When you’re on the lookout for a new betting site, or even if you’re new to betting and want to join in on the fun, there’s a few things you’ll probably want to know.
The most important of which is probably whether a site is trustworthy and random. After that, there’s the actual product itself. What can you bet on? What elements does the site have? There’s also customer service, quality of games and the site itself. Alongside this, you also have promotions to consider.
Finally, you’ve got the things that come down to preference. This includes site design and even the order to which parts of the site matter to you. If you don’t care much for promotions, then that might hold a great deal less weight than another person who considers a good bonus a vital part of their gaming experience.
On this point, we’d advise that after reading our review, you check out the site. We also recommend you look at a whole host of other sites in order to really get a feel for both Smarkets and its competition.
For everything else we try and cover all the important questions here so you can make an informed decision on what betting site is right for you. Not only that to keep things fair well look at both sides of the argument in terms of pros and cons of a certain segment.
We know the amount of choice out there can be overwhelming, that’s why our easy to understand, comprehensive guides are here.
With all that said and done, let’s take a look at the questions you’ll want answered before signing up to Smarkets.
So what exactly is Smarkets?
The easiest way to find out whether a site is worth your time is to compare it to the competition. Of course, the first step to this is finding out exactly what their competition is.
Usually online operators are split up into sites consisting of casino exclusive material, or both sportsbook and casino hybrids. This way, we know whether it’s fairer to compare it to the likes of Betway and Vikibet, or Mansion Casino and Royal Panda Casino.
Well, the Smarkets site doesn’t have a casino, so you might think the former would be the obvious answer.
You see, you never actually bet against Smarkets. That is, they are not the people putting down the money: they’re not taking the bet.
Here you’re simply betting against another individual user of the site, with Smarkets making a 2% commission on net winnings. That’s it.
We’re not sure if this is the future of the industry or a strange niche that will never hit the mainstream. However, with the company trading £100 million a month (as of 2015), it’s hard to see them going away any time soon.
On the other hand
How on earth do you compare them to other sites when their product has such a strange twist to it? Well, we’ll judge it per site element, as they remain pretty much the same.
As to what to compare it to? Some might choose an off the wall brand like BlitzFantasy just for sheer strangeness. However, perhaps the answer does lie in the more traditional, especially considering a few years back its CEO Jason Trost mentioned Betfair specifically to Business Insider UK when referring to companies taking a traditional “sports betting route”, adding “so their pricing is getting worse not better”.
So what exactly can you bet on at Smarkets?
Considering its rather untraditional set up, the line up here is generally fairly tame. You could argue in some respects, it’s more traditional than sites like Centrebet that have a dedicated E-Sports section.
The sports available via drop list are as follows:
- Horse Racing
- Ice Hockey
However, the main draw here is the additional focus on politics, TV and entertainment.
On the other hand
There’s little doubting that it’s a rather poor sports offering. We understand that the focus here is to move away from the traditional sports betting route. In a way, it’s quite admirable in a market so oversaturated with websites of a similar nature. However, more here would certainly be a plus rather than a negative.
What’s the customer service like?
The good news is that their customer support includes e-mail, Twitter, post, phone (between 9 am and 7pm) and that all important, game changing 24 hours, 7 days a week live chat service.
Other than offering fax or carrier pigeon, that’s pretty much everything you could possibly want. This puts them ahead of other sites, such as Gamebookers (which has no live chat function at all) or Tempobet (which offers live chat through limited parts of the day.)
On top of this, they have one of the best FAQ sections we’ve ever seen. It’s detailed, easy to read and well designed. This goes through everything from betting education to payments to terms and conditions. No stone is left unturned from what we can see.
On the other hand
The main drawback of this is that you can only talk to live chat if you are already a member of Smarkets. If someone has any questions they would like answering before signing up to the site, we’re afraid they are plain out of luck.
What is the reputation of the site?
As a relative newcomer to the industry, it is pleasing to note that they do not seem to have any particular black marks against their name. That doesn’t mean that every review of their site is a five-star extravaganza. But there’s certainly enough to feel like you’re safe signing up for Smarkets and your money is secure as best as we can tell.
They also have a great and detailed section on responsible gambling. This really does portray them in a very positive light. They appear to have gone above and beyond in this regard and should be applauded for it.
Their licensing from the Malta Gaming Authority and the UK Gambling Commission is also noted at the bottom of the screen.
On the other hand
Although the reviews do come out as pretty decent, there’s very few of them and not all of them are from particularly well known or necessarily trustworthy websites. There’s even fewer customer feedback responses. So while we may be able to say that there’s nothing to suggest that their customers aren’t unhappy, that’s because there’s nothing to suggest their feelings on the site at all.
This is often the case for betting sites that haven’t been around for as long as Coral or William Hill. Our general impression is this is usually more likely to be good than bad. This is simply due to the fact that people are quicker to complain than to compliment. So usually this at the very least means they haven’t left their customers feeling let down enough to consider it worth writing a report online about.
However, we can’t really give an honest portrayal of customer satisfaction or indeed their reputation among the gaming community at this stage due to a lack of feedback.
What promotions are available?
One interesting thing about having a site like Smarkets is that you’re not really sure if the same expectations apply. On the plus side, there is a promotions sections. The bad news is it only has one promotions at the time of writing.
This is the welcome bonus. This is a refund bonus you’ll receive after depositing £20. You’ll receive a £10 bonus, so a 50% bonus in the form of a refund from your first net market loss. The bonus is not the same for every country with different amounts needed to quality. However, they all work out to 50% so there’s no real variation in quality here.
The best news here is there really doesn’t seem to be much of a catch in the terms and conditions. Assuming Smarkets doesn’t have any tricks up its sleeves, this looks like a terrific welcome bonus. We always think it’s better to have a smaller amount but a better deal and this is a great example of that.
On the other hand
There’s a couple of terms and conditions here worth noting. This offer will be withdrawn after three months and users depositing funds through Skrill of Neteller will not qualify for this offer.
With that out the way though, it’s still a pretty great offer.
However, having one excellent promotions does not negate the lack of anything else available here. We feel that Smarkets could learn from the creativity found among the online casinos and realise that a good selection of offers can really make a site feel alive.
Is the site well designed?
Technically speaking, the site is beautifully designed. It’s an absolute joy to use in pretty much every sense. It’s smooth. It utilises space beautifully. It’s so minimalistic that there’s not much to write about.
From the homepage you have a simple tiled design similar to Windows 10, with a few options all pointing you to sign up to the site. It’s essentially a landing page advertisement but it’s a very good one.
It tells you everything you need to know about the site. It’s an online betting exchange not a sportsbook. It has 2% commission. You get a £10 bonus. You can bet pre match and in play and so on.
From here, you’ll move to a simple selection of the top markets with available markets on a drop list to the left hand side.
While we have criticised the site for lacking a certain amount of content, it does make the site feel incredibly spacious. This is a site that feels like it can breathe. The colour scheme, the mixtures of grassy and neon greens, works incredibly well. We can really see that if this site becomes bigger, this design will do it a lot of favours in terms of branding. It all just feels right.
Remember we mentioned how great the FAQ section was? Well, a big part of that is due to this design. Having less information really does make what is there stand out.
On the other hand
A lot of this design, as mentioned, has come at a price. That is the fact that it does lack content compared to some other sites in terms of sports on offer. Not only that, but although the site is technically marvellous, those who enjoy the more colourful nature of Mr Green’s Casino and Sportsbook or BGO may find the overall feel of the site a little cold.
The main issue here is we worry that if the site does get more and more content then eventually it will lose some of its minimalistic charm. Although sites like Virgin Sportsbook and Casino have managed to pull off having a very large site while feeling spacious, there is a distinct look here that they may be unable to replicate on a bigger stage.
What banking options are available?
We have to mention first that having all the information available at a simple click of a button without any design issues or confusion is an absolute joy.
Onto the information. The following options are available for depositing funds at Smarkets:
- Visa debit
- Solo/Maestro card
- Visa Credit Card
- Bank Transfer
All these options are instant, except for bank transfer, which can take 3-5 business days. The minimum for these methods is is £10, except for Neteller, which is £20. There are no maximum stakes, except for Neteller and Skrill, which is £5000.
For withdrawing funds, the options are exactly the same. Transaction take 1-2 business days for Neteller and Skrill, 5-10 for bank transfer and 1-6 for the rest. The minimum for all is £10, except for bank transfer, which is £20. There is no maximum on all of the options, except for Mastercard, Eurocard and Solo/Maestro card, which is limited to the deposit amount.
On the other hand
They should have mentioned on here that if you choose Neteller and Skrill, you will not be eligible for the welcome bonus. Also, the lack of information on maximum amounts for the majority of deposit options is disappointing and leaves readers guessing. This is a rare occurrence on this site.
So what’s the verdict on Smarkets?
This is a site with some major upsides. The site design is brilliantly done. It feels just different enough to set itself apart, while not seeming to alien. It’s like the conservative cousin of the more out there Rizk Casino in terms of newcomers to the betting scene.
The 2% commission is obviously a major part of the site and that welcome bonus is a great little extra. It’s not without its problems, as we have outlined. However, ultimately, whether or not you consider the site worthwhile entirely depends on how much you like the sites core concept.