How South Africa’s best online sportsbooks compare to big international players like Bet365 is a conversation topic which comes up often among punters—and the answer to this question is never a simple one. Not even five years ago, the local industry was quite different from the way we see it today. The good news for punters is that the gap in product quality and service between South African online sportsbooks and international operators is closing fast.
We look at all the components of a sportsbook that customers like you care about and single out some local operators getting it right in each area. For the purpose of this article, we will focus only on sports and not casino and other related betting products.
Deposit Bonuses & Promotions
Deposit bonuses for new customers are widely available in South Africa but vary greatly in size and wagering requirements from one bookie to the next. The local sportsbooks we most admire bring customers through the door with a generous welcome offer and then sweeten the deal with a wide range of promotions to keep them interested. Something we’d love to see more of however is customised offers based on their preferences and betting patterns.
World Sports Betting
A true champion of sports promotions, WSB offers the biggest deposit bonus in South Africa plus more special offers than you can shake a stick at. Get your first deposit matched up to R10 000 and then take advantage of money-back specials and bet boosts available for soccer, rugby, cricket, golf, horse racing, motorsport and more! And that’s not to mention birthday free bets and deposit matches, refer-a-friend vouchers and more.
On top of a R1 000 deposit match for new customers, Bet.co.za offers a wonderful selection of sports promotions to suit every kind of punter. From rugby handicap bet boosts and money-back specials on horse racing to multi bonuses and best odds guaranteed, there’s something for everyone. What’s more, if you place R500 worth of bets on soccer, cricket, rugby or tennis in a single week, you get a R50 free bet to use on any live sport you like.
Sports Betting Features
Powerful sports betting features are what separates the good bookies from the best ones. The flexibility that Cash Out, Edit My Bet and Build A Bet provide make all the difference to the customer. While some local books have been slow to adopt sports betting features considered bog-standard in Europe, other South African operators can go toe-to-toe with the very best like Bet365.
Having Europe as a testing ground has benefited Betway tremendously in terms of implementing new sports betting features for the South African market. They were among the first local bookies to roll out Build A Bet and other features as a way to put more control into the hands of punters. Go try them now!
Sportingbet is always ahead of the curve in South Africa when it comes to new sports betting features. First, they brought live streaming of major events to their customers and then features like Cash Out (Full, Partial, Auto) and Edit My Bet which all help to make Sportingbet an absolute pleasure to use!
Mobile Sites & Betting Apps
With more players now betting on their phones, adaptive mobile interfaces help sportsbooks deliver the on-the-go experience customers want. The best mobile sites and apps are simple and intuitive to use with a full range of betting and banking options. What punters are looking for in a mobile platform is a hassle-free betting experience wherever they are—and we’ve found two local sportsbooks with mobile platforms second to none.
Betway’s mobile site replicates the desktop one flawlessly with a few small tweaks that only help to further enhance the user experience for mobile bettors. But their fantastic on-the-go betting experience also extends to the Betway App available for Android and iOS devices. Jump between sports and markets in virtually no time, place bets on pre-match and in-play events, watch games live through Betway TV and get 24/7 access to customer support.
The mobile site is fully adaptive and easy to use no matter your sports betting preferences. On the Bet.co.za App you can access features such as Instant Bet, allowing you to tap and hold your finger down to get money into play faster. The app also features a customisable sports menu for collating your favourite sports together in one place so they’re always just a click away!
Not long ago customer support was an afterthought for many South African bookies that didn’t warrant much time and investment. But with competition stiffer than ever in the sports betting industry, some operators now see helpful and timely customer support as a way to stand out from the crowd. Whether it’s handling a simple withdrawal query effectively or taking the initiative to contact a customer if their account has been limited, some bookies just can’t seem to get it right while others leave a lasting positive impression.
South Africa’s most popular sportsbook is well staffed with solution-oriented customer support agents who are always willing and able to answer your queries. Hollywoodbets also helps customers through their FICA Self Service which simplifies the player verification process and their regularly updated blog with how-to articles explaining just about every aspect of using the site.
World Sports Betting
With 24/7 support via live chat, telephone, email and WhatsApp, WSB takes customer service more seriously than anyone in the business. All customers are treated with dignity and agents provide solutions right there and then without passing the buck. WSB also closely monitors their social media accounts and are quick to respond on Twitter to any account queries.
Software & Betting Interface
While a few key players still dominate the betting software space in South Africa, newcomers like Aardvark give us reason to believe things are slowly changing. Not long ago, just about every sports betting site in South Africa was running software by BetTech Gaming or Turfsport.
This resulted in most local operators using the same basic template, making each site look almost identical. But with more viable software alternatives for bookies to choose from today, we’re starting to see a more diversified sportsbook offering.
As a UK-based sportsbook licensed locally, South Africa can’t take all the credit for Sportingbet’s cutting-edge software and betting technology. However, the Sportingbet team here in Mzansi have skillfully adapted their software for the local market with specialised features and regionalised payment options.
They were one of the first homegrown sportsbook to completely embrace international technology and it’s really paying off! The new SBTech site includes live feeds and software integrations that really add to the user experience. Bet.co.za is now also better positioned to offer a fully customised betting experience to customers down the line.
Betting Markets & Odds
One pitfall of many local bookies using the same software providers is that betting markets and odds are standardised across the board. Bookmakers who don’t have their own trading teams are forced to take the betting markets and odds offered to them.
The costs associated with bringing their trading in-house is beyond the scope of many local bookies, but this an area where we would like to see more innovation among operators who can afford it. There’s also much room for improvement in odds pricing. If local bookmakers can keep increasing their betting volume, we hope eventually to see them take a smaller margin (3-5%) like Pinnacle or 1xBet.
Sportingbet’s long list of pre-match and in-play markets is unrivalled on South African shores. They offer betting markets on more than 30 domestic and international sports including outrights for the full spectrum of premier and lower division soccer. The Sportingbet live betting portal offers hundreds of markets any time of day and is highly responsive for mobile users.
When Sunbet first launched their offering was sub-standard in just about every department including their betting markets. Today they offer over 100 000 markets on everything from soccer, rugby and cricket to UFC, basketball, esports and more. You can also take bets on political events like presidential elections and TV specials. Sunbet consistently offers the best price on NFL markets and has the widest range of alternative handicaps in South Africa.
Banking is all about accessibility and the local bookies that thrive in this area are sensitive to the needs of their customers. Not everyone has a credit or debit card they can use to bet—some customers need the flexibility of vouchers, web wallets and other payment options. When players want their money, withdrawals need to happen quickly and the best South African bookies make the player verification process as easy as possible for their customers.
Topping up your account and withdrawing funds is quick and easy every time. You can make an online deposit for as little as R10 with a card, pay using Instant EFT with all the major banks as well as OTT Voucher, 1ForYou (or 1 Voucher), Kazang and Blu Voucher. Withdrawals are paid within 48 hours or can be made instantly in cash from any Hollywoodbets branch.
With plenty of banking options, punters shouldn’t have any hassle topping up or withdrawing funds from their Betway account. Use a credit or debit card, Instant EFT or buy a pre-paid voucher for as little as R2 to recharge. Withdrawals are paid within 48 hours to your card, bank account, FNB eWallet or via Absa CashSend.
So how do our local bookies compare with the best in Europe? Quite fairly overall. Even our best sportsbooks have their weaknesses but if you combine all of their standout features you have a betting force to be reckoned with. What we’d love to see though is these bookies identifying their customer’s pain points and refining their product offering to bring it up to a higher level we know they can reach.
Have we left out any local sportsbooks you think are world-class in any particular area? Let us know in the comments below!