How to choose the best betting company
If you are new to sports betting, then you may be wondering how to choose the best betting company-bookmaker. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding which sports betting company is best for you, so even experienced sports gamblers can probably gain something by reading these tips on bookmakers from the Betting Veteran.
The first step is to check that any betting company you are dealing with is licensed, reputable and legitimate. Gambling may have a “rock and roll” feel to it, but it is actually an industry that is very well-regulated and licensed in many countries, with the aim of preventing fraud and protecting bookmaker consumers.
Each jurisdiction will have its own way of regulating the gambling industry. In the UK, gambling companies, online and off, are regulated by the UK Gambling Commission and must apply for a licence in order to operate as a sports bookmaker. Relevant legislation includes the Gambling Act of 2005, which is in place to ensure, among other things, that:
- Gambling practices are fair and transparent
- There is no connection between gambling and criminal activity
- Children and vulnerable people are not exploited by bookmakers, gambling companies
There is fairly strict criteria in place to ensure that only legitimate companies obtain a licence. Each country or jurisdiction will have its own rules and regulations, so research the authority that oversees the regulation and licensing of gambling in your country, and take a look at how strict it is. Only sign up with gambling companies and websites that are appropriately licensed and seem to be following best practices.
Remember that you can always do an online search to check up on a company’s reputation. Unless they are very new, you will probably find independent online reviews, and, if they are not reputable, publicly posted complaints.
Find the best odds
The odds offered by sports betting companies can vary by more than you would think. Bookmakers typically make their odds tight and competitive, but it is always worth shopping around for good odds. In fact, it is unlikely that one company or website will offer the best odds on every single sport or event, so using more than one reputable sports betting company, and always comparing the odds, is a wise choice if you are a regular bookmaker customer. Be aware that odds at online sportsbooks are often slightly better than you will find at brick-and-mortar bookies.
In order to compare odds, you will need to understand how odds work and make sure that you are always comparing like with like. Many online sportsbooks provide odds in three different formats: decimal, fractional and American. It’s worth learning how to read all formats, even though at many bookmaker sites, you can simply click a button to view the odds in your preferred format. You may come across a few sites that only provide one standard format for their odds.
While it can be time-consuming to compare odds across many different sites, there are certainly sports betting enthusiasts who find that it is worth their time to join a few different online sportsbooks and check odds across a handful of different sites for each event. Joining multiple sportsbooks is perfectly permissible and has other benefits too, as we’ll discuss in our next point.
Check out the bookmaker perks
Different betting companies offer different perks. Competition between online sportsbooks is intense, which means that bookmakers will often offer free bets, welcome bonuses and other incentives to new customers, as well as ongoing promotions for existing customers. We’ll discuss welcome bonuses and offers next, but if you are looking for a long-term partnership, then take a look at all the perks that a particular company offers, not just what they do to get you hooked in.
In order to research whether it is worth getting an account at a particular sportsbook, take a look at what they offer in their customer retention programmes. You may find that some sports betting sites offer excellent loyalty points or rewards schemes, sometimes tiered depending on how long you remain a customer or how much you spend with them. This can result in extra bonuses, fun promotions centred on specific events (especially big ones such as the World Cup or the Olympics), and generous cashback offers. It is not unheard of for bookmakers to offer big prize draws with free tickets to sports events, cars or even holidays as prizes.
There is nothing to stop you accessing perks from a few different sites if you’re happy to put in the time to manage different accounts and juggle different loyalty schemes. Regular gamblers who make smart choices about who to place each wager with can not only access the best odds but also rack up the most beneficial rewards points to claim the best perks. It can get complicated, but plenty of sports bettors naturally enjoy making a bit of a game of it!
Find the welcome bonuses and offers
Many sportsbooks offer generous welcome bonuses and other offers to attract new customers. These might be in the form of matched deposit bonuses, no-deposit bonuses, free bets to be used across the site, or free bets to be used on specific sports or events.
Check bonus conditions carefully because all bonuses are not created equal. Things such as wagering requirements and restrictions on how you can use your bonus, along with how long it remains valid for, can make some bonuses useless, or at least difficult to take advantage of.
Again, there is nothing to stop you registering at more than one online sportsbook to take advantage of more than one welcome bonus or other offer. You then also have the advantage of checking odds across different sites for the same event. If you find that a particular site never has the best odds, and doesn’t offer much in the way of ongoing perks either, then you can always close that account.
Best Welcome Offers
Take a close look at all the benefits offered by the best betting sites. Many online sportsbooks/bookmakers offer lots of extras that make your betting life more fun, exciting or convenient. Check to see if your chosen sites offer extra features, such as live streaming, in-play betting, and cash-out options.
Some sportsbooks allow you to access a multi-view option, enabling you to follow several events at once on separate “tiles” on your screen. Some have a stats review, with important statistics about various sports, leagues and teams, or an archive of past results, allowing you to research details for both personal interest, and in order to improve your betting strategies.
Some bookmaker sites will also include notifications or alerts, so you can track an event from your mobile device while doing something else, and perhaps refine things as the game progresses, by placing in-play bets, for example.
Remember to check any limitations that these extra features may have in order to avoid disappointment. Many sportsbooks advertise free live streaming, but some may only have a very limited number of sports or events available via streaming, and some require you to have a minimum bet (usually only a nominal amount) on a certain event in order to access the “free” live stream of that particular event.
Read the terms and conditions
There are always strings attached with sports betting, but these should be made clear to the punters. Any reputable betting company will display all terms and conditions on their website. Read them carefully and make sure that there will be no hidden surprises.
Terms and conditions often cover things such as how you can spend bonuses, not only setting out wagering requirements but also other very specific restrictions, such as the fact that your bonus may not be used to place bets on events with odds of less than 1/5, or to place bets on events with more than one outcome. Always check current terms and conditions on the website for any bonus you claim, to ensure that you know how to make the most of your bonus, and to make sure that you don’t accidentally abuse it.
As already mentioned, there may also be other conditions such as having to place a bet on an event in order to access live streaming of that event. Also, watch out for extra fees and costs, such as an inactivity fee, or charges for using certain deposit or withdrawal methods.
What sports can you bet on?
You may want to bet predominantly on one sport, across many matches, games or events, or you may want to dabble in lots of sports. Different companies have different sports available, with many online sportsbooks offering a very high number of sports, including a lot of little-known ones.
Most online bookmakers offer international sports, winter sports, motor sports and virtual sports, as well as all the major popular sports you would expect, with many offering the opportunity to bet on non-sporting events (such as political elections and even the outcome of TV shows). Take a look at what is on offer and make sure that the sports and events you want to bet on are available before registering an account.
Test the mobile app
If you are a typical modern-day online sports betting fan, then you’ll probably want to access your online bookmaker on the go, preferably with all the same features and functions you find on the main site. Most sportsbooks will have either a free mobile app or a mobile version of the site that can be accessed via a browser, from any mobile device. Some companies will provide both, perhaps with slightly different functionality and layouts, so it really is just a case of customer preference as to which one to use.
Depending on how important it is to you to keep up with your sports betting activity from your mobile device, you will want to pick sportsbooks with robust mobile apps or an excellent mobile version of their website. Depending on your needs, consider things such as live streaming, notifications and alerts, and how easy it is to place live bets on mobile. Research how easily you’ll be able to do the things that matter to you, via mobile, whenever you’re considering a new sportsbook.
Look at the bookmakers customer support options
As long as your chosen online sportsbook has a well-laid-out, user-friendly website, you will hopefully not have to access customer support too often, but it is always possible, so check out the details. Does the company you’re considering have a phone line? Email support? Live chat? Which of these do you prefer? What hours are they available? How are the response times (according to reviews/complaints online)? Is there a good, comprehensive, searchable customer FAQs section that will minimise the need to contact support at all? Do online reviews indicate that support staff are knowledgeable and helpful?
All this can make a difference, especially if you have a problem with your account that needs urgent attention. One other thing to look at is whether the company maintains active social media accounts. This gives customers a quick, and very public, way to get in contact with their chosen bookmaker. Most companies will reply to queries quite quickly if posted on a public Facebook page or Twitter profile.
Research the deposit and withdrawal details
Another thing that may be very important to you as a customer is how easy and quick it is to fund your account and withdraw your winnings. You’ll want to make sure that your preferred funding and withdrawal method is available, as well as checking how long deposits and withdrawals take, and if there are any extra charges. You’ll also want to check minimum (and maybe maximum) deposit and withdrawal limits.
There is a lot to think about, but it is definitely worth taking the time to find the right bookmaker for you. Keep all this in mind and you should be able to find a betting company that meets all your needs and makes sports betting fun and stress-free experience for you.