Interface and Display
The famous red branding of ‘The Sun’ newspaper hits new arrivals as soon as they land on the website’s homepage, both on the top navigation bar and around the general interface. The firm’s big-name connections also feature prominently, with Ian Wright and other famous faces being proudly displayed in adverts and banners, particularly on the homepage.
While the layout of the homepage (and the website in general) isn’t that much of a departure from the bigger names in online gambling, the content itself is something of a surprise. Much less of a focus is put on in-play opportunities, and despite there being relatively little content in all, minority sports such as darts and greyhound racing are given more prominence. In a way this is encouraging (especially as some smaller firms have done away with greyhound racing altogether), but with less football and racing featured, it feels a trick may be being missed.
The navigation bars to the side and at the top of the page are easy to use, and in fairness in-play betting does take pride of place here, as well as special promotions such as the ‘Sun Six’ competition. In terms of its range of sports, the site categorises the available disciplines into ‘Racing’ (horse and greyhound) and ‘Sport’. Although drawing a helpful divide between racing-orientated punters and perhaps more casual sports fans, this again doesn’t give football the prominence it probably deserves given it is such a major factor in British bookmaking.
Range of Markets
Save for obscure or specialised betting sports, Sun Bets isn’t particularly left wanting for any of the markets you would expect from even one of the larger bookmaking firms. The aforementioned ‘Racing’ section features a full range of markets on British and Irish horse and greyhound racing, while also allowing for ante-post betting on many of the biggest upcoming races. International racing is also included.
In terms of football, all the typical markets are priced up, including goalscorers, cards and half markets. As might be expected, the widest range of betting options is reserved for the biggest matches, however, even many of the more low-key affairs have at least 40 markets each. That said, there are few genuinely obscure fixtures available; most of the games on offer are from Europe’s major footballing nations, with just a few exceptions.
One feature of the site which makes it stand out among smaller firms is a range of ‘Daily Specials’, mostly concerning football. An innovative way to view ready-made multiples or enhanced odds, this is one of the top options on the navigation bar and provides a wider range of bets.
Bonuses and Promotions
As part of its PR-heavy approach to the industry, Sun Bets has more promotions for customers (both new and existing) compared to just about any other firm around. Although clearly aimed at the small stakes punter, its ‘Bet £10, get £30’ offer for new customers is fairly generous, while a range of other concessions are available on racing, football and other sports. Refreshingly, these aren’t just restricted to the traditional ‘Best Odds Guaranteed’.
With money back if beaten by the favourite at certain meetings, ‘best price’ promises on a range of football markets and even a ‘Cheltenham Bank Builder’ to build up a pot of free bets to use at The Festival, most bases are covered. However, these are once again restricted to small stakes punters, with several T&Cs and restrictions on maximum payouts and free bet values.
Although not given prominence throughout the site in the same way as many of its rivals, Sun Bets still offers a full-range of in-play betting opportunities. As is the norm, these focus heavily on football but also allow for some less obvious sports such as ice hockey and snooker.
The range of markets in each fixture is fairly expansive when it comes to football, with up to 64 in-play opportunities for each match, and although generally more restrictive when it comes to other sports, this isn’t always the case.
In-play football betting is accompanied by a ‘Match Centre’ with animations of the game’s action in most cases, which is a nice touch that allows punters to build up an idea of which direction the match is headed in.
Statistics and Information
The omnipresent link to listen live to Talksport is something a bit different when it comes to providing customers with sporting updates, but besides this and a results service, the website really offers very little when it comes to information.
Most serious players offer streaming for football and a multitude of other sports events along with products like horse racing commentary radio. Sun Bets does not.
Surprisingly for a brand that was so serious about racing in its print editions, their racecards are very basic (jockey, trainer, weight, form figures and breeding are just about all that’s available). This is particularly bizarre given each horse has a section for more detailed form, which is left blank. When it comes to race coverage, the site offers the option to ‘Bet & Watch’, with the industry-standard minimum bet of £1 required to watch any British or Irish horse race.
Besides the live ‘Match Centre’ (which is restricted to in-play betting), there is also very little available for other sports aside from football. Of course, in an age where statistics on even the most obscure of sports are readily available online, it could be argued this isn’t strictly necessary, but it still puts the firm behind some of its rivals in this area.
Payment methods are one area where Sun Bets really does fall flat. Only debit and credit cards are accepted, and to add insult to injury, only one card can be registered to an account at any one time. With most online bookmakers (both larger and smaller than Sun Bets) accepting a wide range of methods, at least extending to online payment companies, this is something in which they are seriously lacking.
It is true that for most customers this won’t be an issue, given the majority will presumably wish to deposit and withdraw using their card anyway, but it still puts a restriction on the website’s accessibility that could be fairly easily avoided.
Customer Satisfaction and Support
Although it has received some criticism for its PR-heavy approach to the industry (and was reported to be running at a loss as recently as summer 2017), there hasn’t been all that much criticism of the website in terms of functionality. Other than some ‘Page Not Found’ messages popping up occasionally through broken links, the website works fairly well, although it clearly knows its clientele is the small-time punter.
For when things do go wrong, all the usual methods of customer support are available through the ‘Help Centre’. These include 24/7 Live Chat, phone and email support. There is also the option of getting in contact with staff through Twitter during daytime hours.
Sun Bets has to be viewed first and foremost as what it is – a firm for the less serious punter. With limits on stakes and returns (including a ludicrous £5 limit on some enhanced odds), as well as a heavy focus on promotions, this is clearly not a site for professional gamblers.
However, what it does do, it does relatively well. Its range of promotions is among the widest in the industry, while it also does a good job of ensuring that a large array of racing and football markets are available, even if they aren’t always particularly well signposted.
Therefore beginners or those who just like to bet the odd five pounds may have found a friend in one of the newer additions to the online bookmaking scene.
However, those who take their punting a bit more seriously will probably not be as interested.