The global market of online bookmakers is expanding every day, and we seem to be at a time of new betting sites coming in from the Asian market. At face value, this is a good thing – it might serve to shake up the industry. Some pro punters have noticed that the scene has been getting a bit stale lately – especially because most top bookies are being consolidated under a few holdings companies. The influx of new ideas and business philosophies could have interesting results.
Before you get the wrong impression, 188Bet is not actually a company from Asia – even though a lot of people seem to think that. However, they are one of the biggest sportsbooks on the continent, and their offers are tailored towards far eastern needs and preferences. Their history is a bit cyclical – 188Bet started as a UK betting site but switched their focus to Asia because they had the most success over there. These days, however, they seem to be making a comeback in the West. In this review, we’ll be taking a look at what this return has to offer to players, and how it matches up to the stiff competition of established industry giants.
188Bet – Low Margins, Great Opportunities
Let’s get one thing out of the way – even though the 188Bet brand is often associated with young betting sites, they’ve been around for quite a while. The company was founded in 2006 on the Isle of Man, where it is still based. For the first decade of its business, 188Bet fought for a slice of the massive UK betting market, with mixed results. They certainly made a name for themselves through notable sports sponsorships with big football and rugby teams, such as Aston Villa, Liverpool, and Chelsea.
While sponsoring top Premier League teams seems to indicate a certain level of financial power, other evidence implies otherwise. In a highly controversial and polarizing move, 188Bet stopped accepting UK customers in 2019, stating that they wanted to focus on Asian markets which were their biggest money-makers. It seemed ironic at the time, especially considering how much effort was put into the brand’s presence in football. Other industry experts seem to point at licencing issues as the deciding factor for this decision, which can have worrying implications.
One way or another, though, these high-profile sponsorships made 188Bet a household name. Even though most punters don’t consider this sportsbook to be the same calibre as, say, Bet365 or William Hill, we must remember that the Asian market is enormous but relatively untapped by the gambling industry. This site's monicker of one of the biggest sportsbooks in Asia is mostly true and very impressive.
Beyond that, though, very there’s not much else we can offer in terms of 188Bet company information. They are specialized in sports betting and live bets but have a variety of other services as well. If you’re a fan of online gambling such as casinos, slots, or live casinos, you’ll be glad to know that you can use one account for any of the services on 188Bet’s roster.
Online sports betting remains a sharp focus for 188Bet, however, and this is immediately obvious when you visit the official website. The home page itself contains a sort of news blog about the world of sports, while the sportsbook itself is tucked away in a tab of its own. You can also find tabs for other services, which 188Bet has categorized into a casino, live casino, virtual sports section, and a special page for promotions.
A quick look at the listings will immediately tell you the most important things about the sportsbook’s design. It’s not much different to what you’re probably used to with top betting sites, even if the colour palette is a bit bland. The real issue is that flipping between different pages, selections, and offers can feel way too slow. The “sportsbook home page”, as 188Sport has named it, points out especially interesting or attractive offers.
However, there is another way of experiencing the interface called "Asian view". The name makes this alternative UI sound exotic, but it's really not. In fact, we feel that this mode is superior to the default one in almost every way. Aesthetically, Asian mode is a bit simpler but darker. We approve of this, but this can be chalked up to personal tastes. More importantly, the sportsbook seems to work noticeably faster this way. Most of the unnecessary clutter and promotional material is removed in Asian Mode, and it offers much quicker access to the live betting screen.
Licensing & Safety
While 188Bet has many advantages and strengths, we feel that this aspect of their service is a bit problematic – and safety is a very important factor when ranking bookmakers.
Their only major gambling licence is issued by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. Don’t get us wrong, though, this is not the cause of the safety issues we mentioned. While a good number of punters may not have even heard of this licence before, there’s a lot of indications that it's a very respectable licence. First of all, the Isle of Man is a British Crown Dependency, so the regulations under the IMGSC are loosely based on those of the UKGC (although they don’t have to be, strictly speaking.) This puts the licence on the same level as those issued by the UKGC or the Gibraltar Commissioner, which are easily the most highly-regarded remote gambling licences in the world.
The high standards of the jurisdiction combined with strict enforcement of the rules caused the UKGC to whitelist all businesses licenced in the Isle of Man. This means that companies in the island can freely advertise and offer services in the UK even without a UKGC licence. Clearly, 188Bet meets some of the highest standards and regulatory requirements, and their fairness and security are vouched for. At least from the legal side of things. It’s also important to note that, while the Isle of Man licence does cover UK residents, the site does not accept British bettors. According to official press releases, though, this was a strictly commercial decision. Either way, you should be aware that Brits cannot register or use 188Bet's online betting services.
188Bet's reputation, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. A quick internet search reveals that multiple users have had issues with the site's withdrawal system and the promotions. Reportedly, this bookie has a habit of not honouring promotional offers. Withdrawal times also seem to be inconsistent and unreliable. Also, 188Bet pulled out of the UK market in May 2019, and this coincides with the UKGC’s crackdown on suspicious and questionable bookmakers. Again, there is no evidence of wrongdoing here, but the implications are worrisome.
On the flip side, 188Bet claims that they never limit winning players. All evidence seems to point that this is true, which is a welcome change compared to the established formula of top online bookies.
From the cybersecurity aspect, things are thankfully a lot better. 188Bet security protocols and SSL encryption are certified by Thawte, a top-notch authority responsible for X.509 safety certification. Put bluntly, there’s nothing to worry about on this front, and 188Bet never had any issues with security scandals or data breaches.
Deposit and Withdrawals
When it comes to the payment methods at 188Bet, the offer is not that impressive. This bookie covers the most important based, but the selection pales in comparison to the competition.
First of all, we should point out that the number of available options largely depends on your country of residence. Customers from some countries can select from a decent range of possibilities, while others are restricted to one or two options. For example, Canadians can deposit strictly via debit and credit cards, which can be annoying.
188Bet deposits are all instant and completely free of any fees or commissions. However, the variety is rather disappointing no matter where you’re from. Visa and Mastercard payments are limited between £10 and £20,000. The maximum deposit is relatively low but should be more than enough for most people.
When it comes to e-wallets, players also have the options of Skrill and Skrill 1-tap, where deposits are limited to a £40 minimum and a £50,000 maximum. Neteller is another option, but the 188Bet minimum deposit for this method £10, while the maximum is £30,000.
The final option for deposits is Astropay, limited to £10 - £5,000. Sadly, these are pretty much all of the possibilities.
The withdrawals are not much better, and the only difference when it comes to variety is the added option of bank transfers. As expected, all withdrawal methods at 188Bethave different processing times. Card payments may take up to 3 working days, and Bank transfers can take up to 5 days. All the other options are completed within 2 hours because they are e-wallets.
188Bet maximum withdrawals are very similar to deposit limits, but vary for each option:
- Card Payments: £5 – £20,000
- Bank transfers: £100 - £250,000
- Skrill: £1 - £50,000
- Neteller: £1 - £30,000
- AstroPay: £10 - £5,000
As you can see, the withdrawal limits on 188Bet are fairly low compared to the industry standard. This won't be a problem for most people, but we should still point out that this might not be a great site for high-rollers. Lastly, 188Bet has a fairly decent range of accepted international currencies. This can give users a lot of freedom in terms of how they place their bets and from where. Unsurprisingly, the majority of currencies at 188Bet are east Asian, cementing their position as one of the best Asian betting sites. Here’s the full list: Brazilian Real (BRL)
- Euro (EUR)
- British Pound Sterling (GBP)
- Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
- Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
- Japanese Yen (JPY)
- South Korean Won (KRW)
- Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
- Chinese Yuan (Renminbi, RMB)
- Thai Baht (THB)
- US Dollar (USD)
- Vietnamese Dong (VND)
Customer service appears to be a point of issue for many 188Bet users. Many of the problems we discussed earlier seem to be mainly concerned with ineffective customer service. However, we ave to point out a few things. Firstly, many of the complaints we came across are several years old at this point. Secondly, our tests did not come across any problems worth mentioning. All of the communication we had with 188Bet's staff was helpful and effective – although it does appear that the withdrawal times listed on the official website are not exactly set in stone.
That being said, most common queries and problems can easily be resolved. You can contact 188Bet customer support through any of the following methods:
24/7 Live Chat: Top bookmakers in 2020 cannot avoid this method, and it’s easy to see why. Live chatting is immediate, hassle-free, and available at 24/7
Email Support: Alternatively, you can send an e-mail to 188Bet’s representatives. This method of communication is generally a bit slower, but all queries are answered within a few hours. 188Bet’s customer contact address is [email protected]
Telephone: If your problem or question requires that you speak to someone directly, you can simply phone customer relations at +44 20 3318 0702 (for European customers) or +852 5808 3608 (for Asian customers.)
We should also point out that 188Bet features a dedicated FAQ question which holds a lot of information, and might resolve your queries without any contact whatsoever. It's not the most comprehensive help section we've seen on a betting site, but it gets the job done a lot of the time.
Market & Odds
Now we'll get into the real meat of this review, and we have two reasons for saying that. First of all, odds are the centrepiece of almost all of 188Bet's marketing campaigns. They seem to stress the importance of having the best betting odds possible – and this is well received by a lot of online punters. Experienced bettors will tell you that odds are generally more important than bonuses and promotions if you’re looking to profit with online betting, and we’re happy that 188Bet chose to heavily focus on this side of their operation.
More often than not, the odds compare quite well to even the strongest of competing sites. The way they are distributed, however, is a bit strange. For example, football betting is usually seen as the most important place to focus all efforts. Now, if you were to look straight at the odds for 1X2 markets at 188Bet, you would be slightly disappointed. The offer is not horrible – just painfully average. The real strength of 188Bet comes into play when you look at markets such as Asian handicaps and outrights.
This makes a lot of sense if you consider this bookie’s main target audience is in Asia. It also makes them one of the best bookmakers for Asian handicap bets, hands down. Not only is there a huge variety of offers, but they all payout incredibly well. This effectiveness extends to other sports as well, so you don't have to stick to just Premier League betting.
The variety itself, though, leaves a mixed impression. As we just pointed out, the selection of markets is well above average, with 400+ options for different handicap lines on select matches.
However, there are only around 15 different sports to bet on – and that includes special categories such as politics and financial bets. This selection is much too small if 188Bet is trying to be considered one of the best betting sites around.
This betting site is actively advertised as a “live betting specialist.” We wouldn’t go that far in describing the quality of 188Bet live betting, but there’s certainly a lot going for it.
Live betting gets a dedicated section of the sportsbook, easily accessible on the left side panel. However, if you're using the so-called Asian model, in-play betting at 188Bet is seamlessly integrated into the main screen. Either way, the screen works smoothly and intuitively. The entire screen can be described as "efficient”, which is good news for some, but not ideal for every customer.
For instance, some betting sites provide constant feeds of news and statistics. The same can’t be said for 188Bet, and the variety of live betting markets is not particularly impressive either. The odds, on the other hand, are some of the best betting offers you’re likely to come across when it comes to in-play bets. You can wager live on the full range of sports and matches that can be found in the pre-match sportsbook.
188Bet Live Streaming Offer
188Bet does not offer any sort of live streaming on their betting platform at the time of the writing of this review. This might change in the future – but if you want to enjoy your favourite sporting events live right at the betting site, you should look elsewhere.
188Bet Bookmaker Margin
Seeing how the excellent odds are the greatest advantage of 188Bet, it should come as no surprise that the margins are fairly low across the board. You’re probably aware that a narrow bookie margin is the main factor in determining betting odds.
Let’s look at the numbers. According to our research, 188Bet boasts a 4.4% margin across the board, which puts them in the top 10 bookmakers when it comes to low overround rates. Bear in mind, however, that this refers strictly to fixed-odds bookmakers, and you may be able to get better prices on betting exchanges.
The margin on football averages a rate of 4.5%, which is more than respectable but not exactly 166Bet’s greatest strength. Tennis is rather disappointing as well, with a painfully average 5.2%.
Most other sports, however, are somewhere in the 3-4% range, which is excellent compared to industry standards. Basketball and various US sports leagues (NFL, NHL, MBA, etc.) are especially noteworthy for their low margins.
188Bet is a bit tricky to categorize as either “good” or “bad”. If you’ve been paying attention, it’s easy to see that this sportsbook has a lot of issues that need to be worked on. Namely, the payment options on 188Bet need a lot more options and a lot more consistency. The sub-par customer service isn’t helping either, and improvements in these areas would go a long way in improving the overall impression.
Still, quality odds are the most important factor for a lot of our readers. And on that end, 188Bet delivers in a big way. Their offers can match and even beat some of the best betting sites in the business, which is no easy feat considering the competition.
With all that in mind, 188Bet might not be ideal for your main betting site. However, if you like to check up on multiple sportsbooks and look for value bets, this site can offer some excellent opportunities.
How to open an account at 188Bet?
188Bet is currently offering a new customer bonus for all new registrations. The 188Bet welcome bonus amounts to £20 in free bets after you’ve placed your first bet of £10 or more. All you need to do is follow these simple steps:
- Head over to 188bet.com.
- Click on the “register” button at the top of the screen.
- Fill out the required information, such as your full name, birthday, country of residence, phone number, and billing address.
- Set up account details such as your e-mail, username, and password. You will also be asked about your preferred currency.
- Varify your account by following the instructions of their customer service. This will require you to send a scan of your passport or ID card.
188Bet review FAQ
Is 188Bet safe?
This betting site is legal and secure from a technical standpoint. However, we do have some safety concerns. You can find more details in the “licencing and safety” section of this review.
Is 188Bet available on Android?
The main site can be accessed on mobile, but 188Bet features a mobile betting app for Android and iOS as well. 188Bet for Android has to be downloaded in APK format from the site, though.
Where is 188Bet located?
The company is based in the Isle of Man.
How to use 188Bet?
188Bet is more-or-less a standard fixed-odds online bookmaker. You can find a new customer guide in this review, after which you can immediately start placing wagers.
Is 188Bet available in Brasil?
Yes. 188Bet is currently one of the best betting sites in Brasilaccording to many users. The site even accepts payments in BRL.