of so called ‘safe betting sites’, or ‘safe gambling sites’ should I say, hit the wall.
It’s not uncommon and in February 2008 I was personally stung to the tune of just over £3,000 by what later became known as the Microgaming Fiasco. I won’t bore you with the details but I wasn’t the only one and I certainly didn’t lose the most when that network of gambling sites went bust – poker playing and sport betting friends of mine got stung and in some cases lost £30,000+.
Needless to say since 2008 I’ve been much more careful about where I bet online and much more motivated to do some research on the various bookies I’ve joined before getting my wallet out. It’s my aim in this post to unload some of that knowledge and experience and to help punters establish a better understanding of what is and what isn’t a safe place to bet online.
Bookmakers I Consider Safe
I don’t expect anyone to just take my word for it when it comes to which betting sites to join and which to leave alone. In this section of today’s post I’m going to do my best to explain my choices and prove to you, in a logical way, how it’s possible to establish the safety and security of any online betting site.
Wondering who the heck I am? Check out the about page.
I’m confident I can prove to you that Bet365 can and should be considered to be one of the safest bookmakers available to online punters.
Firstly they’ve been operating online since March 2001. That’s over ten years in the industry and anyone who’s done a little research on Bet365 should know that from the outset they developed their own software platform. This is important as it shows a large financial commitment to their service – you just don’t get this when companies pop out of nowhere and go live with what’s essentially just a skin of another gambling site with a few graphic alterations.
Another good sign to come out of Bet365 is their financial figures. They’ve seen a 22% increase in profits since the last financial year and both directors have each taken £25,000,000 dividends out of the company. Those aren’t the figures of a company that’s in any kind of financial trouble or a company that can’t afford to pay out on winning wagers.
A further dig into the inner workings at Bet365 also reveals that they are licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. Given the pick and mix licenses that a lot of bookmakers hold (Gibraltar, Malta, Isle of Man) it’s not unreasonable to say that Bet365 are a legit online bookmaker with one of the tougher gambling licenses to obtain.
BetVictor, formerly known as Victor Chandler and VC Bet, are another example of what I would consider a safe online betting site. They are widely accredited with being the first high street bookmaker to recognise the potential in online betting and since entering the industry back in the late 1990’s they’ve continued to operate a successful and well used online service.
The time they’ve been in operation alone is a good indication that they’re legit and can be classed as one of the safer places to bet.
On top of the fact that they’ve been taking bets online for over 20 years is that we already know they operated as a high street bookmaker. If high street bookies don’t pay out and treat players fairly they go bust very quickly.
The license BetVictor currently hold is granted by the Gibraltar Gambling Commission. Whilst on the surface this might not look as good as holding a UK granted online gaming license there’s an important point to note…
In 1998 the company moved their base to Gibraltar so they could avoid the 9% gambling tax which was currently in place in the UK. Many other high profile bookmakers, including Ladbrokes, followed suit which in 2001 prompted the then Chancellor Gordon Brown to abolish the tax all together. This shows they didn’t just start up in Gibraltar because it’s easier to get a license out there and that they once actually held a UK granted gambling license.
Update: Since 2014 to operate to UK customers bookmakers much also hold a UK license – Betvictor were one of the first to obtain this.
Max Bet Limitations and Account Closures
Before I end this article I want to make it clear that you will find complaints from punters about every single online bookie that’s out there. There’s always someone on a forum somewhere complaining about the fact that they’ve had their maximum bet amount limited to £10 or that their getting their account closed.
In fact you will find reports of both Bet365 and BetVictor limiting players accounts to a small maximum bet amount but what you’ve got to remember here is that all previous bets and account balances are honoured.
Yes it sucks to get cut of by any bookmaker but if it does happen then you know you’re doing the right thing and your system/strategy is working – take it as a compliment.