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Bookies, Bookmakers, and Sportsbooks | Apps and Sites for Betting On Sports

An advanced guide to online betting sites and apps for sports betting and associated bets. Learn where to bet with leading sportsbooks and bookmakers on a wide range of sports events and markets. Explore the key factors in determining which bookies earn a place on the list of best gambling sites for sports bettors.

Top-rated global bookies, bookmakers, and sportsbooks

Introduction

It’s likely that you have heard each of the terms bookies, bookmakers, or sportsbooks before. Of course, they all mean much the same thing – places where you wager, gamble, or place a bet on the outcome of a sports event.  You’ll be trying to beat the odds set by the gambling sites involved.

Depending on where you live and how familiar you are with sports betting in general, you’ll recognise some of the well-known names in the image above….they’re all among the leaders in the online betting industry.

Each sportsbook or bookmaker offers chances to bet on a massive range of sports, markets, and events. Most will offer a new customer a range of bonus deals and sometimes very competitive odds. Many of them actively offer the chance to place arbitrage-type bets, which are essentially bets that can’t lose. The holy grail for any punter!

Essentially, they’re all betting sites.  

So, betting is a term that covers a broad range of gambling activities. You make sporting bets when you’re playing an online poker game. You place a bet when spinning the video slot reels in an online casino or playing against an opponent in head-to-head video game tournaments. You’re even making a bet when you fill in the numbers on a lottery ticket or when you’re playing in any form of skill game where winnings may come in the form of real cash prizes.

But most gamblers traditionally see betting as a term more related to sports. Rightly so, since sports betting is one of the most followed forms of online gambling. Hundreds of sports betting sites present ways that punters can place wagers on sporting events like the soccer World Cup, where betting on Asian handicaps in the 2022 tournament looks set to break all previously recorded bet volumes.

 

Bookies, bookmakers, and sportsbooks. Why the different terminology?

So if all the different terms mean the same and they’re all just different ways to refer to sites and apps that offer online betting, then why the different terminology?

Bookies is obviously a slang type shortening of bookmakers. Throughout Asia and Europe, many punters tend to speak of bookies rather than the more formal-sounding bookmakers. For some reason, the Aussies tend to use bookmakers more often, while in Canada and the US, the punters refer to sportsbooks.

It really doesn’t matter. If you want to make money by placing a bet on any sport, you will be using one of them. It may not be just sports betting you’re looking for, many of these also offer gaming-related gambling options like casino games, poker, and bingo. They’re not the only igaming options either, punters will also get the chance to win cash playing skill games for money.

How to find the bookies and sportsbooks operating in your region

We’ll explore the types of sports betting sites you’ll encounter on this page. We’ll see how sportsbooks like the one at Bet365 work, what kinds of sports the bookies cover, the markets on which you’ll be able to bet, the types of extra benefits you may get from having an account, and who the best sports betting sites are right now in the gambling industry.

Of course, your access to different sports betting options depends on where you are in the world. We’ll consider that when we come to listing the best sites for specific betting aspects. Below, you’ll find a range of respected and trusted betting operators worldwide, broken down into five main regions – Asia, North America, Europe, Africa, and Australia.

Before we get down to the regional lists of online bookies, bookmakers, and sportsbooks, I must remind you that betting or gambling is illegal or restricted heavily in some countries. Not only that, but gambling can also become a problem for some people. These are two of the risks involved with seeking out betting operators.

Best Bookies For Europe/UK

These are the main bookies/ bookmakers offering betting markets to UK or European punters. Note that a handful of these operates in various APAC region countries, too (they’re repeated in the table for Asia below).

Of these, several can be recommended highly, although many others are big names in the gambling industry, and you can classify them as trustworthy. The bottom line for how to choose one (or more) to register an account with will be down to the bonuses or promotions they offer…and of course, if they’re offering the best odds in the markets you’re interested in.

Bet365

The Bet365 brand is well known, and they’re one of the operators covering multiple betting markets across pretty much every country where betting is legal.

We’ve seen in an extensive bet 365 review that their promotions are great value. On top of the normal welcome bonus that gives you £50 in free bets after your first qualifying bet of £10, you’ll also get an occasional free reload bonus. Indeed, I’ve had several £5 or £10 free bonuses over the years.

Fortunately, they’re not the only bookie. We need plenty of them to keep the fierce competition for business and those bonuses and promotions flowing.

UK punters are used to betting in an unrestricted and well-regulated market, which means they, in particular, have a much wider choice of which bookies to place bets with. If you live in the UK, you can register an account with pretty much any sportsbook or bookie listed on this page and place your bets in GBP.

The list of most well-known UK bookies with a high rating that also serve various European countries includes:

The first five of those operate on the high streets of the UK as well as online.

For anyone UK or Europe based looking for an Asian bookie, then 188bet are the recommendation, but many of the operators on the list will accept a wide range of currencies.

Recommended bookies serving African countries

The African market is the fastest-growing for online sports betting.

The good news for bettors in Africa is that the Asian bookies we saw above are not just serving punters from Singapore, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, or Malaysia, but African countries like Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia, too. But there are some specific sportsbooks that anyone living in Africa will need to know:

Australian sportsbooks

Australian punters have a handful of highly respected bookmakers to choose from, all offering good value promotions.

It’s worth noting that some of these are open to European account holders too. 

South America sportsbooks

The great news for bettors in South American countries like Colombia, certain Argentinian provinces, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, or Paraguay is that the recent legislative changes in those markets have opened up gambling options considerably.

Bet365 will be on the list of sportsbook options in the region, as they are across most of the rest of the world. Other betting operators providing markets in South America include:

Best North American (US/Canada) Sportsbooks

For North Americans, the subject of online gambling has always been a little complex to grasp. For a long time, the PASPA regulations seemed to make sports betting illegal, although, in reality, they didn’t for the average bettor in the street. Those regulations were making it illegal for an operator to provide services from offshore, rather than stop a resident from using them.

That changed in some U.S. states over recent years as some states regulated online betting.

Residents in the USA now have a situation where there are regulated sportsbooks offering services in some states, while offshore operators provide betting options to unregulated state residents. No need for any road trips to Las Vegas, at least not from a pure gambling perspective.

Offshore or unregulated sportsbooks

The offshore sportsbooks we can recommend include everything you need to place a wager, whether it’s on an NBA game, an NFL contest, or any other form of a sporting event. You’ll find it easy to spread your betting budget over various markets due to modest minimum wager levels (often around $1) offered by sportsbetting providers. You can also place wagers on any of the games or events you’re interested in as they’re happening. Live betting options are widespread.

Among the offshore bookies, the one to focus on is Bovada.lv – a dedicated US-facing sportsbook, casino, and poker operator that serves Customers in 47 of the US states. Punters in New York, Washington, and Maryland will need to look elsewhere. But for anyone that doesn’t have a US-licenced sportsbook, Bovada is a strong choice.

Other offshore betting operators include:

  • Sportsbetting.com – For high limits and plenty of promos.
  • BetOnline – The best sportsbook for eSports betting.
  • Everygame – Excellent monthly parlay bonuses.
  • NitroBetting – For betting with Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies..

Regulated state sportsbooks

If you’re within state lines in a state where sportsbooks have navigated the licensing processes, you’ll probably be looking to one of those operators for your wagering activities.

For those available in each state, you really need to look at a list on a state-by-state basis, since operators licenced in one state nay not be in another.

Overall, the big names to be watching for are:

 Here’s a video especially dedicated to those websites and sportsbooks that specifically cater to US-based bettors:

How to find the best bookmaker

Sports betting is one of the few ways to get good chances of making a long term profit from betting. If you’re knowledgeable about any particular sport, then there will be some good opportunities likely to come your way.

But it’s not all just about making the bets, you need to know where to place them to maximise your profit margins. This is where the skill of choosing the right bookie from the lists above comes in.

So what constitutes the ‘right bookie’?

Finding the best bookmaker for your needs is often, in the first instance, going to be down to where you live, which ones operate in your region, and possibly those that allow deposits and withdrawals in your local currency. 

But there are several features overall that we look out for when gauging whether a betting site can be suitably competitive with other operators. Those features do not just lie in the sports markets, betting markets, and the types of bets you can make. Some can fundamentally add to your experience, like the user interface and ease of navigation around the website, the betting exchanges, live score updates, and social betting and cash-out options.

All in all, there are several other factors to consider. Let’s consider some in a little depth:

 

Trust and reputation

Clearly, you don’t want to be doing anything with anybody you don’t trust. We all know the power of recommendations when you’re looking for a tradesman, for example. You ask around your friends and use someone who’s had good experiences using the services before.

Fortunately, finding sportsbooks or bookmakers you can trust is easy, some big-name companies have been around for dozens of years, and even the newer ones are positioned well to give a trusted service. You’ll find that all of the bookies listed on this page are fully trustworthy.

 

Interface and Navigation

A well-designed user interface and website navigation are crucial aspects that can help determine whether a site can mix it with the best. Almost every site will boast a sophisticated user interface with an easily accessible layout that you can navigate easily, whether you’re a new customer getting used to the site or a returning one. Operators are always keen to make it as easy as possible for customers to get around their website, giving them access to the necessary information and betting options without any hassle.

 

Range of markets

Most top-rated bookies will offer betting opportunities across a wide range of sports and different markets within each of those sports, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to be considering this aspect too deeply. Still, make sure you check that your favourite sport is definitely covered. With popular sports such as soccer, tennis, golf, and others, you’re not going to have a problem, but lesser-known sports may not always be fully represented.

You may also want to get involved in special markets like betting in-play or even spending the odd dollar playing bingo, slots, or casino games. Many of the major bookmakers do provide all of these options. You may want to watch live sports to follow the progress of your bet. Not every bookie offers this option, but Bet365 are among those that do.

 

Best odds

One other major aspect to consider in choosing a bookie is in the odds they offer. What’s the point of placing your bets with an operator that offers lower odds on your chosen event than one of its competitors? Every winning bet you place needs to give you the maximum return for your money, otherwise you’re leaving money on the table for no reason.

Odds can vary from sportsbook to sportsbook – often not wildly, but there can be some major differences. No individual operator always offers the best odds across every sport or even every event within a particular sport.

You’ll need to use an odds comparison site to always check who offers the best odds on any event you want to place a bet in. My big interest is in horse racing, and I can tell you that in my experience, it’s Betvictor who often offers the biggest odds from the morning onwards before races take part (and sometimes from the evening prior to the next day’s racing too). Occasionally Bet365 or William Hill will take that honour, but it could just as easily be Skybet, Boylesports, or any of the others.

Finding the best odds is an art and a skill you build up through experience. Fortunately, there are plenty of odds comparison sites that will help.

 

Types of Bets

Having plenty of options for selecting and making a bet on your terms is a significant feature that determines the class of a bookie. The bets available can vary wildly and depend on the sport.

Overall, however, the types of bets available are reasonably consistent, and the best betting sites will have a comprehensive list detailing the types of bets they permit. This list can range from accumulators, singles, doubles, conditional bets, full cover bets, system bets, handicaps, and forecasts. Giving bettors a choice when placing wagers is the sign of a strong site, and almost all the top sites will deliver on this aspect.

 

Bet slip

Bet slips contain all the information concerning your current and ongoing bets. The slips house information concerning the odds, markets, and stakes for the bet.

In most cases, bookies will also have bet slips that display advanced features that estimate potential payouts on a bet. Bet slips allow you to browse through a bet’s details before completing the wager.

 

Getting your money in and out of a betting account – payment methods

The number of payment methods and options offered at any bookie can be an important consideration. More options to make deposits and withdrawals not only grants more freedom of choice but can make things vastly easier and smoother for customers. It’s never easy dealing with the hassle of making payments or deposits and waiting around for a withdrawal to come through. You don’t want to face withdrawal problems when you try to take out the big pile of cash you’ve built up with a series of clever bets.

Making these transactions as smooth as possible is a sign of a highly-rated site where it’ll be helpful to have an account. It’s unlikely that you’ll encounter problems if you use any of the bookies mentioned here. I personally have never had problems sometimes withdrawing very large sums of money.

It may be a problem if you step outside the well-known bookies and go to one of the lesser-known operators or if you’re living in a jurisdiction where gambling is illegal or restricted. So the best bet is not to get involved if either of these applies. There really is no reason to bet with anyone other than the major sportsbooks, given the range of different operators you have to choose from, and if betting is illegal in the country where you reside, then do not bet!

Another area to consider when considering withdrawals is if you’ve taken a bonus offer on signing up. Remember, there are always rules around bonuses which prevent you from withdrawing money until you’ve played through the bonus amount several times. This wagering requirement varies from bookmaker to bookmaker, so always check the terms and conditions of any offer. They’ll always be published on the website.

 

What are the most popular payment methods at the leading sportsbooks and bookies?

The most consistent payment methods are usually debit cards, eWallets such as PayPal, Neteller, and Skrill, and other money transfer services such as Paysafecard.

Debit card payments are the most popular option for many players as it is quick and familiar. Using a debit card to make deposits will grant access to exclusive promotions and bonuses where other payment methods won’t. eWallets are also very popular due to the speed of their transactions.

All of these options will appear consistently across different forms of online gambling, so if you want to fully appreciate the possibilities for getting money into or out of any real money gambling account, it’s easy to find the correct info. This website that explains various banking methods for casino gaming will also be helpful for anyone wanting to know more about their banking options for betting on sports with the bookmakers.

 

Understanding bookie bonuses

I’ve mentioned bookie bonuses a number of times on this page. They’re really worth keeping an eye open for, especially when you’re registering an account for the first time with a bookmaker you haven’t used before. They are probably the single biggest driver for registering a new account, and many punters will register multiple accounts with different sportsbooks just to take advantage of all of the new depositor bonuses.

So let’s look at these bonuses in more depth. Generally, it’s true to say that these are extras you get that act to increase your initial betting bankroll. It’s not hard to see why the bookies offer them – they’re a great way of attracting and sometimes keeping new Customers.

The most popular type is the first deposit bonus which comes in the form of a free bet or extra money in your account. Still, there are other types, including the refer a friend bonus, and occasionally you’ll get reload bonuses, too. These reload deals are for extra cash on deposits after your first. Some bookmakers will give out random bonus amounts to valuable Customers – bet365 are good for this, in my experience.

Ensuring you get your bonus is normally straightforward. It’ll often just appear in your account after registration, but sometimes you’ll need to have entered some promotional code at the time of registration. All requirements should be clearly spelt out on the website of any bookie your signing up with, so always look carefully to ensure you get it right and understand how that specific bonus gets released to you.

In-Play Betting

In-play betting is widely also known as live betting, is now a fundamental feature that you’ll find at most betting sites. In-play betting options allow you to place bets on your favourite sports as they are taking place. So, you could bet in-play on some sporting events as they are still going on, all via a dedicated live betting section on the site where you have an account.

Football is perhaps one of the most popular in-play betting sports as it typically has many great selections to make for live bets, but you can bet on live events in horse racing, tennis, and a wide variety of other sports too.

Live bets can add to the overall experience of betting and watching live sporting events. They can deliver outstanding opportunities for bettors if they see something unfolding in a game or match that they might think can make them a quick profit. In-play betting is now reasonably common amongst betting sites, with some even offering live updates on sporting events, so bettors can see how their bet unfolds directly through the site they are using.

 

Cash out options

Options to cash out have become a staple feature of many top betting sites. A chance to cash out can mean that you may be able to get your money back on a particular bet at any given time during the event or even make a profit before the betting event or events have concluded.

Cashing out before the conclusion of a wager is an excellent way to make sure you walk away with something. However, the inherent risk of taking a cash-out option is that you may have cost yourself some money and a potentially more significant profit if your selection goes on to win.

Customer Support

Customer support services are a primarily overlooked feature worth considering when choosing a top betting site. Strong customer support is a crucial feature for every customer. You never know when you’ll need help with a transaction, a failed bet or payment, or just a straightforward account query. When selecting a site where you’re risking your money on bets, choosing one with reliable and reputable customer services is wise.

Keep an eye open, especially for live chat. Speaking to a support agent live is always the quickest way to solve a problem or gain additional information.

 

Taking all these factors into account, let’s see some of the leading operators:

Ladbrokes – It’ll be surprising if you haven’t heard of Ladbrokes, one of the world leaders in offering truly global betting and gaming solutions. Over 100 years old, they reportedly have an employee base of around 16000 people. They’re big! With Ladbrokes, you get the chance to play games and bet on sports events in multiple languages and with 17 different currencies.

Bet365 –  I’ve mentioned Bet365 as one of the best higher up on the page. Offering a massive range of betting markets, they also provide poker, casino games, and skill games too. All in many different languages and with a wide choice of currencies. They’re particularly good for Asian punters, and in my horse race betting experiences, they’re regularly giving the highest odds on my chosen nags.

Pinnacle Sports – Pinnacle is well-known for operating to some of the lowest profit margins in the industry, which results in better odds for you and me. They’re also good for high-value value bets, and there have never been any known withdrawal issues. If you’re a serious sports bettor, you’ll want an account.

Best bookies for arbitrage, matched betting, and sure betting

These three forms of betting – arbitrage, matched betting, and sure betting – fall under the general banner of zero-risk bets. Essentially they’re all based on the premise of placing bets on two outcomes in an event such that the bet will win irrelevant of the result.

Now, you can use any bookmaker as part of this strategy. But there are a few to mention that should form a central part of any strategies since they’ll often offer particularly good odds or lines.

 

Best betting sites by sport

Although all the best betting sites will offer a comprehensive list of sports where you can place wagers, it’s a fair bet that some of these bookmakers will still stand out above others for delivering unrivalled experiences on specific sports. Let’s see a handful of sports where specific bookies will shine.

Best football bookies

Not surprisingly, football is one of the most popular sports to place bets on, with a highly diverse market and potential for profits, many bookies offer more than ideal odds and special offers. Bettors enjoy placing bets on the best football leagues globally, such as the English Premier League, as it is one of the most exciting and gripping sports to watch to see if a bet comes up successful.

Punters can usually bet on the result of a match, pick out goal-scorers, under/over bets, and many more options. We can attribute the popularity of betting on football to the diversity of markets you can select.

Bet365 has a top service for football, with several great markets to choose from and competitive odds to boot. Bet365 also has some great promotional offers to pick from specializing in football, including an accumulator booster offer and the two goals ahead early payout promo. If the selected team goes two goals ahead of their rival, single bets are paid to bettors. This promo also applies to multiple bets.

Best bookmakers for horse racing

Horse racing dates back many years and has continued to be one of the most popular and prominent sports for gambling. With so many races taking place all year round, it is no wonder why people are drawn into betting on horse racing.

Betway is a great provider renowned for their markets in horse racing, boasting a good service with excellent coverage and a sophisticated interface that is easy to follow and understand. The operator lists the correct information, including the age and weight of a horse in categories and the draw number.

The popular sportsbook has daily horse racing cards and some great promotional offers, including a free bet offer where bettors can claim £10 in free bets when they bet £25 or more on accumulators and trebles. Betway also has a money-back offer on selected ITV races, where bettors can claim their money back as a free bet worth up to £10 if the horse they selected finishes in 2nd, 3rd or 4th place. Additionally, the bookie also has their ‘Betway Boosts’ offer, which enhances odds on various sports.

Best tennis betting sites

Tennis is yet another popular sport amongst bettors; with so many tournaments held all year round, there will surely be something that appeals.

888Sport is one of the top betting sites for tennis, offering account-holders a smooth experience with competitive odds. The sportsbook has a handy list of featured live matches with constant updates as to how a match is unfolding, and this is a valuable feature for in-play betting. 888Sport also lists the upcoming matches with the most up-to-date odds so you can gauge whether you would like to place a bet before the event begins.

William Hill is another high-grade betting site for tennis, listing live match betting options and providing highlights. WillHill also offers enhanced odds options. This bookie has an excellent selection of betting markets to choose from in tennis, including individual game-winners, overall tournament winners, plus useful links to tennis coupons. There is also an extensive list on William Hill that shows the different types of live bets you can place during a tennis match. The operator claims to continuously produce the latest odds in the most thrilling tournaments taking place worldwide, including the Grand Slams.

Bookmakers for eSports betting

eSports is still an emerging sport but is becoming increasingly popular, especially for younger generations. eSports are effectively video game competitions and tournaments held over many games, from first-person shooters to strategy games. eSports are predominantly multiplayer and team games where players in teams compete against other teams to win a prize.

These methods of eSports betting make it very similar to many other traditional sports, with some events operating on a leader board/score-based system and other tournaments running through an elimination-based system. eSports used to be quite a specialist sport for betting, and access to anyone betting on the events was restricted to specific bookmakers. Still, there are more and more bookies now offering many markets.

Bet365 and 888Sport both have excellent all-round service for many eSports events. Most of the top sites will have dedicated markets and betting options for eSports with competitive odds.

Best sportsbooks for betting on darts

Darts has always been a trendy sport amongst fans and bettors, and pretty much every betting site will offer great markets on the biggest tournaments. Darts is pretty straightforward when placing bets, and it can be pretty easy to get into the groove with it. Darts might not be a typical choice for some players who prefer football or cricket, but it can be just as exciting if you’re a true fan.

There are never any guarantees when it comes to darts, as the person who shows up on the day with the best eye for precision and accuracy is sure to end up as the winner, meaning anyone can beat anyone on a good day.

William Hill offers a comprehensive darts experience with access to some great odds for every major competition. William Hill also provides its customers with a brilliant in-play betting experience. Live streaming is also an option so that bettors can keep up to date on the latest developments.

Top betting sites for other sports

There are plenty of other sports on which to bet, most of them being found in all major bookies’ lists of sports covered. The list will include such sports as NBA, NFL, ice hockey, and other lesser-followed sports like Aussie Rules and motorsports such as Formula 1, rally, and NASCAR.

Some betting sites, like Bet365, will have a dedicated section or tab for ‘special’ sports selections where players can select a country of origin.

Here is a quick list of other sports you might find on the betting menus:

  • American Football
  • Cycling
  • Cricket
  • Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts
  • Aussie Rules
  • Golf
  • Pool
  • Table Tennis
  • Badminton
  • Curling
  • Handball
  • Netball
  • Surfing
  • Water Polo

Best bookies, bookmakers, and sportsbooks with live betting

Live betting provides excellent opportunities to place bets on sporting events in real-time. When you place a bet on a live event, you are wagering on one that is actively underway, and it has become one of the most popular ways of betting regularly.

Live betting can contribute to the excitement of watching a game or match unfold in real-time, seeing whether or not a bet will come in. 888Sport, Bet365, Bwin, and William Hill are among the top betting sites for delivering fantastic live betting services. Some may also offer live streaming directly through the website itself. Whilst they are generally not direct feeds of the game or match itself, sites will typically have animations and/or some visual aid, so bettors know what is happening.

Alongside this, there will usually be a constant update of information pertinent to the live betting markets. There are likely to be opportunities to cash out during an event in live betting. Since live betting/in-play betting is one of the most popular options to choose from, you can easily find it on most homepages or via quick links that can take you to a dedicated page.

    Mobile sportsbooks

    It is no longer enough for betting sites to only operate effectively on a desktop website. Plenty also offers mobile apps that you can download straight to phones and tablets. A betting app can add tremendous value to a betting site, giving players the chance to get access to their account no matter where they are as long as they have an internet connection.

    Apps can be an excellent way for players to keep up with the latest information and betting markets, and they can come in handy for those who enjoy live betting. Due to the increasing demand for on-the-go bets, betting sites have certainly cashed in on the promising area of developing apps for their customers.

    Most apps will do what the web browser version of a betting site does, and in some cases, the interface is made to be even more convenient and easily accessible. There can even be options for players to access apps through smartwatches if that is an option for them. Punters can use mobile sportsbook apps to make quick and easy bets, access their accounts to make deposits and withdrawals, and stay up to date with the latest odds and markets with just a couple of taps on the phone screen.

    Betting Exchanges

    The growth in popularity of betting exchanges over recent years has been nothing short of phenomenal, and with good reason. When you bet with a bookmaker, you’re pitching your knowledge against theirs, but when you bet on a betting exchange, you’re betting against other punters. This means that odds on the betting exchanges (especially on outsiders, but almost always on shorter-priced selections, too) are normally higher. Sometimes drastically higher.

    Here’s a good example. I fancied an unraced bumper runner in a horse race to run a good race on its debut. The bookies odds were 40-1 at starting time of the race. Betfair (the world’s leading betting exchange) let my fancied runner go off at just over 100-1.

    You can see from this example just why you need to consider betting on the exchanges seriously. My £10 bet returned £400 with a ‘normal’ bookmaker, but on the exchange, I got a return of just under a thousand.

    The leading betting exchange is Betfair. It’s the exchange where you’ll find the most liquidity or money in the markets. This means it’s the exchange where you’ll most likely get your bet matched at the odds you want, and ultimately you’ll be best placed to win more money.

    Aside from Betfair, other exchanges include:

    • Betdaq
    • Smarkets
    • Matchbook

    Betting industry awards for leading sportsbooks

    Any betting operator will always see it as a great accolade if they receive any awards. The gambling industry is no stranger to these types of awards, with industry professionals being well-placed to vote with some degree of confidence for an operator who consistently displays a solid ability to perform at the highest levels.

    The SBC annual awards are arguably the highest recognised awards in the sports betting industry, with the 2021 winner of Sportsbook of the Year going to none other than our leading recommended sportsbook – Bet365.

    Ladbrokes, Racebets, and Betway received individual awards for Best Football Sportsbook, Best Racing Sportsbook, and Best eSports Sportsbook, respectively.

    Why the bookmaker always wins

    None of us can win all the time, no matter how good our knowledge is. The only way you can win all the time is by pure luck. It doesn’t happen that way. It doesn’t work that way. Any form of gambling comes with risks. Risks of losing money, risks of getting addicted to the pursuit of winning it, or risks of just getting addicted to the adrenalin rush of it. Read my responsible gaming page to learn how to watch out for signs that it might be becoming a problem for you.

    But you can make winning bets, and it is possible to win over a period of time.

    For that, you need a good combination of knowledge, a careful approach, a good understanding of how bookies and odds work, and the ability to keep calm and make informed betting decisions.

    The reality is, though, that even if you win and do it regularly (even for big amounts), the sportsbooks themselves always win in the end. Not only because the sad fact is that most money won eventually ends up being bet again and lost, but because bookies work by forming ‘books’ on all the sporting events they cover. Basically, they are setting odds so that whatever the outcome, they’ll always finish ahead in the cold light of day.

    Sure they may take heavy liabilities on a specific event – especially where they may have gone with higher odds than their competitors – but it all evens out over time. Those heavy losses sometimes work for them by giving good publicity, but they’re rare anyway. Bookmaking is a business and one that’s proven itself to be highly lucrative over the years. The saying goes, ‘you never see a poor bookie!’

    The big point to remember with all of this is that even though the bookie always wins, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you always lose.

    To illustrate why the bookmaker always wins, let’s finish up this section with an interesting video that presents what could be a complex subject in an easy-to-follow fashion. It explains just how the bookmakers compile their odds.

    Can you beat the bookies? | Is there any guaranteed way to win?

    With most traditional forms of betting with bookmakers or betting exchanges, the answer to this is a resounding no. With maybe one exception, don’t ever believe anyone that tells you they have a guaranteed way of consistently winning.

    Think about it, if it existed, then someone would have found it, milked it, and put an end to the business a long time ago. You will be flooded with people telling you they can do it, and 99.9% of them will be either rubbish or fraudsters. The other 0.1% will genuinely be able to provide strong tips, which sometimes will win at a good percentage rate – but still, they’ll never be able to guarantee winning.

    So what’s this exception that possibly offers a viable form of zero-risk betting and guarantees to beat our bookie friends?

    It’s known as no lose betting or often as arbitrage betting. Basically, this means placing two or more bets – with different bookmakers – on the same event in a way that guarantees a profit, whatever the outcome.

    Of course, it’s not easy to do. But there are some arbitrage betting operators who claim to have software that constantly scours the odds of every sportsbook and identifies those rare opportunities where one bookmaker goes significantly higher or lower with their odds than others. When an opportunity like this arises, it may be possible to place a bet in two different places and come out with a profit, whatever happens.

    There are some risks which are explained on the no-lose betting page, so it’s not all plain sailing. And often, you’ll need to be wagering big amounts to make the time and effort worthwhile….and of course, the bookies are not in the business of just giving money away. Many restrict this type of betting. They’ll watch out for patterns in the betting habits of punters and try to spot if they’re playing this game, and when they think you are, you’ll very quickly have your account limited or terminated.

    That said, there are one or two bookies who seem to actively encourage it and make a big point of stating they allow it. Pinnacle sports are a good example.

    Does it really work?

    The answer to this is yes, but remember, there’s never going to be any guarantee unless you can master the intricacies of arbitrage betting and make it work. Clever staking and the ability to make a consistent percentage of winning selections is obviously a prerequisite to long-term success.

    How easy is it to register and place bets with a sportsbook?

    You’ll need to consider the answers to this question from different perspectives – the ease of registering, depositing, and placing bets….and from the perspective of the ease of finding one in the first place.

    But we can answer the question all in one go.

    Before you register, deposit, and place bets with any online bookmaker, you first need to find one. We’ve already looked at what you need to consider in choosing one – the bonus offers, the legality, the trust factor, whether they’re offering the best odds if they’ll accept deposits in your local currency. So this part is easy, they’re all listed higher up.

    So you’ve found the one you like. The next step is to register an account. Simple stuff – name, address, username, password. The normal things you need to enter to register for anything.

    Depositing money can be a little more tricky, and of course, depends on where you live. To summarise, it’s easy and no problem in countries where gambling is heavily regulated (like the UK) and more complex in countries with restrictions or uncertainty about the true legality. Where that’s the case, there will most likely be certain methods of depositing that are not open to you. Still, there’s normally a way around it. It’ll be explained on the websites of the betting operators, but in any doubt, you can normally just contact the relevant support team for advice and help.

    Once you’ve got your money in (hopefully with a juicy free bet bonus to top it up), there may be a small learning curve in how to place bets. This is rarely a complicated task as it’s in the bookmaker’s interest to make their betting interfaces intuitive and easy to follow.

    Once you’re experienced in this, you’ll be able to go to any site and place bets. They’re all similar and easy to understand, normally it’s as easy as clicking on the bet you want to make, entering the sum of money you want to wager, and then (hopefully) sitting back, waiting for and maybe watching the event, and ultimately seeing the winnings roll into your account.

    The risks of getting involved with bookies and sportsbooks

    Aside from the ever-present risks involved with betting or gambling that we’ve covered extensively on the responsible gambling page, there are others you’ll need to consider before and after you register at any bookmaker site or mobile app:

    make sure it’s legal to do so in the country in which you reside ( rules on this vary from bookie to bookmaker to sportsbook, so always check their individual terms and conditions. You’ll find them on each website)

    • Visit the responsible gaming page. Read about the types of problems gambling might bring you. And take steps to prevent it happening.

    • Watch out for bonus/cashout restrictions and requirements. When you accept a bonus they’re not going to let you withdraw it immediately and walk away with free cash. You’ll need to place bets equaling a certain times the value of the bonus before being allowed to withdraw. This requirement varies from bookie to bookie – check out the bonus wagering rules.

    • Always check that any bonus offers you see in the tables below are current and valid. I aim to keep this page as up to date as possible – and invariably it will be – but there may be times when I’m unable to update.

    Summary | Conclusion

    Bookies, bookmakers, and sportsbooks are well-entrenched in the online gambling industry. Many of the leading operators are household names that deliver extremely high-quality services. Several of them serve sports bettors with excellent combinations of all the features anyone would need to make their betting experience a good one.

    As with any gambling product, some betting operators are better than others in some key areas, but overall many sites are worthy of investigation if you’re looking to set up a sports betting account.

    We’ve seen the names of some of the strongest bookmakers throughout this betting sites analysis, so you’ll only need to scan through to identify a few that you may want to investigate deeper. Those bookies include names like William Hill, Betway, and 888Sport, but we know there’s only one sportsbook name that any punter should always take note of first. The premium bookie in question is Bet365, and no punter should be betting without an account with this leading brand in the industry. There are numerous reasons why Bet365 can be named the best.

    So, if you’re ready to start sports betting, you now know the sites to begin with. Have fun, be careful with your betting, and there’s a chance you can make betting on sports pay at one of our listed sites.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    All reputable bookmakers will have extensive FAQ pages on their sites covering the most frequently asked questions about their betting services and offers. Still, you may have some higher-level questions about sports betting that they may not answer.

    We’ll look at a few of those high-level FAQs here:

    What sports markets do the best bookies cover?

    The best betting sites will offer a wide range of sports and betting markets. Betting markets will typically vary depending on the selected sport. For example, betting on football, such as in the English Premier League, has one of the largest pools of betting markets, where bettors can choose between markets including under/over, double chances, match results, cards (yellow and red), corners, team goals, and goal scorer options.

    All leading bookmakers will cover these options extensively.

    What types of sports bets can I place?

    The types of bets that are available can depend on the sports involved. Typically, you might find bets such as forecasts, system bets, singles, doubles, trebles, accumulators, full cover bets, and conditional bets, to name a handful. To appropriately gauge the extent of your betting options, it is always best to browse through different operators and providers before making any deposits to ensure you are getting what you want.

    Do sportsbooks offer sports bets on mobile?

    Yes, you’ll definitely be able to place sports bets whilst on the move. Sportsbooks have developed apps to make this process easier and more accessible for their customers. Betting on sports whilst on the go can be exceptionally useful for those who enjoy going to a local sports bar or pub to watch a game but might also want to place a live bet.

    Do online bookmakers offer 24/7 customer support?

    Bookmakers should have a dedicated webpage that will house their customer support centre. Account-holders can go here if they need a quick answer or fix to a problem. Some sites also have live chats where you can contact the site team directly within the set hours of operation. If an issue is not pressing but does require the assistance of an employee of the betting site, most sites encourage the use of email.

    Are my data and funds safe at online bookmakers?

    By registering for an account, customers will be required to read through, acknowledge, and accept the terms of service and any terms and conditions. The terms of service will likely detail how the operator will use your data. Be sure to check whether the website has a valid licence and is fully regulated by an official body to ensure its legitimacy before setting up an account.

    How do online bookies ensure responsible gaming?

    Online gambling can become a severe issue for some people, and ensuring responsible gambling has become a mainstay for many operators who want to show their commitment and loyalty to their customers. 

    Responsible gaming measures can range considerably and are a cornerstone of ensuring the appropriate safety for everyone. The risks with online betting can range from gambling addictions to underage gambling. 

    Many sites will now give customers the option to place limits on their accounts. The limitations can include:

    • Deposit limits to restrict the amount of funds a player can put into their account.
    • A time limit to enforce a set amount of time a player is permitted to play.
    • Time out sessions where an account is placed on a temporary hold, so a player cannot access an account.

    UK betting sites such as Betway are even supporters of the Responsible Gambling Trust and many carry links on their pages to problem gambling support organization such as BeGambleAware.

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