Last month we had quite an extensive look at some of the online deals available to punters.

It was on pages 18/19 and 20 of the August issue. One that I didn’t look at in any detail was Michael and Alan Eskander’s Betstar, the website from which we often draw markets for the upcoming Cups. They have their markets up and available a long time before anybody else, although I notice now that one or two more have come to the party.

It really surprises me that everybody isn’t into the action, but maybe after the fiasco when equine influenza occurred last year, and some were faster than others in refunding on moral grounds, the majority have decided that it doesn’t hurt to wait a few more weeks.

Betstar is indeed a very comprehensive website, with a generous offer of a 20 per cent free bet on your initial deposit, up to $500 (deposit $3,000 and you get a free $500 bet). It’s a colourful site, very easy to chart your way around yet quite different from, for argument’s sake, IAS, Sportsbet and some of the other big players in its visual and open front page approach.

The offerings, as far as weekday betting for the average punter go, are pretty similar to the offerings of organisations such as Colin Tidy’s Betchoice, with the better of two TAB dividends (that in effect means the middle dividend) and a place dividend adding 5 per cent.  Like Betezy, they have a weekly newsletter which contains a joke, but if you look at their effort for July 25 (go online and seek the Betstar Weekly Blast) you will see that they, in my humble opinion, provide a more sophisticated approach.

Speaking of Betezy, it is still king of the TAB dividends with its best dividends plus all sorts of bonuses, but there are some aspects of the website that get on my goat. For example, I get tangled up with the actual raceday open page because I too often click on the race, anticipating I’m going to find odds of some description, and all I get is the numbers with “runner” against each name.

Still, it is an example of a website which started up in a pretty primitive way and has never stopped improving its act, until now I understand that it is amongst the most popular with ordinary punters. It’s not hard to see why, but unless it has changed, I would be careful about home state dividends where exotics are concerned. I may be wrong, but I think that’s still the name of the game. They too offer a very generous joining bonus and as mentioned, a regular Friday preview which is well worth a read.

Centrebet was Australia’s first Internet betting site, and it’s one of the biggest. During the week, they offer local TAB odds, top fluctuation or starting price. I cannot imagine any situation where I would opt for starting price whenever those three remained available to me. Perhaps top fluctuation disappears after the previous races run, and are only two options. Yes, that’s probably what happens, or else there would be no point in having it. The Centrebet home page is amongst the most easily manoeuvrable on the entire Internet.

It’s an absolute beauty and anybody with a minimal amount of understanding of the Internet would be able to sail through it. On the other hand, whilst there is a comprehensive question-and-answer section, I had a real problem with finding the actual rules (I mean what they offer and what they pay, not all the rights they reserve, which are ironically much easier to find). Call me slow, but I’m not quite sure what the rules are, because I couldn’t find them. This might be something for this very large organisation to give attention to, but of course it’s probably just my own shortcoming.

Racing Odds appears to have made few changes whatsoever since the departure of Luke Behrmann, yet with the new blood I feel something is sure to happen; as I mentioned last month it hasn’t yet, and on July 30 the Behrmann company disclaimer, etc, was still at the bottom of the home page. We shall see. One change (I think it’s new) is the free selections for members which is available on Friday for Saturday racing. Given the power behind the organisation, in terms of one of Australia’s major professional players, I should imagine that this represents a most valuable bonus for members and a highly commendable one at that.

Before we turn to the TAB sites, I wouldn’t want you to think that we have forgotten Sportingbet. For that matter, there are about a dozen more websites, and any information they forward me here at Equestrian concerning (in particular) what special features they offer, will be used in future articles on Internet betting.

Sportingbet is a huge organisation with a boss who loves a punt. They have a very easy-to-navigate website, and you can quickly access results on their home page. They offer a variety of free bets and I’m told that their fixed Saturday prices compare most favourably with anybody else on the Internet. They are as fast in this regard as Betchoice and Sportsbet, which is really saying something.

There once was a time when the ability of anybody off course to obtain such markets was a thing of wonder, but now with the advent of such advanced technology in the computer world, it’s bread and butter for these boys. My only disappointment on this score is that most of the Internet bookmakers’ fixed prices are starting to get that slightly non-competitive look about them, the kind of thing you used to see in the Sydney interstate markets, where you might as well have had sheep on the stands.

The very good thing for the Australian investor/punter is that every one of these websites is light years in front of anything we could have imagined as little as 10 years ago. And regardless of what anybody in any state tries to tell you, access to all the sites is available to every punter. Needless to say, it is because of this availability that the biggest TAB player has been making such noises about establishing itself in Darwin, not so long after identifying such a practice as akin to getting into bed with the devil. Money speaks all languages. So we’d better have a look at the websites offered by the TABs and see what’s to see.

New South Wales and Victoria are in practically every detail similar. They are both extremely easy to operate, fast (especially express betting) and accurate. They are usually up with the front runners as far as their price offerings are concerned, although they dragged the chain rather badly last September when they dilly-dallied about refunding moneys wagered on the Cups and subsequently lost when the equine influenza disaster hit. It was due to the front-running Betstar organisation that the wheels were oiled on the Internet, and after the Eskanders threw out the challenge everybody realised they’d better get on board, like it or lump it.

I guess this “big business” attitude of the biggest TAB in the industry, which is indeed now a giant and not just a jolly green one, will always bother me. However, it is accessible, it’s convenient, and it does offer a tremendous range of opportunities. It’s going to find things harder and harder if it’s to keep its profits up, however, while competing against the Darwin raiders.

Basically, as you will have gleaned while you’ve been reading these articles, these Darwin operators have carte blanche to offer all the TAB dividends, plus their own, plus anything else they feel like offering, and they offer a punter the best of all of these! Betezy, for example, offers you the best TAB, as does Betchoice on metropolitan meetings and as do several of the others (but not all . . . so remember to be very careful whom you are betting with for a particular kind of bet).

I’m sure though, that there is no better racing home page on the website than the ones served up by SuperTAB and TAB Ltd. Whoever designed those should be out there teaching some of the others a thing or two. Also, when there have been problems, they have been very quickly and highly efficiently dealt with.

Queensland (TABonline) provides a very impressive smaller TAB for its UniTAB service. It incorporates South Australia and the Northern Territory, and the whole shebang is owned by Tattersall’s. When you go there, you’ll notice that it is really low key, especially with its home page which is principally black and contains very few options. It offers a companion radio station which a lot of people swear by.

I know that two people from this magazine, people very well known to you, both use it quite comprehensively and have a lot of time for it. Just like its bigger brother, it has a computerised phone service as well. I have issued the warning on more than one occasion about the size of its exotic pools. You can’t suddenly manufacture money out of nothing. If you invest on, and win, a first four which has $500 in the pool, you are not going to get any more than $425 or so, regardless of how much the other TABs pay. For information however, it’s a brilliant website. Have a look at it for yourself.

I wanted to have a look at Tasmania and Western Australia, which have both got great little TABs, but we’ve done them in the past but we haven’t got the space here. You can do it yourself at  and Maybe next time.

Final notes: Rumours of account closures are apparently all too real. Some companies are very tolerant in this regard, others don’t take kindly to your winning too often. I guess you find out by trying them. And some offer bonuses if you invest on certain days, and if you make deposits on certain days (truly!). So it does pay to know the rules!

Click here to read Part 1.

By The Optimist