Watching a big match with a vested interest in the outcome gives you a real and personal reason to cheer for one team or the other. Sure, it’s fun to cheer on your favorite teams as a fan, but it’s even better to put money on the line and literally have a stake on the outcome. The highs are higher and the lows are lower, and it all makes for a more absorbing and entertaining experience.
Even better: sports wagers don’t inherently stack the odds against you. If you develop the skill to spot mispriced lines, nothing stops you from actually turning a profit. It’s easier said than done of course, but there are plenty of examples of people who make a living betting on sports online. Even if you never turn into a pro (let’s face it – most of us won’t), it’s still comforting to know that the odds aren’t stacked against you like in traditional casino games.
My goal here is to give you the knowledge you need to become a more successful sports bettor. I offer no guarantees because profitable sports betting is hard. What I can guarantee is that this guide will give you the basics you need to get started on the right foot.
The journey begins with choosing among the many sports betting sites out there and settling with one or two that will provide you with a safe and fair experience. There’s much to consider in choosing a site so let’s get started now.
The main thing to keep in mind when looking for a place to play is the safety of your funds. This is the most basic guarantee we need from a sportsbook before we go any further. If a site has a history of slow-paying or no-paying, it is simply unfit for duty. Nothing else can redeem a site that can’t even meet this most minimum of expectations.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to determine which sites are safe and which are not. In comprising the list of sites you see here, I used a combination of my own experience, online research and reports from other customers. The internet has a long memory and if a website treats players poorly, word gets out and people don’t forget.
One of the other big things I look at is line pricing. Oddsmakers have to strike a balance between pricing the lines fairly and trying to extract juice to generate a profit. Those who get greedy end up posting uncompetitive odds that make it nearly impossible for anyone to win over the long run. Reputable bookmakers post lines that reflect reality and give customers an honest chance.
A number of sportsbooks over the years have developed reputations as books for “recreational” punters. That’s just a nice way to say the lines are priced poorly and the betting sites in question simply rely on the ignorance of newbies to stay in business. These books aren’t terrible by any means, but there are better options for the serious gambler.
Recreational books are known for placing betting limits on sharp bettors, mostly limiting their betting options to major events and basically just not taking any risks. Serious books, on the other hand, offer a wide variety of betting limits and types of wagers for events of all sizes.
Other books focus more on niche activities such as live in-game betting or on setting up exchanges in which the customers bet against one another rather than against the book. There are even virtual sports betting sites that put you in the action when nothing’s running in the real world.
When looking for a sports betting site, you’ll want to think ahead to which sports you’re most likely to bet on going forward. Different books pay more attention to different sports. That leads us to the next section…
Sport Specific Betting Websites:
All of us here at OnlineBettingSites.com put our heads together to compile lists of all the best betting sites for each sport. This was a major project that required drawing on the experiences of a whole litany of sports gamblers. It was a time-consuming project, but we’re proud to present you with an in-depth guide to choosing the best online bookmakers by sport.
You’ve already seen my top picks for the best overall sports betting sites. I stand by these picks but I also understand that all you readers out there aren’t a bunch of drones with the exact same wants and needs. The following sportsbook reviews are chock-full of information that will hopefully help you get a sense of the overall experience you can expect from all the major betting brands.
These reviews cover all the biggest real money sports betting sites on the internet. We’ll be adding more as time goes on, but these should serve as a great starting point for anyone looking for more information about where to play. The reviews cover everything from the sports offered to past controversies to how competitive the odds are.
US Friendly Sites:
- Bet365.com Review
- BetVictor.com Review
- WilliamHill.com Review
- 888.com Review
- Betsson Review
- Intertops.eu Review
- SkyBet.com Review (UK Only)
- PaddyPower.com Review
- BetFair.com Review
- Unibet.com Review
- NordicBet.com Review
- Bwin.com Review
- Ladbrokes.com Review
Is Online Sports Betting Legal?
It depends on where you live and how you interpret the law. Legislation around the world lags behind technology. In many places, the law is open to interpretation and is therefore either enforced randomly or not at all. We have a massive country-by-country discussion of gambling laws around the world published here. Visit that page to read in-depth analyses of the legal situation in more than 75 countries.
Legal Situation in the United States
Sports betting is highly restricted in the USA. The activity is only expressly legal in a few locations, with Nevada being the only state with full-fledged sportsbooks. Online sports betting is regulated by the UIGEA and Wire Act, which are both pieces of legislation that place tight restrictions on using the internet to process betting information.
The good news is that according to most lawmakers’ interpretations of US sports betting law, it is not a crime to place wagers as a mere customer. People don’t go to jail or even get harassed for betting on sports over the internet. However, it is clearly illegal to operate your own sportsbook or betting site as an owner/manager/employee.
Some state laws appear to criminalize the activity, but those are sporadically enforced. There’s an old story of a gambler from North Dakota who was ordered to pay a $500 fine after winning roughly $100,000 in online sports betting, but that’s about as bad as it’s ever gotten for customers. Even that story is a one-off event that dates back to 2003. Since then, nobody has ever faced any trouble whatsoever for placing wagers on sports.
The current legal situation is why you see all those funny looking domain names for major betting websites (such as .eu, .ag and so on). The US government has been known to seize .com domain names of known gambling sites even though those sites are located overseas where online sports betting is legal. Sites that want to stay in business host their domains on non-US URLs over which the government has no jurisdiction.
In short, sports betting occupies a legal grey area in the USA. The law is unfavorable for the industry but millions of people still bet on sports over the internet every year without any trouble.
Legal Situation in the UK
The UK takes a completely different approach to online gambling. Instead of going the way of prohibition, the UK has legalized and regulated the industry. Gambling sites based in the UK or that accept wagers from UK residents are licensed and subject to strict standards of conduct.
The UK’s Gambling Commission oversees all forms of betting in the country. This is the entity that issues licenses to betting websites, monitors their advertising and ensures they take the appropriate steps to protect minors and problem gamblers.
It’s good to be a punter in the UK because you get to deal with local companies that are subject to strict oversight. If something goes wrong, there’s an authority you can appeal to for help. If you start to feel like you’re getting in over your head, UK-licensed sites are required to honor requests that you be prohibited from depositing.
Is it Safe to Bet Online?
It is safe to bet online as long as you stick with sites that are themselves safe. We’re still sort of in the Wild West days of the internet in which anyone with a little money and know-how can set up a website and start accepting wagers. This is good for innovation but it does mean you need to exercise some discretion when choosing where to deposit your hard-earned money.
Safety is always my primary concern when looking at sports betting sites. I talked about researching each site’s reputation earlier on this page, but some of the other things I like to consider include customer support, speed of withdrawals, player complaints posted in gambling forums and the overall sense I get when placing wagers as a customer myself.
Gaming licenses are useful but don’t always tell the whole story. Licenses from major gambling jurisdictions such as the UK hold a great deal of weight because they are backed by functional governments that are serious about keeping everything on the up-and-up.
Some licenses don’t hold a lot of weight. For example, a license from Costa Rica means only that the company went down to the licensing office and registered as a “data processing” business. I’d rather see that license than no license, but that alone isn’t enough. I also need to see how that site has operated over the years and what other customers have had to say.
One other thing I like to look at is a site’s financial stability. This information isn’t generally released to the public, but you can get a good idea for how a site’s finances are doing by noting how much traffic it gets, how many reviews mention it and what players have to say about receiving cashouts. Large sites that everyone knows about and that process cashouts quickly are probably doing much better on the financial side than sites that are unknown and take forever to pay.
Consistency of payouts is just as important. If a once reliable site suddenly has a batch of slow payouts, it’s something to note. It could just be a result of a payment processor closing down and leaving the site in a bid to hurry up and find a replacement. However, it could also mean the site is experiencing financial difficulties.
But anyways, that’s just the stuff that I worry about over here when coming up with recommendations and writing reviews. The main thing for you to know is that it’s best to stick with big-name sites that have positive reputations. My top picks (listed near the top of this page) meet all the most important requirements that I have when determining which sites are safe places to wager.
Fantasy Sports Betting
To further complicate matters, we have an entirely new industry springing up in the US and slowly making inroads in other parts of the world. Daily fantasy sports sites allow you to participate in short-term leagues for real money. In daily fantasy, you’re given a fixed salary from which you draft a roster of players expected to participate in a series of upcoming matches.
In short, the team that you draft competes against other fantasy teams drafted by other people. Each team accumulates points for the league based on the performances of their players in the real world. Whoever’s team has the most points at the end of the league wins a real money payout.
The term “daily” refers to the fact that many of these leagues only last for a day (or a weekend in the case of the NFL). You’re not stuck with the same team all season long and can get paid that same day if your team accumulates enough points to win the contest. Contests can be hosted as small heads-up affairs between you and a single opponent or as large tournaments with million dollar payouts.
What’s interesting is that fantasy sports betting specifically received exemptions from anti-gambling legislation passed in the United States. The biggest fantasy sites are located on US soil and can accept payments via PayPal and credit card without the headaches that plague quasi-legal offshore fixed-odds betting sites. If you’d like to learn more about fantasy sports, see this link:
Bonuses and Promotional Offers
As look around and visit betting websites, you’ll notice that most of them have some sort of welcome offer just begging you to sign up and play. Sports betting bonuses are usually a good deal and provide added value that you wouldn’t otherwise see at a traditional brick-and-mortar bookmaker. Sometimes they promise extra cash added to your first deposit while others take the form of free bets or “no risk” promotions that give you a chance to place a free wager and get your money back if it’s not a winner.
It is always a good idea to read the terms and conditions of any sports betting bonus your are offered before you accept. Some promos are straightforward while others come with terms and conditions that limit your free plays to certain events or that you can only win X amount of money with the bonus cash. For the most part, the best bonuses are found at the best all-around sportsbooks.
Sports betting promos come in all different formats. Sometimes you’ll get extra bonus money added to your first deposit. These bonuses are pretty simple – you sign up, deposit and get a little extra money. In most cases, the bonus money is released after you place a certain number of real money bets.
Bonuses are not the only promotions you’ll see. Some new player promos instead give you reduced juice on certain bets, free wagers, cash-back on losing bets and much more. The best thing you can do is read through the terms and conditions of every promo and make sure it works with your betting style. In some cases, you can even choose between multiple new player promos. For example, you might find a site that lets you choose between a cash bonus, reduced juice or free wagers. The key is to think ahead to how much betting and what type of betting you do the most. Then, pick the promo that works best with your plans.
What you’ll find a lot of times with these “choose your bonus” offers is that there are trade-offs between immediate rewards and long term rewards. A cash bonus might give you a nice boost in the early stages, but reduced juice might actually prove more beneficial over the long run. Again, the key is to consider what your plans are and then choose whichever bonus provides the most advantage.
Loyalty Schemes and Rewards Programs
Regular sports bettors should definitely take advantage of any loyalty schemes or promotions hosted online. These are designed to reward loyal customers for continuing to play and can be a great way to boost your bankroll. Rewards can vary from free plays, bonuses in your account or even tickets to sporting events.
Generally speaking, the more you wager online the more you benefit from sports betting rewards programs.Spend a little time looking at the loyalty schemes of the different online sports betting sites to find out where you can best be rewarded for your business.
Basic Tips and Strategy
There is much to learn to before you can become a successful gambler. The most profitable players will spend a lot of time choosing their picks and looking for value. Identifyingvalue is imperative to making money over the long term. Sometimes there is no “correct” bet to make on a particular sporting event and a savvy sports bettor knows when to keep out of the action.
By putting some effort into learning about the industry, it becomes much easier to get a decent return on your money. It pays to be diverse – always backing odds on favorites for example is unlikely to pay in the long run as it might only take one or two losses to wipe out your profits. Mixing up your bets with a combination of favorites and over-priced underdogs, and placing these options at the right time is a better approach.
Visit the following pages for a more in-depth discussion of some of the most important concepts in online sports betting.
- Backing and Laying Betting Strategies
- Hedge Betting Tips
- Understanding The Differences Between Fractional, Decimal, and American Odds
- The Impact of Reduced Juice And Better Odds
- Line Shopping And Comparing Spreads
- About Those Handicapping Sites
Managing your bankroll – If you want to be serious about winning, you need to manage your bankroll. It can be frustrating losing a few times in a row, but getting disheartened and increasing your stakes to chase your losses is not the way forward. Stick to your stakes and size your plays according to the confidence you have in a pick – not based on previous results. As you do well and your bankroll grows, then you can look at starting to increase the size of your units.
The general rule of thumb for sports betting is to risk no more than 5% of your bankroll on any single bet. This is a pretty safe way to go because it helps minimize the damage done by bad streaks. No matter how confident you are in any single bet, the 5% rule should be in effect. If you think about it, the 5% rule makes perfect sense. Even the best handicappers are happy to achieve a 55% to 60% win rate. That means you can expect to lose 40% to 45% of you wagers even if you are really good at what you do. At those win-rates, anything can happen in the short term.
Over the long term, skilled handicappers can expect to see a general winning trend. But over the short term, everyone sees all kinds of crazy swings in both directions. By keeping your bets small, you minimize the chances of ever going broke.
Even the best sports bettor in the world would go broke if he routinely risked 20% or more of his bankroll on every wager. Keep your wagers small and you’ll be better off over the long term. It may feel slow-going in the early stages, but stick with it. Smart bankroll management is one of the absolute fundamental keys to successful sports betting.
Know your bets and wagering types – Information is power. The worldwide coverage afforded to most sports markets these days is a dream for an online puntor. You can watch so many events on TV or on the web and it is easier than ever to get a real insight and understanding of many different sports. The amount of information, statistics and results available on the world wide web is also there to be taken advantage of.
Having a diverse understanding of many sports will help you find quality plays over the long haul, and spending some time learning about sports you are not familiar with is time well spent for any aspiring fan.