BetStars is the sports betting website operation that has grown from the seeds of the online poker site PokerStars. It is a product that has not been without its controversies, particularly in the poker world, but it exists as a competitive bookmaker in a very crowded market.
PokerStars was originally founded back in 2001 by Isai Scheinberg and Mark Scheinberg. The website was thrust into the spotlight in 2003 when the first ever online qualifier for the World Series of Poker Main Event that year, Chris Moneymaker, prevailed victorious after qualifying via a PokerStars satellite.
However, the brand has not been without its controversies. On 15th April, 2011, the US Department of Justice seized the .com domain of PokerStars as part of an investigation into suspicion of money laundering and fraud.
After a prolonged investigation, PokerStars came to an agreement with the US Department of Justice to purchase rival online poker site Full Tilt Poker that had also been included in the investigation and pay the US Department of Justice $225 million to consummate the full asset transfer of the purchase of Full Tilt Poker.
Since then, PokerStars has looked to expand beyond the poker brand with BetStars and PokerStars Casino both being launched to offer additional products to customers. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a number of the Team PokerStars Pro line-up resigning from their positions including poker professional Victoria Coren Mitchell due to their discontent at PokerStars abandoning a 100% commitment to poker.
BetStars was launched in December 2015 under the Amaya Gaming umbrella and has offered customers a chance to bet on one of 23 sporting markets since it began operations. The bookmaker invested a lot of money into promoting its brands with ambassador deals struck with a number of famous sports people including Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Fatima Moreira de Melo.
It has gone on to become one of the most talked about online bookies of all-time with many still unsure about how attractive the bookmaker is given its history as an online poker brand that was involved in a high-profile legal battle with the US government.
Bookie Offers & Promotions
BetStars is very much an apprentice on the online bookmaker scene with some old war horses currently leading the way with bonus offers and promotions so the site can be forgiven for being a little short in their promotional offerings.
Here is a list of promotional offers and bonuses that BetStars has available at the moment. This is more of a focus on the long term offers. Short term offers are not included. To get a better idea of any short term offers available on the site then you should visit the site and check them out.
£20 Worth of Free Bets Welcome Bonus
Win up to £100 with Multiple Bets
Faller Insurance (Horse Racing)
Money-Back Accumulator Insurance (US Sports)
Spin and Bet (Football)
The fact that BetStars already have experience of running an online gambling website in the form of the PokerStars online poker site suggests that they should have a fairly reasonable idea of what the customer wants so we are expecting big things here.
Fair play, first impressions are encouraging. The site has the same feel that the PokerStars product has successfully offered for years. It feels stream-lined, organised, and not too over-crowded which can be a mistake that a lot of online bookies make. The colour scheme is also in line with the PokerStars brand so you know you are dealing with a product from the same stable as PokerStars.
The sports tabs across the top prioritise the main sporting markets with football, horse racing, tennis, basketball, American football, and baseball given priority. Do not fear if your sport is not here because BetStars offers a drop-down menu for the remaining sporting markets in an A-Z format so you will have no problem finding your market. Good start.
The main body content of the front page is organised into four tabs. Firstly, let's say that these tabs are all crucial elements of the site so BetStars has done well to accommodate them all so clearly on the site. Highlights offers the latest markets or most important markets coming up. In-play gives easy access to those markets. Promotions allows easy access to the bonus offers that the site is offering. Then the results section is where punters can check their progress. Everyone you need right in front of you. Great design.
Further positive aspects include the customer service section being fairly obvious at the top of the screen, the presence of the betting slip in the top right is almost a mandatory pre-requisite these days, and there is the understandable adverts for the site's betting partners in the form of Leicester City FC and the BHA.
Unfortunately, BetStars offers no promotional content for its mobile product. It is available to download as a mobile app but you would be forgiven for thinking that BetStars did not even have a mobile offering.
Website Navigation Review
As mentioned above, the knowledge BetStars has acquired from its operations with PokerStars means that the navigational side of the site is spot on. It is a fine art to get the balance right between packing the site with the right information and not making it too confusing. Luckily, BetStars utilises this experience of site navigation to the full.
The availability of the different sporting markets across the top tab and then in the drop-down menu makes any sport very convenient to reach. The current markets and most vital markets are also right there in front of you on the main body content.
BetStars is also not shy in offering its poker and casino products at the top of the page so the switching between those different brands is very easy and the bookmaker also offers adverts for its other brands throughout the sites so they are always one click away.
The lack of easy navigation towards the mobile product is probably the biggest vice. Arguably, it could be said the only vice. The general navigation is easy to use and the signs that BetStars know exactly what they are doing when it comes to catering for the punters are clear to see everywhere.
It seems very frustrating and bizarre that BetStars does not show more enthusiasm in its mobile product. The website has next to no evidence that the bookmaker even has a mobile product and that is the one flaw of this bookmaker.
There does appear to be a widely available iOS app but the Android product is not available in all countries but can be downloaded in some territories. It is a product that could do with more exposure because it is not a bad mobile product.
An online bookmaker in its formative years is never going to offer the huge array of features that other mainstream rivals will be able to deliver but there are still some attractive features. The Spin and Bet feature is the stand-out but we will cover that more as a promotional offer because it does cross between those two.
The in-play markets are also very impressive. In-play has become a pivotal part of sports betting so it is very pleasing to see that BetStars are delivering this in abundance and it is something they are delivering effectively.
A how to guide helps punters through the steps of different sections on the site which shows that BetStars is aware that both experienced and new punters will be visiting their sight so there is not an elitist attitude. This is emphasised with the general sports rules section.
That is about it for features but that is something that could well change over the coming months as the site's user base expands. Features such as cash out and enhanced odds will likely come into play so the next step of BetStars' evolutionary process will be very interesting.
It is always a good sign when an online bookmaker makes its customer service option easily viewable and that is exactly what BetStars has done here. The link at the top of the page is a pleasant change from other bookies that hide it away in any nook or cranny they can find to make it as difficult as possible for punters to find it.
There is then a small level of disappointment that the contact options are not as comprehensive as at other bookies. The FAQ is as standard but after that the contact support form appears to be the only realistic method of contacting BetStars. No wonder it says 24/7 customer service!
The lack of an email address, snail mail address, or telephone number is a bit annoying but at least BetStars shows some willingness to let you communicate with them in the first place. The quality of help is competent but it certainly is a very true case of not too bad but could do a lot better than the current offering.