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In depth review of pinnacle sports bookmaker

The following is an in-depth review of the online bookmaker Pinnacle Sports. The review is specifically written for an Australian audience because that is the focus of our sports arbitrage website. The review covers all aspects of Pinnacle Sports including its history, licence, features, markets covered, website, customer support, plus the pros and cons of using the bookmaker. The review is completely unbiased and independent of Pinnacle Sports and information is up to date at January 2013.

Some information in our review is only applicable to sports arbitrage traders – if you do not understand any concepts or terminology we recommend you read our lessons on sports arbitrage in Australia.

 

If you wish to skip the comprehensive review below, you can refer to our summary of key advantages and disadvantages.

 

Lowest margins = highest odds

Pinnacle Sports operates on the lowest margins in the sports bookmaking industry. This means Pinnacle Sports always has the highest odds. PERIOD.

For the arber, this means almost all trades will have one side with Pinnacle Sports.

For the square punter, this can be the difference in the long-term between being a success and being a failure. Any serious punter understands that obtaining the absolute best odds is critical to successful sports betting.

Some punters are under the false impression that Betfair (and similar exchanges) have the best odds. On face value they appear to, however Betfair charge a 5% commission on profits which negates any perceived odds benefit. In addition, Betfair can impose a 20% ‘premium charge’ for winning players!

 

In-play (or live) betting online

A feature of Pinnacle Sports is that it enables Australians to bet online on sporting events which are in-play. In-play bets are offered on many sports.

This is in stark contrast to all Australian bookmakers, primarily because in-play online betting is specifically disallowed by our gaming licence regulations. In-play betting via Australian bookmakers can only be performed via telephone.

Pinnacle Sports offer in-play betting on a wide range of sports, easily covering the codes which typical Australian square bettors trade in.

 

Big limits

Pinnacle Sports offers one of the highest betting limits across sports bookmakers globally. Typical line limits are $4,000 – $25,000, depending on the sport and time left until the match begins. The maximum betting limit is clearly displayed before placing a bet.

Most Australian bookmakers aren’t even close to this (except TAB which theoretically offers unlimited bets for walk-ins).

In addition to high limits per bet, Pinnacle Sports allow an unlimited number of bets to be placed consecutively. This can generate extra profit on some arbs.

So how do other bookmakers compare?

In short, they don’t.

There are benefits to using Australian online bookmakers (such as the sign-up bonuses, reload bonuses and special betting offers) however these are short-term in nature. These bonuses – which Pinnacle Sports do not provide – are in place to attract new business, but they do not benefit punters in the long-term. That’s not to say there isn’t a use for these bonuses, far from it, but in the long-term punters need to be betting at the highest possible odds to improve their chances of success.

Click above image for more information on Pinnacle Sports unique approach

Pinnacle Sports were the first bookmaker to go against the traditional bookmaker model by introducing ‘reduced margin pricing’ to the industry, generating profit from lower margins but higher turnover. For example, Pinnacle Sports offers odds of $1.95 – $1.96 on head-to-head matches, significantly improving on the $1.84 – $1.91 odds given by most Australian bookmakers.

Pinnacle Sports odds are even superior to the betting exchanges, such as Betfair – remember exchanges charge commission on winnings, Pinnacle Sports do not.

Refer to the below tables of odds offered for some recent major sporting events, taken exactly 24hrs before each game. The highest odds for each line are highlighted in orange:

2012 NRL grand final

Bookmaker Bet limit Bulldogs Storm
Pinnacle Sports $4,000 2.10 1.83
Bet365 $1,200 2.00 1.83
Betfair*** $1,800** 2.08 1.82
Centrebet n/a* 2.05 1.80
IASbet $625 2.05 1.80
Luxbet n/a* 2.05 1.80
Sportingbet n/a* 2.05 1.80
Sportsbet $625 2.05 1.80
TAB Sportsbet unlimited 2.10 1.75
Tattsbet n/a* 2.10 1.77
Unibet n/a* 2.05 1.81
  1. * limit not disclosed until after you confirm wager
  2. ** Betfair market depth
  3. *** Betfair odds include 5% commission on winnings

 

2012 AFL grand final

Bookmaker Bet limit Swans Hawks
Pinnacle Sports $4,000 2.67 1.54
Bet365 $750 2.60 1.52
Betfair*** $1,200** 2.63 1.54
Centrebet n/a* 2.60 1.52
IASbet $400 2.60 1.53
Luxbet n/a* 2.65 1.50
Sportingbet n/a* 2.60 1.52
Sportsbet $400 2.60 1.53
TAB Sportsbet unlimited 2.60 1.53
Tattsbet n/a* 2.65 1.50
Unibet n/a* 2.65 1.50
  1. * limit not disclosed until after you confirm wager
  2. ** Betfair market depth
  3. *** Betfair odds include 5% commission on winnings

 

2013 Superbowl XLVII

Bookmaker Bet limit Ravens 49ers
Pinnacle Sports $134,000 2.81 1.53
Bet365 $16,800 2.74 1.47
Betfair*** $26,000** 2.77 1.50
Centrebet n/a* 2.70 1.48
IASbet $2,400 2.61 1.52
Luxbet n/a* 2.75 1.46
Sportingbet n/a* 2.70 1.48
Sportsbet $2,400 2.61 1.52
TAB Sportsbet unlimited 2.60 1.50
Tattsbet n/a* 2.55 1.52
Unibet n/a* 2.70 1.50
  1. * limit not disclosed until after you confirm wager
  2. ** Betfair market depth
  3. *** Betfair odds include 5% commission on winnings

 

You will notice from the above that Pinnacle Sports offered the highest odds on both teams in all matches – a perfect example of the ‘reduced margin pricing’ model in action.

Pinnacle Sports is able to operate under this ‘reduced margin pricing’ model by running their sportsbook via automated systems. Odds move instantly as bets are placed (although bets of greater than $10,000 are usually required to move odds). In contrast, the typical bookmaker relies on slower human traders to move odds and therefore need to build in a larger buffer for error (hence the lower odds).

Betting and sports coverage

Pinnacle Sports cover most sports and leagues worldwide and offer numerous lines on each sporting event. The more common lines offered are money line, goal/set/point line, and Asian handicap, but on occasion they offer special bets according to card, minute to score, etc.

Coverage of Australian sports is not great. Certainly not as deep as most Australian bookmakers. The top grade of Australian sports are always covered by Pinnacle Sports, but secondary divisions are not. On occasion there will be lines offered on lower Australian leagues (for example Victorian Premier Cricket) but it’s not widespread.

Having said that, Pinnacle Sports coverage will suit 99% of Australian sports punters.

One of Pinnacle Sports biggest let downs is the lack of horse racing coverage. There simply is nothing offered in this space. So if you bet on horses, trots or greyhounds then you will need to keep accounts open with the main Australian bookmakers or betting exchanges. Same goes if you enjoy exotic wagers on Australian sports. Pinnacle Sports offer betting on sports – and nothing else.

As a sign of the times, Pinnacle Sports now offer a betting category called “eSport” which caters to multiplayer video gaming and betting thereon. At the time of writing this review they were the only major bookmaker in this space. The games that betting lines are offered on can vary (depending on upcoming tournaments), but frequently include games such as Starcraft 2 and Dota 2.

Another major draw card of Pinnacle Sports is that it enables Australians to bet on in-play (live) sporting events online. This type of bet is specifically disallowed by all Australian bookmakers due to licencing regulations. Online in-play bets are offered on many sports, including but not limited to American football (NFL, NCAA), soccer (Champions League, EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Europa League, A-League and many more), baseball (MLB, NPB), basketball (NBA, NCAA, NBL), tennis (almost every game worldwide) and ice hockey (NHL). Bear in mind that the in-play betting coverage has no live video/audio streaming of the events so you need to be watching it on TV, listening to the radio or otherwise find an online streaming site to watch the event whilst betting.

eSport (multiplayer video gaming)

Yes you read that correctly, betting on the outcome of a video game.

It’s big business – the fastest growing ‘sport’ in the world, eSport is taking sports bookmaking in a completely new direction. Despite significant growth in eSport, Pinnacle Sports is the only major bookmaker offering betting lines on eSport matches and tournaments.

Pinnacle Sports offer betting lines on the prominent multiplayer tournaments at the time, however frequently include games like Starcraft 2 and Dota 2.

There is a real possibility for eSport fanatics to profit from inaccurate odds, because the market is so young that a well-informed eSport fan can know more about players and strategies than a bookmaker’s traders. This situation will continue until the bookmakers employ adequate teams of traders that fully understand the constantly evolving strategies that eSport is known for.

There is little information provided on the internet for punters who want to get started in this space, however as a start you can refer to this website: eSportbet.com.au

Services and Features

Accept AUD Yes
Payment options (Australian customers) Skrill Moneybookers, POLi, bank transfer, credit card, debit card, Neteller, EntroPay, ClickandBuy
Minimum bet $1
Maximum bet The maximum limits vary per sport and league but are clearly marked on the odds screen before you bet. Pinnacle Sports offers one of the highest maximum betting limits across sports bookmakers. Typical limits are $4,000 – $25,000 per line.

 

Further, Pinnacle Sports allow an unlimited number of bets to be placed consecutively (i.e. if you bet the maximum limit for a line, once that bet is confirmed you are taken back to the odds screen and can make additional bets on the same line), however odds will move after each bet so be careful to double-check odds before placing consecutive bets. This feature of Pinnacle Sports allows some arbs to be even more profitable.

Payout limit None
Deposit turnover requirements None
Bonus turnover requirements n/a – Pinnacle Sports do not offer bonuses
Credit facility None
Multi betting (parlays/accumulators) Yes
Mobile site Yes
Mobile app None
Dormant account fees None
Identity checks Pinnacle Sports reserves the right to request valid proof of identification from all players. Valid proof of identification includes but is not limited to, a picture ID (copy of passport or driver’s licence) and a recent utility bill listing your name and address as proof of residence.

 

However, in our experience this is not always requested from members.

 

Website layout and interface

Pinnacle Sports diverge from the norm when it comes to their website layout. The standardised layout among Australian bookmakers is the three-column (navigation on the left, odds in the middle, betting slip on the right) format, whereas the Pinnacle Sports layout displays the navigation at the top of the page, the odds for the selected sport at the bottom, and the betting slip confirmation as a new page.

It takes a few bets to get used to it, and mistakes can be made if you are not careful – especially with drop-down boxes and mouse wheel scrolling – but once you get used to the layout it’s easier to use than the standard three-column layout. In fact, Pinnacle Sports layout allows many more betting lines and options to be displayed on the one screen so for arbing it saves considerable time.

Pinnacle Sports sophisticated approach allows numerous betting features not provided by Australian bookmakers, including:

  • the maximum limit of each bet per league is displayed above the line type column at all times (limits for money line, goal/set/point line, and Asian handicap are all displayed at the same time). In addition, when you hover your mouse over a bet input box any specific limits set on that line or match are immediately displayed in a pop-up notification. Refer screen shot above for examples of this.
  • dynamic lines are offered to members. This lets punters watch odds move live on screen without the need to refresh the browser. Odds changes are identified by coloured font and allow the punter to understand how the market is moving at a glance. Refer screen shot above for examples of this. In sports arbitrage there are significant benefits from understanding how a market is moving, which we won’t delve into in this review.
  • a proprietary spread drop-down box that allows bettors to buy and sell points on sporting events within a range (i.e. Australian bookmakers might offer odds on an event at +/- 8½ points – on the same game Pinnacle Sports would offer a range of +/- 6½ to 10½ points with the punter being able to choose the points spread and have odds adjust accordingly)
  • odds are provided to three decimal places due to the automated nature of the back-end systems. This is in contrast to all Australian bookmakers who round down their odds to two decimal places for punters (consequently taking further money away from punters)
  • a detailed ‘graded bets’ and ‘pending bets’ interface that is unmatched in the industry (this is a huge benefit to arbers that place scores of bets per day and need to track the status of a large number of bets across a range of bookmakers)

Like most European and American bookmakers, Pinnacle Sports uses slightly different betting terminology to what Australians may be used to. For example, they use “money line” instead of “head-to-head”, “1X2” instead of “win-draw-win”. However, it is not hard to pick up the terminology and the arbers out there have no choice but to learn.

Pinnacle Sports also has a mobile-specific betting website that allows players to place wagers using their tablets or smart phones. It is perfectly acceptable for the square punter, but because it is not as fully featured as the main website it should not be used for sports arbitrage.

In short, the Pinnacle Sports website is simplistic, but effective. The interface was designed for the professional sports punter. It was not designed by a graphic designer, marketer or anyone else with a creative bone in their body, and it makes the sports arbitrage experience that much better for it.

Customer support

On paper this is one of Pinnacle Sports weak points. This is because they do not offer live chat or phone support to its members – in fact the only customer support is via email. On the positive side, their customer support email service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and in our experience has been very efficient and very fast at responding to e-mails. SportsBookReview (the biggest bookmaker rating agency worldwide) rates Pinnacle Sports customer service the ‘most efficient and well run’ in the world.

Of course, it doesn’t matter how good your customer service is if there is a constant need to call them from all the problems you encounter. This is where Pinnacle Sports gain the edge over Australian bookmakers. At Sports Arbitrage Australia we have made dozens of calls with all Australian bookmakers customer support teams, but only had to contact Pinnacle Sports customer support twice, and in both instances they were in the right.

Deposit methods

Deposit method Minimum deposit Maximum deposit Processing time Fee
Skrill $15 None Immediate None
POLi $30 $501 per day Immediate None
Bank transfer $15 None 3 business days None
Credit/debit card Equiv. to €20 Equiv. to €800 per day Immediate None
Neteller $15 $50,000 Immediate None
EntroPay Equiv. to €20 Equiv. to €800 per day Immediate None
ClickandBuy $15 $1,000 per day Immediate None

 

For security, they use 128-bit certificate-based encryption to protect the details of your financial transactions over the internet. This is the same security standard for internet banking by Australian financial institutions.

Like all bookmakers, funds deposited to your account must be in the same name as the account holder. This is a requirement of international money laundering laws.

Withdrawal methods

Withdrawal method Minimum withdrawal* Maximum withdrawal Processing time Fee**
Skrill $15 $75,000 Immediate $20
Bank transfer $15 None 3 business days $35
Neteller $15 $50,000 Immediate $20
EntroPay Equiv. to €20 Equiv. to €800 per day Immediate $20
ClickandBuy $15 $1,000 per day Immediate $20
POLi Withdrawals not provided via POLi. Use bank transfer instead.
Credit/debit card Withdrawals not provided to credit or debit cards.

 

* Note that there is no minimum amount for the first withdrawal per calendar month. The minimum withdrawal amount displayed above is for subsequent withdrawals in the month.

** Note that the first withdrawal per calendar month is free of charge. The fee amount displayed above is for subsequent withdrawals in the month.

Withdrawal payout times

Pinnacle Sports have a reputation of providing the quickest payouts of all online bookmakers.

When withdrawing to online e-wallets such as Skrill Moneybookers, Neteller etc; the funds are available in your account in under five minutes. On the very rare occasion up to 30 minutes. This quick turnaround is paramount in sports arbitrage where money can be rolled over again and again on the same day to maximise profits for arbers. This is one of the reasons why Sports Arbitrage Australia recommend Skrill Moneybookers as the preferred funding choice for sports arbitrage.

When withdrawing via direct bank transfers the 3 business day delay is partly due to the manual processes at Pinnacle Sports and partly due to Australian banks requiring time to clear the funds. This withdrawal method is therefore not recommended for arbers, however is perfectly acceptable for square bettors.

Licence

Pinnacle Sports are based in Netherlands Antilles in the Southern Caribbean island of Curacao and is fully licenced and regulated by the Government of the Netherlands Antilles, which also functions as the regulating body for the gaming industry.

Since launching in 1998, Pinnacle Sports have built a reputation among professional punters not just for providing the best odds, but also for their responsive and reliable customer support.

XML feed

Registered members can access an XML feed for the Pinnacle Sports odds. This is only for technically minded punters who wish to set up applications that monitor the latest odds. In sports arbitrage there are a handful of people building their own private arb finding software to increase their profitability. This is a very advanced topic and punters interested in this path will find that Google is their friend.

Pros

  • Pinnacle Sports operates on the lowest margins in the sports bookmaking industry, meaning they always has the highest odds. For example, Pinnacle Sports offers odds of $1.95 – $1.96 on head-to-head matches, compared to the typical $1.84 – $1.91 odds given by Australian bookmakers
  • Australians can bet on in-play (or live) sporting events online
  • One of the highest betting limits across sports bookmakers. Pinnacle Sports typical limits are $4,000 – $25,000 per line
  • The maximum limit of each bet is clearly displayed at all times (i.e. before you make a bet)
  • Good selection of payment options for Australians, including Skrill Moneybookers (recommended for arbers and square bettors alike), POLi, bank transfers and many more
  • Most sports and leagues worldwide are covered, and numerous lines are offered on each sporting event. European and American sports are covered extensively
  • ‘Dynamic lines’ let registered members watch odds move live on screen without needing to refresh the browser. Odds changes are clearly identified and allow punters to understand how the market is moving at a glance
  • An unlimited number of bets can be placed consecutively (i.e. if you bet the maximum limit for a line, once that bet is confirmed you are taken back to the odds screen and can make additional bets on the same line). This allows some arbs to be even more profitable
  • Spread bettors are given the option to buy and sell points within a range (i.e. Australian bookmakers might offer odds on an event at +/- 8½ points – on the same game Pinnacle Sports would offer a range of +/- 6½ to 10½ points with the punter being able to choose the points spread and have odds adjust accordingly)
  • No turnover requirements for deposits
  • No payout limit – unlike Australian bookmakers, payouts on bets are never capped.
  • Pinnacle Sports provide the quickest payouts of online bookmakers. When withdrawing to online e-wallets the funds are usually available in your account in under five minutes
  • Pinnacle Sports offer betting on eSport (multiplayer video gaming), a first in the bookmaking industry
  • Details of the member’s historic and pending bets are provided in a format and level of detail that is unmatched in the industry (mostly benefiting arbers)
  • Customer support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is very efficient and fast at responding

Cons

  • Coverage of Australian sports is not as deep as most Australian bookmakers
  • Lack of horse racing, trots or greyhounds coverage
  • No sign-up bonuses, reload bonuses or special betting offers
  • Hefty fees are charged on the second and subsequent withdrawals per month
  • Withdrawals are not provided to credit or debit cards
  • Although Pinnacle Sports customer service is regarded as one of the best in the sports bookmaking industry, they do not offer live chat or phone support to its members – only email support

Conclusion

As you can see above there are far more pros than cons. This tells the story of Pinnacle Sports. Professional sports punters and arbers already know the benefits of Pinnacle Sports and are betting with them frequently. The primary reason for this is Pinnacle Sports superior odds – after all this is what punters care about the most.

However, Pinnacle Sports are not an all-in-one solution for Australian punters due to the lack of horse racing and depth of Australian sporting leagues, which means that Australian punters will likely need to keep accounts open with Australian bookmakers.

The team at Sports Arbitrage Australia have accounts with most Australian bookmakers in conjunction with an account at Pinnacle Sports, and we find that more than 80% of our square bets are placed through Pinnacle Sports. The rest of our bets are spread across the other bookmakers depending on who has the best odds at the time of placing the bet.

If you wager on sporting events with the goal of being successful in the long-term then a Pinnacle Sports account is a must have.