Originating in Alice Springs, Northern Territory and still licensed there, Centrebet is perhaps most famous for being, in 1993, the first bookmaker to become licensed in Australia. Not content with that milestone, three years later in 1996 it became the first bookmaker to go online in the southern hemisphere. The subsequent years have seen the company go from strength to strength, and it has undergone a lot of activity in terms of takeovers and mergers. First of all it was acquired in 2003 by its biggest rival – domestically at least – The SportsOdds Group for A$46.55 million, which demonstrates the success it had enjoyed in the first decade of its life. Two years later SportsOdds merged its three businesses (Centrebet, SportsOdds.com and SportsOdds.co.uk) into one entity, under the name Centrebet. It was floated on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2006 before once again being the subject of a takeover in 2011, when Sportingbet acquired them. In a tactic surprisingly common in the bookmaking world, the two businesses were restructured and kept as two separate concerns, sharing the same odds and markets, but offering different promotions and offers. You won’t be surprised to hear that’s not the end of the story. In March 2013, perhaps motivated by its great rival Ladbrokes’ entry into the Australian market, William Hill the UK bookmaking giant acquired the Australian arm of the Sportingbets business – namely Sportingbet and Centrebet. Five months later Tom Waterhouse was taken into the fold and the three sites were once again modified to share markets and odds, but not offers and promotions. Watch this space because 2015 looks set for further changes. In February Sportingbet was rebranded as William Hill, and rumours are that Centrebet will follow suit later in the year.
One thing that has set Centrebet, and its partners, apart in terms of Australian bookmakers is that it is far less reliant on the racing market, concentrating on a vast array of other sports and markets, (over 4000 individual betting options each week at last count) so for AFL fans tired of having to navigate away from the racing heavy front page, this could well be the place to go.
The only criticism that could be aimed at Centrebet, is that their offers are pretty standard at best, and at worst are often blown out of the water even by their sister company Sportingbet.
Australian Rules is covered very comprehensively by Centrebet. An impressive 207 markets are available for each match, giving the punter all the usual options, as well as the choice of margin, lines or handicaps. Centrebet’s trademark feature pick your own line, is used very effectively, giving you that added flexibility to be as brave or conservative as you want. What impresses me about their coverage of AFL, is that where on many sites you have to search around for other non-match bets, here they are given almost the same billing, making it easy to take a punt on for example the Rising Star, or Brownlow Medal.
The website, probably due to the fact how many changes the company itself has gone through in recent years, has had several upgrades/modifications, with the last one happening just a couple of years ago. It was much needed to be honest. But what we have now is a slick, professional looking site – still in its traditional black – that is laid out in such a way to take advantage of the large number of sports and markets Centrebet is famous for covering. A lack of flash images means the site loads quickly and is speedy to use, even without the best of connections, and it is easy on the eye.
A column on the left gives you the different sports/markets, while the large central area features forthcoming fixtures and events from around the world. This gives the site, not only an international feel, but also one that it is very immediate, in-touch with the whole world of sport no matter what or where it is.
A tab on the right hand side (if no betting slip is in use) also lists the next 6 sports you can bet on, or you can choose to tab across to the next 6 races.
Betting is as straightforward and quick as you would hope, it’s easy to change your bet, or add multiples half way through, which isn’t always the case.
Recently relaunched, the new Centrebet App (available free for all Apple and Android devices) is now one of the slickest on the market. It looks and feels similar to their website, but the colour scheme is somewhat lighter to allow for the smaller screen and visibility. It allows you to do practically everything you can on the main site, including place a bet, check your balance etc, and there is also a nice Media Centre section allowing you to watch videos of AFL previews, highlights and tips.