I’m sure you’re aware that one of the great British pastimes is having a bet on the Grand National or Wimbledon. Think about any event in our national sporting calendar and you’ll soon be wondering about potential odds. A wager or flutter has gone hand-in-hand with sport for as long as sport’s been played.
But it hasn’t always been easy.
For most of our recorded history, gambling has been fraught with risk and danger. The Victorian period ushered in change, albeit slowly. Early bookmakers were either illegal or heavily regulated and tied exclusively to licenced racetracks or courses. Placing a bet was rarely straight forward.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that the modern era of gambling began to take shape. Off-course gambling was legalised resulting in the creation of high street betting shops, many of which we still see today. Of course, this was all to be dwarfed by the onset of the internet and the arrival of online gambling.
In 2019 there were 8,320 registered betting shops in the UK, with roughly a further 800 betting sites online. Never before has there been so much competition for betting revenues, nor has there ever been so much choice.
Now that punters have more choice than ever, it does rather pose the question, ‘where should you spend your money?’
Before we get into the weeds of William Hill and Bet365, it’s important to make the distinction between traditional bookmakers and those born exclusively from the digital era.
What we consider to be traditional bookmakers, were formed out of the legislation changes of the 1960s. Perhaps the best known of the high street bookies are William Hill, Ladbrokes and Coral. Like most bricks and mortar establishments, high street betting shops are facing a long, slow painful death as the world around us becomes ever more digitalised.
This trend has been further entrenched by coronavirus related lockdowns and social distancing rules. The days of the betting shop are well and truly numbered. But traditional bookies have adapted and offer digital gambling solutions to rival their digital counterparts.
The turn of the century heralded the arrival of online gambling sites such as Betfair and Bet365. The impact this has had on the industry cannot be understated. It has revolutionised gambling.
Punters can now choose from hundreds of different bookmakers at the touch of a button, ensuring instant access to the best odds in market. Not only are there more bookmakers to choose from, but the different types of bets being made has exploded. Real-time, data-driven gambling means the bets being placed, particularly on live sport, are becoming more frequent and more complex. For instance, with a football match, you can bet on anything from the result to the number of corners taken in a game (and everything in between).
The added bonus for online-only bookmakers is reduced overheads, compared to traditional bookies. Bricks and mortar stores are expensive to run. For starters, there’s rent and staff to pay. William Hill has 1,500 betting shops in the UK. By contrast, Bet365 has no high street stores and significantly fewer staff costs. Straight away, this makes online bookmakers more profitable than their traditional peers.
I’m sure you’ve had plenty of experiences both good and bad. But to answer this question objectively, it’s important to understand perspectives.
There are two obvious perspectives here. That of the bookmaker and punter.
From the bookmaker’s point of view, making good profits, retaining customers and attracting new customers are key metrics for success. This will involve managing their sportsbook carefully, marketing themselves well and delivering innovation and new products in market to attract share from competitors.
But a punter may view this differently.
The first thing to check is that your bookmaker is licensed to operate in your country. Seems obvious, but not all online bookmakers have licences to operate in the UK. So do your research.
Good bookmakers will also have good reputations. Check out a bookmaker’s social page for negative comments or do some google searches for any news articles involving your bookmaker.
Once you’ve created a shortlist, it’s time to consider the finer details such as, how competitive are their odds, what margins they work too, the breadth and depth of their sportsbook and the quality of their customer support.
You’ll also be focused on introductory offers, ongoing promotions, new products and how easy it is to navigate their user interface. Finally, it’s always important to understand the rules around cash deposits and withdrawals. In many ways, bookmakers behave like banks, so pay attention to the details surrounding your funds.
So, now you know what to look out for, it’s time we looked at two of the UK biggest bookmakers. William Hill and Bet365.
So here we are, the moment you’ve been waiting for! How can you put into practice everything you’ve just learned?
A simple head-to-head analysis between William Hill and Bet365 should give you enough insight to help you choose the right bookmaker for you.
Both William Hill and Bet365 have UK licences and strong reputations, so we don’t need to worry about those for our analysis. Therefore, let’s focus on the following:
Variety is the spice of life, and this is certainly true of sportsbooks. Having access to the right sports across the globe is a critical part of choosing the right bookmaker for you. As you might expect, both William Hill and Bet365 have an enviable array of sports to choose from.
It was close, but there can be only one winner. Bet365 is victorious with a whopping 35 different sports to choose from, compared to William Hill’s 32 sports.
Bet365 take round 1.
If you’re not sure on how to read match odds, then I’d recommend visiting our odds converter. It’s well worth your time.
But as soon as you’re comfortable with your fractions and decimals, it’s time to access the market. The best way to do this is via an odds checker. It aggregates the best-known online gambling sites in the UK, making it easy for you to instantly compare odds.
Upon checking an odds comparison site for the Premier League fixture between West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United. It highlights the spread of odds from some of the biggest names in UK gambling.
Granted, this is only one fixture, but William Hill has priced West Brom to win at 13/8 compared with Bet365’s 31/20. That’s an extra 4.8% of value William Hill are offering to punters.
However, William Hill also offered better odds for Manchester United to win against Southampton (19/20 v 1) and Chelsea to beat Tottenham Hotspur (21/20 v 23/20). Translating into an extra 5.2% and 9.5% of value respectively. Check out the images below for details.
This round belongs to William Hill. So, if you want better match odds with real value, then William Hill is the bookmaker for you.
Given the sheer number of bookmakers to choose from, it’s no wonder introductory offers are an important factor to consider. We can see hands down, Bet365 offer the best sign-up incentive.
As a new customer, Bet365 will offer you £100 in bet credits, whereas William Hill will offer you £30 in free bets (terms and conditions apply to both).
Round 3 belongs to Bet365.
New customers are the lifeblood of any business. But once a bookmaker acquires a new customer, how do they keep them loyal, especially when there’s so much competition around?
Promotions and special offers are a great way to develop customer loyalty and drive customer retention. Good bookmakers will invest in customer loyalty and retention schemes because they know retaining customers is the most cost-effective way of growing their business.
Bet365 have 2 special offers in place. The first is for the bore draw, the second is for unlimited places on first goal-scorer each way bet (see below)
William Hill, on the other hand, have no extra incentives or special offers in place. This was also true of all the weekend’s Premier League fixtures.
Without a doubt, round 4 belongs to Bet365.
Whilst the other rounds are objective, round 5 is more subjective. For some, this is down to a matter of preference, but having a user interface you’re comfortable with, and is easy to use is important. Especially if you’re planning more than just the one-off ‘flutter’.
For the sake of our analysis, we’re looking at the football interface only. First up, Bet365.
As you can see from the screenshot, Bet365’s interface is straight forward and easy to understand. Their UX design team know that ‘less is more’ and haven’t overloaded the page with unnecessary images and details.
The navigation bar at the top of the screen outlines the major categories on the site, and the left-hand scroll-down window clearly labels each sport individually.
This is a bookmaker that clearly understands the importance of good user experience, both from a customer experience perspective, but also from a revenue optimisation point of view.
But what about William Hill?
Maybe it’s because William Hill is still a betting shop at heart, but it’s clear from the screenshot above, they’ve taken a different approach.
For starters, it’s much more cluttered than Bet365’s interface. A lot is going on and it’s distracting to the eye.
The other big difference is about a third of the page is taken up with big visual promotions that aren’t necessarily relevant to the page (particularly the horse and greyhound racing and casino promotions).
It also seems less customer-centric than Bet365. By that I mean, the first football odds shown, aren’t the actual fixtures, but rather ‘Super Odds’ and ‘Enhanced Odds’ that William Hill is keen to promote.
My preference is Bet365’s interface. It’s simple, less cluttered and easier to navigate. Bet365 have put their customer’s needs at the heart of their platform. William Hill, on the other hand, has put their needs first. They have created an interface which spends most of its time selling you stuff you don’t want.
Round 5 goes Bet365’s way.
Our sixth and final round is the ‘money round’! It’s important to remember that in many ways bookmakers behave like banks. So, the terms and conditions they attach to your account will say an awful lot about what sort of business they are.
For most punters using either a Visa or Mastercard, withdrawals will take up to 5 days with a limit of £20,000. Bank transfers will also take up to 5 days, but with an enhanced £100,000 limit. Paypal and Paysafe will transfer within 24 hours.
Deposits are instant. With limits of up to £20,000 for credit cards, and £100,000 for bank transfers.
The Visa Direct option means you can withdraw funds from your account within 4 hours, including weekends and bank holidays. However, there is a limit of £10,000. For all other credit card withdrawals, expect monies into your account within 3 working days.
Credit cards aside, William Hill offers much more choice for punters looking to deposit (and withdraw funds). Most also offer shorter withdrawal timescales than Bet365.
William Hill also lets you deposit and withdrawal more funds, with up to £99,000 limit on Visa and Mastercard.
With quicker withdrawals and larger deposit and withdrawal limits, William Hill claim round 6.
Over the 6 rounds, Bet365 came out victorious with a 4 – 2 win over rivals William Hill. However, the truth is for some of you, William Hill will be more attractive. It could be said the reason why Bet365 have better introductory offers and promotions is that they offer less value where it matters.
For better odds and instant access to funds, William Hill is the bookmaker for you. But if more promotions, innovation and a super slick interface are your thing, then Bet365 is the place to be.
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