Which betting sites should we prefer?

Usually the biggest sports betting brands on the European market are either Nordic – mostly from Sweden – or British. There are exceptions, though – one of the biggest online sports betting and gaming companies of the world has its roots in Austria. It’s bwin – half of the bwin.party digital entertainment group. From its humble beginnings bwin has become one of the best known European sports betting brands, sponsoring many sports teams all over Europe and beyond.

Betandwin – later bwin – was founded by Norbert Teufelberger with a team of 12 employees in 1997. Its first online betting operation was launched a year later, with its in-house live betting product that made it into a successful operator at the time. In March 2000 the company was listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange.

Betandwin moved its base of operations to Gibraltar in 2001, by acquiring a local sports betting company called Simon Bold. In the same year the company added online casino gaming to its product range, followed by soft games in 2003 and poker in 2004. After a series of acquisitions and due to its increased product range, betandwin was re-branded into bwin in 2006 – a move meant to better reflect the “wide assortment of entertainment offerings covered by the company”.

PartyGaming was also founded in 1997, but with half a world away –Just like Judi Online, it was a network of several online gaming websites founded by American businesswoman Ruth Parasol. The company had quite a few well known brands in its portfolio, but surely its well known operation was PartyPoker, the biggest online poker operation until 2006 (when it was almost pushed out of business by the US Government).

In 2006 – the same year betandwin was re-branded into bwin – PartyGaming introduced its new integrated platform, allowing players to use the same credentials to play over all of their operations. Also, they took over Gamebookers, a sportsbook registered in Antigua and Barbuda.

The same year the US Government announced its new law – the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 – that had a major impact on all online betting and gaming operators in the US. A few days later PartyGaming has announced its suspension of any real money gaming business relations with its US customers (its main market). This announcement has caused its shares to drop 60% in 24 hours.

PartyGaming and bwin have announced the plan to merge in the late 2010, and the transaction was finalized in 2011. The resulted company, bwin.party digital entertainment, has become the largest publicly traded online gaming and betting operator of the world, with customers from all over the globe and a series of great and unique products offered to them.

When I wrote this article the 2014 football World Cup was under way. Considering that this is the most prestigious event of the football world (happening every four years, similar to the Olympics), all sports betting operators focus mainly on it. Thus, football is the highlighted sport at bwin, as well.

Make no mistake – bwin is not all about football during this time. It covers a great variety of other events as well – it covers events (mostly sports, but other, non-sports events as well) in 35 main categories, including tennis and table tennis, basketball and other ball games, cycling, Formula 1 and other motor sports (even NASCAR), chess, snooker, darts and other games, plus entertainment and politics (although its “specials” offer is much less varied than that of some of its competitors).

But back to football, the World Cup. Punters can place their bets on all games of the championship – they have a great variety of betting opportunities (over 340 of them for selected games), including several combined bets like “Team 1 to win and over 2.5 combined goals to be scored in the game” or (and this one is my favorite) “Will a goalkeeper score a goal (incl. own goals)?”.

Bwin has a series of special features and extra services available for its customers – live scores, statistics, results, video news and more.

Bwin’s live betting product is among the most popular in its range – the company was among the pioneers of this kind of betting. It covers a great variety of games and sports, like football (of course), tennis, table tennis and many more. As a plus: it covers the matches of the World Cup, so punters can place their bets on them while watching the game on TV (theoretically it’s possible to place a bet while watching the game at the stadium, but judging by the low quality internet coverage in Brazil and the high number of spectators at the matches, I don’t think that this is practically possible).

And a word about the odds offered by bwin (again, I take an example from the World Cup) – they are at or above the industry average. The payout percentage attached to these bets is also slightly above the average of 95%.

As all good sports betting operations, bwin also provides its users with the possibility of placing their bets while on the go. It has both native apps for the most popular two mobile operating systems – Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android – plus a mobile portal available to users of any other mobile device capable of accessing the internet.

Bwin is one of the few sportsbooks to launch an app dedicated to the World Cup (the link on their homepage points to the Google Play Store, where the app is available) that keeps the players up to date with the latest developments of the game, offers reminders and countdowns to the games of the event, and offers full coverage of the statistics and results – plus odds – of the events of the championship.

Bwin.party is not just about sports betting – half of the group has based its fame on other types of online gaming products. The bwin sportsbook offers its players access to a PartyGaming-powered online casino and soft games section, a PartyPoker-powered online poker room, and live dealer casino games, both on desktop computers and mobile devices. The greatest variety of games is, of course, available in the downloadable casino offered by bwin.com.

There is only one thing I don’t like about bwin – the loads of black it uses, it’s kind of depressing. Otherwise, it’s a great sportsbook, a casino with loads of unique games (developed in-house), a poker room with many tournaments and ring games, and overall an online entertainment center that meets all its visitors’ needs (except for bingo players, as it doesn’t operate an online bingo hall).

Its coverage of sports sets it aside from many of its competitors (there are major ones that offer bets in much fewer sports, although they are major operators on the European market). Its football coverage is great, and so is the number of available bets on selected games. It has good odds, it has a huge company in the background, and it is a popular brand among punters.