HOW SBR SELECTS A SPORTSBOOK

BEHIND THE SCENES GUIDE TO THE SBR RATING PROCESS

 

SportsbookReview.com (SBR) provides up-to-date research, reviews and ratings of online sportsbooks. All of this research is used to compile the Recommended List (which represents the elite, top 1% of all Sportsbooks) and the Rating Guide (which lists all known sportsbooks). In the following pages, you will discover which areas are researched, how those areas are rated and the requirements for being listed on the Recommended List.

This is a behind the scenes guide to how SBR rates a sportsbook.

Who qualifies for consideration on the Recommended List?

  • Only honest, safe and legally operating sportsbooks
  • Verified, financially stable sportsbooks
  • Sportsbooks with the best specials and bonuses for new and existing players
  • Reputable owners and knowledgeable management
  • Sportsbooks with NO payout issues or misleading bonuses & promotions
  • Located and licensed in a gambling friendly country

When making final selections for the Recommended List a high weighting is afforded to those sportsbooks with financial stability, and the best specials and bonuses for new and existing players.

Four Evaluation Categories

There are twenty-two critical areas researched, evaluated and made available for your review. These areas fall under four evaluation categories.

  1. Business Model and Bonus Structure
  2. Company's Operation Model
  3. Software Rating
  4. Financial Stability

Each category is broken down further, in detail, to reveal the SBR rating process.


Research Area #1: Business Models and Bonus Structure

BUSINESS MODELS - The vast majority of bookmaking business models are based on the commission received by the sportsbook. This commission is usually referred to as JUICE. The following is a very basic scheme on how this commission is calculated in the American market:

How Juice is Calculated

The bookmaker offers -110/-110 odds on Team A/Team B to win a specific sporting event. Gambler 1 bets $1,100 to win $1,000 on Team A, Gambler 2 bets $1,100 to win $1,000 on Team B. The bookmaker is hence holding $2,200; out of which he has to pay $2,100 to the winner ($1,100 stakes + $1,000 winnings). The bookmaker earns a commission of $100 out of every $2,200. That is a 4.54% theoretical percentage of hold.

In the Reduced Juice market, this theoretical percentage of hold is significantly decreased for the bookmaker. Following the same premises as above, the theoretical percentages of hold for:

  • A 14 cent line (-107/-107) is 3.27%
  • A 10 cent line (-105/-105) is 2.38%

How can these bookmakers offer these discount prices?

Just like Wal-Mart they make money by dealing in a higher volume, based on the lower prices (read Best Reduced Juice Sportsbooks for further information).

Having reviewed how revenue is generated in theory, there are generally 5 different business models in this industry:

  • The sportsbooks that welcome all types of action. These sportsbooks cater to recreational and professional players all the same; although, their bonus programs and promotions are not intended for the professional bettor. Catering to both types of action requires a large infrastructure and a lot of man power. In this day and time, there are very few books that are currently following this model.
  • The sportsbooks that offer reduced juice. These sportsbooks offer discount prices and very unique lines most of the time. As explained before, they aim to attract a larger amount of players based on lower prices. Since the theoretical percentage of hold is significantly decreased for these books , the reduced juice sportsbooks do not offer a cash sign-up bonus larger than 10% (if they offer one at all) and they do not offer any form of re-load bonuses or other perks.
  • The sportsbooks that limit professional syndicated action and arbitrage players. This business model is based on catering exclusively to recreational and/or small players. Since their exposure on the lines is reduced, this model allows the operators to invest greater amounts of money in marketing and retention campaigns, hence offering a better environment for the amateur gambler.
  • The sportsbooks that offer extremely sharp lines exclusively. This business model offers little or no bonuses at all, but it gives players the highest limits in the industry. This type of book is a perfect fit for professional players with large stakes.
  • Scam sportsbooks: This is hardly a business model, but a sad reality in this industry. There are many "sportsbooks" out there, that are run by unscrupulous operators whose only intention is to lure the players into depositing funds that will never be seen again. Learn more about this type of rogue operation by visiting our BlackList and Scam Alert Section.

How can you tell between a profitable business model and a risky business model?

Since the amount of factors are infinite, the simple answer is to stick with sportsbooks that are long-established operations. The established sportsbook has been in business a minimum of 2 VERIFIABLE years. Or in the case of a new sportsbook, stick with sportsbooks that are financially backed-up by a major, long-established sportsbook.

BONUS STRUCTURE - A bonus or a promotion is created to attract new business or retain customers. Since the bonus itself is attractive enough to entice a bettor to make a deposit with any given book, these perks are commonly used by scam operations as well. When looking at the bonus and promotion structure, it is difficult to know the difference between a legitimate sportsbook trying to generate new business and a scam sportsbook trying to lure unaware players.

There are infinite factors that influence a sportsbooks Bonus Rating. But a responsible approach is fundamental to running a profitable business model. Every perk given to the players will lower the margin of profits of ANY operation. This is why SBR pays special attention to risky and irresponsible bonus structures.

A RESPONSIBLE AND PROFITABLE CASH BONUS STRUCTURE

THE CASH BONUS - The following is a short explanation of a hypothetical bonus structure:

  • A 20% cash sign-up bonus
  • 5 times roll-over requirement
  • Bonus cap: $500
  • 30 day hold requirement

In this hypothetical situation, Gambler X is granted a 20% cash bonus on deposits of up to $2,500. So Gambler X deposits $1,000 and receives $200 in form of a cash bonus.

  • His balance now is $1,200 and he is supposed to roll that amount 5 times over, before he can request a payout without losing the bonus money.
  • The total turn-over amount is $6,000 and the book perceives a theoretical percentage of hold of 5% ( =5X roll-over).
  • The theoretical percentage of hold on this scheme, will allow the book to keep 5% of $6,000; for a total of $300
  • Since this percentage of hold ($300) is still greater than the initial bonus ($200), there is a gross profit for the sportsbook of 50%
  • And if Gambler X was to hit a lucky streak, he'd still have to overcome the 30 day hold requirement

This type of structure would allow a reputable, well-funded book to offer a very attractive bonus and still make a minimum profit off it. Some very large operations will require the players to roll the total amount of bonus + deposit only 3 times over and still offer a 20% bonus. But in most of the cases, the bonus cap is much lower; occasionally as low as $200 or $300, in which case the promotion is designed to attract only small players.

A RISKY AND IRRESPONSIBLE CASH BONUS STRUCTURE

A Cash Bonus that includes any of the following possible scenarios should be avoided:

  • A cash bonus larger than 25% in combination with a roll-over lower than 5 times
  • A cash bonus larger than 15% in combination with permanent reduced juice offerings
  • A cash bonus larger than 15% in combination with 10% losses rebate (or higher)
  • A cash bonus larger than 30%. Scam operations and sportsbooks in financial distress are known to offer this type of outrageous offers.

THE MATCH-PLAY BONUS - This type of offer is commonly used by various sportsbooks and it usually involves bonuses of up to 50% MP Bonus. The fundamental difference between the cash bonus and the match play bonus, is that the latter will only allow you to keep the winnings and not the bonus itself. The theoretical percentage of hold on this type of bonus is very difficult to calculate and it's believed that no definite value can be assigned to this type of bonus. For sake of simplicity when it comes to this type of perk, stick with operations that present the following characteristics:

  • A verifiable financial history of at least 2 years. Some reputable operations prefer to offer a higher MP bonus over a cash bonus
  • Rules and regulations are clearly posted on their web sites
  • There are no grey areas in their rules and regulations

Stay away from offerings by new sportsbooks with any of the following possible scenarios:

  • A MP Bonus of 25% or more
  • An outrageously high MP Bonus (over 50%), only if you deposit via Western Union
  • An outrageously high MP Bonus (over 50%), offered to professional players or middlers/scalpers.

A PERCENT REBATE ON NET LOSSES - This type of offer represents a significant concession by the sportsbook, as it is directly subtracted from their gross profit. That is the reason why very few sportsbooks offer this type of perk. Those that do, offer them under very strict conditions. Most of the time, the rebates are not to be combined with any other bonus, promotion or perk. This being said, only a select few sportsbooks are in the financial position to offer this perk while still running a profitable business.

Since a sportsbook that offers a rebate program on net losses still needs to pay winners, cover overhead expenses and operation costs, only sportsbooks that handle a high volume or deal to a large number of non-professional players can safely offer this type of perk. This perk is most definitely one of the best deals for the small player in the offshore industry.

A well-designed, SAFE rebate program consists of the following characteristics:

  • It must be a well-established sportsbook with a long track record or in the case of newer books, they have been vouched for by an industry giant
  • The rebate programs offered by solid sportsbooks are not to be combined with any other bonuses or promotions
  • If they are combined, then the bonus offered cannot exceed a 10%
  • The funds product of the rebate programs are subject to rules and restrictions

Stay away from Rebates by sportsbooks, that consist of any of the following scenarios:

  • A rebate program offering kick-backs larger than 20% of net losses
  • A rebate program in combination with permanent reduced juice offerings
  • A rebate program offering kick-backs larger than 20% of net losses, in combination with a cash bonus larger than 10%
  • A rebate program offering kick-backs larger than 30% of net losses. Scam operations are known to offer this type of outrageous offers

LOYALTY PROGRAMS - This type of program rewards customers based on how much action they give their sportsbooks. As the name suggests, the main objective of these programs is to reward loyalty. A well-run loyalty program can become a great advantage for the player and provide a client with tangible benefits. Offering an attractive loyalty program usually requires a very well-designed infrastructure to support it.

A Loyalty Program offers "loyalty points" for a specific amount on any given transaction. In this industry, these "loyalty points" are accrued over time and in exchange for the "action" given to the sportsbook. More specifically:

  • A Loyalty Program rewards the player with points every time he/she places a wager
  • These points accumulate in the player's account until he/she decides to exchange them for the offered prizes
  • New customers are usually enrolled automatically, if the sportsbook offers this program
  • Loyalty Programs are usually meant for the small players and not for the professional gambler.
  • The sportsbooks offering legitimate loyalty programs post the rules/restrictions and benefits of the program on their web site, as a contractual agreement.

Stay away from loyalty programs that include any of the following possible scenarios:

  • The rules/restrictions and benefits of the loyalty program are not posted on the web site
  • A Loyalty Program is offered in combination with outrageous sign-up and re-load bonuses (25% or more cash bonus and/or 30% or more MP bonus)
  • A Loyalty Program is offered in combination with permanent reduced juice offerings
  • A Loyalty Program is offered by a sportsbook that lacks the structure and financial stability to optimize the operation for the program

Are Cash and Match-Play Bonuses going away?

Cash and Match-Play Bonuses have become a big liability to this industry. The majority of the current bonus structures are flawed and have become a constant cause of dispute between players and books. Sometimes these disputes are generated by legitimate misunderstandings, other times these disputes are generated by dishonest approaches from the player or the sportsbook. However, every football season the sportsbooks come up with a new bonus program to attract new players. So it would seem that Bonuses are here to stay.

Most of these bonus and promotions discussed above are usually NOT OFFERED to professional gamblers.

RATING GUIDE FOR BONUS STRUCTURES:

Business Model
Bonus Structure
A+/A/A-
B+/B/B-
C+/C/C-
D+/D/D-
F+/F/F-
1. The sportsbooks that welcome all types of action
I-A: Cash Bonuses          
+
• 20% sign-up, 5X rollover, $500 max, 30 day hold
v
-
-
-
-
+
• 25% and up, 1-4 x rollover
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 15% up + reduced juice
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 15% up + 10% or higher rebate
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 30% and up
-
-
-
-
v
  I-B: Match-Play Bonuses          
+
• 50%, financially stable, solid reputation, clearly posted rules
v
-
-
-
-
+
• 25% or more, new book or shady reputation
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 50% or more, via W.U. only
-
-
-
-
v
+
• 50% or more, targeting forum players, middlers and scalpers
-
-
-
-
v
  I-C: Rebates          
+
• Financially stable, no other promotions or bonus up to 10%, with clearly posted rules
v
-
-
-
-
+
• 20% or more Rebates
-
-
-
v
v
+
• Rebate + reduced juice
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 20% or more + cash bonus over 10%
-
-
-
-
v
  I-D: Loyalty Programs          
+
• Legitimate Program with Posted Rules
v
-
-
-
-
+
• Program with no rules
-
-
v
v
-
+
• Loyalty Program + 25% bonus or more
-
-
-
v
v
+
• Loyalty Program + Reduced Juice
-
-
-
v
v
+
• Verifiable Financial Instability
-
-
-
-
v
2. The sportsbooks that offer reduced juice
I-A: Cash Bonuses
A+/A/A-
B+/B/B-
C+/C/C-
D+/D/D-
F+/F/F-
+
• 10% sign-up, 5X rollover, $500 max, 30 day hold
v
-
-
-
-
+
• 25% and up, 1-4 x rollover
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 15% up + reduced juice
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 15% up + 10% or higher rebate
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 30% and up
-
-
-
-
v
  I-B: Match-Play Bonuses          
+
• 50%, financially stable, solid reputation, clearly posted rules
-
-
v
-
-
+
• 25% or more, new book or shady reputation
-
-
-
-
v
+
• 50% or more, via W.U. only
-
-
-
-
v
+
• 50% or more, targeting forum players, middlers and scalpers
-
-
-
-
v
  I-C: Rebates          
+
• Financially stable, no other promotions or bonus up to 10%, with clearly posted rules
v
-
-
-
-
+
• 20% or more Rebates
-
-
-
v
v
+
• Rebate + reduced juice
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 20% or more + cash bonus over 10%
-
-
-
-
v
  I-D: Loyalty Programs          
+
• Legitimate Program with Posted Rules
-
-
v
-
-
+
• Program with no rules
-
-
-
-
v
+
• Loyalty Program + 25% bonus or more
-
-
-
-
v
+
• Loyalty Program + Reduced Juice
-
-
-
-
v
+
• Verifiable Financial Instability
-
-
-
-
v
3. The sportsbooks that limit professional syndicated action and arbitrage players
I-A: Cash Bonuses
A+/A/A-
B+/B/B-
C+/C/C-
D+/D/D-
F+/F/F-
+
• 20% sign-up, 5X rollover, $500 max, 30 day hold
v
v
-
-
-
+
• 25% and up, 1-4 x rollover
-
v
v
-
-
+
• 15% up + reduced juice
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 15% up + 10% or higher rebate
-
v
v
v
-
+
• 30% and up
-
-
-
-
v
  I-B: Match-Play Bonuses          
+
• 50%, financially stable, solid reputation, clearly posted rules
v
-
-
-
-
+
• 25% or more, new book or shady reputation
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 50% or more, via W.U. only
-
-
-
-
v
+
• 50% or more, targeting forum players, middlers and scalpers
-
-
-
-
v
  I-C: Rebates          
+
• Financially stable, no other promotions or bonus up to 10%, with clearly posted rules
v
-
-
-
-
+
• 20% or more Rebates
-
v
v
-
-
+
• Rebate + reduced juice
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 20% or more + cash bonus over 10%
-
-
-
-
v
  I-D: Loyalty Programs          
+
• Legitimate Program with Posted Rules
v
-
-
-
-
+
• Program with no rules
-
-
v
v
-
+
• Loyalty Program + 25% bonus or more
-
-
-
v
v
+
• Loyalty Program + Reduced Juice
-
-
-
-
v
+
• Verifiable Financial Instability
-
-
-
-
v
4. The sportsbooks that offer extremely sharp lines exclusively
I-A: Cash Bonuses
A+/A/A-
B+/B/B-
C+/C/C-
D+/D/D-
F+/F/F-
+
• 20% sign-up, 5X rollover, $500 max, 30 day hold
-
v
v
-
-
+
• 25% and up, 1-4 x rollover
-
-
v
v
v
+
• 15% up + reduced juice
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 15% up + 10% or higher rebate
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 30% and up
-
-
-
-
v
  I-B: Match-Play Bonuses          
+
• 50%, financially stable, solid reputation, clearly posted rules
v
v
-
-
-
+
• 25% or more, new book or shady reputation
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 50% or more, via W.U. only
-
-
-
-
v
+
• 50% or more, targeting forum players, middlers and scalpers
-
-
-
-
v
  I-C: Rebates          
+
• Financially stable, no other promotions or bonus up to 10%, with clearly posted rules
v
v
-
-
-
+
• 20% or more Rebates
-
-
v
v
-
+
• Rebate + reduced juice
-
-
-
v
v
+
• 20% or more + cash bonus over 10%
-
-
-
-
v
  I-D: Loyalty Programs          
+
• Legitimate Program with Posted Rules
v
-
-
-
-
+
• Program with no rules
-
-
v
v
-
+
• Loyalty Program + 25% bonus or more
-
-
-
v
v
+
• Loyalty Program + Reduced Juice
-
-
-
-
v
+
• Verifiable Financial Instability
-
-
-
-
v
Scam sportsbooks
 
A+/A/A-
B+/B/B-
C+/C/C-
D+/D/D-
F+/F/F-
+
Any form of bonus structure
-
-
-
-
v

back to top


Research Area #2: Operation Models

This is one of the research areas where the reviewed sportsbooks can definitely improve their rating by simply offering a better service to their customers. SBR has divided this research area into the following 4 categories:

A) CUSTOMER SERVICE OPERATIONS. This category is divided into the following sub-categories:

  • Simple and Accurate Rules
  • Quality of the E-mail Service
  • Quality of Phone Service
  • Quality of Online Chat Assistance
  • Hours of Operation
  • Promptness of Payouts

B) WAGERING DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS. This category is divided into the following sub-categories:

  • Head Linesman Reputation and Knowledge of the Business
  • Quality of Phone Service
  • Availability of Wagering Odds
  • Quality, Precision and Accuracy of Betting Lines

C) MARKETING DEPARTMENT. This category is divided into the following sub-categories:

  • Web Site Simplicity and Proficiency
  • Well educated, prepared and knowledgeable marketing directors
  • An ongoing search for new and efficient marketing venues
  • A well structured affiliate program, as it allows the book to pay lower commissions based solely on performance
  • A well planned retention program

D) MANAGEMENT BACKGROUND AND ACCESSIBILITY. Every sportsbook is evaluated on at least 2 of the following sub-categories:

  • Well educated, prepared and knowledgeable department managers
  • A well planned management structure
  • Management promptness to establish open channels of communication with their customers

Each one of these 4 categories are described below in further detail, to reveal the SBR rating process.

A) CUSTOMER SERVICE OPERATIONS.

Simple and Accurate Rules. A well-run operation should offer clear and straight-forward betting rules for every league or sport where betting odds are offered. All possible scenarios should be contemplated and addressed by these rules in a simple and accurate manner. There should be no room for interpretation of these betting rules. The same is also true for the rules and restrictions of every bonus and promotion.

Quality of E-mail Service. SBR has launched an email response test to verify the ability of different sportsbook to providepremium e-mail service. The e-mail services provided by any sportsbook are primarily based on the following measurable factors:

  • Promptness of Response
  • Quality and Accuracy of the Response
  • The Professionalism and Courtesy of the CS Representative when Addressing the Issues

SBR has provided the following basic guidelines for this e-mail response test:

  • Initial response times:SBR would suggest sportsbooks should respond immediately with an email auto responder. In an environment where sportsbooks have experienced considerable downtime due to DoS attacks, an auto responder would let the client know that his email has been received
  • Initial Response: During typical business hours sportsbooks should provide an initial response to a general question within 30 minutes
  • Follow-up Response: If a client requests information from departments such as bookmaking, accounting, etc., a detailed reply should be sent in less than 90 minutes during normal business hours
  • Overnight email responses: Top operations with 24 hour support should be able to reply to a general question within an hour.
Response Time
Grade
20 min or less
A+
21-30 min
A/A-
31-40 min
B+/B/B-
41-60 min
C+/C
61-90 min
C-
91-105 min
D+
106 min and on
D/D-
No response
F-


Read more on the results of SBR's E-mail Response Test by visiting this page: SBR Email Response Test - Results Table

Quality of Phone Service: The sportsbook representatives in the Customer Service Department should comply with the following requirements:

  • They need to read, write and speak the native language of the client. In the case of the American market, they should speak fluent English
  • They must remain courteous and professional, even when the customer is irate on the phone
  • They must be perceptive and well-informed in all areas of the service provided by their company. They should be able to successfully address any questions about the different types of wager offered by the sportsbook, the banking procedures, payment methods, promotions being offered, etc.
  • They need to address every issue brought up by a customer in a prompt and professional manner
  • A successful CS Department will have "closers", people in charge of signing up new customers efficiently and swiftly and make customers feel secure and welcomed
  • And the Customer Service department of top rated books should be available to their clients 24/7. SBR is aware some sportsbooks do not offer phone support, but SBR believes a prompt and efficient e-mail service is a good alternative.
Quality of Phone Service
Rating
Excellent
A+ / A / A-
Good
B+ / B / B-
Average
C+ / C / C-
Poor
D+ / D / D-
Failing
F+ / F / F-

Quality of Online Chat Assistance: This is a very convenient feature for the offshore internet bettor, as it provides a platform of service that is both, helpful and cost-effective for all parts involved. Top rated sportsbooks should provide this feature, and the service should be based on the following premises:

  • The representatives in charge of offering this service should have full domain of the English language. They should be able to type English at a very accelerated pace and SBR recommends that these representatives always keep a Word Document open and ready, in order to check the spelling of every message to be written.
  • These representatives must remain courteous and professional, while always being as concise as possible
  • SBR does not recommend the sharing of sensitive information via online chat assistance, such as Money Transfer Control Numbers, Bank Wire ID Numbers, NT Account Numbers or any type of password.
Quality of Live Chat Assist.
Rating
Excellent
A+ / A / A-
Good
B+ / B / B-
Average
C+ / C / C-
Poor
D+ / D / D-
Failing
F+ / F / F-

Hours of Operation: Top rated sportsbooks should offer customer assistance 24/7. Ideally, this assistance should be provided via phone, e-mail and live chat online; but given the different business models and the different methods of operation,top rated books can choose one of these methods and be proficient at it. The attention at the late hours of the night should have the same quality standards and attention as provided during the day.

Hours of Operation
Rating
Prompt attention; 24/7
A+ / A / A-
Prompt attention; 20/7
B+ / B / B-
Good attention; Average consistency in hours of operation
C+ / C / C-
Poor attention; No consistency in hours of operation
D+ / D / D-
Deficient service; Extremely difficult to establish a good channel of communication
F+ / F / F-

Promptness of Payouts: A prompt and hassle-free payout is without a doubt one of the most important features provided by a high-quality sportsbooks. In the post-up industry, the players' funds should be readily available to them 24/7. If a player has abided by the rules and regulations established by the sportsbook and he/she requests a payout, a top rated sportsbook should provide him with a swift, convenient and easy way to receive those funds. There should never be any type of negotiation or hassle when it comes to issuing pay-outs. This is one of the areas where SBR holds sportsbooks to a drastically higher standard. Top rated sportsbooks are required to have a flawless record with no slow- or no-pay complaints.

Promptness of Payouts
Rating
• NETeller and W.U.: 0min- 4hrs
• Cashier's Check: 1 business day
A+ / A / A-
• NETeller and W.U.: 4 hrs -12 hrs
• Cashier's Check: 2-3 business days
B+ / B / B-
• NETeller and W.U.: 12 hrs-24 hrs
• Cashier's Check: 3-7 business days
C+ / C / C-
• NETeller and W.U.:24 hrs -72 hrs
• Cashier's Check: 7 business days or more
D+ / D / D-
Slow- & no-pays
F+ / F / F-

B) WAGERING DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS.

Head Linesman Reputation and Knowledge of the Business. This is one of the most important aspects to be evaluated in a sportsbook. The betting odds are the ultimate product offered by a sportsbook and one of the main reasons why a player joins a company. A well run sportsbook must have a responsible approach towards its betting lines. Ideally, they must be handled in such a way that no matter what action is being written, the theoretical percentage of hold should be maximized. The most reputable operations in the offshore wagering industry have delegated this tremendous responsibility to extremely experienced and reputable Head Linesmen.

A seasoned Head Linesman is in very general terms characterized by the following:

  • He possesses vast experience and in-depth knowledge of this industry
  • He understands the importance of handling different types of action and has the ability to use the information delivered to him by the bets of sharper players
  • He knows his customers and knows what type of odds to cater to each of them
  • He possesses the ability to lead a pack of line managers and line supervisors
  • He has access to a network of people with inside information on key games, at least
  • He must possess the ability to create an original line for each game, even though most of the leads in the market nowadays are set by the masses and uniformity of the betting odds dictated by the Don Best screen. (These original lines are most commonly based on compiled information, a handicapping process and instinct. A sportsbook that lacks a man like this is usually cloning lines from the Don Best screen and offers absolutely no value other than scalpable lines and bonus structures, hence decreasing their margin of profitability.)

Quality of Phone Service. The ticket-writers in this department should comply with the following requirements:

  • They need to read, write and speak the native language of the client. In the case of the American market, they should speak fluent English
  • They must know the city and the team names of all the leagues in which the sportsbook is offering betting odds
  • They must be able to find specific rotation numbers in their betting screens in a quick and professional manner
  • During the MLB season, they must be aware of any Pitcher Changes and they must be able to pronounce the name of a team's pitcher correctly
  • They must possess the ability to write any specific type of wager offered by the sportsbook in a quick and professional manner
  • When requested by the customer, they should be capable of providing a clear, precise and accurate "run-down" (description of the odds being offered by the sportsbook)
  • They must have the ability to speak up and give a clear and precise read back on every written ticket, without being distracted by the noise in the room during hours of high traffic
  • They must be aware of any line changes and be prompt to notify the customer if the line on his/her unconfirmed wager has changed
  • Customers that call in with sharper action should be handled by the most experienced and best trained ticket-writers

Availability of Wagering Odds. A top rated sportsbook should offer:

  • Overnight lines for all active leagues that are being offered
  • If these overnight lines are being offered as "circled" events (meaning they cannot be included in parlays or teasers and that they have a lower limit than usual), they should be clearly identified as such
  • It should also be indicated from which time until which time these odds will be "circled"
  • Ideally, a sportsbook should offer a wide variety of betting odds at reasonable prices. This would include proposition wagers
  • In NFL: The betting odds for the coming week should be posted as soon as the Monday Night Football game is graded, at the latest
  • In NCAAF: The betting odds for the coming week should be posted every Tuesday morning at the latest
  • In every other league, overnight lines should be posted as soon as the last game of the day is graded
  • Dynamically adjusted betting lines should be offered on future odds and total wins over/under odds for those leagues where these betting options are offered
  • Odds should be promptly offered for special events such as NCAA Bowl Games, NHL Stanley Cup, NFL Super Bowl, etc.

Quality, Precision and Accuracy of Betting Lines. This field seems to be self-explanatory. In the offshore industry there is a rule used by almost every book, a rule that has raised quite a few questions among players and that has been the cause of various disputes: the Bad Line Rule. In short, this rule allows the sportsbook to void any bet taken on an obviously wrong line. SBR understands the need of this rule, but also believes a top rated sportsbook will not need to make use of the Bad Line Rule too often.

C) MARKETING DEPARTMENT

Web Site Design, Ease-of-Use and Load-Time: A well-designed website should be easy to use, read and navigate. It should take no longer than 8 seconds/DSL or 40 seconds/dial-up to fully load up. The sign-up links should be readily available and should occupy a prominent position on the home page. The company's name should be on top of the home page and one link to each of following sections should be provided from the home page:

  • About-Us Section: Every reputable company takes pride in their work and likes to be held accountable for it. This section should include a history of how long the company has been in business, a short explanation on the essence of their business model, a physical address, a short description of the nature of the licenses they are holding and the names of the organizations that it's regulated by.
  • Wagering Info and Rules
  • Bonus Offers, Rules and Restrictions
  • Banking Center
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Live Lines
  • Online and Phone Wagering Limits
  • Contact Information

Other Marketing Considerations:

  • How well educated, prepared and knowledgeable is the marketing director?
  • Is there an ongoing search for new and efficient marketing venues?
  • Is there a well structured affiliate program, that allows the book to pay lower commissions based solely on performance?
  • How well planned is the player retention program?

 

D) MANAGEMENT BACKGROUND AND ACCESSIBILITY.

A well-educated and extremely knowledgeable management team makes a crucial difference in the way an operation is run. As a matter of fact, SBR has personally met the top managers of the top rated sportsbooks and we have found that the common denominator found in the best run operations is deep quality management and bookmaking talent. SBR also looks at the efficiency of the management structure and establishment of effective communication channels within the operation and with their players.

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Research Area #3: Software Rating

This research area is mostly based on the feedback of sportsbook players compiled by SBR throughout our almost 5 years of operation. Based greatly on this vital feedback and on the many visits that SBR has made to the top sportsbooks over the years, we have created the following rating table:

Software Provider
Rating
ASI/Extension
A+ / A
Digital Gaming
A
Bet365 Proprietary
A
I-QL
A-
IGW
B+
Unified Gaming
B
i-Net
C

SBR will enormously appreciate all forms of feedback in this area. If the software used by your sportsbook is not listed in this table, or if you would like to make a comment regarding any of the software providers mentioned above, please write us an e-mail to assistance@sportbookreview.com

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Research Area #4: Financial Stability

SBR takes an interesting approach to this research area. Unlike publicly held corporations that can be verified, most sportsbooks are privately held and do not disclose their financials. However, most of the bookmakers know each other and have common contacts. These contacts are a major source of feedback on the financial stability of a sportsbook. Many times, the feedback comes to us without asking. If a vendor is slow-paid by a sportsbook, they will contact us. When a sportsbook starts to slow-pay it's vendors that is usually the first sign of financial problems.

In addition to vendors, SBR also questions:

  • media representatives
  • venders
  • other book makers
  • money processors
  • banks

As mentioned before under Profitable Business Models, the number of years a sportsbook has been in operation, or the backing of another long established sportsbook are major considerations. A new sportsbook can appear to be financially stable in the beginning, but the real answer comes over the test of time. In fact, even the years in business must be VERIFIED personally. SBR must have seen them or know of them to prove they've been in business.

Finally, the promptness and availability of payouts as described under the Customer Service Operation is considered in the rating. By the time a sportsbook starts to slow-pay customers, the sportsbook is having major cash flow issues. SBR receives email on a regular basis reporting slow- and no-pay complaints from the players. These complaints are verified by speaking with both the player and the sportsbook. Many times the sportsbook will tell us why they are slow to make payouts. Besides excuses, SBR often hears "we had a bad season and we have no money".

Publicly held corporations are given a more traditional analysis using quarterly reports and balance sheets.

Rating Criteria
A+/A/A-
B+/B/B-
C+/C/C-
D+/D/D-
F+/F/F-
IV- Financial Stability
 
 
 
 
 
• Long-Established ( = 5 yrs)

v

-

-

-

-

• Established ( 3-4 yrs)

v

v

-

-

-

• In business 2 verifiable yrs

v

v

v

-

-

• New book vouched for by long-established book

-

v

v

v

-

• Lack test of time (< 2 yrs)

-

-

v

v

-

• Slow- or no-pay complaints
No complaints: v
No valid complaints: v
Satisfactorily ResolvedNo Valid Complaints: v

-

-

• Confirmed Slow-pay

-

-

-

Satisfactorily ResolvedValid Complaints: v
Regular Slow-Pay Complaints : v
• Confirmed NO-pay

-

-

-

Satisfactorily Resolved Valid Complaints: v
Valid No-Pay Complaints: v
• Promptness and Availability of Payouts
(Only methods rated by SBR: NETeller, Western Union and Cashier's Checks via Couriers)
NETeller and W.U.: 0min- 4hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 1 business day:v
NETeller and W.U.:
4 hrs -12 hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 2-3 business days:v
NETeller and W.U.:
12 hrs-24 hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 3-7 business days:v
NETeller and W.U.:
24 hrs -72 hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 7 business days +:v
Slow- & no-pays : v

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SBR's OVERALL Rating Process

When it comes to SBR's OVERALL Rating, all of the evaluation categories are reviewed and considered. However, the Overall Rating is not an average of all of the individual evaluation criteria ratings. Some areas like the number of years in business and financial stability are given higher importance and effect the overall rating more than others. New sportsbooks just haven't been in business long enough to be worthy of a high rating. All new sportsbooks must pass the test of time before they are given a good rating. There are too many risks involved with an unknown sportsbook. SBR stands behind the rating guide and will not compromise the integrity of the Recommended List or the Rating Guide.

Once a sportsbook has passed the test of time, then all of the evaluation categories are reviewed, and compared to other sportsbooks in the same business model. Feedback and comments from players and other book makers are considered. Then the sportsbook is given a rating based on all of the information available at the time.

SBR's Ratings are not set in stone. Once a sportsbook is listed on the Rating Guide it is continuously evaluated and re-evaluated based on personal experience, as well as feedback and comments from players and experts in the industry. The rating of a sportsbook be upgraded or downgraded if there is a significant change in business models, management, license, bonuses, slow-pay reports, player feedback and in some cases, location (due to political uncertainty). These upgrades and downgrades are reported on the home page and archived for historical record. The archive shows the entire history of upgrades and downgrades for a sportsbook over the last 5 years. Use the SBR Search function to look for all upgrades and downgrades for your sportsbook.

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SUMMARY TABLE:

Rating Criteria
A+/A/A-
B+/B/B-
C+/C/C-
D+/D/D-
F+/F/F-
I- Business Model and Bonus Structure          
• The sportsbooks that welcome all types of action

v

v

v

v
v
• The sportsbooks that offer reduced juice

v

v

v

-

-

• The sportsbooks that limit professional syndicated action and arbitrage players

v

v

v

v

v

• The sportsbooks that offer extremely sharp lines exclusively

v

v

-
-
-
• Scam sportsbooks
-
-
-
-

v

I-A: Cash Bonuses          
• 20% sign-up, 5X rollover, $500 max, 30 day hold

v

v

-
-
-
• 25% and up, 1-4 x rollover
-
-

v

v

-
• 15% up + reduced juice
-
-
-

v

v

• 15% up + 10% or higher rebate
-
-
-

v

v

• 30% and up
-
-
-
-

v

I-B: Match-Play Bonuses          
• 50%, financially stable, solid reputation, clearly posted rules

v

v

v

-
-
• 25% or more, new book or shady reputation
-
-

-

v

v

• 50% or more, via W.U. only
-
-
-

v

v

• 50% or more, targeting forum players, middlers and scalpers
-
-
-

v

v

I-C: Rebates          
• Financially stable, no other promotions or bonus up to 10%, with clearly posted rules

v

v

-
-
-
• 20% or more Rebates
-
-

v

v

v

• Rebate + reduced juice
-
-
-

v

v

• 20% or more + cash bonus over 10%
-
-
-

v

v

I-D: Loyalty Programs          
• Legitimate Program with Posted Rules

v

v

-
-
-
• Program with no rules
-
-

v

v

-
• Loyalty Program + 25% bonus or more
-
-
-

v

v

• Loyalty Program + Reduced Juice
-
-
-

v

v

• Verifiable Financial Instability

v

v

-
-
-
II- Operation
A+/A/A-
B+/B/B-
C+/C/C-
D+/D/D-
F+/F/F-
II-A: Customer Service Operation:          
• Simple and Accurate Rules

v

v

-
-
-
• Quality of the E-mail Service
0-30 min: v
31-40 min: v
61-105 min: v
106-on: v
No response: v
• Top Quality of Phone Service
Excellent: v
Good: v
Average: v
Poor: v
Failing: v
• Top Quality of Online Chat Assistance
Excellent: v
Good: v
Average: v
Poor: v
Failing: v
• Hours of Operation
24/7: v
20 hours +/7days a week: v
Average consistency in hours of operation: v
No consistency in hours of operation: v
Extremely difficult to obtain a good channel of communication: v
• Promptness of Payouts
NETeller and W.U.: 0min- 4hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 1 business day:v
NETeller and W.U.:
4 hrs -12 hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 2-3 business days:v
NETeller and W.U.:
12 hrs-24 hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 3-7 business days:v
NETeller and W.U.:
24 hrs -72 hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 7 business days +:v
Slow- & no-pays : v
II-B: Wagering Department Operation:          
• Head Linesman Reputation and Knowledge of the Business
v
v
v
-
-
• Quality of Phone Service
Excellent: v
Good: v
Average: v
Poor: v
Failing: v
• Availability of Wagering Odds
Overnight-Early: v
Overnight-Late: v
No overnights: v
Late in the day: v
Few hours before the event: v
• Quality, Precision and Accuracy of Betting Lines
v
v
-
-
-
II-C: Marketing Department          
• Web Site Simplicity and Proficiency
v
v
v
-
-
• Well educated, prepared and knowledgeable marketing director
v
v
v
-
-
• An ongoing search for new and efficient marketing venues
v
v
v
-
-
• A well structured affiliate program, as it allows the book to pay lower commissions based solely on performance
v
v
v
-
-
• A well planned retention program
v
v
v
-
-
II-D: Management Background and Accessibility          
• Well educated managers
v
v
v
-
-
• A well planned management structure
v
v
v
-
-
• Prompt to establish open channels of communication with their customers
v
v
v
-
-
III- Software Provider
A+/A/A-
B+/B/B-
C+/C/C-
D+/D/D-
F+/F/F-
• ASI/Extension
v
-
-
-
-
• Digital Gaming
v
-
-
-
-
• Bet365 Proprietary
v
-
-
-
-
• I-QL
v
-
-
-
-
• IGW
-
v
-
-
-
• Unified Gaming
-
v
-
-
-
• i-Net
-
-
v
-
-
IV- Financial Stability
A+/A/A-
B+/B/B-
C+/C/C-
D+/D/D-
F+/F/F-
• Long-Established ( = 5 yrs)

v

-

-

-

-

• Established ( 3-4 yrs)

v

v

-

-

-

• In business 2 verifiable yrs

v

v

v

-

-

• New book vouched for by long-established book

-

v

v

v

-

• Lack test of time (< 2 yrs)

-

-

v

v

-

• Slow- or no-pay complaints
No complaints: v
No valid complaints: v
Satisfactorily ResolvedNo Valid Complaints: v

-

-

• Confirmed Slow-pay

-

-

-

Satisfactorily ResolvedValid Complaints: v
Regular Slow-Pay Complaints : v
• Confirmed NO-pay

-

-

-

Satisfactorily Resolved Valid Complaints: v
Valid No-Pay Complaints: v
• Promptness and Availability of Payouts
(Only methods rated by SBR: NETeller, Western Union and Cashier's Checks via Couriers)
NETeller and W.U.: 0min- 4hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 1 business day:v
NETeller and W.U.:
4 hrs -12 hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 2-3 business days:v
NETeller and W.U.:
12 hrs-24 hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 3-7 business days:v
NETeller and W.U.:
24 hrs -72 hrs: v

Cashier's Check: 7 business days +:v
Slow- & no-pays : v

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Sportsbook operators may request a rating evaluation.