Best Betting Sites in the UK for 2018 – An In-Depth Look & Ranking
A favourite pastime of the nation, sports betting is naturally a saturated market. As a legal and strictly regulated activity, it generates billions of pounds every year, keeping its unwavering popularity amid the fluidity of the iGaming industry. Following a surge in interest over the past couple of years, it’s hardly a surprise that more and more bookmakers are vying for customers’ attention. But how can you tell which indeed are the best betting sites?
Well, a detailed impartial review will certainly come in handy and we’re more than happy to offer you all the information you need in order to make your choice. Based on our hands-on experience with the top sportsbooks in the UK, we discuss the building blocks that you need to consider before you choose a website worthy of your time and money. Browse through our sections of useful tips and strategies, find the latest bonuses and try the latest innovations – they’re all here to aid you as you face the bookie mano a mano.
List of Best Betting Sites in the UK
In Bet Credits
*100% Up to £100
|* New Customers only. Up to £100 in Bet Credits. Sign up, deposit £5 or more to your account and bet365 will match your qualifying deposit in Bet Credits when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply.|
*Up to £100
|* New Customers; Min. deposit £15 (no Skrill/Neteller); Bonus amount is 50% of deposit up to £100; 6x deposit and bonus turnover (min. odds 3/5 on singles and 2/5 per selection on acca bets), in 30 days, for bonus release; Some bet types don’t contribute to turnover; Withdrawal before turnover results in bonus cancellation; Terms apply; 18+.|
Bet £10 Get £30
* T&C’s apply. More:
100% Up to £100
* T&C’s apply. More:
100% Up to £30
* T&C’s apply. More:
So, what’s the hold-up? We make the arduous task of selecting a sportsbook a cinch – start your premium betting experience here!
- Best Sites
- Types of Bets
What’s the Top Sports Betting Site for You?
When you look at the basic principle of sports betting, bookies may all look the same. Seems like a pretty straightforward process – you bet money on a team or a player. If they win, you win; if they lose – you lose. So, you better put your money at a betting site that offers the best odds and therefore the highest wins, right? Well, sort of. In the 2010s, with all the technological advancements and online possibilities, there’s a lot more to finding a reliable betting site than choosing the one that offers the seemingly best winning potential. When betting online, you need to consider:
- Safety / Security – as convenient and ubiquitous as doing everything online is, cybercrime is never to be snubbed especially at the rate that personal data is flying around the internet. Any website that stores your personal and financial details has to be secure and offer multi-tier protection like domain validation and SSL encryption.
- Licensing – it’s hardly necessary for us to point out that the first thing you need to check about a site where you will be depositing money and sharing personal information is whether it is licensed and regulated, offering a top level of customer protection.
- Variety of markets – you don’t need to leave your house in order to watch any sports event you like, so why limit yourself with just the omnipresent football and horse racing when it comes to betting? A good bookie will dote on their customers’ every whim with a variety of tournaments, games, and markets.
- Payment options – the top online betting sites will offer you flexible banking methods, with instant deposits and fast processing of withdrawals on different platforms. Along the traditional credit & debit cards and e-wallets, cryptocurrencies are also gaining ground.
- Bonuses – if there’s one thing that we can say holds true for all betting sites, it’s that they will offer their customers different types of bonuses and promotional offers. From the standard deposit match to the different free bets, cashbacks, or best odds guaranteed – no sportsbook will even entertain the idea of omitting promotions.
- Mobile – with in-play betting taking the spotlight from pre-match bets, and options like live streaming and omnichannel, the top betting sites are changing their availability and are making sure they can provide relatable experiences to all their customers on relevant touchpoints.
- Site usability – in order to meet today’s savvy users’ needs, online betting sites are designing their sites to be responsive and easy to use across all platforms. The level of immediacy required by the way operations are processed on different devices necessitates contemporary clear-cut design and scalability, which add to an unhindered betting experience.
- Reputation – going for an illustrious brand may seem obvious; if they’ve been around for decades and have millions of customers, they must be doing something right. However, it’s not a rare occurrence that even the biggest players on the market may be subject to huge fines for not so righteous practices.
Highest Rated Bookmaker Based on Top Bettor’s Criteria
- Ability to bet in-store
- Mobile App
- Variety of Markets
- Customer Care
- Easy Registration
- Bonus Offer
- Banking Options
In addition, a betting website boasting a squeaky-clean reputation may not be able to offer you the betting options you need, so going off the beaten track with a lesser-known operator may actually grant you a more satisfying while equally secure experience. That’s why, we always recommend exploring all your options before making a commitment.
An inherently dynamic industry, online betting undergoes constant blips and so far, has managed to adapt successfully to any goalposts moved. Read reviews online, make a comparison based on the aspects we discussed above and keep in mind the following peculiarities and novelties on the UK betting scene.
How Sports Betting Is Regulated in the UK
One of the main concerns people may have when it comes to placing a bet online is whether it’s a legal activity that is controlled by the respective authorities. If you’re a British resident, you can rest assured that the UK betting market is one of the safest and most strictly regulated in the world. Betting and gambling has been legal after the Betting and Gaming Act 1960 allowed shops to be opened and legalised gambling for small sums.
In the years to come, with a surge in shops openings and the rise of the internet making betting available to broader audiences than ever before, new regulations were introduced, and the UK Gambling Commission was assembled under the Gambling Act 2005. It is now the Government’s executive body responsible for the regulation of all gambling and betting activities. All UK-facing operators, regardless of where they’re based, need to be licensed by the Commission in order to sell their services and advertise to British clients.
Operators’ Licenses and Monitored Practices
If you’d like to be absolutely sure that you’re betting at a regulated site, check for the UKGC’s logo at the footer of the page. It should be clickable and take you to the commission’s page where you will be able to see the current status of the betting site’s license. If it’s just a picture, or if the license has been suspended, stay away from the sportsbook. Spread betting is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority which also regulates UK’s financial markets and operates independently of the UK Government.
|Bookie||Gambling Commission||License||Ref. #||ADR|
Settling Disputes with Online Betting Sites
While the Gambling Commission supervises betting activities and monitors the self-exclusion practices and methods of protecting vulnerable users which sportsbooks employ, as well as the way they share information with their customers, it doesn’t solve disputes itself. It does, however, require that operators provide dispute resolution free of charge if they don’t manage to settle a dispute about the outcome of a bet at the first stage of their complaints procedure. There are eleven commission-approved ADR (alternate dispute resolution) providers including IBAS that sportsbooks work in association with.
Bonuses Are the Stuff of Sports Betting
As we already mentioned, and as you’ve surely noticed when browsing betting sites, or just by turning on the telly or logging into social media, betting sites offer bonuses. For anyone lacking interest, such unsolicited messages can be a nuisance, but for bettors on the prowl for lucrative offers it is very often the determining factor when choosing a betting website to sign up with. For bettors, the welcome bonus is still the main reason to click on an ad or go all the way through with a registration.
Welcome Bonuses for Newly Registered Players
There are two main types of bonuses available to newly signed up players – a match-up for their first deposit or a free bet. With the first one, you will receive a bonus amount that matches your deposit and can vary across sites, starting from 50% and reaching as much as 500%. The bonus funds and winnings made from using them are cashable, which means that you will be able to withdraw them after you have met a set of requirements such as wagering, minimal odds, and validity.
|Bookmaker||Deposit Bonus||Wagering||Free Bets||ACCA||Cashback||Loyalty Club|
|Bet365||*£100 in Bet Credits||3x||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Betfair||100% up to £100||15x||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Unibet||100% Up to £30||20x||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|888sport||Bet £10 Get £30||23x||Yes||No||Yes||No|
- Min 1.50 odds
- Min £5 deposit
- 7 days to claim
- Loyalty club
A quintessential deposit match situation will be as follows: a newly registered customer makes a first deposit (there are minimum and maximum amounts stipulated in the T&Cs of the promotional offer, so keep those in mind), the sum they’ve deposited is matched 100% and the bonus (sometimes both the deposit and the bonus) needs to be wagered a specific number of times before the customer can withdraw the funds and winnings.
In addition to the rollover of the bonus, additional requirements may have to be met, such as specific markets, minimal odds (it’s usually 1.5 or higher), and validity which can be anything from one week to 90 days. Best case scenario – you will get a higher percentage match bonus, with a minimum wagering – something like 2x on all markets and odds, and you will have no time constraints in order to fulfil the requirements.
Free Bets and How to Make Use of Them
With free bets, the bonus is not bound to a deposit you make, but rather a qualifying bet instead. Almost all good betting websites offer free bets much to their customers’ delight. Although it’s a popular sign-up incentive, it’s also commonly used by best betting sites as a promo offer for loyal customers as well, especially during big tournaments, competitions, and championship. bet365 often offer free in-play bets on football matches from major events like the UEFA Champions League or the FIFA World Cup. Bettors gladly choose them because of their risk-free nature. The free bet bonus is sticky, which means that if you win, you will get to keep the winnings, but the amount of the bonus will be subtracted from the sum you can withdraw.
Loyalty Rewards and More Promotions
Although deposit match-ups and free bets typify the welcome offers, there’s a multitude of other promotions you can expect from the most generous betting sites. There are different incentives known as bonuses on loss like cashback offers or the ACCA insurance which provides a refund (up to a certain amount) if an accumulator bet is lost because of a single leg. Loyalty rewards are gaining more and more popularity since both bookies’ and bettors’ attitude seems to be gravitating more towards retention rather than bonuses with wagering requirements. This commitment of customers is evident in the declining number of accounts the average bettor has, which was four in 2017.
New Regulations for Sportsbook Ads and Bonuses
After the Financial Bill of 2017 was passed, experts were quick to throw in their two cents in different bellwethers for industry trends after it became clear that remote operators would have to pay 15% tax on free and discounted bets in addition to the point of consumption tax. However, financial regulations and taxes are just the vicissitudes of a multi-billion industry, and online betting sites have weathered not one or two regulation frameworks, so the latest taxes and regulations imposed by the UK government are not likely to cause the industry to transmogrify into a no-bonus wasteland anytime soon.
The Bill also changed the definition of “prizes” as a pre-emptive measure against operators equating the value of free plays with prizes. In addition, the UKGC is also tightening control over betting commercials and age-verification practices as part of its effort to protect children from possible harm.
Why the Verification Process?
Speaking of protection, we reach another issue – the verification process. As we mentioned, the Gambling Commission is focused on the protection of children and vulnerable people, so it watches betting sites closely for age-verification and self-exclusion practices. If you’ve ever taken a punt and you’ve managed to clean up, the ensuing withdrawal process may have seemed like unnecessary hassle.
It is, in fact, an industry-compliant standard practice that ensures customers’ safety and security and starts with the registration itself. Before allowing a customer to join their site, all online betting sites need to ascertain that the person is 18 years of age or older, doesn’t have an account that has been suspended due to self-exclusion, and is residing in a jurisdiction where the betting site is licensed to offer its services.
|Operator||SSL||GDPR||ID required||2-STEP verification||Self Exclude||Rating|
Best Secured Site
- Yes SSL Secure
- Yes GDPR Compliant
- YES ID Required
- Yes 2-Step Verification
- Yes Self-Exclusion
- READ REVIEW
Stay Safe When Sharing Sensitive Information Online
Google is now marking all pages using an HTTP connection “not secure” which prompted all sites to purchase a trusted certificate. Trusted certificates may be issued to websites that aren’t staunchly dependable, so we advise that you look for domain validation as well. The top level of protection you can get online is an extended validation certificate that only legal entities that have provided all necessary documents can obtain. Such organizations’ name and location will appear in green, next to a green padlock, in the address bar.
Once you’re certain that your data will be kept out of harm’s way, you can proceed to the verification stage. The most trusted betting sites employ two-step processes, like the Google 2-step verification. With this modality, a piece of information will be sent to your email after you’ve filled in the required password field. Only after you’ve been provided a security code, will you be able to log in and use your account.
What Documents Can Bookies Require?
Bookies can – scratch that – they must ask for verification documents as part of their security proceedings. You may be required to send a copy of your ID, passport, driver’s license, or other clear proof of identity. Like we already pointed out – if you have no concerns about the site’s safety, i.e. you’ve checked its license and SSL protocol certificate, you can have complete peace of mind disclosing sensitive data.
Types of Sports Bets
The variety of sports bets and wagers adds salt to your betting endeavours, and when you register with a trusted, long-standing betting site that puts customer experience first, you will discover a plethora of options. In the next lines, we’ll give you a brief walkthrough of the most widespread types of bets but if you’d like to delve deeper into all the possibilities and systems you can use, our extensive sports betting guide is yours to bookmark and peruse at your leisure.
Bets to Try If You’re New to Sports Betting
If you’re floundering at the selection page, befuddled by the overwhelming choice, the path of least resistance is the win or “straight” bet, also known as moneyline wager in the US. Bettors will usually make a beeline for those among the selections because they’re considered to be traditional and involve less to none analysis or preparation, making it the perfect choice if you’re beginning to dabble in this matter. In essence, it’s just choosing who will win between two players or teams or whether they will draw (if applicable to the sport). Odds can be equal or vary greatly, making one opponent a hands-down favourite, based on the compilers’ analysis of previous outcomes stats and players’ past performance.
Totals or Over-Unders is also a relatively easy option you can find at betting sites, as the prediction is a very simplistic one – a bookie sets a line of points or goals for the game and bettors can wager whether the total number will be over or under this number. Outright bets are rather straightforward, too, as they are wagers placed on the winner of a competition or a tournament before it has started. These bets are known as future or ante-post betting.
Types of Betting
- Arbitrage Betting Explained
- How Hedging Bets Work
- Kelly Criterion Betting Strategy
- Moneyline Betting in Sports
- Parlay Betting Explained
- All about Point Spread Betting
- Meaning of Over Under Betting
- Understanding Outright Bets
- What Prop Bets are About
- Explaining a Bet Accumulator
- Making Betting Permutations
- What is Exchange Betting
Options for Advanced Bettors
Handicap betting is widespread, although it may appear baffling to newbies. Betting sites’ handicap markets give bettors the option to improve their chances of winning by reducing the odds or vice versa – improve the odds but reducing the winning chances. For the purpose of betting, extra goals or points can be awarded or deducted, thus affording more and different wager opportunities. A similar bet is points spread where points and goals are again added or subtracted, but it’s with the intent of making the two opponents virtually equal.
Specials provide almost unlimited supply of options, as they can cover everything from who will score the first goal, to whether there will be a penalty, the time of the first goal, and many more. Trust us – it is impossible to exhaust all variables in one paragraph. So, if you’re fed up with the run-of-the-mill straights or outrights, you can tinker with the specials (or prop bets as they are also known) to your bettor’s heart content. They can be just for fun, on the flat principle of gambling and pure luck, but they can also be an educated guess based on thorough research and deep understanding of the sport.
- Cash Out
- Up to £30 in Free Bets
- Live Streaming Available
- Lots of Promotions
- In-Play Bets
Football, Horse Racing, Cricket, Basketball, Ice Hockey, UFC, Tennis, Boxing, Rugby, Snooker, Golf, Handball, Volleyball
Parlays and accumulators are multiplier bets that constitute more than one selection as part of a single wager. We leave them to the advanced bettors because they can prove a hard nut to crack since you need to get every selection right or otherwise risk losing the wager. Full cover bets which are popular with UK betting sites are again combination bets with the difference that they do not combine all the selections into a single wager.
A full cover bet includes all the permutations of all selections in every possible combination. Progressive parlays can lower the risk, and certain provisions like early cashout or ACCA insurance offered by the bookies can come of immense help here, as they will allow for minimising the losses in case something goes wrong.
What Is the Truth about “the Juice?”
If you decide to take a punt on a 50/50 outcome like the result of a tennis match between players with equal chances of winning or the coin toss at kick-off, you’d expect commensurate odds of 2.00 for each possible result. Well, that would be the case if the odds were “fair”. However, there’s this funny little thing called profit margin which is prerequisite for sportsbooks’ practices. For bettors, it effectively translates to paying a commission. Known also as the vigorish (vig), overround or “juice”, it is how bookies make money.
- Horse Racing:……..4.40%
Bookies would never clean up if they gave fair odds, so the odds with inbuilt vig for something as simple as a coin toss would be 1.90 for each side. If the result is “heads”, bettors who have wagered £10 on it will win £19 (£9 net), and those who wagered on “tails” would lose. The bookie will keep the losing £10 bets and pay £9 net return to the winners, making a profit of £1. Thus, they always come ahead even at equal probabilities. Mystery solved. Let’s move on to more options for betting.
How to Make the Best of the Betting Markets Variety
In the sports betting world, markets provide a marketplace for odds or a place in which betting sites can list their odds for every possible outcome of sporting events. Gamblers can choose odds from a market based on the outcomes they believe will happen. A betting market consists of one category of wagers. There might be many markets for a single event, which enables you to focus on a particular type of betting.
For instance, a single football match is going to have separate markets for gambling on the match result, the number of goals that are being scored, the goal scorers – or players who will score goals – as well as the winning margin. The top-rated betting sites sometimes offer dozens of markets for high-profile fixtures. Not to mention that there are many operators which offer a single-wallet account across all their platforms. However, this is only for the operators which support other networks as well.
Live / In-Play Betting
Sports bettors nowadays demand a more engaging and exciting experience and, in many cases, are looking for instant gratification. In-play betting has met this demand, as some of the biggest companies report that it accounts for two-thirds of their total handle. Almost every betting site will feature live betting, and if you find one that doesn’t, you’ve either stepped back in time, or you’re looking at the wrong places.
GREYHOUNDS Funded betting wallet or a bet in the past 24h. *Geo-location restrictions apply.
HORSE RACING A bet must be placed upon an event for it to be streamed.
GREYHOUNDS Positive account balance or have placed a bet in the last 24 hours.
Best Choice for Live betting
- Plenty sports coverage in Live console
- Very informative Live infographic
- “Instant betting” is available on desktop and mobile
Not only is live betting more thrilling, but it also aids bettors in optimising their profit by maximising winnings and minimising losses, as they are able to take real-time punts on various events. Sportsbooks alter odds on participants as the game progresses to reciprocate the decreasing or increasing probabilities of how the outcome is going to materialise.
Capitalising on in-play betting odds can turn a string of horrible pregame wagers into a host of lucrative earnings. Bettors might back a star striker to be the first to score only to have him injured five minutes into a game. Betting live on a different footballer to score might help negate the original loss and in some cases even provide additional winnings depending on the odds that are on offer.
eSports – A New Niche You Need to Look Into
Live betting is especially popular for eSports, which may have been considered a fad a few years back but has now grown into a massive industry that generates hundreds of millions from media rights, merchandise, ticket sales, and advertising. A major sportsbook offering vast eSports markets has reported growth of 127% of its eSports bet count, with the live bet count – a whopping 403%.
League of Legends is the most popular MOBA up to date, and there are always events you can wager on. There are the Summer and Winter Splits as well as the most popular World Championships. There are also various leagues depending on the server of the players. Even you’re not that much into pixelated battles, this is a market well worth exploring, as statistics show that bookies lose 90% of bets on e-Sports.
Mobile Betting Apps – How to Bet on the Go
Mobile domination is an accurate description of how the online betting industry has been evolving over the last years. Phones, tablets, and all sorts of portable gizmos have introduced ease, speed, and convenience we could have only imagined 10 years ago. Bookmakers roll out native iOS and Android apps designed with modern users’ needs in mind and make their websites scalable across the device spectrum, with improved navigability on touch screens. Combined with the latest innovations introduced by software companies, betting on mobile is not only on par but is actually becoming the norm.
For UK citizens, Google has now allowed geo-targeted real-money betting apps, so Android users no longer need to make do with the responsive carbon copy of the main website or resort to changing security settings. The biggest names in the industry have already launched their apps on the Play Store, so in a fast and secure installation, typosquatting worries aside, you can have unlimited betting opportunities facilitated by the intrinsic sharp resolution and colour gamut of Android.
Their latest features will accommodate your experience as well. Twice the boot speed of powering up and autofill can certainly come in handy for logging in when cashout is on the line, while Picture-in-Picture lets you handle your betslip operations while still staying on top of live streaming. Adapting to the mobile transition, operators also had to introduce convenient and secure payment methods for mobile users. Find out more about the banking options next.
Ease of Depositing and Cashing Out on Mobile
The betting industry has seen a massive push towards secure banking, especially on mobile devices, so payment methods like Boku, Zimpler, and Apple Pay are now utilised, providing simplicity and flexibility to mobile users. A caveat, though, is that the maximum amount of deposits actioned this way is relatively low (£30 at Boku for reference) and that they can’t be used for withdrawals.
All the Best Bookies Accept Credit Cards and e-Wallets
Of course, debit and credit cards have been the go-to option of netizens handling online transactions for the longest time, and today they are the linchpin of every bookie’s financial operations. Visa and MasterCard are ever-present, and American Express may also be an option. In January 2018, a new law was passed which prohibits UK companies selling to domestic consumers from adding surcharges to payments made by debit or credit card both online and in-store, so you can rest assured that your deposit will be processed fast and securely without incurring fees.
- No additional fees!
- Safe and secure!
Using a credit or debit card means you will have to enter their details, so if you’d like a certain amount of privacy and anonymity, you can get a prepaid card like Paysafecard that uses e-vouchers you can buy online or in-store, or you can opt for the succour of e-wallets. You will find a lot of betting sites accepting PayPal, Neteller, and Skrill. The simplest way to deposit to an online betting site with PayPal is through an already existing balance in the e-wallet. Alternatively, you can connect your credit or debit card to your PayPal account. This way, you can use your card without having to share its information with the bookmaker.
Bitcoin Sports Betting Sites are Getting More Popular than Ever
Bitcoin is the most popular crypto-currency, and its usage has risen drastically in the past several years. One of the biggest differences between Bitcoins and traditional currencies is the lack of government oversight or an issuing bank. The crypto-currency does not operate within any country’s laws, which makes it invulnerable to seizure by any government. This is one of the reasons for its popularity and rapid growth and the increasing number of sports betting sites accepting Bitcoin.
The Future of Sports Betting – Innovations That Change the Industry
A true shapeshifter, over the past 20 years online betting has been exponentially growing, taking legislation and regulation in its stride, and wielding technological advancements to augment a multi-billion industry and ameliorate the negative aspects of gambling. Technology has revolutionised every aspect of the sector, from regular sports betting to in-play wagering, and we feel in the right place to say that more progress and innovations lie ahead.
The Omnichannel experience lets bettors switch seamlessly from land-based shops to online betting sites, using the same credentials across as many and different devices as they wish. All channels are integrated, allowing you to stay on top of the events you’ve placed a bet on anytime, anywhere, on any selected channel.
Blockchain technology has been slowly creeping into our lives, and nowadays its presence is felt like never before, with Google search trends showing new records, as well as the collective crypto-currency market cap which is currently at its highest. However, there are particular industries with which Blockchain technology and crypto-currencies are able to connect with on a deeper level, betting being one of them.
Artificial intelligence can be quite effective in combating betting addiction as well as its consequences. In addition, self-learning AI units using neural networks in combination with state-of-the-art algorithms map out behavioural patterns which can be used to funnel the possibilities when making predictions on sports events.
Swarming is a unique approach that relies on different groups of people’s knowledge, perceptions and proficiency in different areas in order to provide insights and predictions on numerous subjects. A relatively new concept in software, so far it has demonstrated consistent accuracy in sports betting predictions.
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Sport Betting Websites
When a bettor takes a punt on a sports event online, they’re wagering on a real-life event. Whether it’s betting on Wimbledon, the Premier League, or CS:GO tournament, the actual gameplay happens in real life, as does the entertainment experience, which makes online betting fundamentally different from other forms of online gambling. This sense of immediacy is what the best betting sites try to convey. To that end, they rely on cutting-edge technology to deliver the right product, on the right channel, at the right time for the person, with main focus on the player experience and gratification.
Despite the many regulation disparities globally, the UK online betting sector continues to mature, thanks to the increased popularity of mobile wagering, in-play betting, and the proliferation of markets. In an event-driven industry, identifying opportunities allows operators to project growth and deliver quality and consistency to online bettors.
- The Gambling Commission was set up under the Gambling Act 2005 to regulate commercial gambling in Great Britain in partnership with licensing authorities.
- The Financial Conduct Authority is the conduct regulator for 58,000 financial services firms and financial markets in the UK and the prudential regulator for over 18,000 of those firms.
- IBAS is a gambling-specialist Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Service, adjudicating on disputes between licensed gambling operators and their customers since 1998.