Being honest it look me a while to list 138.com on this site. When they first came on the scene a few years back I was sceptical of this brand as just another half baked betting site trying to enter the UK market. I must say I couldn't have been more wrong about this company though. As one of Asia's biggest bookies they really do offer something different to British punters, especially when it comes to variety, there are few sites that have the global range that these guys offer. Bet on everything you would expect from a normal sportsbook plus some sports and markets you may never have imagines to look at.
The brand is also excellent at long term retention offers for customers. Covering football, tennis, golf, horse racing and other major sports, you can rely on 138 promotions to always be available, providing longer term value for regualr punters. If you are wondering why you may have seen 138 before they are heavy sponsors of UK football and the principal betting partner of Watford FC.
- Asian-European Fusion - Everything a UK punter wants plus lots of novel bets & markets.
- All the traditional markets you might expect plus many you wouldn't.
- Great value long term existing customer promotions.
Welcome Offer - Bet £10 Get £10
The welcome offer from 138 is perfect for the type of company they are. The problem with many new, or less well known brands in the UK is they often come up with convoluted sign up offers that effectively put people off. When trying out a brand like 138, where you know little about them, you don't want to have to risk lots of your own cash or commit to a lot of betting. The first bet matched bonus up to £10 is therefore a very good opportunity to try them out without having to shell out a lot of cash or make long term commitments.
When you join, deposit (£10 minimum) and bet £5+ at odds of 4/5 (1.8)+, you can claim a matched bonus token (basically a free bet) up to the same value once that qualifying bet has settled. The only annoying bit is you have to contact support by email or live chat to claim (see contact details later). Once you've contacted them you will then get your token within 24 hours.
The bonus must be used in one go, stake will not be returned but any winnings will be cash. It remains live for 5 days from issue and is accessible from a drop-down menu on the betslip. Only debit/credit card deposits are valid for the welcome offer.
138 are, as you might have guessed from the logo, an Asian betting company, and they don't pretend not to be. Originally called '138 Sun Game' the company was established back in 2005 and focused on Asia, becoming one of the most recognised brands in the region. In 2012 the brand renamed itself 138.com and began marketing in Europe.
Immediately the operator found a niche offering a more Asian focused betting and gaming experience. It was however the sponsorship deals of late with Premier League clubs and other sports that has increased the profile of the brand with the mainstream.
In my opinion it looks like instead of creating a European site they have added features that appeal to Europeans to their existing product. This melds together to create a unique site that offers some markets and bet types that are hard to find on these shores.
The site and customer support is also available in Mandarin, as well as other Asian languages, and not many UK-focused sites provide that. The brand is licenced and operated by Fesuge Limited, based in the Isle of Man. They received their UK gambling commission licence in August 2014.
Interface and Appearance
In general 138 are more at the no-frills end of the spectrum when it comes to the site design and appearance. This is by no means a bad thing, well unless you love colourful sites with interactive graphics, as it actually makes finding things like markets and features incredibly easy, which is the main purpose of a betting site after-all.
The classical design, mainly black and red text on white background, gives about as much contrast as you can get. This makes finding things so much easier than on very sleek and dark looking sites with convoluted menu structures. In fact if you now look around you will see that many of the traditional big bookies are going back to more traditional designs that punters want.
The nature of the minimal graphic design also means the site is very fast to load, especially on mobile. 138 do have a mobile app although being honest this is a sportsbook where you may as well just use the website as it is so easy to navigate.
Apart from a central panel displaying offers and highlights there are no other promotions or adverts in your face with this bookie. This is very refreshing and probably the absolute polar opposite t something like Paddy Power.
Sports and Markets Available
This is an area where 138 come into their own. They provide the typical traditional sports we mainly bet on but they also feature many interesting sports that would be difficult to find in many places. This includes things like water polo, surfing futsal, floorball, badminton, netball and events such as the Olympics and winter Olympics.
The depth of choice is also quite astonishing. You can bet on around 200 world football leagues and tournaments for example, with 15 in Brazil alone for example. This is a global betting site when it comes to range and any one who likes to bet further afield than the UK will particularity enjoy the package.
It is not just the selection of sports that makes the this a unique offering, the choice of markets is also more encompassing. This is a good place to find handicap, Asian handicap and over/under betting choice.
Of course being Asia oriented they take their eSports seriously and you can also find specials and novelty bets from around the world.
Prices and Betting Value
Odds prices are good for all of the markets I've tested, generally above average, never quite the best value but reliable enough that you know you are not getting a bad deal.
The regular promotions are what really help to add value to betting with 138. As I've already mentioned if you bet often on markets like football, for example, then you can be sure that if the game ends 0-0 and you've bet £5 or more on the result then you will get your money back up to £20 as a bonus token. This may sound unremarkable but when you consider around 10% of games end 0-0 this is a good way to ensure you get another go with some of your stakes.
For some markets 138 are the only place even providing odds in the UK, for that reason alone they are worth having an account with.
Minimum bet is a nice and clear £0.10 and the maximum bet depends on the odds and the market, it is usually capped at £8,000 but you can contact them in advance to arrange larger stakes. You can win up to £100,000 in any one 24 hour period too, higher than most of us ever need worry about.
Certainly not the highest limits you can find but bigger than many online-only sites provide.
Live Betting, Live Streaming & Cash Out
No-frills again but that, in my view, makes for the best in play betting experience. If all you want from your live betting is vast selections covering sports all of the world, along with big market depth and the ability to place wagers quickly and easily, then there are few who could claim to be better than 138.
There are no live streaming options yet, even for horse racing, and that is perhaps a little bit of a let down for a brand with such good market depth. If streaming doesn't concern you however then you may actually appreciate the lack of streaming, which often seems to activate all on its own with other betting sites. Cash Out is provided and covers the majority of sports and bets.
My biggest annoyance when betting on mobile is overcrowded apps or sites with screens that endlessly scroll or menus that require four or five clicks to find what you want. The basic design of 138 however makes the site almost perfect when viewed on a small screen device.
In a speed test you could find a market, especially a non-highlight event, much faster with these guys than most of the well known online bookmakers. The mobile app and site also contain all of the casino and gaming sections, meaning you don't need multiple apps or addresses to switch between products.
This is one of those sites where you would want to get your mobile out to bet even if you were sat at a desktop computer. The nature of the minimalist design of this company makes betting on mobile a very easy job.
The other added benefit of the slimmed down graphics is the speed of the thing. This is one of the fastest loading mobile sites I've seen and that can be a critical factor when trying to stick a bet on through a slow mobile network.
Gaming and Casino
Of course 138 have tons of games, they are Asian and the continent loves casino more than any other. This is a site that is more like Macau than Las Vegas, and in some ways that is refreshing to a European audience overexposed to American style casinos.
Social Media Presence
138 have active social media accounts on Twitter (@138BET) and Facebook. These are updated daily and are a good source of news for football and Watford in particular.
With not offering a phone service this can be a good way to get in contact with the brand as an alternative to live chat. The brand basically have a social media presence if you want to interact with them that way but at the same time they don't force it upon you.
Unique Selling Point
The USP is quite obvious form this review, 138 offer range and depth with an Asian-focussed betting experience. This is one of the only places to go in the UK to bet in Mandarin for example and will be loved by any punter who either appreciates something different or want a more diverse market selection.
If you only ever bet on UK football or horse racing then I doubt you will get much out of 138 that you couldn't get at say Ladbrokes. If however you like the idea of trying new things or you simply want a wider range of choice then get an account.
Payment Options and Banking
In the Europe you can open an account in Pounds Sterling (GBP) or Euros (EUR). The minimum deposit is just £10 with bank cards or £20 with eWallets, the withdrawals have the same limits.
138 do not state their processing times for withdrawals but in my experience it has never been more than 24 hours.
Customer Service and Support
The 138 brand prides itself on offering 24/7 live chat and email customer services in both English and Mandarin. If you prefer to communciate in Mandarin then there is frankly no better site available to gamble with in the UK.
In my experience the longest I've waited for a live chat response was 4 minutes and the longest for an email enquiry was just over one day. The only drawback is you can't actually phone them up - although you can request a call back from them.
Responsible and Safe Gambling
As a fully UK licenced company, and having been licenced for many years now, 138 have all the standard safe and responsible gambling tools available (see below).
If you need independent advice there are several independent organisations available free of any charge, such as GamCare (http://www.gamcare.org.uk/).
- Deposit Limits
- Self Assessment
- Time Out – 24 hours to 1 months
- Self exclusion - 1 month to 6 months or permanent
- Full customer history
- Parental control measures
- Referral options
Licence Information and Contact Details
UK Licence ref/No: 38904
- Name: 138
- Registered Company Name: Fesuge Limited
- URL: www.138.com
- Customer Services: No Phone
- Customer services address: Fesuge Limited of Clinch’s House, Lord Street, Douglas, Isle of Man IM99 1RZ
- Phone betting: Not accepted
- Text betting: Not accepted
- Twitter: @138BET
- Registered Company address: As Customer Service.