Why Look for the Best Betting Sites?
Sports wagering is huge right now. In the US alone, sports betting was worth more than $18 billion during 2016, while the 2018 World Cup saw US punters wager $3.2 billion. On the other side of the Atlantic, where the practice was effectively legalized in May 2018, some forecasts predict that US sports wagers could be worth $6 billion per year by 2023. Globally, sports betting currently makes up around 40 percent of total gambling revenue, and that figure is forecast to rise to 48 percent by 2022.
This rapid growth in the popularity of sports betting has led to a dramatic increase in the number of sportsbook sites as the online gambling industry competes to attract the ever-growing number of new customers. In fact, when sports punters head online these days, they are presented with a bewildering array of sportsbooks and sports betting options.
While more competition is obviously a good thing, punters who don’t take the time to find the best sites are not taking advantage of this competition. Profiting from sports gambling is hard, and you need to find as many edges as you can. By focusing on sites that offer competitive odds, a wide array of markets, good customer service, flexible and reliable banking options, and a competitive bonus and reward offering, you can maximize your profitability.
Top Bookmaker Previews
To give you a head start in finding the bookmaker that best suits your needs, we’ve analyzed the performance of 20 of the best-known bookmakers in the industry, giving you the information, you need when you’re deciding where to place your sporting bets.
|BovadaRating 6/6||Up to $250||$10||
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|NetBetRating 6/6||Up to $50||$10||
||Bet NowNetBet Review|
|Paddy PowerRating 6/6||$20 Risk Free Bet||$5||
||Bet NowPaddy Power Review|
|GentingBetRating 5/6||$10 Risk Free Bet||$10||
||Bet NowGentingBet Review|
|SportnationRating 5/6||Up to $100||$10||
||Bet NowSportnation Review|
|GrosvenorRating 5/6||Odds x2 on
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|TitanBetRating 5/6||Bet $25
Get $25 Free
||Bet NowTitanBet Review|
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Bet365 is one of the fastest growing bookmakers in the industry, and you can’t have failed to notice their advertisements, featuring actor Ray Winstone. While Bet365 offer a competitive range of markets, they are particularly strong when it comes to Live Betting, providing one of the best In-Play betting products in the industry, complete with live streaming of a variety of sports, and a handy Cash Out feature.
As one of the longer-established bookmakers out there, Bet365 also provide a degree of reassurance for punters concerned about reliability, while their customer service, particularly the Live Chat feature is effective. They also have a competitive Bonus Offer of up to $100 in betting credits for anyone who opens a new account, which compares well with many of their rivals.
A bookmaker that has been around since the late 1990s, 888Sport was one of the first to focus primarily on the online sports gambling market and has built up a good reputation in this sector. The strength of the 888Sport site is the range of sports covered. You can bet on pretty much any sport you can think of with this bookmaker, and the site is well-designed, making it easy to navigate to the sport and market of your choice.
Their live betting product is reasonably comprehensive, although they don’t offer the variety of live streaming that you will find on some sites, which could be negative for fans of In-Play wagers. They also offer a solid $30 Free Bet Bonus for all new customers.
Betfair was a pioneer of the betting exchange model that shook-up the betting industry in the early 2000s. With a betting exchange, odds are set by punters through a market that enables you to make both back and lay bets, with the company acting merely as a middleman. By extracting a commission from each winning bet, Betfair is able to operate in a different way to the traditional bookmaker and can accommodate every kind of punter from small-stakes players to big fish.
Since Betfair linked up with PaddyPower, they have offered traditional fixed odds service, and they cover pretty much every sport under the sun. They also have one of the best Bonus offers around; a $20 Free Bet for every five bets of $10 or more, which can be repeated five times, theoretically making it possible for new customers to earn $100 in Free Bets.
Unibet was there at the start of the online gambling revolution and have established a strong presence across many European countries. Where Unibet excel is in offering an in-depth range of European sports, and in their extremely competitive odds, particularly with their football markets, for which they appear to operate some of the lowest margins in the online betting industry.
The Unibet Bonus Offer varies depending on which territory you live in, but for most sports punters, it will be a Money Back Bonus of up to $40. That means new customers who place a losing bet, will get their stake back as a Free Bet, up to the value of $40. That is a relatively modest Bonus Offer by modern standards, but Unibet looks after their customers in other ways, including running regular competitions for cash prizes and some innovative Live Betting options.
Originally launched as a casino betting site, Royal Panda has expanded into sportsbook products in recent years, turning to BetConstruct to produce a slick, modern website that is good to look at and works well on mobile devices. The mechanics of navigating the site could use some improvement, and newcomers unused to online sports betting may initially find it takes a little getting used to.
In terms of their markets, Royal Panda has focused on providing a variety of In-Play options, and while their odds could be more competitive, fans of In-Play betting will appreciate their Live Betting facilities. Newcomers are welcomed with a $20 Free Bet, which is not the most generous promotion out there, but this is balanced by the Loyal Panda reward scheme that gives regular punters the chance to earn points, which can be exchanged for free bets and gifts.
The biggest bookmaker in Ireland, Paddy Power stand out from many of their rivals by offering edgy, innovative and unusual markets. They provide solid coverage of most of the popular sports, but their product is particularly geared to football and horse racing, and you can generally find as many as 100 markets available on a typical Premier League football match.
The Paddy Power In-Play markets focus on sports covered by mainstream and satellite television in the UK and Ireland, but their real strength is in their range of innovative novelty markets and in their willingness to accommodate big stakes punters. New customers with Paddy Power are awarded a Free Bet worth $20, but their most famous promotion is the Money Back Special, which guarantees to refund all losing bets on a nominated market.
Another site that began as an online casino, Mr. Green branched out into sports betting just before Euro 2016 and has quickly made inroads into the competitive European market. Based in Sweden, the site is popular across Scandinavia and offers one of the widest ranges of sports you can find, including markets on relatively obscure events such as Pesapallo and Trotting.
The site also offers a good selection of In-Play markets, backed up by an array of useful statistics to help punters weigh up their bets, although the lack of any live streaming facility will deter some fans of In-Play betting. As you would expect with a modern operator, the Mr. Green site runs smoothly on all devices and is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to use, but newcomers may be a little disappointed with their $10 Free Bet Welcome Bonus, which is a relatively small offer.
One of the oldest names in the industry, in recent months, William Hill has been engaged in an expansion, extending its operations throughout Europe and the US. Their sports site retains a traditional look, but provides a number of punter-friendly innovations, particularly for mobile users, along with an impressive depth of statistics to help punters choose their bet.
The William Hill site is clearly focused on the most popular sports in the UK, although that may change as the company develops its products for new European and US markets, and it does offer an impressive depth of market within the main sports. With a $30 Free Bets offer to new customers and reliable customer support, the William Hill site does a good job of combining tradition and modernity.
The Betway site is one of the most impressive-looking in the industry. Designed with mobile punters in mind, it provides crisp, clear graphics and an intuitive layout that newcomers will find easy to navigate, while their coverage of sports is comprehensive, though as you would expect, their market depth is more impressive on the major sports such as football and tennis.
Where Betway is particularly strong is in their range of promotions and offers. New customers are given a competitive $30 Free Bet as a welcome, but regular punters are rewarded with a string of promotions including Enhanced Treblers and Anytime Doublers on selected markets, as well as a number of Money Back specials that refund stakes in the event of a losing bet.
Set up in 2010, ComeOn has pitched itself as the sportsbook for the ordinary punter. With a minimum stake of only $0.4, ComeOn is the ideal place for small-stakes or intermediate level punters, although their relatively low maximum winning levels will deter those who like to wager in larger amounts or those hoping to land a big payday. The site really shines when you consider their depth and variety of market.
All the major sports are covered, along with many obscure events, and they have a good range of Live Betting options. Their Welcome Bonus of $25 isn’t spectacular, but it compares well with most sites. The big drawback with ComeOn is that they charge a deposit fee for most forms of transaction, which is an old-fashioned business model at odds with their modern approach to sports betting.
10bet has been around since 2003 so has plenty of experience behind it and is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission will provide reassurance for punters considering signing up with them. The site has moved with the times and offers a clear, crisp, modern layout, which is simple to use. Finding your chosen sport and market is simple, although the range of markets offered is comparatively small for the modern sports betting industry, with just 27 available sports.
The best feature of the 10bet site are the odds, which are among the best on the market, and fans of Live Betting will also find their needs catered for with a comprehensive In-Play Service. New customers can also benefit from a 50 percent Welcome Bonus of up to $100, as well as a range of promotions and deals including Acca Insurance and Best Odds Guaranteed offers.
BetVictor is a company that dates back to the 1940s and provides a blend of the traditional and the modern. Their main focus is on horse racing and football, and these are covered in impressive depth. They are also known as one of the most competitive sportsbooks when it comes to Asian Handicap betting, as they were one of the first in Europe to offer these markets.
The odds available with BetVictor are generally above average in terms of value to the punter, and they have a fast, responsive In-Play service, along with a flexible Cash Out option. BetVictor don’t put a lot of emphasis on publicizing their offers and promotions, but their Welcome Bonus of a $30 Free Bet compares well with rival sites, and they do come up with regular deals for loyal players.
Karamba Bet is an online bookmaker that was originally better known for its casino offering. Moving into the world of sports betting isn’t always easy for any operator, but Karamba Bet has made a strong impression on the industry, with a slick, modern-looking site that will be attractive to most users.
Covering thirty-five sports, the Karamba Bet site is at the mid-to-high range of the market when it comes to sports coverage, and their market depth is particularly strong for football punters, who will be able to bet on pretty much any football match around the world, no matter how obscure. They also have a good Live Betting section, offering a range of In-Play options. Where they are less effective is in their Bonus offerings, and their $10 Welcome Bonus for new players is poor by industry standards.
One of the newest sportsbooks in the industry, Leo Vegas was for many years solely an online casino company, but branched out in 2016, after linking up with the Kambi Group. The result is an attractive, intuitive site that is simple to navigate and will appeal to the modern punter. Sports fans will also appreciate the punter-friendly features introduced by Leo Vegas, including the handy ‘Two Touch’ wager option.
And when it comes to Bonus offers, Leo Vegas has one of the best deals around. New customers can earn up to $100 in Free Bets upon signing up, followed by $500 at the time of their second and third deposits and up to $400 with the fourth deposit. That rates as one of the best bonuses around.
Another new sportsbook on the market, EnergyBet was set up in 2012, originally offering casino games, but then moving into sports betting. They are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, which offers assurance for those concerned about reliability, and they cover most of the popular European sports. Football is a particular specialty, and some games can feature up to 170 markets.
Energybet provides a number of innovative and flexible tools, including combined bets and punter-friendly double bets, and their Live Betting section is one of the best around, although the lack of any live streaming service on the site is a negative. Their Welcome Bonus is a solid offer, giving punters who sign up a 100 percent Bonus up to a maximum of $35.
Tonybet was founded in 2003, and has been through more than one re-branding exercise, but is now established as one of the most popular sports wagering sites in the UK and across Scandinavia. The breadth of their sports coverage is not huge by modern standards and includes just 23 options, but they offer a lot of market depth in the sports that they cover, particularly for football and basketball.
The Tonybet site has a light, modern feel, and runs well on both mobile and desktop, and the punter-friendly theme is continued when it comes to promotions and bonuses. New customers can earn an impressive 100 percent Welcome Bonus up to a total of $100, and Tonybet also provides a host of regular daily and weekly promotions, including cash back and accumulator bonuses.
One of the older online bookmakers out there, Bwin has been through a number of changes, but throughout its history the site has retained a similar look, offering continuity for regular players. The odds available at Bwin are not always among the most competitive in the industry, but the site is particularly strong when it comes to Live Betting.
Their In-Play service is one of the best around, providing an impressive depth and breadth of the market. The $10 Welcome Bonus offer is a little disappointing and doesn’t stand up that well compared to some of their rivals, but for fans of In-Play action, Bwin remains one of the most popular sites around.
SportingBet is a company that dates back to 1998 and the fact that they’ve held their own in such a competitive market for so long is a sign that they are doing something right. The SportingBet site offers a mid-range variety of sports and markets, and their odds are generally in line with the market average.
In-Play fans are catered for, and the Live section, like the rest of the site, is designed to be a no-nonsense, stripped-down the betting platform. The $10 Free Bet Welcome Bonus is not particularly exciting, but regular sports punters will appreciate the bare-bones approach to sports betting offered by the site, which focuses on betting rather than gimmicks.
Genting is a multi-national betting group, best known for its string of casinos, but in recent years, they have made a concerted effort to enter the sportsbook market, with good results. The GentingBet site is clear and well-designed, and they have an interesting Welcome Bonus offer.
Although the amount of the bonus is small, at $10, it is offered as an ‘insurance’ Bonus, through which new customers’ losing stakes of up to $10 are refunded as free bets. The range of sports offered on the GentingBet site isn’t as impressive as with some sportsbooks, but they cover the main options, and one area in which the site really stands out is its customer service. Genting has brought their casino customer support know-how over to their sports product and provide a range of contact methods including 24-hour Live Chat.
Totesport has a long history. At one time, the Tote was the only legal means of betting on horse racing in the UK, but while the company retains its excellent horse racing coverage, including a number of Tote pool betting products, it has also branched out into sports betting.
For sports punters, this is one of the most reliable and safest sites out there, regulated by the UK Gambling Commission and backed by the financial muscle of Betfred, and they also cover a wide selection of sports, though their market depth isn’t that impressive. The In-Play betting product at Totesports is one of the most sophisticated in the industry, and punters new to sports betting will certainly be tempted by their $35 Welcome Bonus offer.
Ranking Bookmakers: How We Do It
We take our bookmaker ratings seriously, and we aim to produce a rating system that provides a comprehensive guide so that our readers can decide for themselves. We only review fully licensed and regulated sites that we have tested thoroughly for ourselves, and we weigh up how those sites perform on a list of criteria that we feel are essential to the sports gambling experience:
- Safety and Security
- Mobile Betting
- Live Betting
- Market Depth
- Range of Bets
License to Bet
Although online sportsbook wagering has been growing rapidly in recent years, that doesn’t mean that it is legal in every territory. In fact, the legality of sports betting varies widely from country to country. In most European countries, sports betting is legal, though some countries take a stricter approach than others. For example, the Netherlands has only recently passed rules to permit online sports betting, whereas the UK has hosted the online sports betting industry for over two decades.
Outside of Europe, there are countries that don’t permit any form of online sports betting, particularly in Africa and Asia. The sports betting market in South America is opening up, as is the US sports betting market, though it is still only permitted in a handful of states.
The key to choosing a reputable sports betting site is to check which authority holds its license. The UK Gambling Commission and the Gambling Authorities of Gibraltar and Malta are generally considered to be the most prestigious, and you can be sure that sportsbook operators licensed by these jurisdictions are required to adhere to high standards of customer service and protection.
Safe and Secure
Security is a major factor when deciding on which site to use. Choosing a site licensed by a reputable authority is a good place to start, but there are other things to look out for. A good site will use the latest in banking-industry-standard encryption to protect the details of its customers and will have signed up to partner with organizations that promote or guarantee fair play, good customer service and a responsible approach to gambling. Names to look out for include: eCOGRA, EGBA, ESSA, iTechLabs, GLI, Thawte, IBAS, GamCare, GamStop.
Reputable sites will be keen to showcase their credentials, so you should be able to find the logos of some of the above organizations on the sports betting site’s home page.
Offering generous Welcome Bonuses remains the most popular and effective way for online sports betting companies on attracting new customers, and anyone who goes online looking for a place to bet on sport will soon find they are bombarded with an array of offers.
But not all Welcome Bonuses are equal. To find the best Welcome Bonus, you need to bear in mind not just the headline amount on offer, but the detail of the conditions attached. All Bonuses will require you to turn over the Bonus amount before you can make withdrawals – known as the wagering requirement – but the level of the wagering requirement varies widely from site to site, as do the other terms, including minimum odds and use-by dates.
The Bonuses themselves can also come in different shapes and sizes from Free bets to Deposit Matches and Bet Insurance offers. And, beyond the Welcome Bonus, it is important to ask how well the site looks after regular customers. Does it offer a reward or loyalty program, and what are the perks and benefits involved? All these factors should be weighed up before choosing a site.
The Importance of Banking
As technology is driving change in the banking and financial sector, those changes are also being reflected by sports betting companies. Modern punters want to be able to make their deposits and withdrawals quickly, using a variety of methods, so the best sites will offer not just traditional Bank Transfer and Credit and Debit Card transactions, but a range of options from e-wallet solutions like Skrill and Neteller to payment by mobile, Paysafecard and even cryptocurrency.
Another thing to look out for is sites that charge for deposits or withdrawals. This is something that no sports bettor should put up with, and the same goes for low withdrawal limits or slow withdrawal times. Electronic banking methods should work instantaneously, while 3-5 days is normal for some credit cards or old-fashioned Bank Transfer.
Bet on the Go
The rise of mobile technology has also revolutionized the sports betting industry. Now sports punters expect to be able to study the markets and place bets through their mobile devices, whether that is a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone and expect to have access to the full site while on the go.
The initial response of online betting operators to the mobile revolution was to develop mobile apps that users could download to their devices. Many sports betting operators still provide these apps for Android or iOS devices. But the leading betting companies have been developing sites that are optimized for mobile use, which work smoothly and responsively whether you are accessing them through a traditional desktop or via your smartphone.
Live Betting is huge and growing ever more popular with sports betting fans. Live Betting doesn’t only offer a more exciting, dynamic way to bet; it also provides opportunities for sharp sports bettors to profit as the markets in Live Betting are far more volatile than pre-match markets. A good Live Betting sportsbook will offer a wide choice of markets, along with in-game stats and even live streaming.
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Choose Your Markets
When choosing a sportsbook, you want to be sure that they cater to your betting style. In football betting, for instance, the pre-game Match Outcome market is still the most popular, but specialty markets such as Over/Under and First Goalscorer offer shrewd punters the chance to profit, while tennis betting fans are increasingly turning to Live Betting on anything from set score to next point. A good sports betting site will have a huge range of markets to fit every betting style.
Weighing up the Odds
Bookmakers succeed or fail on the competitive nature of their odds. If they offer better odds than their competitors, they will attract more customers. Odds are simply an expression of probability and can be written in different ways. For instance, a probability of 0.33 can be written as 2/1 in what are known as Fractional Odds or as 3.0 in Decimal Odds. Scanning available odds is second nature to experienced sports bettors and getting the right price for your bet is essential guideline for bettor’s success.
Betting Shops versus Betting Online
The traditional betting shop model endured for many decades, and it does have some advantages over online sports betting, in that you can interact directly with other people when you place your bets, and betting shops often have a distinctive atmosphere that can’t be replicated online.
But online sports betting has grown so quickly because it offers many advantages, not least the fact that betting online enables you to quickly compare the prices and bonuses offered by rival sports books; something that would be difficult to do if you had to visit multiple betting shops! At a click of a button, you can access a detailed form, odds comparison, and betting platforms, all from the comfort of your home. That’s why the best sports betting sites will always trump the old-fashioned betting shop.
Weighing up Reputation
Some people prefer to bet with long-established bookmakers, while others like to go with newer operators. Often it is a question of preference. Older bookmakers can offer a degree of reassurance that comes with longevity, while newer sites often provide the latest betting innovations and a slicker interface. When we analyze a site, we factor in the operator’s reputation across all of the important areas that make up a good sports betting site to help you make your choice.
Taking Care of the Customer
With online sports betting, customer care is an important factor. You want to know that any inquiry or problem that you have will be dealt with quickly and effectively and that you will have the opportunity to resolve queries in a variety of ways, to suit your needs, including:
- 24/7 Live Chat
- Online Form
Get the Full Picture
Making a success of your sports betting is difficult. There is a lot of hard work to be done, from form studying and watching games to crunching numbers, working out a staking plan and keeping adequate records. The successful sports bettor must display discipline, ruthlessness, consistency and an attention to detail. And that’s where we come in.
Our attention to detail is second to none. We scour the online sports betting industry looking for the best sites and the most reliable operators because choosing a good site to bet with is a crucial part of any sports betting expert’s strategy. You want a site that is reliable, with a comprehensive range of markets, covering the sports that you want to bet on in the depth that you need.
You also need a site that will match your preferred banking options, that will enable you to make your bets and study the markets on the move, and that offers fast, friendly, effective customer support.
Our in-depth analysis is designed to give busy modern sports punter everything they need to choose a sports betting operator. We do the legwork to bring you the information you need so that you can focus on what you do best: using your expertise to make money from sport.