Betting and sports go hand in hand, with billions wagered on football matches, horse races, golf tournaments and other events every year. And it’s not just sports either, you can bet on politics, the weather, who will win or get kicked off a reality TV show and even what colour hat the Queen with wear to Ascot. You can even bet on when the world will end, if you can believe that.
To get involved, all you need is a betting site, some money and an idea of who to bet on. So, who should you bet with? There’s plenty of different bookmakers out there who’ll gladly accept your money, but there’s often a big difference in odds, offers and service between betting websites. Below you’ll find a list of the best betting sites as chosen by our team of reviewers.
Note: In this section we’re specifically talking about sports betting. If you’re looking for other types of betting site, such as casino games, see the relevant sections of the site: Casino, Bingo, Poker.
Best Betting Sites For 2021
All of the betting sites listed above are licensed in the UK by the UK Gambling Commission. Don’t worry if you’re not from the UK, most also accept players from throughout Europe as well as the rest of the world. Having said this, some countries have restrictions on where you can bet – we’ll be writing country-specific guides very soon.
Sports Betting Guides
For those of you who have a favourite sport to bet on, or are looking for more specialised betting information, then our sports betting guides may be of interest. Each article provides a detailed guide to betting on that sport, covering rules, strategy, markets and, of course, a run down of the best bookies.
Sports Betting Blog
Online betting can be a bit confusing at first – should you bet with the person with the best odds, or the best offers. And are all betting sites trustworthy?
On this site we’ve written a guide that should cover pretty much everything you need to know. From how to bet on various sports through to the best places to do it, and even how to get the most value out of your bets.
What Makes A Good Betting Site?
There’s a big difference between a good betting website and a bad one. And it’s not just because one’s slow to load. A site with poor odds will quite literally cost you money as your winnings will be less than they could have been.
Likewise, a site which pays lower than standard places on an each way bet can make a potentially winning bet lose. All because it was placed with the wrong website.
And then there’s limits. Payout limits are an often overlooked factor when evaluating a betting site, but choosing the wrong site can be very costly. Whilst betting limits are defined by the amount you can bet and clearly stated when placing your bet, payout limits can be easily exceeded, especially when placing an accumulator.
Unlike betting limits, if you place a bet which will exceed a payout limit you often don’t get any warning. A slightly cheeky move perhaps, but one that’s more likely to do with how the system handles bets rather than having an ulterior motive.
Payout limits are calculated based on a series of factors including the sport, league, specific event and bet type. With accumulators the lowest payout limit usually stands – so an acca involving 5 Premier League matches may have a maximum payout of £2m, but throw one lower league match in and it suddenly drops to £50k.
We’re not saying this to scare you, just to highlight the fact that two betting sites that look very similar on the outside can be very very different when it comes down to it.
Are All Sports Betting Sites The Same?
It’s easy to assume that all sports betting sites are essentially the same. After all, there’s only a finite number of sports out there and most big companies will have a decent grasp on how to cover them. In actuality, though, you’ll find both subtle and major differences between the various companies that cover sports in depth. Whether it be the nature of their coverage or the features on offer, there’s plenty to think about when you’re deciding which sites to use.
The reality is that different bookmakers have their specialities, either because they’ve always favoured one sport over another or because they’ve grown to realise that that’s where the market is. Coral, for example, was founded by Joe Coral after he made a name for himself as a bookmaker at horse tracks, so they’ve always had a good reputation for horse racing coverage. They’re not as good as a bookmaker that literally only covers horse racing though.
Shopping around the various sports betting sites will soon present you with the ones that you think are the ‘best’, though we’ll cover that in more detail shortly. There are some definite things that you should bear in mind when you’re using the various betting sites, however. We’ll look at them a bit more closely now:
This is arguably the most obvious factor to consider when looking for a sports betting site to place your wagers with. Put simple, the better the odds are the more money you’ll be paid out. It’s actually a bit more complicated than you might imagine, though. You might assume that the best bookmaker will be the one with the best odds, but that isn’t always the case for the simple reason that a good bookmaker might be stingy with their odds.
Imagine for a moment two bookies. One is one of the biggest and best in the industry, offering you odds on anything you can think of and having brilliant coverage. The other has odds on obscure sports but doesn’t seem to ‘know’ as much as the other bookie. In actuality, you’re likely to want to place your bets with the latter bookmaker because their lack of knowledge might mean that they’re more generous with the odds that they offer.
That being said, the second bookie might not be as well-known and therefore as trustworthy as the first company. It’s also possible that they won’t offer features that you think are really important, such as Cash Out or Live Streaming. You might choose slightly worse odds because the bookmaker offering them gives you more of what you want. You’ve got to weigh it all up to come to a sensible decision. You’ve also got to think sensibly about the difference in the odds.
If you tend to be the sort of person that places bets of £5 or £10, the difference between 20/1 or 19/1 when it comes to the payout won’t be much. £10 is obvious a relatively large amount, but is it worth betting with a ‘lesser’ bookmaker because of? Probably not. If you’re betting in £100s or £1000s, however, then the slightest difference in odds can see huge swings in profit or loss. Those are the things you’ll need to weigh up.
Another factor to think about is the market coverage that is on offer from one bookmaker in comparison to another. You can spend time looking at a sports betting site and think that it’s the greatest thing you’ve ever seen, complete with all of the features you could ever wish to see, amazing offers and an accompanying app that is revolutionary. Yet if it doesn’t cover the sport that you like to bet on then it’s completely useless to you.
You will know yourself what your strongest area is when it comes to sport betting. If you’re a huge cricket fan, for example, then knowing that you can bet on a seemingly irrelevant match between two cities in Bangladesh will be a big tick for you with a site that allows you to do so. Equally, if you don’t like horse racing and never bet on it then you’re not going to get much use out of a site that specialises in horse racing and nothing else.
Oftentimes you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of different sites depending on their approach to the first two subjects on this list. A site that offers amazing odds is no use if its coverage is poor, whilst a site with brilliant coverage isn’t going to appeal if its odds are insultingly low. Striking the balance between these two things is key to getting the most out of your sports betting experience, so make sure you look at both of them when exploring what a site offers.
Betting & Payout Limits
This is an area that people tend not to think about until it is too late. If you’re something of a high roller, enjoying playing large wagers when you bet on sports, then you’ll want to make sure that the site that you’ve chosen to bet with doesn’t have a betting limit that will restrict your activity too much. If you want to bet £3,500 on a football match, for example, then you’ll want to avoid a site that has a betting limit of £2,000.
The same is true when it comes to payout limits. This is something that some sites choose to impose, saying that they’ll only payout up to a certain amount. Imagine that you’ve found a site that has amazing coverage and offers the bets odds in the industry by some distance but it has a payout limit of £10,000. In that sort of instance, it doesn’t matter that it’s giving odds of 20/1 for the event you’re betting on when you want to wager £1,000 and therefore wouldn’t receive the full payout.
The truth is that this won’t matter to some punters, but to plenty it will be a factor that they’ll need to consider. There’s also the somewhat complicated factor that you could be well within a site’s Betting Limit but you’ll exceed their Payout Limit if your bet’s a winner. Keep an eye on that sort of thing because a winning bet that exceeds the Payout Limit will just mean that you wasted your stake money.
In the above example, if the site has a Betting Limit of £2,000 and a Payout Limit of £10,000, you’d be able to place a bet of £2,000 on an event with odds of 20/1 but you’d only be paid £10,000 rather than the £40,000 your wager would actually deserve. In that instance you’d get the same payout if your wager was £500, but you’d stand to lose a lot less if your bet ended up not winning. Make sure to keep an eye on these points.
Which is the Best Betting Site?
Anyone who tells you that they know definitively and unequivocally which is the best betting site is a liar. It’s a point we’ll keep coming back to, but they might think that a horse racing specialist site is the best because they adore betting on horse racing, but if you only want to bet on tennis then it’s going to be entirely useless as far as you’re concerned. The reality is that this is an entirely subjective point of view.
There is no sports betting site in existence that will have the best odds for every single event taking place, for example. They might have really good odds in a lot of cases, but odds are an ever-shifting and developing factor that change in moments. They might be the best when you look, but may have altered by the time you actually go to place your wager. They also might be brilliant at football odds but nowhere near as good when it comes to dog racing.
The very best thing that you could do is to sit down and write a list of things that matter the most to you. If a sports betting site’s features are key, there’ll be no point joining up with a site that doesn’t offer the likes of Live Streaming or Cash Out. If you know you want a site that is strong at football then you’ll want to consider which ones fit into that category. There’s so much choice out there that you don’t have to settle for second-best and can afford to be very picky.
Any Cool Features to Watch Out For?
When considering which sports betting site you want to sign up to, there are some features that will almost certainly sway you once you know what they’re all about. Here’s a closer look at the main ones, which each offer something different in terms of what you’ll get out of your betting experience.
Simply put, Live Streaming is the ability to watch an event that you’re betting on as it is taking place. It’s handy if you’re a lover of slightly more obscure sports and therefore wish to be able to see how a match or event is playing out in real time. It ties in well as a feature with the next one that we’re going to talk about, which is Live Betting, so make sure that you read that section too.
The key thing to remember when it comes to Live Streaming is that it isn’t actually live. The nature of the streaming facility is such that it will be slightly behind real time, sometimes several seconds or longer behind the true action. This doesn’t really matter when it comes to betting against the bookmaker, but can result in you losing large some of money if you bet on an Exchange.
In short, Live Streaming is a great feature if you want to be able to see your bet play out in front of you, but isn’t necessarily one that you should turn away from a bookmaker for not having. It’s an excellent added extra, but not one that most bettors would consider to be absolutely essentially when it comes to making a choice over their favour sports betting websites.
Live Betting, also known as In-Play betting, is the ability to place a bet whilst an event is taking place. Let’s say that you’re a big fan of football and are watching a match between Liverpool and Manchester United. Live Betting will give you the ability to bet on things such as which team will score the next goal or receive the next booking.
It’s an extremely popular feature and often ties in well with Live Streaming. Again, though, remember that the stream won’t actually be live so you could find yourself betting on something that has actually already happened. Bookmakers will often ‘suspend’ betting on certain markets, such as the next goal, if a team is given a free-kick or penalty or such like.
There’s no question that Live Betting has completely revolutionised the betting market, giving people the chance to bet on a whole host of different things than they could before. It’s also something that is available in pretty much every sport that you might want to bet on, offering plenty of options to bettors who seek it out.
Another hugely popular feature is that of Cash Out. This allows customers to receive an early payout on their bet, which is particularly useful if you feel as though the wager you’ve placed may ultimately not prove to be a winning one. Before the Cash Out feature was invented, customers would place a bet and simply have to wait and see whether it was a winner or not.
Cash Out, on the other hand, provides punters with the chance to take a cash offer for their bet in order to close it early. Let’s say, for example, that you have a bet on Manchester United beating Liverpool in the match between the two teams. You placed a wager of £10 with odds of 2/1, meaning that you would win £20 if your bet came off.
After twenty minutes of the match, however, Liverpool are 2-0 up. Of course it is still possible that United could win, but the likelihood is that they won’t. If you let your bet ride until full-time you’ll lose your entire £10 stake, however the Cash Out offer is £3.75. Yes, you’d lose money, but not as much as if the bet was just a loser.
You can also choose to leave the bet riding for longer, which may see your possible Cash Out amount improve if United were to score or even draw level. The point is that it gives you a choice. Similarly, some bookmakers offer the likes of Partial Cash Out, where you can Cash Out some of your bet but let some of it ride, which gives the best of both worlds.
Another thing offered by some sports betting companies is an Auto-Cash Out. This is where you set the amount of money that you’d like to be paid and if the offer from the bookie reaches that figure then they’ll Cash Out for you, meaning that you don’t need to constantly monitor your wager. Figuring out which of these features matters to you will tell you what to look out for.
Bet Requests & Bet Builders
It has become more and more common for bookmakers to give customers the opportunity to either Request-A-Bet or else Build A Bet. These are two different things, but they will both appeal to certain punters. It allows you to essentially create your own market, even including related contingencies that wouldn’t be allowed in normal circumstances.
Looking at the Request-A-Bet feature first, this is something that is usually run over social media. Sometimes a sports betting company will allow you to request odds on a bet via an app or through telephone betting, but social media is definitely the most common way of doing so. In essence, you simply write to them explaining the bet you’d like to place and they’ll offer you odds.
Let’s say that you think a football match will contain seven yellow cards, two red cards, more than fourteen corners and five or more goals, with a hat-trick for a specific player. You’d contact your bookie of choice and say as much and they would reply with the odds of that happening. You can then choose to either place the bet or not.
Bet Builder, on the other, is where a sports betting company will present you with a number of pre-determined markets. These will be, say, the following in a football match:
- Player To Score
- Player To Be Carded
- Match Result
- Double Chance
- Total Goals
- Number Of Corners
- Number Of Cards
- Number Of Free-Kicks
- Number Of Throw-Ins
- Number Of Goal-Kicks
- Both Teams To Score
- Half-Time / Full-Time
- Final Score
- Half With Most Goals
- Team Goalscorer
- Red Card In Match
- Winning Margin
- Goals – Odd / Even
If you’re betting on a cup match then you’ll likely find other markets like Method Of Qualification or To Qualify added to the list. You choose however many of those markets to add to your betting slip as you’d like, with the more you add resulting in longer odds being presenting. You choose your options and you’ll be given odds.
The key thing to remember with both Request-A-Bet and Build A Bet features is that the bookmaker’s edge increases compared to normal bets. The more markets there are, the less likely your bet is to win. A sports betting company also knows that they have more market coverage, meaning they don’t have to be generous with their odds for fear of losing your custom.
The final feature worth mentioning is the Betting Exchange. This is something that was popularised by Betfair, but has been added as an option by more and more betting sites in the years since. In short, a Betting Exchange basically allows you to play the part of a bookmaker, offering odds on certain outcomes and betting in a peer-to-peer capacity.
Rather than adding a Vigorish into the bet as a traditional bookmaker would, all the company offering the Betting Exchange has to do is charge a commission on winning bets and they’ll make their money without having to do much. Instead, punters bet against each other and don’t have to take up odds on offer if they don’t like them.
You can choose to either Back a bet or Lay it. Using horse racing as an example, you might choose to Back a specific horse in the field, which is similar to a standard bet with a fixed odds bookmaker, or you might wish to Lay it. Laying it would mean that you think any horse other than that one will win the race and you bet will be a winner as long as that horse isn’t victorious.
It might seem complicated at first, but it doesn’t take long to get used to how Exchange Betting works. The one thing to bear in mind is that a lot of people use Exchange Betting to take advantage of the gap in time between Live Streaming and real life. Someone actually at a racecourse, for example, might use the Exchange to win money from someone watching several seconds behind.
If you’re at all unsure of Exchange Betting then make sure that you only do it in small amount until you feel more confident. If you love the idea of betting on an Exchange then you’ll need to find a bookmaker that offers it, which is why it’s a feature that will matter to some punters and be completely irrelevant to others.