How to Select the Best Betting Site

Betting has been a popular recreational activity in the United Kingdom for centuries. Horse racing has been a perennial favourite, while sports such as football have huge followings. The online sports betting market in the UK has been growing rapidly over the past few decades, with an estimated 2.1 million Brits partaking.

There are more than a few options available to customers who are looking for the best betting sites in the UK. When it comes to selecting the “best”, it all depends on what you are looking for.

There are betting sites that are known for offering great odds if that is what’s most important to you. If you want online bookmakers with great welcome offers, you should be able to easily find those too. The same goes if you are looking for online sports betting sites that offer a wide range of sports bet options or events to bet on.


Betting Site Bonuses

If you are new to an online sports betting site, one of the things you will have to take advantage of is their welcome bonus. Most betting sites in the UK offer this to their new customers.

What Are Welcome Bonuses?

Welcome bonuses are used not only to entice new UK sports betting customers to sign up. It also gets them to start playing. In most cases, you can use your welcome bonus to make welcome bonus bets or your first sports bet. The same goes for free bets.

One thing you have to remember is that online bookies may place restrictions on how you can use and how much of your welcome bonus you can use.

Betting Bonuses and Bonus Offers

In addition to welcome bonuses, long-term customers will also have access to other betting bonuses. Some of the most common offer bonuses from online sports betting sites in the UK include:

  • £30 in free bets
  • £10 free bet
  • Bet 10 get 20 in Free Bets
  • Free multiple bet
  • £30 matched free Bet

In addition to free bet stakes for real money and system bets, many sites also offer customers benefits such as:

  • Enhanced odds
  • Min odds (minimum odds)
  • A free bet

What is a Free Bet?

As its name suggests, the free bet is a bet that is given to you for free. Usually, it is given as a deposit bonus or a betting bonus, which are known as betting bonus bets.

A Wide Range of Betting Options

Nowadays, most betting sites offer a wide range of sports and events for their customers to bet on. There are also sites that specialise in certain sports or events such as football betting or horse racing. Choosing which site to use will depend on you and your preferences.

Some of the most common sports that you can bet on online include:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Rugby
  • American Football
  • Horse racing
  • Tennis
  • Cricket

Online Betting Sites in Popular Culture

Many online betting sites have entered into popular culture, particularly via football with shirt sponsorships including BetVictor, Betway and Fun88 on current Premier League clubs. There’s no shortage of options and choice for betting websites in the UK, with some of the most well-known being Ladbrokes, 888 sport, Coral, Mansion Bet, BetVictor, mr.Play sport, and QuinnBet to name a few.

The History of Online Betting in the UK

BetVictor (Victor Chandler) decided to move its operations off-shore and moved its betting business from London to Gibraltar in May 1999. With this move, they were able to offer customers tax-free betting by diverting punters’ calls to a small territory in the Mediterranean.

Since they were the only bookmaker who was not charging the UK’s then 9% betting tax, customer numbers skyrocketed, and a scramble was on for major bookmakers to set up their shops in Gibraltar. Ladbrokes followed the trend sending so many telephone operatives to small overseas territories and even bought a hotel to house them!

To keep the UK’s betting industry going and be able to offer more jobs in the country, the Chancellor of the Exchequer scrapped betting duty in January 2002. However, Internet gambling was already starting to shine. In 2000, Ladbrokes launched online and a bunch of new UK betting sites opened up as well. Tax-free betting was the reason for massive growth in the betting world – both on and offline.

The big names in the UK betting world – William Hill, Coral, Fred Done (now Betfred) – continued to be the most popular online bookmaker thanks to their reputation. But there are also newer betting sites, such as bet365, that are quickly flourishing.


Some of the Top Bookmakers

Which are the top UK betting sites? Here are a few examples: Betfred is well-known and possesses a great app which is fully functional. There is simplicity in Betfred’s welcome offer and promotions, along with the app which is fast and easy to navigate, particularly for a beginner. It also offers live streaming like a few others.

888 sport has grown its popularity in casino gaming as well as sports. It has plenty of markets and offers in its sportsbook, as well as great odds on random and niche sports and events. It offers plenty of fun promotions too.

Paddy Power have developed a cult audience as they claim to be the money-back-special kings. They offer a simple welcome bonus and as a platform are easy to understand for beginners. It also offers rewards for long-term customers.

BetVictor, Virgin Bet, and mr.Play Sport all offer nice introductory benefits as well as some novelty promotions. Mr.Play, while being a relatively new betting site, has already started to make quite a name for itself. These betting sites, like every other site mentioned at this page, are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission.

Can You Trust New Online Betting Sites?

As long as they are registered with the UK Gambling Commission (UGC), the answer to this is yes, you can trust new betting sites. Online sports betting sites in the UK undergo stringent checks before they are approved to operate.

If you encounter new UK Bookmakers, you should be OK to trust them as long as they are duly registered with and recognized by the UGC.

New Bookies vs Established

Established companies have the power of their name and the fact that they have been around a long time and when people are betting online. That still counts for a lot. However, something that new bookies can offer is their willingness to do what it takes to win business and gain customers. This is a competitive market and they have to be like this to get noticed.

The new UK bookmakers in 2022 will be going all out to get themselves noticed. The best and easiest way to do this is to give customers something they cannot say no to. This means big welcome bonuses, constant regular offers such as Acca bonuses, money back specials and much more. This is why UK bookmakers’ offers are seen as some of the best in the world.

How Do I Create a Betting Site Account?

Practically all established and new UK betting sites have simplified how to create a new customer account. For some, it’s even possible to login using your Facebook or PayPal account. Generally it’s a fairly simple process where you fill in your name, age, address, and mobile phone number. It may seem a little annoying that you have to submit so much personal information, but betting sites in the UK are required by law to collect detailed customer knowledge.

Welcome Bonuses and Promotions

Most bookies incentivise by offering bonuses and promotions to get business, including free bets, free first bet money or welcome offers, bet credits, money back offers, profit boosts or double the odds offers.

Welcome bonuses or sign-up offers to attract new customers, while it’s an opportunity for the user to trial and familiarise with their software or app. Welcome bonuses do change frequently and the fine details must be scrutinised.

Also look if there is any promo code. If so, make sure you enter it while doing your first deposit, otherwise you may not qualify for the bonus. For online bookmakers that use promo codes, there is usually a field in the form labelled “Enter promo code”.

  • Deposit bonuses, also known as a reload bonus, is a common promotion where the betting site matches the percentage of your deposit. This will vary from site to site but some may offer from 50% to up to 100%. Some will have caps on the maximum bonus.
  • Enhanced odds are where the user gets better prices on specific markets as the betting sites take a lower cut or commission.
  • Reduced juice is similar to enhanced odds as it’s essentially lingo for the commission that the betting sites charge, so the line or cut the user gets can be greater.
  • No deposit bonuses are commonly used as part of sign-up. The betting site will offer you a small amount to use for free bets initially in exchange for signing up without having to deposit any funds.
  • Free bets are promotions where if you make a bet and it loses, the betting site will refund the amount lost. There is typically a cap attached to the amount bet. Conversely, it may be a token where you only keep the winnings, but not the value of the initial wager.
  • Refer-a-friend is regularly offered whereby there’s a benefit attached to referring a friend to sign up for a betting site.

Wagering Requirements

Wagering requirements are something that every punter who makes use of their free bet stakes and any free bet offer must contend with. A wagering requirement is an agreement between punters and sportsbooks regarding how many times winnings from a free bet or casino bonus must be wagered or bet before they can be withdrawn. These are usually listed with the Ts and Cs. You can also get in touch with your betting site’s customer support team to find out more about the requirements.

Customer Support

Every online betting site worth its salt should have contact details and methods that are clear and easy to find. Luckily, practically all of them have this. Besides contact details, most online bookmakers offer a rich library of information, including lots of frequently asked questions. Sometimes this is all that is needed to answer your questions.

Most established bookmakers offer a customer service which is open 24/7 for 365 days of the year, and generally have good response times for queries and plenty of options for communication. This includes phone support, email, and live chat. Paddy Power for example, set a very good example with their customer service, proudly displaying on their home page, the response times from their support team. BetVictor is another of the most trustworthy bookmakers on the internet, with a record of great customer service. That is the kind of clarity, trust and service that you will be looking for to ease any concerns over solving any problems with your online betting experience.

Big UK Online Betting Events

There are many events and occasions on the UK calendar which attract interest in betting sites including the Grand National which is an historic steeplechase horse race run since 1839. The handicapped race, run over more than four miles, typically occurs in April. There’s also the Epsom Derby which predates the Grand National by more than half a century, along with the Cheltenham Festival which is held in March annually.

The opening weekend of the English Premier League in August is typically a popular period, along with the FA Cup, Football League divisions, League Cup, UEFA Champions League, Europa League, Ryder Cup, Wimbledon Tennis and Six Nations.

Betting Glossary

Here’s a brief explanation of some of the different kinds of bets you can place.

  • Win – a single bet with your money ‘on the nose’
  • Place – a selection in a race to finish first, second, third, fourth and sometimes more (place positions number depends on the size of the field and the bookmaker).
  • Each-Way – a combination of a win and a place bet with half the stake on the selection to be placed at a fraction of the win odds.
  • Double – two selections with winnings from the first going to the second
  • Treble – identical to a double but with three selections
  • Accumulator – four or more selections (also called a four-fold, five-fold, etc.), all must win to collect with the winnings from one selection going onto the next and the next, etc.
  • Trixie – three selections and seven bets consisting of three wins, three doubles, and a treble.
  • Yankee – four selections, eleven bets with six doubles, four trebles, and an accumulator.
  • Lucky 15 – similar to a Yankee but with the addition of four single bets. The best UK online sports betting sites pay a bonus (such as double the odds) if you back only one winner.
  • Canadian or Super Yankee – five selections featuring 26 bets: 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 four-fold accumulators and a five-fold accumulator.
  • Lucky 31 – a Canadian with an added five single bets (making it 31 bets in total) and once again leading the UK betting sites will give you a bonus dividend for just one winner.
  • Heinz – six selections and consisting of 57 separate bets: 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 four-folds, 6 five-folds, and a six-fold accumulator.

Things to Consider Before Opening a New Bookmaker Account

Opening an account with one of the UK bookmakers is an important decision to make. You need to ask yourself a number of questions before you do so. The answers to these questions will tell you whether this is the right bookmaker for you or not.

Here are some of the things to consider:

  • Can I continue to bet as I am now if I sign up on this site?
  • Am I getting better odds from this site compared to other companies?
  • Does this website offer a better range of betting markets than elsewhere?
  • Can I claim a big welcome bonus when I sign up?
  • Does this website also offer a good range of regular offers for existing customers?
  • Can I use a payment method that I know and trust with this bookmaker?
  • Does this bookmaker offer state of the art betting facilities such as a mobile app to bet online and live in-play betting?

Responsible Gambling

Please remember to gamble responsibly and only bet what you can afford. Betting sites have a number of tools to help you to stay in control such as deposit limits and time outs. For gambling addiction help and support, please contact the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133. If you’re worried about your gambling or a friend’s, please visit

Betting FAQ

  • How do you select a good betting site?

    There's a variety of factors that a user may value more than others but some of the key factors can be bonuses and promotions, range of markets and sports, odds, software suitability, customer service and the ability to deposit and withdraw at your leisure. Any online UK betting site is licenced by the UK Gambling Commission and must work within their regulations, offering a level of reliability and trust.

  • What sports can you bet on?

    Largely this depends on the betting site but typically all sites will include the major sporting UK codes and most internationally. To be honest, the list of sports you cannot bet on would likely be shorter. But again this depends on the betting site, so the range of markets can be an attraction from sites over others.

  • Will you get paid your winnings?

    This is a pretty important question as it's essentially why anyone bets. But the short answer is yes, if you're using a licensed site. Some sites can be tricky when it comes to withdrawal limits but the big sites are reliable.

  • How old do you need to be?

    In the UK, the legal betting age for gambling is 18 years.

  • Can you get addicted to online betting sites?

    Like any form of gambling or betting, yes you can. The convenience of betting sites is something to be wary of and betting in moderation and purely for fun is always advised. There are helplines available if you feel you need help.

  • Can you use PayPal for online betting?

    Many bookmakers accept e-wallet payment types as well as accepting credit and debit cards from their customers. These e-wallets can include Paypal.