The internet feels like an all-knowing source of information. But in the case of bookmaker reviews, it can be a source of misinformation.
Some bookmaker reviews are written by legitimate, unbiased sources. These reviews are often written by people who enjoy gambling, and have actually used the bookmakers in question. However, it’s important to be aware that the majority of reviews are written by people with a vested interest in promoting one particular bookmaker or group of bookmakers.
So, can you trust bookmaker reviews?
Affiliate programs are the main driving force behind bookmaker reviews.
Gambling affiliates are individuals or companies that promote and advertise online gambling websites. They earn a commission for customers they refer, in the form of one-off payments or a share of revenue (player losses). There’s big money in gambling affiliations. Therefore content creators are motivated to give their audience the hard sell on particular betting sites rather than form a more honest, well-rounded review of their services.
One of the big problems with gambling affiliations is that new or less-established gambling brands — or simply those desperate to make an impact on the industry — will often give the best incentives for new signups. This means that content creators are more inclined to focus on promoting those brands in order to boost their own profits, as opposed to recommending websites based purely on merit. This severely undermines the overall value and honesty of bookmaker reviews.
With so much competition in the sports betting sphere, bookmakers need to stand out. Paid reviews are, unfortunately, often used as a strategy for creating positive hype around a sports betting brand.
A paid bookmaker review is usually published by an individual — such as a betting content creator — who has been compensated in some way for their opinion. This compensation can be in the form of money, free products or services, or sponsorship. With a paid review, both parties usually understand that it’s collaboration. Therefore objectivity is compromised from the outset.
As a betting blogger myself, I can attest that many paid reviews are often already pre-written by gambling affiliate sites (or even the bookmakers themselves) for third party individuals to publish and pass off as their own opinion. In other words, the ‘opinion’ being paid for often isn’t an opinion at all.
Customer Feedback Ratings
A potentially useful place to search for bookmaker reviews is on an independent review site, such as Trustpilot. These sites enable customers to have their say.
The problem is, it can be difficult to know which opinions to trust and which ones to ignore. For example, on Trustpilot you’ll find that many of the most reputable UK sports betting brands — Bet365, Ladbrokes, Coral, Betfair, Paddy Power — all have extremely poor ratings. Meanwhile some slightly lesser known sports betting sites have significantly better ratings, despite offering inferior products. Why would that be the case?
Well, it’s likely that some brands focus more on obtaining reviews on sites such as TrustPilot. This might involve requesting that happy, winning customers drop a review to rate their experience.
However, another strong possibility is that bookmakers are employing people to actively post fake positive feedback about their site and/or negative feedback about their competitors. While I have no evidence to prove that fake reviews are being published, I know for sure that this happens across many areas of e-commerce (e.g. on on Amazon). So, given some of the shady sales tactics employed across the gambling industry as a whole, I’m less inclined to give suspicious-looking customer reviews the benefit of the doubt.
I should however state that, in defence of gambling sites, they’re really up against it when it comes to customer feedback. Dissatisfied players are more likely to publicly slate a vendor than a satisfied player is to praise it. So it’s common to find extremely negative reviews from players who suspect that casino games are “rigged” after they’ve hit a bad patch, having never complained previously. Unfounded, “sore-loser” accusations are common on feedback sites.
Bookmaker reviews ought to be a great way to help narrow down the best sports betting sites. However, very few reviews/ratings come from legitimate, unbiased sources. Selfish motivations impact the opinions published online.
So always be weary of the intentions behind any bookmaker recommendations you read or hear. Use review sites written by those who clearly have first hand experience in sports betting. And if you’re in doubt, opt for a long-established betting site — because public perception is hard to fake on a large scale. The big companies thrive because, on the whole, they offer a good product and maintain high standards.
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