Best Online Bookmakers

best online bookmakersIf you had twenty shops on the same street that all sold pretty much the same thing which one would you choose?  The one with the best prices, the best visual appeal, the easiest to shop in, the best offers or the best overall that meets your needs?  When it comes to online bookies its a similar choice, they all largely do the same stuff, but how can you tell easily who will be most suited to you personally based on your needs?

There are now literally hundreds of UK licensed betting sites to pick from so rather than show you a meaningless list of brands we have carefully selected sites based on our experience of betting with these companies for decades.

Whether the most important thing to you are the odds, the overall experience, market depth, offers or the simplest to use then we can hopefully save you some time in searching.  To bet you must be 18+ and terms, eligibility and country restrictions apply, BeGambleAware.

Best Overall Betting Sites

online bookmakers comparisonIf you enjoy the general betting experience and you are looking for just one or a small handful of sites to bet with then you want to pick a bookie that you can rely on to be generally good in all areas.

The sites listed here are the top all round betting websites, they have the range, depth, features and all the main services needed to keep the typical bettor entertained and happy.  This includes wide ranging payment options, good limits, safe gambling tools, streaming availability, lots of support option, all the main bet features and a wide selection of sports to wager on.

These sites are naturally from the bigger companies with the resources needed to produce an all-encompassing site.  They also have all the other products you may want including casinos, games and bingo.

Most Unique Bookmaker

Fitzdares was born form a private bookmaker and members club in Mayfair but rather than just launch any old betting site they have decided to carry through their focus on exceptional customer service to their online offering.  They proclaim to be 'The World's Finest Bookmaker' and quite frankly they might be right.  They have the best customer support, features such as phone and text betting that are unheard of now, a top range of promotions and nice welcoming feel overall.  In a world where loyalty is dead this brand really stands out.

World's Largest Betting Site

They are the proclaimed worlds largest betting site for a reason, Bet365 have consistently led the online industry for decades and have become the company that most other bookies attain to be. For the punter this is a serious site that is all about betting, no flashy features or offers just a great site with good odds, fantastic market depth and pretty much every feature you would need.

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Most Experienced Bookmaker

Have been a high street bookmaker since the early 1970's and have more experience than pretty much any other company.  This manifests in a seriously good site where you can clearly see that long earned know-how shining through in the quality of the site, markets and offers.  They take themselves a little less seriously and have kept up with the times with a more engaging design than many others.

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Best For Offers and Loyalty Rewards

customer loyaltyPretty much all sites have welcome offers, or they wouldn’t get you through the door in the first place.  When it comes to retention offers however there are huge differences between the best and the worst sites for existing customer promotions.

When it comes to betting you have more choice than almost any other leisure industry, so if you do decide to be loyal to one site you should get rewarded for doing so.

The sites listed here have been consistently the best for loyalty for many years and have some of the highest return rates for existing punters.

More Offers Than Any Other Bookie

Fitzdares are simply one of the best when it comes to offers, they run money back insurance deals, free bets, extra places, enhanced odds, a weekly rewards club, free games, acca deals, prizes and pretty much anything else you can image when it comes to a betting promo.  They cover almost every sport and major event with existing customer promotions and they pay back more money in free bets each month than any other site.  Their basic odds are also great great and the offers can further add significant value to your bets over time.

Long Term Value Retention Offers

When it comes to existing customer promotions Bet365 stand away from the rest by dispensing with the short term temporary flashy offers and game specific deals and instead run a suite of offers that can be used on a range of sports to consistently add value.  The offers don't require opt-in meaning they run in the background meaning you often get the benefit of them without even have to think about it.  This brand have a higher retention rate compared to any other bookie, there has to be a reason for customer loyalty this good in such a competitive market.

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Good Consistent Offers

The sportsbook from Unibet easily matches the big old high street names for depth, features and choice.  The interface is not everyone's favourite but what might keep you coming back is their consistent retention offers.  They have a nice balance of always on loyalty deals to suit regular bettors along with a lot of enhanced prices and daily specials for those that want to bet on certain events.  Where many other sites have reduced their promotions for existing customers over the years Unibet seem to have bucked that trend.

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Best For Odds

best price

Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how good a site is to use or how much choice they have if they have poor prices.  If you were shopping online for a product you would most likely buy it from a site with the cheapest price, yet it would surprise you how few people shop around for the best odds.

It can be time consuming to have to open lots of betting accounts and then check them all to see who has the best value for a given market.  Therefore, most people would rather have a bookie that they can rely on to always have good prices.

The bookies in this section always have better than average prices for major markets.

Better Prices Than Bookmakers

Smarkets is an exchange so that means you are betting with other people directly and the exchange just takes a 2% commission on all winning bets. They have no books to balance, they can't be overexposed on certain markets and they don't set the odds themselves.  This means overall exchanges always offer better value than fixed odds bookies.  Being an exchange you can also lay your own bets and act like your own bookmaker. In all honesty this is a much better exchange than Betfair's as it is far easier to use and much more intuitive - it looks and feels like an ordinary sportsbook.

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Consistently Good Prices For All Sports

Bet365 are one of the most reliable for fairness when it comes to setting odds.  They don't boast about the fact they have good prices but as a customer you will find in most cases they are better than the rest.  Ante-post and advance markets are particularly well priced, available earlier than other brands and often with better terms.  The bookie also has some of the highest limits around allowing punters to take advantage of decent prices whatever their stake levels.

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Best Prices For Traditional Sports

BetVictor is the gentleman of bookmaking, they are very professional and sleek and focus just on what matters, providing large markets and high end prices. You don't find many existing customer offers with BetVictor and this is done on purpose, instead of spending money on promotions they would rather give better prices across the board.  For traditional British sports they are always there or there about with the best prices.

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Easiest to Use

easy buttonThe number of sports and markets you can now wager on, pre-event and in-play, has swelled to unprecedented levels with online betting and most bookies have a difficult time reaching a balance between offering choice and maintaining functionality.

There is nothing worse than having to spend a long time finding your markets, especially if you are betting live where seconds can make a big difference.  It is also frustrating when sites make it difficult to find your open bets, transaction history, customer support and other features.

The betting sites below however have cracked it better than most and provide both a good product depth but yet have everything carefully organised so that you can navigate around in usually just one click.

Streamlined Without The Noise

Huge credit to Playbook for creating a new platform that is both easy to use and packed full of markets.  The whole design of this site is about less is more.  The site is ideal for those that are most concerned about finding markets and bets quickly without convoluted menus and tons of pages to navigate through.  This is replicated in play and pretty much everywhere across the site.  Full marks for ease of use from Rhino, the in-house premier brand of Playbook.

Familiar and Intuitive

Of all the sportsbooks out there there is something about Coral that makes it very familiar and intuitive to use.  The site is by no means perfect and this is driven by personal choice, e.g. there is no search option, but the general layout for many people who bet is very easy to familiarise yourself with and use.

Obviously Coral have been around for a long time and were one of the first high street bookmakers to launch and online site in the early 2000's.  You would expect they would have learned how to create a site that functions the best for the user in that time.  Many sites have been around for a long time too and they still have clunky sites with convoluted menus.  Coral really have incrementally improved this site over a quarter century to make it what it is today.

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Brilliant Menus

Bet365 experience from their history in online bookmaking gives them knowledge other brands don't have and one thing they have always done well is design.  The site is to some extent basic but that is exactly why it works so well, with big menu bars everywhere, large font odds and easily accessible account sections and support.  The 'if ain't broke don't fix it' model works then don't change it is the attitude here and that makes for a brilliant intuitive site that literally anyone could use no matter how familiar you are with online betting.

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No Frills Betting At Its Best

Unibet have a superbly simple site.  The platform is provided by Kambi and they are known for some of the best and most modern interfaces.  There are other sites that use Kambi but what makes Unibet the best of all of them is the neutral white, green and grey design that makes it fantastically easy to use.  The menus are big and clear and you don't have to press buttons to reveal markets, you can pretty much get to any bet or account section within 2 clicks.

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Best For Markets and Depth

footballer and horse with jockeyAlthough most bookmaker sites now cover pretty much all sports you can bet on, when you actually drill down into the markets you often find the choice of lines can be weak, especially outside of football, horse racing and major sports and leagues.

If you want to bet on a lower league match, a foreign sport or league, a more obsure sport or novelty bets and specials it helps to find a bookie with serious depth.  The brands listed here are serious sites for proper bettors who want to have the biggest choice and range.

Best Overall Coverage

For consistent depth across every sport and event there is no beating Bet365.  Their range of markets and depth is truly impressive, especially when live betting.  Ante-post lines are also bigger than with other brands and available longer in advance.  The site is also noteworthy for its coverage of things like specials and politics.

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Most Football Leagues

10bet have over 150 football leagues to bet on from around the world, both pre-game and live.  Within each league and match the bookie also offer fabulous depth of market with an almost endless choice of lines to back.  If you like to bet on foreign football especially there is simply no better site.  It doesn't stop with footy either, this is a seriously stocked site with great range on both traditional and more modern sports.

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Guide to Safe Betting and Gambling

guideThroughout this site I write about things with an assumption that you know what I’m talking about. Whether it be the different types of bet that you can place or information on why the sites I recommend are safe to bet with, there are times when it makes sense to avoid explaining everything in too much detail.

Not everyone however knows everything about betting and gambling, that’s where this section comes in. Here I’ll tell you about some of the more important phrases and facts that you should know regarding the world of gaming, gambling and betting. I won’t cover everything, but hopefully you’ll have more of an idea on some of the big stuff you need to consider if you give this page a read.

UK Gambling Commission Licences

licencedThe majority of gambling in the UK is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. It’s main aim is to ensure that organised gambling across the United Kingdom is done in a legal and fair way. Gambling companies should do everything in an open and honest manner and children and vulnerable people should be protected as much as possible.

The Gambling Commission monitors its licensees to ensure that they’re obeying the laws set out by the Gambling Acts of 2005and 2014. Essentially, any company that provides gambling services to the UK needs to have a gambling licence, which is issued by the non-departmental, independent public body known as the Gambling Commission.

There are principally three different types of licence that companies can apply for: A non-remote licence, a non-remote and remote licence or a remote licence. It all depends on what type of gambling operation that is being run. Bookmakers apply to receive one and are then vetted by the Gambling Commission to ensure that they are a trustworthy and above board operation.

The main thing I want to say here is that in the UK you really shouldn’t bet with a company that doesn’t have a UK Gambling Commission licence. The body was set-up to ensure that you and your money are safe, so it would be silly to bet with a company that hadn’t gone through the rigorous checks that those with licences have been through. That’s why I always make a point in my reviews to tell you each bookie’s licence reference number, if you click these it will take you to the licence page for that operator.

You can also check at the bottom of a betting site home page, they should display their licence details there.  An example from Coral is shown below, i you click it you can see Coral’s licence page as an example.

coral licence

Gambling Laws In The UK

lawThere have been two main Gambling Acts passed in recent times. The 2005 Gambling Act was designed to control all types of gambling in the UK. The main objectives of the Act were to stop gambling being used as an illegal enterprise and to ensure that it’s done openly and honestly, which is where the Gambling Commission got their raison d’être from as it was formed as a result of the Act.

Perhaps more importantly as far as I’m concerned the Act regulated online gambling for the first time. It wasn’t exactly the Wild West before this, but the Act made things much clearer on what could and could not be done online and what different games should be classed as. Any gambling done via the internet, telephone or other technologies such as the television became known as ‘Remote Gambling’, hence the need for companies that operate online to have a remote gambling licence.

In 2014 updates to the 2005 Act were added in the form of the Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act. It provide clarity and consistency to the laws and regulations that govern remote gambling operators. The changes ensured that all companies offering gambling facilities to the UK are regulated, as opposed to the 15% or so that were being monitored before the Act was introduced.

The long and short of it is that these two Acts ensure that your money is safe and secure as long as you’re placing your bets with a company that has a UK Gambling Commission licence and is willing to obey the rules and regulations set out within the Acts. Another aspect of them is the regulation of advertising when it comes to gambling, something I’ll explain in more detail now.

Advertising Standards

18Gambling is something that grips people’s imagination and its emotive nature means that advertising it is a tricky subject. Since 2007 betting and gaming companies have been allowed to advertise their wares across all existing media, but there are some dos and dont’s for them.

They can’t portray gambling behaviour in a socially irresponsible manner, for example. They also can’t attempt to deliberately appeal to people under the age of eighteen by having adverts with references to youth culture in them. They’re also not allowed to link gambling to sexual success or make out that those who gamble are sexually attractive; something that I disprove every time I place a bet in my underpants with crumbs in my beard. Finally, there can be no suggestion that gambling could be the solution to any financial problems you may have.

One of the Advertising Standards Agencies chief concerns is ensuring that adverts don’t mislead the consumer. Bookmakers will often talk about ‘free bets’, for example, so the ASA checks to make sure that this is a fair description of what’s on offer. If you ever head to a bookies and feel that they’re misleading you with something that they’ve offered in an advert then it’s the ASA who will chase that up not the Gambling Commission.

Complaining About A Bookmaker

rulesI only recommend bookies that I trust and have used myself, but every now and then something might go wrong and you’ll find yourself in a position where you’ll need to make a complaint. Normally bookmakers have their own process for dealing with such problems, in fact having a robust complaints procedure is part of their license conditions, and your first port of call should be to speak to the company directly. If they’ve got a licence then they’ve agreed to do everything possible to resolve your complaint without it needing to be escalated.

Explain the situation carefully, reference bet number and time references where applicable.  Use screenshot and any other information you have to help resolve your complaint.  Try to use email to make complaints as this will give you a log.  If using live chat copy your conversation to a word file and save this as your own log.

If the operator is unable to resolve your complaint or they don’t agree with you then you can to turn to the Independent Betting Adjudication Service, better known as IBAS. The important thing to note here is that IBAS won’t discuss your issue with you if you haven’t first tried to solve it with the bookie directly and come to an impasse. IBAS will look at your issue, explore the T&Cs of the bookmakers and then reach an agreement that is binding for all parties.

Responsible Gambling

responsible gamblingAt the end of the day gambling should be fun. For some, though, gambling can begin to become a problem and that’s why all decent licenced bookmakers promote the idea of responsible gambling. Responsible gambling means being sensible with the amount of time and money you invest in gambling and remaining in control at all times.

One of the ways that gambling companies can ensure that people are gambling responsibly is to limit the amount of money that can be deposited into their accounts within a certain time period. You can also limit this yourself within your account. There’s also a minimum age of eighteen for gambling legally in the UK. Bookmakers also offer Self Exclusion methods whereby you can be denied access to your account on a voluntary basis for a given length of time.