If 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
If 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.
Best For Offers and Loyalty Rewards
Pretty 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.
Best For Odds
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.
Easiest to Use
The 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.
Best For Markets and Depth
Although 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.
Guide to Safe Betting and Gambling
Throughout 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
The 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.
Gambling Laws In The UK
There 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.
Gambling 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
I 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.
At 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.