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138.com is one of the leading online gaming sites that currently services the Asian market. They offer a full suite of gambling products including sports betting, live casino games and financial betting.
They are a highly reputable company with a wealth of experience in Asia and are without a doubt one of the best options for users in Asia.
138.com is a fresh new site aimed at Asian players. Although they only opened in 2012, they have been in the industry much longer, previously operating as SunGame.
It is operated by Xela Limited which is based on the Isle of Man. This is where the groups CEO Garth Kimber previously held the government role of Head of E-gaming and unsurprisingly where Xela Limited has chosen to seek their license. As well as a strong interest in the Asian market, it is hoped that 138.com will break through into the large UK market. The company is the current sponsor of Championship football team Watford.
The 138.com website is available in different regional formats – Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and English (International). This has the advantage of not just being translated into different languages, it allows the potential for the site to tailor itself for different areas.
Promotions are targeted to users based on their country, so users in the UK will see completely different content to those based in Asia.
138 supports all major Asian currencies including Thai Baht, Vietnamese Dong and Chinese Renminbi.
The site’s sportsbook is well laid out and easy to navigate. There are a large number of markets on offer including favourites like football and basketball alongside lesser markets such as handball and speedway. A handy ‘Today’s Event’ menu at the top of the sidebar lets you find the sport of the day. You can get to the Live Betting markets by clicking the clearly marked red button in top of this sidebar which takes you to a fresh screen with all your betting options including a section exclusively for Asian handicaps in play. While the horse racing does tend to focus on the UK and Ireland markets there is an international tab where you can pick up Indian meetings.
Generally the prices appear to be at the better end of the market offering a bit more value than you will find in most Asian facing sportsbooks. For those who enjoy watching events there is the option to view a live stream once you have placed a bet or you can even find a Live Schedule listed on the main sportsbook page, where you can watch different events each day just by logging into your account.
The casino in 138.com is split into two rooms – Vegas and Macau. The idea appears to be that one caters for a Western audience while the other is for an Asian audience. In actual fact they are just two rooms provided by two different software providers, with Amaya operating the Vegas room and Ho Gaming running the Macau room.
In both rooms you can find all the normal games such as Casino Poker, Roulette and Craps and both host a number of different Blackjack variants. In addition you can find a large number of different Slots games and Video Poker. Admittedly the Ho Gaming Macau room does have a few more Asian games such as Pai-gow Poker. Out of the two I prefer the graphics and choice of the Macau room, although this is down to a personal preference and both rooms function well.
This split continues in the Live Casino with both Emerald and Gold Rooms available to play in. These rooms both feature real games operated by live dealers, who you can watch via live stream while placing your bets on the virtual playing area. Again the Ho Gaming powered Gold Room is my pick of the two as it includes, Sic Bo and live Dragon Tiger on top of the usual Blackjack, Roulette and Baccarat games you can also find in the Emerald room.
Sports bettors can get a free bet as a welcome of 138 by matching their initial bet. The amount varies depending on the country you signup from. For example, in the UK it is £50. You have to bet £10 as a minimum and this bet is valid for any one single bet. If you win, you receive the winnings as cash in your account, although the free stake is not refunded.
Whether or not you claim the free bet you are still entitled to the 100% deposit match bonus up to £1388 for the casino. This is actually split into 3 deposit bonuses of £500, £500 and £388. In order to release bonuses you must wager 30x the total of the deposit and bonus amounts. The quickest way to clear these bonuses is to play the Slots, although these often offer the highest house edge and wagers on many of the lower house edge table games, such as Blackjack and Roulette will not count towards clearance. If you have certain games you enjoy playing, make sure you check the terms and conditions before you deposit.
After this welcome bonus is cleared there are weekly reload bonuses plus future opportunities to pick up free bets, usually based around key sporting events. Another way to get a bit of a bonus boost is to use Neteller as your deposit option. While the terms for these remain similar, be sure to check each time as they can change.
Normally you can use the same method to deposit and withdraw funds from 138.com. As mentioned Neteller allows you to access some exclusive promotions so it is worth using this e-wallet if you can. Both Neteller and Skrill are a fast and efficient way of moving money online while keeping a central account where you can store you funds before withdrawing.
For users in China, Vietnam and Thailand, online bank transfer is usually the easiest option.
Those who live in countries where credit cards are available can deposit using Visa or MasterCard. A number of prepaid options such as Ukash can also be used.