For a number of years, PokerStars has been the focus of the world’s attention when it comes to online gambling, with million-dollar tournaments on a weekly basis and sponsorship contracts with the likes of Rafael Nadal and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Now operating under the ownership of Isle of Man-based Amaya Gaming, the company has made its long anticipated move into the casino and sports betting markets. BetStars is Amaya’s shot at the sports betting market, and it’s clear the target is to become one of the industry leaders.
BetStars is one of the youngest sports betting platforms out there, but when it’s backed by a giant like PokerStars it’s worth sitting up and paying attention.
Safety and Trustworthiness
True, BetStars is still unproven compared to most bookmakers of its size but there’s definitely little to fear when it comes to fund safety or fairness. Licensing is taken care of through the Gambling Supervision Commission of the Isle of Man and the UK Gambling Commission.
But what should really set your mind at ease is that PokerStars and Amaya have proven that they can be trusted. When, some years back, the company was forced to withdraw from the US market along with many others, it did so in the most praiseworthy way. While competitors failed to pay American players’ balances, PokerStars did so immediately. To make things even better, they ended up buying out their biggest competitor at the time, Full Tilt Poker, and refunded all of their American players as well.
This alone is sufficient to get a hearty recommendation from us, but just to make sure, the company continues to transparently show all its dealings to the public, from their advanced server rooms to the state-of-the-art security measures in place.
Deposits & Withdrawals
BetStars’ parent company has been in the business of processing gambling payments for many years so there’s no need to worry about the smooth processing of payments or the security of your money. Minimum deposit is £10, while the minimum withdrawal is £20. If you already have an account with PokerStars you can also move funds across from there.
BetStars is doing everything it can to muscle in on the industry big boys, and that has included pushing forward its mobile app. Advertised on TV feverously, it’s clear that the brand has invested plenty into this handheld offering. Sadly, it doesn’t really represent a step in the right direction for BetStars, as we tend to agree with punters, who have given it a very lukewarm response so far.
Looking at the issues that have plagued BetStars on the mobile front, performance has been a huge issue. Time and time again this iOS and Android app struggled with lag when we were trying to place a bet, which is especially infuriating when trying to bet in-play. Another issue that we have with the BetStars app is that it is far too basic. The number of sports and markets offered is limited, with the features being practically non-existent and the whole experience just comes across as half-baked.
If BetStars really has aspirations to become a major player within the world of sports betting they are going to have to get back to the drawing board when it comes to mobile play, as this platform just doesn’t have the oomph needed to succeed.
Free Bet Offer
At BetStars, you can get your hands on £20 in free bets for a deposit of just £10. To qualify, you need to place a £10 bet on an event with odds of at least evens (2.00). Bets are credited as two lots of £10 free bets, so you’ve effectively got two free attempts to win from your free credit.
That isn’t going to get the high rollers salivating, and it’s certainly not as elaborate or as seemingly generous as some other betting offers, but it is an honest, fair deal for players.
Odds of 1/2 are a more than reasonable threshold for the bonus terms, and while the overall free bet value is on the low side, it still represents a 200% match on the first deposit. Because there are no stringent wagering requirements either, it’s a much simpler free bet offer to work with, especially for newbies.
Alongside these free bets, there are regular enhanced offers and promotions designed to encourage loyal players to stick around. You’ll find the usual smattering of bonuses, insurance, and money-back on single bets and Accas, but the most fun offering is the Spin & Bet feature, which gives you the chance to multiply your potential winnings by up to 10 times on a selection of events. All you have to do is choose your event and favoured outcome and spin the wheel to be in with a chance of getting enhanced odds.
Betting Markets and Odds Quality
When it comes to the selection of sports on offer, BetStars does enough to take the fight to the biggest betting sites without setting any new standards. There are between 35 and 40 sports on offer, depending on the time of year. All the basics – football, horse racing, rugby, tennis and snooker – are well covered, as far as British punters will be concerned anyway.
To take football as the most obvious example, BetStars matches most of its competitors easily. You’ll find matches to bet on from every level of the British game, not to mention matches from scores of leagues and competitions around the world.
There’s also a broad choice of American and international sports on offer, but nothing too niche unless you count the multi-billion dollar eSports industry.
Within each sport you will find plenty of markets to bet on. In this sense BetStars doesn't offer anything revolutionary but absolutely matches all the industry standards, with all the common European and Asian types of bets readily available. You can expect to find around 100 or more different markets for most Premier League games, for example.
Odds quality is always a little harder to gauge, but the consensus among experienced punters seems to be that BetStars compares favourably to the top competitors but is very rarely the best out there.
If you’ve been keeping up with this review, you'll understand by now that BetStars has serious resources standing behind it. With these resources has come expansion into other forms of betting, with BetStars going hell for leather when it comes to live play action.
Being honest, BetStars is still its infancy when it comes to live betting, so in that sense you can’t expect it to compete with industry juggernauts like Bwin and Sky Bet just yet. That isn’t to say that there’s a shortage of markets here, as football, snooker, volleyball, ice hockey, darts, tennis and basketball, along with select MMA events, are covered. BetStars has also announced that more markets will be added in time, so it’s worth keeping an eye open for future developments.
Looking at the actual in-play betting UI, it’s all pretty basic, as you simply select your game, select your market, and lay down your wager. Sadly, there is very little here to speak about on the features front, with live streaming being noticeably absent. The stats dashboard is also somehwat lacking, with a simple representation of the ball position in real time and a handful of live statistics.
It is possible to cash out in-play bets, though. You simply go to your open bets and click the cash out button to receive the displayed amount.
Taking it for what it is, BetStars doesn’t exactly have much to offer when it comes to live betting (or specials for that matter) just yet, but watch this space, as the foundations for something pretty good are beginning to take shape.
No phone or email support costs Betstars some points in the support department
The Final Word
BetStars is a fantastic sportsbook from a top-notch company that has its sights set on the very top, and it has the resources to achieve that goal. Is it ready for prime time? Maybe not. It achieves “very respectable” status in most regards. But, crucially, there’s a good bonus offer that should suit average bettors well, and overall, it has no major weaknesses, especially in regard to trust and security. We think there’s a lot more to come from BetStars and we'll certainly be keeping an eye on it to see whether it fills the gaps in its sports offering.
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