Sports betting is one of the oldest forms of wagering in the world. Bettors have been putting cash on matches for centuries. An activity that started with races and fights and evolved into organized sporting events.
There are many ways to place a sports bet. In most countries outside the US, it is as easy as going to a local betting shop. Most countries with betting in bricks-and-mortar facilities also provide mobile and online platforms. Some sports betting is operated by state lotteries as a monopoly. Others provide competition between experienced and licensed bookmakers.
This is a hugely popular industry and continues to grow to this very day. There are many different sports betting sites and apps available on the market today and in this guide, we’ll give you some great advice about how to pick the sports book that is right for you.
Let’s begin by looking at an important question when it comes to considering which out of all the online bookmakers to bet with: what is it that makes one sports book more appealing than a competitor?
What makes one online sports book better than another?
There are many different factors that can combine that will make one sports book better than another, outlined below are just some of those that you should consider when thinking about joining a sports betting site.
New player bonus offer
One of the key things to investigate when joining a sports betting site is the offer that the site gives to new players. It is difficult to ascertain which is the ‘best’ offer as in truth, it very much depends on how much you intend to deposit as a new customer, and how often you intend to bet with the company in question.
The value of an offer is very much dependent on these two factors, so once you know how much you plan to deposit and place as your first bet, have a look around the sites to see which of the offers best suits you.
Other promotions and offers relevant to you
Many of the top sites will run a large number of different betting promotions and/or offers across the year and across a wide range of sports.
What you need to check here is that the offers available on your preferred sites are likely to be ones that you will benefit from. There’s little point in joining a site that offers predominantly soccer betting offers, for example, if your main sport of choice to bet on is horse racing.
Ensure that the short and long-term offers on your chosen site match up well with your betting interests and you’ll benefit from these offers in the long term.
There are many useful sites available that can compare the odds of a given sporting market across a wide range of bookmakers. It is impossible for any sports betting site to offer the best odds on every sporting market all the time, but what you should check for is that your site tends to give you if not the best available odds, then as close to it as possible, most of the time, particularly for those sports that you are likely to bet on.
Reliable financial transactions
Not only do you want to place bets easily and quickly with an online bookmaker, but you should also expect to be paid expediently.
Not only that, but your chosen bookmaker should offer a number of different methods of payment (such as PayPal, bank transfers, and credit cards, just to name a few) and a roughly equal number of ways you can withdraw any winnings you have accrued.
Check also that you have customer support readily available just in case you need to query a transaction.
Breadth of markets
A key element is that a sports book should offer punters a wide range of sports to bet on. Not only that, but within each sport, there should be a wide range of different betting markets available for selected events, ensuring you have as much choice as possible.
Most bookmakers offer all of the most common bets, for some of the less common bets however, you may have to research which bookmakers offer these bets or who will offer odds on a bet requested by a customer.
Perhaps the biggest development in mobile sports betting over the past few years has been live streaming. Check out what sports your chosen site streams to your mobile as part of your service.
Is this service free, or are there conditions that need to be met (such as having a credit balance) in order to view these events? Does your site offer live streaming of horse racing if you bet a minimum amount on a race?
How to pick an online sports book you can trust
Picking an online sports book you can trust is relatively simple. Sports betting is a highly regulated industry and there are rules and regulations as to what companies can and cannot offer in certain geographical regions.
There are essentially two forms of online bookmaker:
- Those that have been established as a high street bookmaker for many, many years and have now moved into the online arena (such as William Hill, Coral and Ladbrokes for example).
- Online bookmaking companies that have been formed to offer their services mainly to online customers (Bet365 Sport, Betway and SkyBet are good examples).
Regardless of which type of bookmaker from the above two camps you decide, you can be sure that if you stick with one of the bigger names in the industry (such as any of those listed by a reputable odds comparison website) then you should be able to trust them.
Finally, another good indication of trustworthiness is a site that is popular. If you search for a site and it has millions of customers and ranks high in the search engine rankings, then you are likely onto a good thing.
That’s not to say new, up and coming sports books (such as BetStars or Betway) should be avoided, but simply that they are not yet as proven as some of the more long-established sites. Although given the reputation of both of these sites, it is safe to assume they can be added to the list of sites to trust.
Six tips to boost your online sports betting returns
So you’ve signed up with a reputable betting site and are ready to start sports betting. What you now want to do is turn this into a profitable past time.
Outlined below are six top tips to help you make the right selections when sports betting.
6. Manage your bankroll
Rather like a poker player, to enjoy profitable long term sports betting it is imperative to have a sensible approach to your bankroll.
Set yourself a weekly/monthly limit and keep to that. Always try and keep a significant proportion of your bankroll back and try not to bet it all. This is a skill more attributed to poker players, but it works equally well and makes equal financial sense for sports betting fans, too.
5. Research your bet
How do you select your bet? Is it a gut instinct call, or do you actually try and logically work out what the best options are for the bet you selected?
Most punters fall into either of these camps and while gut instincts can come off, it is generally accepted that the more you research and look into a bet, the more likely it is you will select the right option.
Statistics and trends are easily and freely available on most top sports betting apps and sites. Use them wisely to inform your betting and you’ll make the correct choice more often.
4. Maximise offers and promotions
A great way to get value for money long term is to ensure that you take full advantage of any offer or promotion a sports betting site runs on a sports event. It doesn’t matter if it is enhanced odds price, a free bet available or a bonus paid on top of your winnings, using bonuses and promotions for bets is a great way to secure added value and ensure at least some return even if your bet is not successful.
3. Avoid too many low risk/high reward bets
Accumulator bets (or parlay bets if you are based in North America) are very popular bets as they offer the punter a relatively high reward for a small initial outlay. However, they are also incredibly difficult to predict accurately and the chances of landing an acca dwindle with every additional selection you add to the coupon.
Ask yourself this question: Is winning £50 from a £10 double bet every now and then better than trying to win £50,000 every week with a 5,000/1 shot? If profitability is your aim, then there is only one choice.
This is not to say you should not bet on acca’s, but just do so sparingly and only when you think you have a solid chance of success.
2. Bet on what you know
It’s easy to peruse a sports betting app or site and be fooled into thinking you can bet on any sport you like. Indeed, the capability to do so is there, but in terms of profitability in the longer term, it is much better to stick to sports and events within that sport that you know.
For example, if you are a football fan, you are more likely to know more about your domestic league, than perhaps the Peruvian second division.
You can get great value by following your chosen sports betting sites Facebook, Twitter and other profiles on social media. Often companies will run special social-media only promotions which you can then use to gain added value when betting.
Sports betting online: mobile sports betting vs. desktop betting
To conclude our look at sports betting online, let’s now take a look at the key differences between sports betting via mobile compared to betting at home from a PC or similar.
There are several areas where betting via a mobile is at least equal to, if not better, than accessing sites via a desktop or laptop, namely:
With a mobile you can place bets wherever you are provided you have a WiFi or 3G/4G connection. This means you can actually place bets from anywhere, even if you are at the sporting event you want to bet on. This also means you can enjoy Live In Play betting easily as you can see the markets change in real time on your phone.
If you bet via a desktop, you can only do this when sat at your PC.
Convenience and speed
Betting via a mobile or tablet is also more convenient, as you can do it whenever and wherever you have a connection. It is so much quicker to load up your phone or tablet and place a bet than it is to go home, turn on the PC and then place a bet.
The difference may seem small but in some cases, it can be the difference between getting a bet on or missing it altogether.
No longer are mobile sites watered down versions of what you will find on the online site. Most mobile operators now offer a full service of sports betting features via mobile devices, even down to including live streaming of events.
Some mobile sports betting providers don’t even require you to visit the site to place a bet. Some will accept bets via a phone call, and others will even accept bets made via text messaging service.
Nowadays, mobile sports betting is not a ‘secondary’ option to gambling via a desktop. You can access all the bets, all the markets and all the features from your mobile across most sites, as you can from a desktop.
How to bet at sports betting sites
The first step of placing a sports bet is to decide how much to wager. In a live sportsbook, there is a number next to the corresponding bet. It is ideal to mention this betting number at the window to ensure that there are no errors. Exotic bets with multiple outcomes often require the bettor to submit a card to prevent errors.
The ticket writer will print a slip for each wager. It is imperative to check the slip to make sure that everything is correct. If you discover an error after leaving the window, you’re probably stuck with it.
An online sports bet is much easier to make. These are processed over the Internet and on mobile devices, depending on the jurisdiction.
An online account must be created. Most countries permit a player to create the account from home. It can be funded immediately. Withdrawals are made directly on the website. An ID check is often required the first time a cashout is requested.
For example, in Nevada, a player must go to the sports book to create an account. An ID is required, as well as a players card from the establishment. Deposits and withdrawals at Nevada books most often must be transacted at the casino.
Once an account is established, a player simply chooses the wager from the app or online menu. This includes the sport and whether the wager is a straight, parlay, teaser, future or in play. A mobile device must have the location services operational, or else the wager will get rejected in most jurisdictions. It is often a regulatory requirement.
There are lots of different ways to wager on sports:
The most common form of sports betting is a straight bet. This means only one outcome is determined by this wager. This usually includes a money line for the outright winner. For example, one team may be -200 and the other side +170. This means that a bettor on the favorite must lay $200 to win $100. The underdog bettor bets $100 for every $170 he hopes to win. The vig lays in between the two numbers.
In American football and basketball, a handicap of a point spread is also offered. The typical lay on a spread is -110 on both sides. This means that a player bets $11 for every $10 he hopes to win.
Parlays include betting on two or more outcomes. This greatly increases the payout if it wins. All parts of a parlay ticket must win to cash it. Point spread games that push or tied events will drop the payout on the parlay ticket by one team but will not kill it, unless the particular parlay card discloses that ties lose.
Teasers are available on American sports. This is where a point spread is moved on every event on the ticket by a predetermined number of points in the player’s favor. The card wins if all games fall within the spread. There is also a reverse teaser, known as a pleaser that puts points out of the player’s favor. These have gigantic payouts if they hit because of the difficulty level. The juice on parlays and teasers is often more than 20 percent. The more teams involved, the more of a house edge the ticket has.
An in-play wager in made on a game in progress. A player can get into the action during breaks. This is a way to hedge an existing bet or get into action if the start of the event was missed by the player.
Futures are when a bettor takes a team to win a championship. This can be a division, league or country. It can also be in individual in sports like tennis, golf, boxing or racing. Only one team or player out of the pool is a winner on a futures bet.
Legal sports betting in the US
North America is not as liberal as the rest of the world when it comes to sports betting. Mexico permits betting shops that take action on races and sports. Canada books parlay cards through provincial lotteries.
Straight bets are not permitted in Canada, and the question of the legality of online gambling in Canada remains an open one.
Sports betting is only legal in two US states:
- Delaware offers parlay cards on NFL games through its state lottery. Three or more outcomes must be chosen by the player. There is no online sports betting in Delaware, only online casino (Delaware is one of two states to offer legal US online casino sites).
- Nevada offers a full menu of sports betting that is comparable to other countries. Delaware sells sports tickets at racetracks, bars and lottery retailers. Nevada offers live, mobile sports betting, and online betting.