Online bookmakers are incredibly popular today. Some of the UK’s biggest betting brands have their own websites, bringing their customers the ability to place wagers on their favourite sports as they would at a high street branch. By being able to hop online, you can put bets on any sport taking place within the UK and around the world, on your desktop or mobile device, all from the comfort of your own home.
Not only is this ideal for those people who live in the countryside and are unable to place bets at brick-and-mortar establishments whenever they like, it’s also revolutionary for anyone with mobility issues.
However, the sheer variety of online bookmakers available today means choosing from the many can be somewhat daunting. After all, if they offer you the same basic service, how should you discern one bookmaker from another?
Well, each online bookmaker is different in specific ways, and there are certain features and elements to watch out for. In this guide to the top three bookmakers, we’ll cover the most important aspects of betting websites, to help you choose the right one for your personal preferences.
The three best bookmakers in the UK we can recommend are featured in the table above: Betfair; Paddy Power; and Unibet. These are all high-quality, boast great presentation, and provide impressive promotions to keep players satisfied over time.
|Bookmaker||Bonus Offer||Bonus Code||Review|
|Betfair||Up to £30 Bonus in Free Bets||Reveal code||Review|
|Paddy Power||£30 Free Bets Bonus||Visit Paddy Power||Review|
|Unibet||Up to £30 in Free Bets||Reveal Code||Review|
Welcome bonus offers play a pivotal role in the best online bookmakers’ success.
First and foremost, these are essential for attracting newcomers to the website itself. As consumers, we all love to get something for nothing, no matter how small it may be; even the most minor freebie can create a stronger bond between buyers and a brand.
Welcome bonus offers typically revolve around giving you a number of free bets or extra money upon registering with a website. In occasional cases, you’ll actually receive a little incentive simply for signing up and creating an account, without having to invest any of your own money (this is usually distributed as free bets).
Free bets enable you to browse the bookmaker’s offerings, exploring the variety of betting markets and features available, and to possibly win money at no expense to yourself.
More commonly, though, you’ll need to add money to your account in order to activate your welcome bonus offer. For example, at Betfair, when you deposit a minimum of £10 into your account, you’ll get as much as £30 in free bets; this offer triples your stake amount, allowing you more to play with without costing you an extra penny.
The type of welcome bonus offer available at an online bookmaker should help you make a decision about which to choose. Not only does the freebie or bet-match make a difference, but the specific regulations surrounding the offer itself are important – do you need to spend a certain amount in order to actually withdraw your winnings?
When browsing various online bookmakers, take a good look at their welcome bonus offers. If you already like what you see of a website, this offer could well be enough to finalise your decision.
Outside of the welcome bonus offer, additional promotions are equally vital to a bookmaker’s ongoing success.
While the welcome bonus offer is in place to attract first-time visitors, other promotions are usually created to engage existing members. Often, these will relate to major sporting events, like a tournament or pivotal match, perhaps granting a free bet whenever you wager a specific amount.
Other promotions include, for example, live streaming of events to your desktop computer or mobile device, dependent on your betting on the game or race in question. Live streaming’s gaining real traction in the online bookmakers industry, enabling you to watch sports in real-time, wherever you are.
Best odds guaranteed are another common promotion, as are cashback bonuses. In the case of the latter, being able to receive money you’ve invested on losing wagers is a powerful gesture on the business’s behalf, costing themselves cash in order to keep you engaged.
The best online bookmakers will provide you with a vast selection of sports to wager upon. Seasoned betting-fans may well place money on certain big games or races without even being a fan of the sport, or even having a comprehensive knowledge of it, while others will exclusively wager on their favourite team. Countless people will do a little bit of both, wagering on preferred teams and players as well as those they may not have heard of before but have great odds nonetheless.
To attract, and keep, the largest variety of customers possible, all online bookmakers must provide the biggest range of betting markets they can. This usually encompasses such major sports as:
This is only a small selection, though. Clicking on one of these on the website will bring up all of the leagues and tournaments available for betting, such as Premier League Football, NBA Basketball, and more; you’ll be able to place wagers on events all over around the world, including European, Asian, and African sports.
You can expect to see politics and entertainment markets available at some bookmakers too, giving you the freedom to bet on the outcome of high-profile reality series, contests, votes, and others. For people with little to no interest in sport, entertainment and political betting enables you to enjoy the thrill of wagering, not to mention potentially win big prizes.
The best bookmakers make their betting markets incredibly easy to navigate and attractive to study for long periods. As you may well be using the site on your mobile device, be it a smartphone or tablet, it’s important to have a well-laid out sportbook to minimize strain or frustration. Bookmakers should also present you with the most popular or highly-recommended events primarily, so you can go straight to those if they take your interest.
Virtual sports may also be offered alongside the sportbook. These are exactly what they sound like: simulated games or races for you to bet upon. This is a great option if you want to bet on a specific sport but there are no real events currently taking place, at any time; it’s also terrific for gaining experience with wagering, if you have little to no prior knowledge of this.
Online bookmakers provide you with a huge variety of payment methods, overall. While specific websites may only offer a small selection, perhaps just five or so, others will accommodate a large range, with credit & debit cards, ewallets, and bank transfers all accepted.
Depending on your personal preferences, you may find some online bookmakers unsuited to you. While you can create accounts with alternative platforms to those you already use (such as PayPal or Skrill), a particular website may not appeal to you enough to warrant such effort. Whatever card or platform you prefer, though, you’ll find the best bookmakers accept the most common and popular methods, increasing the diversity of people who can register.
Debit and credit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, and Visa Electron, are widely-accepted, and are simple to use. There’s a verification process to go through before you can make your first withdrawal, for both your security and the business’s; this typically involves submitting copies of your passport and / or driving licence, your bank statement, utility bills, or your credit card’s front and back.
This is usually easy to do, and may be requested for further transactions; again, this is for your benefit, to minimize the risks of fraudulent activity.
Ewallets, such as PayPal and Skrill, are massively popular at online bookmakers. With PayPal, for example, you can add funds to your account without having to actually submit your bank details to the bookmaker’s, and will be taken to the PayPal website to authorise the payment as an extra layer of security.
On the best bookmakers, accessing your payment options is simply a case of clicking through to the account section. From here, you’ll be able to manage your payment methods, deposit money into your account, and process withdrawals. This will be available on desktop and mobile websites alike.
At the best bookmakers, you’ll have access to detailed FAQ sections or help pages, which provide guidance on using specific payment methods, to avoid mistakes. You’ll also be able to contact the support team for more assistance, if needed (we’ll return to this later).
Sometimes, you’ll miss the start of a particular game or race, which is frustrating (to say the least). After all, if you’ve been planning on wagering on it for some time, you’ll feel like you’ve lost out; not just on the chance to win, of course, but on the thrill of the experience itself.
With live betting, this is taken out of the equation. You can actually place wagers on events that are already in progress, whether you’ve missed the start or because you change your mind about which outcome you want to bet upon. For example, let’s say you wager on an NBA game, between the New York Knicks and the LA Lakers. You’ve put your money on the Knicks, but notice at around the halfway mark that the Lakers are obviously going to win.
Though you’ll fail to recoup your money on the first bet, you can still place a wager on the Lakers to win, thereby still getting something in return. The best bookmakers have a live betting section, which presents all of the biggest events in-play at the moment, though you can browse to find others too.
You’ll be able to see the teams, players, racers, or participants displayed, along with the time elapsed, score, and odds. This makes finding the one you’re after quick and easy.
Mobile compatibility isn’t an option for bookmakers today: if you want to provide the best, most competitive service you can, you have to offer a mobile site in one form or another. This may be a version of your website optimised for mobile devices, an app, or both. Betfair, Paddy Power, and Unitbet all provide apps, keeping you connected to their services at any time, any place.
Mobile websites will run with smooth performance and short loading times on even the smallest screens, keeping you engaged. If pages take too long to load, or there are missing elements or features, you can easily get frustrated – and look elsewhere altogether.
When looking at online bookmakers, be sure there’s a mobile version of the website (optimised to a high standard) or an app. Generally, apps are well-designed and provide all the features found on the website, without the need to navigate to the site in your mobile browser. It may also be quicker and smoother to use, without ads.
The customer support available at online bookmakers may well vary. It’s vital for a business to offer customers a selection of different contact options, to cater to different requirements and lifestyles.
For example, one of the most common, most accessible forms of customer support is live chat. With this feature, you can click on a ‘chat now’ button (or some other variation) to trigger a conversation with a support agent. Though these are text-based, it’s a quick way to discuss any problems or ask questions without needing to pay for a phone call or compose an email.
However, not everyone will feel comfortable using this method. For this reason, more traditional ones should be available, including telephone and email support.
The best bookmakers may well have numerous phone numbers for different requirements, such as one for questions about payments, another for technical issues, and more. Ideally, customer service should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can take advantage of expert help at any time; this suits customers running on different clocks, ensuring the night-worker can get the same quality of support as someone who works 9 to 5.
Look into the customer support options your potential bookmaker offers before registering – the easier they are to contact, the sooner you’ll be able to resolve any issues and get back into betting.
Whichever online bookmaker you eventually choose, taking all of the above aspects of the website into account before making a decision will help you find the best for you.