We are all about trying to help you find the best betting sites out there. There are so many to choose from nowadays, which is great in lots of ways. More choice means more competition, which means sites have to be better at what they do and offer bigger and more enticing offers, bonuses and promotions. On the flip side, with new brands and sites appearing regularly, knowing which you can trust and which are the best betting websites to use is not easy. Luckily, that is where we come in.
In this article, we’ll look at what gambling facilities most of the biggest sites offer and what you should expect to find. We’ll look at what factors to consider when choosing a betting site and, elsewhere on our site, we’ll also look in more detail at how the various bookmaker, poker, casinos and bingo offerings compare in this regard. Right here we’ve also got general information on what to expect at these sites in terms of things like minimum and maximum stakes, licensing and regulation, and what efforts these companies make to protect you in terms of responsible gambling and tools to keep you in control.
What Can You Do on a Betting Site?
Betting and gambling have come a long way over the years. When betting shops were first legalised in the 1960s they were smoky, unimpressive rooms with virtually no facilities that offered the most basic of services. You could make bets, collect your winnings and… well, that was about it. You couldn’t even watch a horse race and most of the time you wouldn’t even be able to listen to it on the wireless, to use the parlance of the day.
Betting shops in the 21st century are unrecognisable from those days and are often glitzy, with a range of facilities available. However, of course, most people do the majority of their betting these days online, increasingly from their phones. The punters of the 1960s would be staggered to watch today’s gamblers accessing odds from all events around the world in just a few taps from a magical “computer” small enough to be kept in a pocket.
They would no doubt be then even more bedazzled as that same device enabled its owner to watch more or less any sporting event and place bets in-play (not a term they would be familiar with!). Who knows what they would make of things when, at half-time, our 21st-century punter played a few casino games and perhaps played poker against people in Australia and America!
The point is that modern betting sites now almost universally offer a full range of gambling options. They are perfect one-stop shops that cater to everyone, no matter what their preferred betting recreation is. Whatever type of fun you are into and however you like to gamble, the best betting sites can provide you with never-ending entertainment and fun. Whether you access this through your phone, a tablet, laptop or even a full desktop set-up, here is what you’ll find at the top betting websites.
Sports betting is one of the most popular gambling activities in the UK, although it is a slightly outdated term these days given the huge number of non-sporting events you can also wager on. Betting on politics, reality TV shows as well TV and film awards and even storylines, music (awards and specials like Christmas number ones), the weather and more has been growing for some time now.
Even so, it is betting on sport, in particular football and horseracing, that is by far the biggest activity when it comes to online bookmakers. Millions of people bet on these, and other sports, on a regular basis, with many millions more joining them for the biggest events. The Grand National attracts people from all walks of life who do not normally bet at all. Meanwhile, things like the FA Cup final, the Champions League final, major tournaments of golf and tennis and even things like the Super Bowl and other US-focussed sporting finals attract lots of occasional gamblers who are fans of the respective sports.
However, the best online bookies cover just about every sport you can imagine and even several you may never have heard of. Esports is a big area of growth, whilst sports like Australian Rules Football, MMA, handball, winter sports and yachting, to name just a few, all have their fans. What’s more, within many of these sports, you can bet on leagues and cups from all four corners of the world.
When it comes to niche events you might only see the biggest events covered, such as the America’s Cup in sailing or the World Championships and the Olympics in athletics. However, in mainstream sports such as football the options really are staggering. Pretty much every league is covered, from Bolivia to Belarus and Saudi Arabia to Serbia. And that is before we get to youth football, reserve leagues, women’s football and even some special seniors tournaments.
What’s more, in just about every sport, but once again to a greater degree in the most popular ones, your options within a certain game are vast too. It is not just a case of betting on who will win but, for example, you can bet on almost any eventuality when it comes to football, even combining many of them, meaning there are hundreds of markets on the biggest matches. In golf, you might bet on a player to win a tournament or for a hole in one to be scored or on who will be the best performing Swede, or on who will lead after each of the four rounds, and similar arrays of betting markets are offered for all major sports.
Of all the products the best betting sites offer their customers, casino games are probably second only to sports betting in terms of popularity. The online casinos offered by the top providers really are superb facilities. They cannot match the real-world experience for glitz, glamour and as a night out but in pretty much every other way, online casinos have the edge.
The best online casinos have a huge range of games so there is something for everyone. Whilst many focus on slots, you will also always find the classics such as roulette, blackjack, baccarat and video poker. One of the most popular types of slot game is the progressive jackpot, with some of these offering players the chance to win six-, seven- and even eight-figure jackpots from a relatively modest stake. On top of that, there is a range of less popular card, table and “other” games, some of which you may find at a bricks-and-mortar casino but some that you certainly won’t. Also, you increasingly find casinos offering instant win and scratchcard games, superb immersive live casinos that offer game show-style games, as well as the likes of blackjack, baccarat and roulette, all with real-life croupiers/dealers, and much more besides.
As well as an often-staggering selection of games, the best casino sites offer a brilliant range of promotions, offers and bonuses. The best of these are usually reserved for new customers but most online casinos also boast some generous and potentially lucrative offers for existing customers too.
Perhaps the biggest advantage a casino website has over a “real” casino is convenience. A trip to Vegas, or even your local casino, might well be fun but it isn’t something you can fit in whilst waiting for a friend, on a short train journey or in a rare moment to yourself whilst the kids are playing rather than fighting! Thanks to the advent of mobile gambling we essentially all have a casino in our pockets at all times and can be playing games and winning cash in a matter of seconds.
Bingo may have an old-fashioned image but it is increasingly popular for a range of reasons. It is cheap to play and tends to last a reasonable time. That means for a small deposit, players can enjoy a whole evening of fun. Bingo also has a great social side and whilst this is true offline, thanks to accompanying chat rooms, it is also true online, with real comradery and goodwill prevalent.
There are several dedicated bingo-only sites (though increasingly these also offer a selection of slots and other casino games too). However, all of the biggest betting websites also have a bingo room/suite accessible from their main homepage. There is usually a range of games with different ticket prices, with entrance sometimes costing just a penny and a lot of bingo sites even offering the occasional free game!
There are often side games available, as well as fun extras and “insurance” offers for near wins. Prizes are usually relatively modest, at least compared to the huge progressive wins offered by online casinos, but from time to time you will see some very tidy jackpot games. Perhaps more than anything bingo is fun though and if you have never played, almost all bingo sites will offer a generous new customer offer too.
As with bingo, when it comes to poker, there is a selection of dedicated poker-only betting sites but, equally, many of the biggest gambling operators also offer their own. This may actually be linked into one of the game’s major players, just with separate branding, or it may be a standalone poker interface.
Either way, once again there is every chance you can grab some bonus funds to get you started. Perhaps the best thing about poker is that it is a game as much about skill as it is about luck. That means that for those who are dedicated and have the right skills, there is a real chance to make money.
In reality, however, most people will play poker for fun, enjoying the chance to test their skills but knowing that they will probably fall short, at least unless they also happen to have luck on their side. However, like bingo, poker can be enjoyed for small stakes, with very low blinds and even freerolls often available. A cautious player can make even a modest bankroll last a long time and from this point of view, poker offers excellent value.
Some, though not all, big betting websites, offer a range of lottery options. These effectively give you access to international lottery draws, with the Irish lotto probably the most popular and most widely available. In addition, a number of the best betting websites will offer customers access to lotteries from countries such as France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Canada, Poland, Australia and the USA, as well as offering their own bespoke in-house lottos with draws that take place far more regularly.
If you love the thrill of the main UK lottery and Euromillions games then you might be interested in checking out these other lotteries online. Once again, there are bonuses and promotions to boost your chances of winning, whilst most websites that offer these games have excellent guides on how to play. Entrance is usually cheap and with some huge prizes available… it could be you!
In some regards, virtual sports are a mix of traditional sports betting and casino games and you will usually find them under the main sports tab of a betting site, though they sometimes have their own tab too/instead. Virtual sports offer 24/7 betting on “sports” such as football, horse and dog racing, motorsports and more. These are not real sports, horses, dogs, drivers or real teams, but instead virtual ones, with random number generators (RNG) deciding how contests will play out and the races or matches being shown using computer-generated graphics.
If you want to have a flutter when real sporting action is not taking place then virtuals are great as the “games” and “races” are incredibly frequent. However, it is important to note that there is no skill involved and even considering the form is also irrelevant. These are purely games of chance, the RNG deciding who wins, what the score is and so on.
More and more betting sites now offer additional tabs or interfaces that are labelled as “Slots”, “Vegas”, “Games” or some other related name. These are often just an extension of the main casino, or even a casino by another name, although they do often offer a separate bonus or welcome offer.
This area of a site may be specifically focussed towards slots (obviously if it is actually called “Slots”!) or some other form of game, such as instant wins and scratchcards, or it may be more specific still and actually be a particular type of slot. No matter exactly what shape it takes though, such a suite will offer more games, more fun and more chances to win – as well as more bonuses.
Minimum / Maximum Deposits & Withdrawals
At all sites, there will be some restrictions. These may be for the minimum and maximum deposits and withdrawals and/or for the minimum bets or stakes. They will vary from site to site and game to game, as well as according to what deposit or withdrawal method you use.
Unsurprisingly, we only work with the best betting websites around and at these sites, you typically find the most generous, least restrictive terms. That means there is often no minimum withdrawal, whereas some less reputable sites may require you to have a balance of at least £10, £20, or sometimes even more. In terms of a minimum deposit, £10 is quite common, though some of our favourite sites allow you to deposit just £5.
This is great for people who do not want to bet very much and it allows you to stay very much in control of your betting. At the other end of the spectrum, few sites have any meaningful limit on how much you can deposit. If you have the funds available, it should be no surprise that bookies, online casinos and all the other types of gambling websites we have looked at, will be more than happy to accept whatever deposit you want to make.
When it comes to withdrawals there are sometimes limits though but these really will only affect the true whales, or those lucky enough to hit a big win. Limits are more likely to be imposed according to the payment/withdrawal method but again these are typically high. It is safe to say that most good gambling websites allow withdrawals well over four figures via a range of methods, though some bigger wins may have to be paid in multiple transactions, potentially over multiple days, weeks or even months.
Minimum / Maximum Bets & Stakes
In terms of minimum and maximum bets and stakes, once again there is enormous variation. When it comes to sports betting, some sites (mostly betting exchanges) have a high minimum of around £2. Traditional bookmakers, in contrast, will often allow stakes as small as 10p and occasionally even lower.
In casino games, the same limits often apply, with 10p or 20p often being the minimum stake on slots and some other casino games, though some may have 50p or even £1 as the lowest bet. As said previously, bingo and poker may have freerolls, or very cheap games, especially in the case of bingo where penny games are very popular with regular players looking to stretch out their funds.
For the whales and high-rollers, high stakes games can be found in most areas of the best gambling websites. When it comes to betting on sports, the biggest and most popular sports may allow bets well into four- and five-figure, though it should be noted that maximum wins also apply (again varying by sport and event).
Some slots offer the chance to stake as much as £100 or even more per spin, whilst blackjack, roulette and other casino classics may permit bets of £1,000 and sometimes even more! Clearly, this allows players the chance to win huge sums of cash but when things do not go well it is equally easy to lose a lot of money, very quickly. Caution is advised and you should take a look at the information we have below on responsible gambling.
How Can I Check the Terms?
With so much variation between sites, games and so on, we cannot provide all the information about terms and conditions right here. To find the precise piece of information you need, the quickest way may be to simply hop on live chat and ask the customer support team and your betting site of choice.
That said, in the first instance, you may be best checking their general terms and conditions where you should be able to find information on the various payment methods that are accepted and what the minimum/maximum deposit/withdrawals are. You may also find this info through the cashier section of the site, usually accessed through “My Account”.
In terms of the various game limits we have discussed, these are usually shown when you load a specific game. Alternatively, you can click for more info on a certain game and find the details you require there. For those betting on sports, limits are usually shown in the general Ts and Cs under “Maximum Bets/Wins” or similar, or sometimes under the rules of the specific sport on which you wish to bet.
Licensing for UK Betting Websites
We are a UK site and our focus is on bookies, casinos and other gambling websites that operate here. To legally accept customers based in the UK, any betting site must be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). The official UKGC website has a wealth of information about who they are and what they do, as well as a news section fresh with industry developments. They have specific areas of the site for punters (and the public in general), as well as for gambling businesses (detailing their obligations and how to go about fulfilling them) and licensing authorities and legal enforcement agencies (such as the police and trading standards).
As a user, or prospective user of a betting site though, the key thing is that they are licensed and regulated by the UKGC. As a UK site ourselves, all of the bookies and casinos we feature here have a license issued by the UKGC and you can typically find details of this at the site in question or via the UKGC directly. Some critics would argue that this offers little real protection but we would disagree.
A UK license certainly confers far more protection and gives greater assurances than one from just about any other regulatory body. In all sorts of ways, the UK is one of the best-regulated markets in the world. It is not a cast-iron guarantee that your bets will win, of course, or that you will not experience any problems but it certainly gives you the best support should any issues arise. No license or law can ever stop businesses from failing and that is as true in terms of gambling websites as it is with the many high street retail giants we have seen go bust in recent years.
At the time of writing (March 2021) the UK-licensed Football Index is experiencing serious issues and has had its license suspended. None the less, the UKGC does offer a range of services that can help the punter and has put in place lots of measures to limit the financial damage caused when things go wrong.
The UKGC & UK Betting Sites
Perhaps the key role undertaken by the Commission is to control who can and cannot operate a gambling website (or other gambling business) in the UK. There are various license conditions that potential operators have to fulfil and this goes a long way towards making sure that any site you can legally bet with in this country is of a certain standard. There is a large number of rules and regulations these operators have to follow and the UKGC has a range of tools at its disposal to make sure these are complied with. In this way, they seek to make gambling as safe as possible for all consumers and this includes monitoring how responsible gambling is encouraged.
The UKGS does not handle complaints about UK betting sites but it does make sure that the sites themselves have robust procedures and policies in place to handle such complaints. Independent arbitration services such as IBAS are available to help in that regard, although initially contacting the gambling website in question is always the best option.
The UKGC cannot help with legal advice either and nor can they directly help you get your money back from a betting operator. However, relatively new legislation means that gambling websites must now make it clear when you join them what level of protection your funds have. Money deposited into, or won from, a site, is not protected by the government in the same was savings and investments but when you register you will be told whether your funds have a medium or high level of protection, or whether they are not protected at all.
Obviously, if you want to be very careful and cautious then opting to use only sites that offer the highest protection may be wise. That said, typically it is only the best, biggest and most secure betting websites that can offer this and, of course, these are the ones that are least likely to need it.
On the other side of the coin, the sites that might be more at risk of getting into difficulties are less likely to offer the top level of fund protection. Information about fund protection can be seen at the UKGC site but the tiers are as follows:
|No Protection||No extra protection is offered. Money held by these betting sites, including in player accounts, is seen as part of the business should they go bust.|
|Medium Protection||Arrangements (such as insurance) are in place to make sure that funds in separate accounts are given to customers should the business fail.|
|High Protection||Customers funds are kept separate from the company’s main funding and this is legally and in day-to-day terms separate. Such accounts are managed independently and/or externally by an auditor.|
Betting Sites & Responsible Gambling
For far too long the concept of responsible gambling and looking after customers’ well-being was given little more than lip service. Some would argue that is still the case even now but there is no doubt that at least some bookmakers, bingo sites, online casinos and poker websites are genuinely taking the issue far more seriously.
Whether this is down to genuine concern or because they fear ever-stricter government legislation to restrict betting is another argument but irrespective of the motivations, the concept of responsible gambling is bigger than ever. The best gambling websites feature responsible gambling in all their adverts and make it a prominent feature of their sites and their marketing. In addition, they have a wide range of tools to help customers stay in control and keep their betting fun.
Some changes have been mandated, or have been adopted ahead of likely regulation changes. This means that punters can no longer fund gambling accounts using a credit card. That does not entirely stop gambling with money a customer doesn’t have but it certainly helps. In addition, many sites now process withdrawals immediately, rather than allowing them to be reversed for 24 hours or sometimes even more. This facility was portrayed as being helpful to customers to save them depositing again but in reality, it was simply a way to encourage punters to bet with money they had initially decided to withdraw.
There are so many options, facilities and tools available now to help keep things safe, fun and responsible and here are the major ones. Such tools may be found under a “Responsible Gambling” tab, or otherwise via “My Account”. If you cannot find a particular feature, just contact the site’s customer support team who will be able to help.
One of the first steps towards responsible gambling is being aware of how much you are losing or, ideally, you are winning (we can but hope!). Traditionally, ascertaining your overall performance has not been a simple task and would require various searches through past bets and manual calculations.
However, more and more gambling sites now offer profit and loss tools that are quick and easy to use. These allow you to see your overall results either for the entire time you have had that particular account or over a defined period, such as the last week, month or year.
Without such a tool it can be easy for some punters to lose a considerable amount, almost without realising it. £10 here and £20 there soon adds up if you are betting regularly but tools such as the ones discussed allow you to see in an instant how much your “bit of fun” is really costing you.
Deposit limits are a great first step if you know there is only a certain amount you want to bet in a specific period. They are also very good if you know you are prone to chasing losses or re-depositing after you have said to yourself that you wouldn’t.
Deposit limits usually take 24 hours to increase or remove but are typically decreased or activated immediately. Most sites offer the option to set a limit per day, week or month, with limits often ranging from £10 up to a four-figure amount.
The only downside of a deposit limit is that if you are at your maximum when a great offer becomes available, or you find a bet you really like, you may miss out. None the less, with a 24-hour “cooling off” period, you may still be able to get involved but at least you’ll have had time to decide whether it really is such a great offer or bet.
Cooling Off Period
In some ways it is best if you do not need a cooling off period because arguably if you get to this stage, things have gone too far. Equally, many customers who are struggling with gambling find that such a step merely delays, rather than fixes, the problem. That said, cooling off periods allow you to block access to an account (some may offer the cooling off period for the whole site, whilst others will allow you to “cool off” from the casino but still access sports and poker, for example) for a short period of time.
This often ranges from a day up to several weeks or even months, the idea being that a break from betting will allow you to return with more control. How effective this is remains to be seen but it is certainly a good option if you want to have a break but do not want to go quite as far as self-exclusion.
Reality Check/Session Limits
This is a newer addition to the responsible gambling arsenal and when activated, which is sometimes automatic, a pop-up alert will notify you of how long you have been playing. This is not typically available for sports betting but for casino and other betting options you can choose to have a reminder of your session time every 20 minutes, for example (or every hour, every two hours – different sites have different options).
This can be handy as when you are really engrossed playing a slot or roulette or whatever your favourite game is, a quick half an hour can rapidly turn into a three-hour playing marathon. Responsible gambling is not just about money, but time and energy too, so this is a helpful tool.
If gambling is making you unhappy, you are losing more money than you would like, or it has simply become something you no longer wish to do, self-exclusion may be the best option. The best sites will allow you to exclude from each product specifically. This means that if poker is your Achilles’ heel but you have no problem with sports betting and casino games, for example, you can exclude solely from poker. If you are really struggling then excluding from all parts of a website may be best but many punters tend to find one particular area, often casino games, is the one they have the most problems with.
Self-exclusion is essentially a longer-term version of cooling off and so the minimum period is often six months, though this varies between sites. The maximum period is usually either five years or permanent, although the latter option is often covered by the separate option of account closure.
Whatever period you opt for, once you have confirmed it you cannot reverse the decision. During that period you will not be able to access the site at all and you should not receive any marketing emails, texts or mail from the company either.
Gamstop & Other Tools
Self-exclusion is a big step and will certainly help problem gamblers but, of course, many punters have accounts with a range of different sites. If they don’t, they know that those other sites are just a few clicks away and so whilst self-exclusion may stop them from using their normal or favourite betting website, it will not necessarily stop them from gambling.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from problem gambling or addiction, there is a range of tools available that go further than self-exclusion and account closure. Some of these are paid services that attempt to use technology to solve the problem by blocking a person’s devices but there is a range of free services as well.
As well as various helplines and sites, such as GamCare or GamAnon, the totally free GamStop is an excellent tool. Signing up to this self-exlcusion tool will prevent an individual from using any gambling website or app operated by a UK-licensed company. As with site-specific exclusion you can set this for whatever period of time you choose.
GamStop was created by The National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme Limited, a not-for-profit organisation. It is a great system that allows someone who wants to restrict their access to betting opportunities to exclude from all UK sites in one simple step. No such system is foolproof and preventing a committed problem gambler from finding ways to bet is almost impossible but GamStop is certainly going to make stopping a lot easier and is highly recommended.