Online sports betting today is highly competitive, which is good news for punters, no matter what sort of sport you’re betting on. As online bookies jostle for pole position, they try to give better odds than their rivals and offer more specials around the big events. Sports betting sites are also more able than traditional high street bookmakers or the Tote to give you access to international markets, so whatever sport you follow and wherever it’s being played, you’ll be able to bet on it online.
But there is more to the best online sports books than just good odds. All in the one place you can find comprehensive form guides and stats, replays of races, discussion forums, and tips from experts as well. When you throw in live streaming, you get a total package that gives you everything you need to be in the know, no matter what sport or race you’re punting on.
Check out our recommendations below for the best sports book that offer great odds and comprehensive online coverage of your favourite sports.
How to place your first online bet
When you’re looking for an online sports betting site, we would of course recommend that you read our casino reviews, where we break down everything they have to offer so you can make an informed choice before you start punting.
To help you to find out what to look for, I would always recommend checking out how large the range of markets they offer is, and the different leagues, competitions and race meetings for which you can get a price. If you like North American sports, for instance, how well are these covered? Can you bet on races from the US and Australia, as well as the UK and Ireland?
Also take into consideration the types of bets offered. You should get single event markets as well as multi-bets (accumulators), along with special markets for big events like the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National, alongside exotic bets as well. A good sports book should also offer a range of whole season markets, like who will win the Premier League, or the Golden Boot, or the IPL, alongside bets on individual fixtures.
Setting up a sportsbook account
Once you’ve chosen a site, from there to your first bet is pretty quick and straightforward. In order to open an account, you’ll need to create a username and password, agree to the T&Cs, and give your full name, address and a mobile phone number. It’s important that you give this information accurately, as when you come to make your first withdrawal the ID checks will be more rigorous. For instance you’ll need to provide a copy of your driving license or passport, proof of address and copies of credit cards that you may have used to prove that they’re in your name. So while the signing up process mightn’t seem especially thorough, you can be sure that it will be when you come take your cash out, so make sure you give full and complete details when you register.
You’ll have a variety of methods that you can use to make a deposit into your sports book account. E-wallets like Skrill, Neteller and EcoPayz are widely accepted, as are PayPal and other electronic fund transfer systems. Most sites accept Visa credit and debit cards for deposits and withdrawals, but MasterCard isn’t as widely accepted, so check this beforehand. At a few sites you can also use Diner’s Club, but this isn’t very common. You can also use direct bank transfer at most sites, while pre-paid and virtual cards, like PaySafe and EntroPay are also popular. Some sites are also starting to accept Apple Pay.
How to bet
Once you’ve set up an account, it’s time to make your first bet. This procedure is more or less the same at most sites, and is very quick and easy. Current matches and races will usually be prominent on the Home page, but if not you will find sporting codes, tournaments, meetings, etc., listed in a side bar:
- click on the event you want, where the current odds for each of the different bets available will be shown
- click on the bet you want
- this will now appear in your betting slip, which is usually located in a side bar on the right of the Home page
- confirm the type of bet (e.g., win, place, each-way, etc.)
- enter the stake you want to wager
- if this is a single bet, click the Bet Now button
- your bet will now be recorded on your betting slip
- if you want an accumulator or multi-bet, don’t click Bet Now yet, but go to the next event you want to add and repeat the steps above
- once all your legs are in place, then click Bet Now
Live or in-play betting is undoubtedly one of the best innovations that online sports books have brought us. If an in-play market is being offered on an event, the odds change to reflect the current status of the match. For instance, if a team that looked a dead-cert before the match suddenly finds themselves 0-3 down at half-time, the odds you can get on them winning are going to be substantially higher than those on offer at kick off. Most sites will have a Live Betting or In-Play tab at the top of the Home Page, as well as in the sidebar, so you can navigate to these markets quickly.
A variation of In-Play betting is what is known at most sites as Cash Out (or something similar). If you’ve got a four-leg acca going, for instance, where the first three legs have all come in but the fourth looks in trouble, you can cash out before that final leg comes to a conclusion and receive a proportionally reduced payout, rather than losing the whole lot just because one of the legs doesn’t come in.
Free bets and special offers
Because there’s so much competition in the online sports betting world, as well as good odds you can also pick up free bonus bets and other special offers, both as a Welcome Bonus when you sign up and once you’re a member of a site.
To kick off, we often have deals where if you sign up for a sports betting site via the exclusive link that we provide, you get not only their regular signup bonus but something extra thrown in as well. To claim these sorts of casino bonuses, just enter the exclusive promo code when you register.
As a Welcome Bonus, most online sportsbooks will give you a deposit match bonus in the form of free bets (usually called Bonus Bets), increasing your betting power. The size of the match will vary, but you can expect to get anything in the region of 100%-500%, while the amount you get as Bonus Bets will also vary from around £40 to as much as £500.
There are plenty of other offers as well at our listed sites. Most will offer Cash Out (as described above), where you can cash out of an accumulator bet early and get a proportionally reduced payout. There are also plenty of money back specials, where under certain conditions you can get your stake back as a bonus bet if a selection doesn’t win.
For those punting on the races, most sites have a protest payout special offer, where if the horse you backed for a win crosses the line first, but gets knocked back to second after a protest, you get paid out as if it had won.
These are just a taste of the sorts of special offers on offer at the online sports books we recommend.
Sports betting odds
There are also plenty of other benefits to betting with an online sports book rather than a traditional high street bookmaker.
Enhanced Odds give you better odds on selected races, runners and matches. The offer will be limited, usually to one bet per day, as will the amount you can bet, while the shorter the odds of the runner or team, the smaller the boost available, but this is a great way of getting a better deal on selected bets of your choice.
Accumulators (also known as multis, accas or parlay bets) allow you to bet on multiple events on the one betting slip. These can be in one sport or across different ones e.g., racing and football. In order to win the bet, all of your legs need to win although, as above, most sites now offer punters a Cash Out option where you can get out of your bet early if the last leg looks like letting you down. You get higher odds with an acca than you do with single bets.
There are a number of sites that specialize in comparing the odds across a range of different sports books. As a response to this, you’ll often find Best Odds Guaranteed offers at our selected sports books where if, for instance, you back a horse that wins and the SP is better than the price you got, then you get paid out at the higher rate.
Best sports to bet on
No matter what sort of sport you’re interested in, mainstream or minority, at home or abroad, you can always find a market at the leading online sports books.
For instance, the international leading football leagues are all great sports to bet on, with a huge range of markets on the Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, La Liga and other European leagues. You can also follow newer leagues like MLS in the US and the A-League in Australia.
Betting on cricket is also huge worldwide, both at the international and domestic levels, with Twenty20 leagues like the IPL, Big Bash and T20 Blast attracting a lot of attention, along with Test match series, especially The Ashes.
Super League Rugby, English Premiership, Pro 12 and the Six Nations are also events that attract a lot of betting interest and so if you’re into any form of rugby, you can always get plenty of markets.
And of course, both local and international horse racing is huge at all of our online sports books. There are extensive markets each day on every single race just about anywhere in the world, while big events like Glorious Goodwood, the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National all feature a great selection of specials and exotic markets, as well as win, place and each way betting.
Online sports betting offers punters great variety, excellent odds, and the chance to bet on just about any sort of sport, no matter where it’s played in the world.
Visit our recommend sports betting sites to join in the fun in this dynamic and exciting gaming environment.