Bookmakers have come a long way since the first gambling house opened for business in the UK back in the 1790’s. Early legislation saw gambling activities restricted to race tracks, and bookmakers soon became known as turf accountants. But as restrictions were lifted, bookies started appearing on the high street in vast numbers, and gambling became more accessible to the masses.
The major high street brands were all quick to establish an online presence and a host of new betting companies soon followed in their wake. As a result, it is now easier than ever to find an online sportsbook - but which ones are the best and why?
If you are going to bet online, you want to be sure that you are getting the most from your sportsbook. At first glance, many betting websites can look very similar, and it can be hard to make an informed choice as to which is the best one for you.
To make your decision much easier, our experts have thoroughly researched and reviewed many leading online betting companies and compiled a list of top recommendations.
What we look for in an online sportsbook
When we review online sportsbooks, there are several criteria that we examine before recommending them to you. After all, we want you to have the very best gambling experience possible and to deliver that, a betting website has to do more than just look cool.
So if we assume that you have never opened a sportsbook account before, it makes sense to begin by taking a look at what the betting companies are willing to do to get your business.
Sportsbook sign-up bonuses
The most common way for online sports betting websites or sportsbook to attract you to their sign-up page is by offering you some kind of monetary incentive. This is often in the form of a matched deposit bonus where your initial deposit is matched by the bookmaker in the form of a free bet added your account.
Matched deposit bonus example
The online sportsbook offers you a '100% first deposit matched bonus'
You deposit $50 in your account.
The bookmakers give you another $50 to bet with - absolutely free.
It should be pointed out that there are always certain terms and conditions that apply to matched bonuses. For example, you cannot simply withdraw the matched amount into your account and walk away with free money.
The matched bonus must be used for betting, and you will only be able to withdraw the winnings from those bets. In addition, you may need to make a certain amount of bets before you qualify for the bonus.
Each online sports betting website may have slightly different rules so, before you go ahead and sign up to an online sportsbook, it is important that you read and fully understand the terms and conditions first.
The matched deposit bonus is just one example of the incentives used by online betting companies to win your business. There are always new sign-up bonuses being created and you may encounter many variations on the same theme as you browse the online sportbooks. Our team of seasoned betting experts are always keeping up to date with the latest bonus offers and have compiled a list of recommended sportbooks based on this and many other important factors.
Other incentives in Online Sportsbook
As well as sign-up bonuses, bookmakers also offer a range of ongoing incentives to keep you betting. These bets often involve giving you money back or a free bet if a certain outcome occurs in a sports game. For example, you may be offered a free $10 bet if the final pick in a 6-fold parlay lets you down.
Many of these will be aimed at casual gamblers who may not have used their account in a while, but some will also appeal to regular punters looking for some extra value. We take the quantity and quality of all incentives into account when reviewing and recommending online sportsbooks.
When reviewing online bookmakers we also consider the range of payment facilities available. If you are going to use a sportsbook on a regular basis, you want to know that you can deposit money easily, and have quick and easy access to the funds in your account. Not all bookmakers offer the same payment methods, so it is vital to find one that suits you. PayPal, Skrill, Visa, MasterCard, Neteller, Bitcoin, Polypayments, Pugglepay and Ukash are just some of the payment methods offered by the major online sportbooks around the world.
When completing any online transaction, it is good to know that you are operating in a secure and protected environment. That is why we only recommend bookmakers that offer the best level of online customer protection. Not only do you want to know that your money and details are protected, but you also want to be sure that you can get easy access to your winnings. These are all things that we consider when recommending a bookmaker.
Many betting websites look very appealing, with impressive graphics and a host of features designed to grab your attention - but as you know, looks can sometimes be deceiving. Just because a website is visually stunning it does not follow that it will be the most user-friendly. To really enjoy your online gambling experience, you want to use an online sportsbook that is intuitive to use and easy to navigate. You want to be able to find your markets quickly and you want the pages to load quickly and smoothly. There is nothing worse than a betting site full of glitches that freezes just as you want to make a crucial live bet.
When we review a site, we test it thoroughly for ease of use and practicality of design. We look beyond the surface and see the site through the eyes of the punter. If a website makes our list of recommended sites, it means that it scores highly in all of our categories including the quality of the user interface.
This is perhaps the most important area when it comes to choosing an online betting portal. The best bonuses, slickest website interface and biggest choice of payment options are no good if the website does not offer a flexible range of betting options. You want to know that all your favourite markets are covered and that you will have the ability to place any bet that you want, at any time of day. As well as a wide choice of betting options, a smart gambler will always seek out the best value. All of our recommended online sports betting websites score highly in both these areas.
Okay, so in an ideal world we would never have to contact a customer service centre for anything other than a basic enquiry, but let’s be realistic, sometimes things can go wrong. Whatever reason you may have for contacting a betting companies customer service department, you just want to know that your case will be dealt with quickly and efficiently.
Our recommended sportsbooks have been chosen not just for the variety of contact methods available, but also for how well they deal with your issues. From basic questions through to serious complaints, we have only included companies that provide an above average level of customer service in every department.
Recommended online sports betting sites
Here is a quick rundown of our current top recommended online sportsbooks. Remember, all of our reviews are carried out by experts with many years of experience in the betting industry.
Of course, we would advise anyone serious about betting to open multiple accounts with a range of bookmakers. This gives you the best chance of finding the best odds and allows you to react quickly and target the highest value bets. To find out more about the benefits of opening multiple sportsbook account, pay a visit to our sports betting strategy page.
The Bovada website is one of the top online destinations for US gamblers for a very good reason. There website is a joy to use and their customer service record is legendary. If you live in America and are thinking of placing online bets, you should open an account with Bovada. Click here for more reasons why.
At first glance, the Betonline.ag website looks quite plain and simple but don’t let that fool you - this company is one of the biggest players in the US market. With a sportsbook that offers great value and some very tempting bonuses and incentives, Betonline scores highly where it counts - in your pocket. To read our full review, visit our recommended site page now.
We love the look and feel of the Sportsbetting.ag website but it’s much more than just a pretty face. Since being taken over 2012 Sportsbetting has grown into one of the major players in the betting world. With a generous bonus system, an easy to navigate website and worldwide coverage, this is one online sports betting website that is definitely worth signing up to - and they now accept bitcoins too! To read our full verdict - just click here.
When it comes to sports betting options, 5Dimes probably has the greatest variety in the business. Whatever sporting event you want to bet on, you will find a huge range of markets at market-leading odds. The website is one of the most user-friendly we have come across and there is no shortage of options to contact customer support. They have developed a reputation as one of the most reliable sportbooks in the marketplace. Find out more by reading out full review.
The Topbet website scores well on first impressions with its bold black and yellow design, and a promise of a 50% sign-up bonus of up to $250 for new members. This high bonus cap alone may be enough to convince you to open an account, but it is not all that the Canadian betting platform offers. Since its takeover in 2012, Topbet has received praise for its ongoing commitment to customer service and the range and value of the bets on offer. If you want to know more, click here to read the full review.
Ready to sign up?
Once you have chosen an online sports betting site that suits you, the next step will be to complete the registration process. For security and compliance reasons, you will usually be asked to give your full contact details including name and address, and you will be asked to select a user name and password. After that you will usually be required to indicate a method by which you will fund your account, which is usually a credit or debit card.
After you have logged on for the first time, always take some time to find your way around the site and explore all the different betting options. You may find that some sites have other gambling portals such as casinos or card games, so look for the area marked sportsbook and make yourself at home.
Great, so now you are signed-up and ready to place your first bet but before you go any further, take a few moments to explore our betting guides for some valuable betting tips.