Joining SkyBet will improve and enrich your life. It could even solve all your financial worries. SkyBet have the biggest and best free bets, offering thousands of pounds a month.
As one-time paid affiliates, that is the sort of rubbish that SkyBet wanted us to say. They really didn’t care as long as their partners sent the sign-ups. But the SkyBet review that follows is a little less second-hand car salesman about persuading you to join this online bookmaker and a bit more circumspect.
SkyBet’s Sneaky Offshore Company Structure
SkyBet’s holding company in the UK was called Bonne Terre Ltd. It was deliberately closed, as a search at Companies House will show. Instead they set up a parent company in the tax haven of Alderney. What did they call the new company? Bonne Terre Ltd of course.
Yes, they are passing off the offshore company as the old, closed UK one of the same name. Their Gambling Commission licence is held in the name of Bonne Terre Ltd (the Alderney company), yet they gave the Gambling Commission a Leeds address for this company (the one the old UK company had previously used).
How can an Alderney company pretend to be based in the UK, have a mainly UK-resident player base and then pay taxes at the reduced rate levied in Alderney rather than the proper tax rate of the mainland UK? The whole thing smells like a rotten fish.
While the likes of Google come under intense scrutiny from HMRC and the government, SkyBet’s shenanigans have gone unnoticed by either the tax authorities or the Gambling Commission. Surely this dubious set-up is worthy of serious investigation?
This bookmaker was the sports betting product of the huge BSkyB Group Ltd company and it is now majority owned by a venture capital group called CVC Capital Partners and it is all about the bottom line with them. Bookmaking is just a means to making money. Good service, honesty and integrity can take a backseat. This is a company that rips up contracts and does anything – however legally dubious and unethical – to maximise profits. Take it from us, we know from brutal personal experience.
Anyway, we’ll rewind and give our historical SkyBet review. The firm has had an online presence since 1999, making it one of the more established internet sports bookies out there.
Their previous parent company’s hugely popular Sky TV was integral to their growth, offering sports bettors the opportunity to place a bet directly through internet connected TV simply by pressing the red button, and their marketing efforts, particularly their slogan ‘It matters more when there’s money on it’, have brought this betting company to the forefront of the competition.
SkyBet Free Bet, Bonuses and Promotions
Unlike some other sites, Sky Bet is very upfront about their initial welcome offer, which is a £10 free bet with no deposit needed.
As far as other promotions go, pickings are actually pretty slim, with only the odd football (eg. predict final score) or horse racing (hard luck bonuses) promos. You will find regular racing offers, such as better place terms and odds, and there’s some sort of feeble loyalty program.
SkyBet does restrict the residents of most countries. It is almost uniquely UK-focused. The countries whose citizens can register with this firm are: United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, Gibraltar, Jersey & Guernsey.
When you first reach the Sky Bet site, you’re greeted by the familiar red and blue colours of the massive Sky branding design, which creates a fairly tabloid and ugly look.
Top centre of the site is where you’ll find a rotating banner of the top three sporting events of the day, along with a few prices, that give instant access to the markets. Under that there’s another selection of betting opportunities and specials, such as transfer specials for the football (soccer). Then you’ll find a blue box with ‘Live’ highlighted in red, which shows the events that are scheduled to show on TV. Here you’ll see which channels are showing the event and some prices for the runners, but you might miss the Live Betting Calendar icon on the title bar of this section, which is rather small.
Back to the SkyBet homepage and next in the centre section is the forthcoming events, which are listed in time order and feature little icons showing you which channel the event will be televised on, if live betting will be available and a link to stats on the event.
Next to that is the highlights section, which features three top bets you might be interested in, below that you’ll find a ‘Don’t Miss’ section, which links you to other products offered under the Sky online gaming umbrella such as Sky Poker and Sky Vegas (the casino), then lining the bottom of the homepage is the ‘More…’ section that shows options for Horse Racing Form, Help and Support, and a Betting Calculator to help you work out returns on your bets before you place them.
Down the left side of the homepage is where you’ll find your list of sports, which is first preceded by the top ones of Football (soccer) and Horse Racing, upcoming horse races, and a list of quick links to popular and timely betting opportunities. The bottom of this left hand side panel is where you’ll find a section called ‘Extras’, which stars a variety of features, promotions, services and stats to enhance your experience.
There’s also a mobile device compatible version so you can place a quick bet on the go, and a variety of apps are also available to follow your favourite events while you’re out and about.
Being a UK facing sportsbook, much like their parent company, Sky Bet focuses quite a bit on UK based sporting events. However, that’s not to say there aren’t sporting opportunities outside of the UK to bet on. Sports range from regulars such as Football, Horse Racing, Greyhounds, Tennis, Golf, Rugby, Formula 1 and Cricket to others such as Gaelic Games, Winter Sports, Virtual Sports, Olympics and Poker. You’ll also find some non-sport opportunities to have a flutter on, such as political events like the outcome of the next US Presidential Election and next leaders of the major UK political parties. Then there are TV and Film specials such as who will be the winner of Big Brother or BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Down the left of your sport page you’ll find filter options to help you pin-point exactly what you’re looking for, but it also lets you see at a glance all the opportunities that are available to you in one place, which is extremely handy and makes finding and placing a particular bet a breeze.
There are a variety of features to be found at SkyBet, most of which are under the Extras menu and include such things as football and horse racing form and stats, betting calculator, Twitter posts, Sky Bet Video, the Sky Sports Centre and more.
There is one other thing you’ll want to check out and that’s the little icon on the right, in a tab above the Facebook icon that pops up with the text ‘Boss? Look Busy!’. Click it and some sort of excel sheet covers the screen. They are trying to persuade you to bet while your at work with that feature, hardly socially responsible.
Payment methods include Visa Credit, Visa Debit, Visa Electron, Mastercard, Maestro, Solo, Moneybookers (Skrill), Laser, Neteller, Paypal and cheque. Minimum deposit is £5, with a minimum bet amount of 5p.
If you don’t find the answer to your question in the detailed help section on the site, you can get in touch with support via phone, email, live chat or post. However in our tests their customer service is slow and unhelpful.
Our SkyBet Review Verdict
They are badly managed and have poor customer service. The firm has a history of falling out with their partners, whose contracts they ripped up, stealing their referred client base. SkyBet are largely operating out of a tax haven: Bonne Terre Ltd is the offshore Alderney parent company, that had been the same name of a UK company that was quietly closed down. They can only have used the same parent company name to cloud the fact they had moved the parent offshore for tax reasons. We are not sure how they have got away with this company structure so far.
They have already been fined by the Gambling Commission for playing fast and loose with their social responsibility obligations. In short, this is a shady operator with a poor history of compliance. This entire sorry tale leads this review to conclude that SkyBet has suspect ethics and must be avoided by all right-minded gamblers.