It took me a while to list 138.com on this site to be perfectly honest. When they first entered the scene I was sceptical of this brand as just another half-baked betting site trying to enter the UK market. I couldn't have been more wrong.
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.
Their website may look basic but use it for a few minutes and you will see that everything under the hood is in perfect working order. This is an online bookie built for working rather than for showing off.
If you are wondering why you may have seen 138 before they were the principal betting partner of Watford FC until 2018.
- Asian-European Fusion – Everything a UK punter wants plus lots of novel bets & markets.
- Masters of Mobile – Their app is functional and user friendly where others fail.
- No Fuss Website – This is a site that won’t waste your time with unnecessary extra’s.
Prices & Betting Restrictions
Odds prices are good for all of the markets I've tested and generally rank above average, never quite the best value but reliable enough that you know you are not getting a bad deal.
Promotions are a good way to add value to betting, and although 138 do have quite a few promotions a lot of them are aimed at casino players. Sports bettors can take advantage of offers like generous acca boosts and best odds guaranteed on all UK and Irish racing,
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 out there but bigger than many online-only sites provide.
Markets Markets Markets
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 hurling, handball, and surfing.
There are usually a good 25 categories on show at any one time, depending on what is going on in the world of course.
The depth of choice within certain sports is also quite astonishing. You can bet on around 200 world football leagues and tournaments for example, with 15 in Brazil alone. Tennis fans are unlikely to find the site lacking either.
This is a global betting site when it comes to range and anyone who likes to bet further afield than the UK will particularity enjoy the package.
UK and Irish horse racing gets a fair deal of attention here too, along with full greyhound coverage, but punters won’t enjoy the same global focus as is seen in the football markets.
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.
Finally, I have to mention the virtuals section. The range is probably the best I’ve seen, including the usual football and racing etc, but also including table tennis, bingo, archery, and racing roulette. Plenty of variety here then and games start every 3 minutes.
Graphically the package is pretty good too, especially on slower moving sports – watching the archery feels like playing a top of the range console.
But the commentary. Oh, the commentary. It is universally bad. So bad that it actually becomes funny, which makes the experience all the more enjoyable in a funny sort of way.
The In-Play Package
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 138 will suit your needs.
The live odds update clearly with green or red flashes to indicate the direction of movement, but they are a little too quick and easy to miss. There are a good number of funnelling options when it comes to viewing the different bet types, though, and this coupled with collapsible menu bars can save a lot of scrolling.
The in-play interface may be basic, but the game visualisation graphic is certainly not. This is at odds with the rest of the site and not only looks fantastic while adding to the entertainment factor, but it offers a lot of detail about the game in question too, including more match stats than I have seen anywhere else.
This more than makes up for the fact that there is, at the time of writing at least, no live streaming option – not even for horse racing. Cash out, on the other hand, is provided on the majority of sports and bets, so you can take control of your destiny to some degree by utilising this feature.
Keeping Mobile Bettors ‘Appy
My biggest annoyance when betting on mobile is overcrowded apps or sites with screens that endlessly scroll and menus that require four or five clicks to find what you want. The basic design of 138 counters this and makes the site almost perfect when viewed on a small screen device.
In a speed test you could find a market, especially a non-highlighted event, much faster with these guys than most of the well-known online bookmakers, and that is because the sports list is accessible via a quick link. The fact that the app responds almost as quickly as a punter can tap the screen helps too, not to mention taking the stress out of betting live.
This rarely seen method of accessing different sports markets also means that you can move fluidly through the site and get almost anywhere from anywhere else without fiddling around with menu buttons; I wouldn’t be surprised to see others adopting this approach in the not too distant future.
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, but they are kept apart from each other within the app to enable better functionality.
Even the aesthetics work more effectively on mobile since there is less empty white screen space, so the whole thing doesn’t feel so vast and untouched. Yet despite the smaller screen the icons on odds buttons etc still feel substantial and proportional.
This is one of those sites where you would reasonably want to get your mobile out to bet even if you were sat at a desktop computer. The nature of the minimalist design that 138 have chosen makes betting on mobile a very easy job.
138: From Asia to Europe
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.
The operator immediately found a niche offering a more Asian focused betting and gaming experience. It was however the sponsorship deals with Premier League clubs like Watford FC, as well as deals in other sports, that increased the profile of the brand and took them mainstream.
Instead of creating a more European site, it looks to me as though 138 have added features to their existing product that will appeal to Europeans. 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 are 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 and they received their UK gambling commission licence in August 2014.
As a testament to the success they have enjoyed since their foundation, 138 now employ more than 500 staff members.
An Attempt at the High Street?
Take a walk through Leicester Square and head in the direction of China Town, and you may well get a surprise.
138.com have opened their first UK high street shop here making them one of the only online bookies to do things this way around. They have certainly dived in at the deep end given the price of real estate in the capital.
Given the location and the brand's USP this may well be a bit of a one off, a unique business opportunity rather than a plan for expansion, but then again Manchester is another town with a focused Asian community and an are known as China Town, so perhaps this is the beginning of something for 138?
Time will tell, but it does mean that Londoners, or those visiting town for work or pleasure, can pop into the 138 betting shop and see what they think.
138’s Competitive Advantages
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, which is a niche USP I’ll agree, but the site will be loved by any punter who either appreciates something different or wants a more diverse market selection.
It’s also a great choice for bettors who value a mobile gambling experience; in fact, I would go as far as to say it is one of the best mobile apps available. If you like 138 and what they offer as a brand, then it’s unlikely another bookie’s app could tempt you away.
If you only ever bet on UK football or horse racing then I doubt you will get much more out of 138 than you couldn't get at… well, lots of other places. If, however, you like the idea of trying new things and exploring fixtures from far and wide then opening an account would be worthwhile.
A Look At The Site Itself
138 certainly veer more towards the no-frills end of the spectrum when it comes to the site design and appearance. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (unless you are particularly impressed by colourful sites with interactive graphics) as it actually makes finding markets and features and things like that incredibly easy - which is the main purpose of a betting site after-all.
The classical design, mainly black text with red highlights on a plain white background, gives about as much contrast as you can get, and everything feels big and bold. This is preferred over the convoluted menu structures we have grown used to, and if you look around you will see that many of the traditional big bookies are going back to more traditional designs. That said, the supermarket basics approach doesn’t add anything from an entertainment point of view and feels half-baked.
Navigation & Usability
The layout will be familiar to many bettors, with the screen space split into unequal thirds containing quick links and a sports list in one, highlights and live fixtures in another, and the betslip plus a few promotional boxes in the third. This is a layout that feels instinctive and the punter naturally gravitates towards the market they are after.
Navigation then is not an issue, and thankfully neither is speed. The site, no doubt aided by the no frills interface, moves energetically from one selection to another and feels bouncy and responsive at every turn.
Going a little deeper and there are one or two changes to the norm, the main one being that filtering leagues/competitions by sport is handled down the right-hand side of the page. Not being used to this, it caused some frantic scanning at first, but once found it did the job perfectly.
Drop down collapsible menu’s are also in place to make your experience as straightforward as possible, and when looking at the multitude of bet types in event view the large odds buttons couldn’t be clearer.
Cash, Cards, & eWallets
In Europe you can open an account in Pounds Sterling (GBP) or Euros (EUR). The minimum deposit is set at a level to allow even those with more modest means the chance to enjoy a bet or two.
It’s not exactly an exhaustive list of payment methods and this may well put some people off, but the majority of bettors are happy using cards. It is a little odd that Neteller is offered as a deposit option only, and I am informed that while bank transfers are not an option, they can be used for withdrawals in exceptional circumstances.
138 do not state their processing times for withdrawals, but I asked them direct and they said they aim for an absolute max of 48 hours. However, in my experience it has never been more than 24 hours so they are clearly on top of things.
It’s also worth noting that the maximum withdrawal limit of £5,000 is a transaction limit only, so you could make more than one request.
Help From Afar
The 138 brand prides itself on offering 24/7 customer services in both English and Mandarin 365 days a year. If you prefer to communicate in Mandarin then there is frankly no better site available to gamble with in the UK.
The only thing that might sway some punters is the fact that there is no phone support available, so you are restricted to either e-mail or live chat.
However, in their defence these services are very good. In my experience the longest I've waited for a live chat response was 4 minutes (and it’s usually instant) and the longest for an email enquiry was just over one day.
What’s more, the team seem to be very well trained, able to answer complicated questions immediately and communicating like human beings rather than customer service robots.
The FAQ is fairly limited, with only a few options per category and even then, not going into much depth. This forces customers to use the support team rather than self-support, but they seem to be able to handle it.
Gaming, Casino, Macau
Of course, 138 have tons of games, they are an Asian company 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.
There is a full suite of casino, live casino, poker and Macau themed games available, and although many studios have their games hosted here the main software provider is Microgaming.
This is a slots haven first and foremost but you can find jackpots and table games too. There ar around 450 slots overall with the most comprehensive set of funnelling options I have ever seen.
Licence Information & Contact Details
- Name: 138
- Registered Company Name: Fesuge Limited
- URL: www.138.com
- UK Licence ref/No: 38904
- Customer Services: No Phone
- Registered Address: Fesuge Limited, 2nd Floor Athol House, 21a-23 Athol St, DOUGLAS, IM1 1LB
- Phone betting: Not accepted
- Text betting: Not accepted
- Twitter: @138BET