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Online betting in United Kingdom

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Meet our author
Betting expert Elizabeth Winnie

Through a ranking system and serious and consolidated standards, we make a point of evaluating the best authorized betting sites in United Kingdom. This information will not only allow you to have access to the best bonuses, but also to the best conditions to make the best sports bets online.

Sports betting is big in the UK. Millions of punters actively place wagers on football and other popular sports on the Island, and this article aims to help newcomers select the best bookmaker for them.

Our team of online gambling experts created a list of leading online sports betting platforms and rated them according to our strict criteria.

The TOP 10 Bookmakers in the UK are:

  1. Bet365 — The most popular international online sports betting platform in the world.
  2. Bwin — More than 90 different sports available in its offer, including football, tennis, basketball, and more.
  3. William Hill — Often marketed as the world’s biggest bookmaker, this comprehensive gambling platform is one of the oldest in the UK.
  4. 888 Sport — Part of the 888 Group, the platform has been part of the UK’s sports betting landscape for a long time and features all major sports events in its offer.
  5. Ladbrokes — A popular online betting platform with a long tradition that pays special attention to horse racing.
  6. Betiton — An online sports betting platform that also offers casino and bingo to its users.
  7. Casumo — A UK-licensed online casino with a unique sports betting platform aimed at UK players.
  8. Betfair — The largest betting exchange in the world.
  9. Betway — An online gambling company that offers sports betting and other gambling services around the world, including the UK
  10. Paddy Power — an Irish bookmaker founded in 1988 that’s also available to punters from the UK.

All of the betting sites in our list have one thing in common — they accept bets from UK punters and offer similar sports. Football is, without a doubt, the most popular sport on the Island, and you’ll find that each bookmaker has the largest offer for football betting. You’ll have a chance to place wagers on various popular team competitions in the country, including the Premier League, the EFL Championship, FA Cup, and more.

Moreover, each site covers football leagues and tournaments outside the UK, such as the Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Serie A, LaLiga, Bundesliga, and more.

Online bookies are actually actively taking part in UK football competitions, as only three clubs didn’t have a sports betting platform as an official sponsor. For example, West Ham United is sponsored by BetWay, while Newcastle United and Leicester City promote Bet365. Some are also partners to teams and players in other sports.

The Legality of Sports Betting in the UK

Sports betting has a long tradition in the UK and is currently legalised in all of its forms. Therefore, UK punters are free to place bets in brick-and-mortar locations all around the country or join a licensed online platform to wager on sports online.

The official regulatory body in the country is the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), which is widely regarded as one of the leading regulators in the world. If the UKGC licenses an online gambling site, you can rest assured that it’s definitely a great platform due to the regulator’s very strict standards.

The UK’s legislative framework is very detailed and has very specific laws that regulate sports betting. Moreover, the UKGC actively monitors the market and all available gambling platforms, and it’s not strange to punish the ones that do not comply with its strict standards.

Operators need to obtain three licenses from the UKGC in most cases — an operating license, a personal management license, and a person functional license. It’s also a good idea to have a premises license awarded by the local licensing authority where the business is registered. There are separate licenses for non-remote and remote betting. In fact, the UKGC features 12 different betting licenses, and some businesses may need to acquire several, depending on their offer. For instance, betting on virtual events or pool betting have a separate license.

The regulator also covers the responsible gambling side of sports betting by imposing various limits and even offering a popular self-exclusion scheme called GamStop. By using GamStop, problem gamblers can exclude themselves from all online gambling platforms, including sportsbooks. The UKGC also often changes limits to maximum bets, winnings, bonus deals, and more to promote responsible gaming.

Therefore, it’s safe to say that sports betting is both legal and heavily regulated. If a sports betting site wants to offer its services to UK players, it needs to obtain an appropriate license from the UKGC. The British regulator will then carefully examine the application and award a license if everything is in order.

The good news is that gambling winnings aren’t taxable. Therefore, you don’t have to file the income report to the HMRC — you’ll receive the entire amount.

Players don’t need to use VPNs to access any of the betting sites we suggested in this article. Since all kinds of sports betting are legal in the UK, you’re free to join any licensed platform using just your Internet connection.

Variety of Betting Events

The UK is the cradle of many popular sports that are watched and played by millions of people around the world, including football and cricket — the most popular two.

Football Leagues

Suppose you’re going to bet on football. In that case, you’ll find all kinds of football leagues and competitions — we already mentioned some of them in the intro, including Premier League, FA Cup, Championship, Champions League, and more.

There are also various international football competitions that are popular on bookmaker platforms when underways, such as the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Euro, Copa America, and more.

Football also features the most betting markets — much more compared to other sports. Here’s an overview of popular bets you can make on football matches and tournaments.

  • Win-lose-draw
  • Draw no bet
  • Over/under
  • Correct score
  • Half-time/full-time
  • Double chance
  • First goalscorer
  • Teams to score
  • Handicap betting

Cricket

Cricket will also find plenty of popular options in online bookies, including all leading Test, ODI, and T20I formats. Apart from the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Big Bash League (BBL), you’ll find other national and international tournaments, including the legendary ones, such as The Ashes.

Horse Racing

Since horse racing has a very long tradition on the Island, you’ll find plenty of popular competitions in the UK featured in the majority of bookmakers. Some big races are Victor Chandler Chace (Ascot), Champion Hurdle (Cheltenham), Queen Mother Champion Chase (Cheltenham), World Hurdle (Cheltenham), Cheltenham Gold Cup (Cheltenham), Grand National (Aintree), 2,000 & 1,00 Guineas Stakes (Newmarket), Epsom Oaks & Epsom Derby (Epsom Downs), Gold Cup (Ascot), St. Leger Stakes (Doncaster), and King George VI Chase (Kempton Park).

Of course, you’ll find many international horse races in online bookmakers and be able to make various popular exotic bets, such as exactas, boxes, trifectas, quinellas, and more.

Cybersport

One particular type of sports wagering that emerged in the last couple of years is called cybersport or esports betting. Basically, you can place bets on various popular gaming competitions around the globe for games such as CS: GO, Fifa, Dota 2, League of Legends, Fortnite, Call of Duty, and much more.

Other Sports

Other sports that are popular in the UK and available for betting are:

  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Boxing
  • Cycling
  • Darts
  • Futsal
  • Gold
  • American Football
  • Australian Rules
  • Tennis
  • Rugby League
  • Rugby Union
  • Table Tennis
  • UFC
  • Volleyball
  • Motorsports

The list doesn’t end here, as there are plenty of other great sports you can bet on. The ultimate list depends on the platform of your choice, so make sure to examine the list of available sports before joining to see if your favourite sports are available.

Registration and Verification Process

In order to become a member of a sports betting site and start placing bets with real money, you first need to go through the registration and verification process.

As a member, you’ll be able to record your betting history in your account, which will help you analyse your previous wagers and have better control of your balance. Betting history also helps us avoid making similar mistakes when placing wagers.

Moreover, bookmaker members are eligible for various bonuses. Apart from welcome offers, you’ll also be able to claim various regular promotions, including birthday bonuses, one-time offers, seasonal promos, and more.

Finally, regular members who actively place bets can get invited to the loyalty programme and receive additional goodies every once in a while. These schemes are usually tiered, and top-tier players get some exclusive promotions, such as free vacations, personal account managers, expensive gifts, and more.

Bookmakers also need you to register and verify your account to comply with various KYC and AML procedures. In other words, bookmakers need to prevent any kind of illegal money operations that can take place on them, which is why verification is necessary. In most cases, you’ll only have to verify your email, but some bookies might require additional documents.

Bonuses for Newbies and Regular Players

Bonuses play an essential part in online sports betting. There are far too many sportsbooks, and all of them want to stay competitive and relevant by attracting new players and keeping the regular ones, which is why they are quite generous with bonuses.

The welcome bonus comes in two shapes: deposit and no deposit (signup) bonus. The deposit bonus is more generous, but you’ll have to open an account and make a deposit in other to claim it. In most cases, this type of promotion is related to the amount you deposit. For instance, if it’s a 50% match bonus and you deposit £20, you’ll get an additional £10 in bonuses — a total of £30 you can use for betting on sports.

The no deposit bonus is usually much smaller, but you only need to sign up to receive it. For example, you can receive £5 in free bets after becoming a member of a bookmaker platform.

There are various other bonuses aimed at regular customers. Here’s the list of the most popular ones:

  • Free bet bonuses — This is the simplest form of bonus, and it’s awarded both as a welcome bonus and regular promotion. Simply put, you’ll receive a certain amount of money that cannot be redeemable for cash but is available for placing bets.
  • Cashback bonuses — After you bet and lose your funds, you might become eligible for a cashback bonus and get some of the lost funds back to your balance. For example, if you spend £100 and activate a 10% cashback deal, you’ll get £10 back.
  • Reload bonuses — These bonuses will award a small amount of money on top of your deposit. For instance, if a platform offers a 25% reload bonus, and you deposit £100, you’ll get an additional £25 in bonus money.
  • Odds boosters — Sometimes, online bookmakers will offer you enhanced odds for a specific match or even an entire competition, which means you’ll receive bigger rewards if you win the bet.

Some online bookmakers even feature a loyalty programme (also referred to as VIP programmes) for regular players, allowing you to claim additional benefits.

Every bonus and promotion have a dedicated Terms & Conditions section, where you find out more about various rules. For example, online bonuses often feature wagering requirements, which means you’ll have to wager the specified amount before being able to withdraw your bonus funds. Also, pay attention to expiry dates and betting limits for bonuses.

Live Betting

Live betting (also called in-play betting) is a special feature offered by many online bookmakers that lets punters place bets on matches that are underway. This is different from regular betting, where you need to place bets before the match starts. As soon as it begins, you need to navigate to the in-play wagering page and explore available options.

Once you pick a match, you’ll have a real-time stats overview. Moreover, you’ll have insight into the events taking place during the match. For instance, if you want to make live football bets, you can see which side is attacking, who currently has the ball and more. Some bookies go as far as to include live streams of certain sporting events.

For instance, imagine Man Utd playing against Man City. It’s 80’, so there are only 10 minutes left (plus extra time). The score is 0:0, and you get the feeling that Man City will score a goal in the remaining period. You go to the online bookmaker of your choice and find the game in the live betting section and find the exact thing you want to bet on.

Simply put, live betting is more intensive and fast-paced, as you need to make quick decisions. However, you can also lose a lot of money if you’re an impulsive bettor, so be careful when using this feature not to let your emotions take over.

Platform Usability

Online betting sites pay a lot of attention to their design. First of all, they need to look attractive to bettors. A bad design has a very negative effect on first-time visitors who usually can’t really explain why they didn’t like the site. That’s why bookmakers engage experienced user interface and user experience designers to make their platforms look as user-friendly as possible.

The site’s convenience also plays an important role. If you cannot find a sport and place a wager in a few simple steps, it means that the betting site failed to provide an adequate betting experience. All platforms featured on this page did an excellent job at making their sites as intuitive as possible. In most of them, you’ll find a list of available sports, as well as the most popular betting options at the moment. Once you become a registered user, the homepage will adapt to your preferences and show you sports that you prefer betting on.

Payment Methods

We also paid attention to payment methods when choosing platforms by making sure they accept all banking options that UK punters commonly use to make deposits and withdrawals. Therefore, no matter which site you choose, you’re likely to find a payment method that meets your needs.

The vast majority of payment options are instant, which means you’ll transfer your money to the bookmaker of your choice in seconds. Still, some more traditional options, such as wire transfer, might take more time. Also, many bookmakers need time to process your withdrawal requests, which is why cashing out is almost never instant. Depending on the bookmaker, it may take up to a couple of business days before receiving your cash.

Mobile Compatibility

The entire online gambling industry is shifting its focus to mobile devices. Simply put, there’s an increasing number of mobile gamblers, and that’s especially true for sports betting. All online bookies adapted their respective platforms for smartphones and tablets.

However, some of them feature a dedicated mobile app, which means you’ll have to download it to your phone or tablet and install it. Please bear in mind that Android apps cannot be installed on iOS (Apple) devices and vice versa.

On the other hand, many brands opt to use mobile-adapted sites. To access them, all you need to do is load the site in your mobile browser and register/login to start placing bets. The majority of platforms build their sites with mobile responsiveness in mind.

Reliability of Brands

It’s no secret that some brands do more when it comes to reliability, and we took that into account when selecting the best bookmakers for UK punters.

First of all, we paid attention to the analytics of sports events. Simply put, some bookies will provide more details about some events, which is a great feature if you’re an experienced punter who takes numbers and figures into account before making a wager. Lacking proper analytics can put off many punters who rely on it. Analytics is also very important for in-play betting, and many online bookies provide real-time feed on undergoing games, which can help you make the right decision when placing a bet.

Some platforms are more reliable than others when it comes to arbitrage betting (arbing). This is basically an illegal activity where a punter places a bet on all possible outcomes and has a guaranteed profit. This is done when bookmakers offer different event opinions or simply make errors when suggesting odds. We took this into account when making the final list of the best bookmakers, which means our top 10 list consists of platforms that generally do well in terms of tracking arbers.

Arbitrage, however, isn’t the only illegal activity. Many customers often find ways to often more than one account and use them to make risk-free bets. This is also not legal, as only one account per person is allowed. Making multiple accounts will put you on a blacklist, and all your accounts will be banned. Once again, some brands are more reliable than others in terms of finding and punishing multiple account holders. We made sure that such bookmakers are part of our list.

Then, there are bonus hunters. Don’t get us wrong — there’s nothing wrong with joining as many bookmakers as possible to claim bonuses and place bets. However, bonuses usually have very detailed rules, which bonus hunters often bend in their favour, and that’s not exactly legal. Bonus hunting is often used in combination with multi-accounting or arbitrage betting to create a profit by circumventing the rules. Online gambling platforms don’t allow that, and some are better than others in catching bonus hunters.

Finally, reliable online sports betting brands don’t hesitate to cut limits on bets or even blocking accounts if they see any illegal operation going on. That’s what makes them stand out from the pack and builds a reputation among honest punters.

Responsible Gaming

Online sports betting is still a form of gambling and can become addictive. The good news is that the United Kingdom Gambling Commission does a good deal of regulating and minimising gambling problems among online punters. Still, it’s very difficult to eradicate it completely.

Sports betting sites also need to do their part by offering their customers the ability to block their accounts or at least restrict betting activities. There are various self-exclusion schemes, and the most popular one is GamStop, which the UKGC initiated. All UKGC-licensed platforms need to be part of GamStop, meaning you’ll not be able to access them if you decide to self-exclude.

Each betting platform needs to feature a help page, where you can learn more about gambling addiction and ask for help, should the need arises.

Overall, the UKGC has strict responsible gambling rules that all licensed platforms need to comply with in order to avoid huge fines.

Gambling Addiction Symptoms & Treatment

Gambling addiction is a type of mental illness that can be treated. The most common symptoms include:

  • Constantly planning how to spend your money on gambling
  • Constant urge to gable
  • Failing to control gambling urges
  • Feeling irritable or restless when not gambling
  • Chasing losses
  • Lying to family and friends about your gambling
  • Jeopardising close relationships and social life in general
  • Resorting to fraud or theft to get money for gambling
  • Asking everyone to help you with financial troubles

The exact reason why some people became addicted to gambling isn’t that clear. This is usually a combination of various factors, including genes, environment, and biological processes. If you notice that you or someone you know has developed a gambling problem, it’s important to seek adequate medical help.

There are three major ways to treat gambling addiction:

  • Therapy — You can go to one-on-one therapy and talk with a professional about your problem. In most cases, you’ll undergo behaviour therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy, which proved effective in treating gambling addiction. Sessions often consist of practical tasks that can help you with the issue.
  • Medications — Sometimes, doctors will suggest using antidepressants and mood stabilisers to fight compulsive gambling, which is often related to depression, OCD, and even ADHD. Meds used for fighting substance abuse are also sometimes useful with gambling addiction.
  • Self-help groups — Many people find it useful to talk with others with a similar problem, so they join various groups lead by health care professionals.

Tips for Responsible Gambling

To minimise the risk of developing a gambling addiction, make sure to read the pieces of advice below.

  • Do the calculation — Always plan your betting budget before placing your first bet. Once you end the betting session, try to reorganise your budget and set the new one for the next time you decide to place wagers. It’s very important to set the maximum loss and win limits that are within your budget. This will help you have better control of your spendings.
  • Do not let emotions take over — As soon as you let your emotions dictate your actions, you’ll increase your chances of developing a gambling problem, which is why it’s important to stay in control of your emotions when placing bets.
  • Don’t fall under others’ influence — Other bettors will always suggest placing a wager on this or that, which often leads to losing more money than you wanted. If you surround yourself with gambling addicts, there’s a slightly increased chance of developing gambling addiction yourself.
  • Watch your health — Always ask yourself from time to time whether the amount of time and money you spend on betting is acceptable. Feel free to talk to a mental health professional if you have doubts.

FAQ

What is the most reliable bookmaker in the UK?

It’s difficult to name just one bookmaker, as there are plenty of great ones. After all, it’s a matter of personal preference, and we don’t feel it’s appropriate to promote just one bookmaker. That said, we made a list of the top 10 bookmakers in the UK, which are featured at the beginning of this article. Feel free to examine them closely and pick the one you like the most. We thoroughly tested each one of them to make sure they offer competitive odds, a variety of betting options, lucrative bonuses, intuitive design, and more. Moreover, all betting sites are available for mobile devices, but some of them feature dedicated apps (and all of them are available as mobile browser sites).

Which bookmaker has the best odds?

We selected the top 10 bookmakers with the best odds in the UK. It’s difficult to name just one as bookmakers sometimes favour certain sports. For example, bookmaker A might offer better odds on football but worse odds on horse racing compared to bookmaker B. Odds can also be different for individual matches. For instance, bookmaker A might offer better odds on Man City – Man Utd match, but bookmaker B will offer better odds for Liverpool – Chelsea. The point is to pick a bookmaker with the best odds for the sport you like the most.

How many bookmakers are there in the United Kindom?

The residents of the Island love betting on sports, which is why there were a total of 8,320 betting shops in 2019. The list of bookmaker brands is difficult to determine as many new ones get licenses (and the existing ones lose them). There are definitely more than 30 of them at the moment, including the top 10 we selected. You should also take into account that UK residents can access offshore-licensed betting sites, which vastly increases the total number of bookmakers available on the Island.

Where can I watch online broadcasts of matches?

Many online sports betting sites actually feature the live stream section where you can watch important matches. However, this is not very common, so your best bet is to find an official challenge that usually broadcasts the sport you love.

What do players bet on in the UK?

It’s safe to say that football is the most popular sport among the UK bettors, with the majority of the betting handle coming from it. However, UK punters also enjoy placing bets on many other sports, including horse racing, cricket, rugby, tennis, and much more. To explore all popular sports in the UK, all you need to do is pick one of the bookmakers from our list and examine the list of available betting options.