Let’s be honest, there are nearly as many bookmakers out there as there are bets you can place with them. Given that more are springing up all of the time too, it’s quite tricky to know who to turn to when it comes to sticking a bet or two on any given match.
On this site I’ll give you my personal opinions on the different bookmakers that I have used in the past and continue to use now. It’s a saturated market and I feel that a bit of personal experience can go a long way to helping you to decide who to place your bets with.
You’ll also note that I’m not giving you a big list of every betting site out there. These are the ones I recommend highly and here I’ll tell you a little bit about the pros and cons of each one. I’ll let you know who they are, what they do and what I like and dislike about the services that they offer so that you can make an informed decision about them. It’s worth considering joining more than one for the best odds, too!
Best Sports Betting Sites For 2021
The list (above) serves as a quick reference to all of the sites I am happy to recommend. Lower on the page I give you an overview of what it is exactly that I like about each site, to help you decide which is right for you. And if you want even more information, there are also links to my in depth reviews of the sites.
But first, a series of guides that I’ve written about betting on different sports:
Sports Betting Guides
Betting Website Reviews
Founded in 2003, 10Bet started life as a bookmaker aimed at attracting punters from the Asian market. More than a decade and a half later and it’s fair to say that they’ve grown a bit since then. They have active customers in more than 90 markets and the site’s parent company, Blue Star Planet Limited, is based in Malta. Regulated by the UK Gambling Commission, the’ve shifted their attention in recent years towards breaking into the British market. One of their chief tactics on that front is excellent football coverage, with over 150 different leagues coming under their eye.
I think 888sport is a really interesting player in the online bookmaking world. Part of the larger company known as 888 Holdings, 888sport was set up in 2008 and have made impressive in-roads into the online betting market. One of the new breed of bookmakers that is all but exclusively internet-based, the company has quickly established itself as being just as relevant and important as other well known bookmakers. Operated under a subsidiary company called Cassava Enterprises, 888sport is still owned by the two sets of brothers that set it up in the first place.
Not every bookmaker can claim to have revolutionised their industry, but that’s certainly something that Andrew Black and Edward Wray can lay claim to. Their invention of the betting Exchange, whilst not being without some degree of controversy, has completed shifted the landscape when it comes to online betting. In fact, such is the influence of the Exchange on the way betting companies now operate, it’s impossible to talk about Betfair’s services without an in-depth discussion of the way the Exchange works. I go into it all properly in the main article, so I won’t repeat myself here. What I will say, though, is that it is an entirely different world to what you’ll be used to with fixed odds bookmaking.
Betfred was founded back in 1967 and initially there was just one shop in Salford, Greater Manchester. The company was set up by brothers named Fred and Peter Done, with the former giving his name to the bookmakers. They grew year on year to the extent that by 2003 their turnover was around £550 million. As impressive as that may seem, the following year the turnover was believed to be in the region of £3.5 billion, so that will give you some idea of just how successful Betfred have become since those lowly days in the middle of the 1960s.
The key factor that you should consider when it comes to BetVictor is that they are Liverpool Football Club’s official betting partner and in previous years they’ve also had deals with Chelsea. It’s fair to say, then, that they like their football and will often have special markets especially for Liverpool’s games.
If you’re a big football fan then it’s absolutely worth looking out for deals and offers that are aimed squarely in your direction. Their association with two of England’s biggest football clubs is a sign that football matters and that they know what they’re talking about. Just as you would trust a bookie that sponsors a horse race to know about horse racing, so too you can believe in BetVictor’s coverage of the world’s greatest sport.
Based in Guernsey and Malta and with operations in the likes of Ireland, the UK, Germany and Denmark, Betway is part of the wider company known as The Betway Group. Established in 2006, the company took its time to make sure its approach into the betting market was done correctly. Once they’d gone some way to establishing themselves they went to great lengths to get a fair amount of name recognition. Their method included sponsoring big events like the Froch versus Groves fight at Wembley Stadium back in 2014. That was the same year that they took on a three-year sponsorship deal for the Premier League Darts, so by the time 2015 rolled around even non-bettors could probably told you something about the company.
Coral are probably the best ‘all-rounder’ that I recommend using. They’ve got a really good mix of strong odds alongside a decent range of bets that means they’re well worth considering for all your betting needs. I’ve heard some people suggest that Coral are a ‘vanilla’ bookies, but I think that’s really unfair as there are loads of things that they offer. They are less about the ‘bells and whistles’ than some of the other sites, though, so if you like an all-singing all-dancing place to put your bets on then you might be a tad disappointed.
Ladbrokes was founded in 1886, adopting its name in 1902 when the company moved to London. The business suffered during the Second World War and was bought out by Mark Stein and his cousin Cyril. It proved to be an inspired move by the Steins, who were quick to take advantage when the government legalised betting shops in 1961. They ploughed the profits from the more traditional parts of the company into creating a chain of high-street betting shops and remain one of the most easily recognisable bookmakers to this day.
Is It Safe To Bet Online?
It’s all well and good me giving you guides to different bookmakers that you can use the services of, but if you’re relatively new to the world of betting online then you might well ask the question: is it safe? Certainly plenty of people are still wary of entering into monetary transactions online, so it’s only right that I do my best to answer the question as honestly as possible.
The short answer is a loud and resounding ‘yes’. Security regarding finances online has developed year-on-year, with safety now of paramount importance to most reputable companies. The problem, of course, is that not all companies are reputable and so it’s vital that you only sign up for bookmakers that have a licence issued to them by the UK Gambling Commission. For the record, I only recommend bookies that fit into that category, so if you like the sound of one of the ones that I’ve spoken about on this site then you’re good to go.
One of the main reasons why it’s always sensible to keep an eye out for a license issued by the UKGC is that they heavily regulate the industry. There are numerous hoops that companies need to jump through in order to pick up one of those licences, so you’re about as protected as it’s possible to be as long as they’ve got one. Sometimes things don’t go quite to plan, of course, and when that happens you’ll want to know that there’s somewhere to turn. Thankfully there is, with that ‘somewhere’ being the Independent Betting Adjudication Service. Better known as IBAS, it’s approved by the Gambling Commission and provides an Alternative Dispute Resolution service for customers who feel they’ve been let down by licensed gambling operators.
Obviously the most important thing is for you to be as sensible as possible when you’re surfing online. Any company worth their salt that is asking you for financial information will provide you with a secure site to enter that information onto. If in doubt, check the address bar. Bookies that are 100% safe to bet with say “https” at the start of their address.
That isn’t always the case, with a quick look by me just now throwing up both Coral and Betfred who don’t do that. In that instance you’ll be able to trust the brand, but just double-check the address you’ve entered and make sure it doesn’t say C0ral or Fretbed. It’s easy to do and will avoid you any embarrassing phone calls to the bank in the future. Generally speaking you’ll be fine, but being as sensible and wary as you can will stand you in good stead.
What To Look For In A Betting Site
Just as your taste in clothes and the sort of things you like to eat are extremely personal, so too what you look for in a bookmaker will come down to the sort of thing that you like from a company. There are numerous things that will differ from place to place, however, so knowing what to keep an eye out for will certainly help you limit the choices you have available to you. One of the most obvious things on that front is the odds that they offer. I tend to place a number of smaller bets rather than one big bet when I have a flutter, so I tend not to worry too much about odds unless they’re vastly different from one bookmaker to another. You might really care about getting value for your money, though, so going to the company with the best odds might be your be-all-and-end-all.
From a personal point of view, one of the most important things for me is whether a bookie’s website is easy to use and whether or not they’ve got a decent mobile app. Given how much time you can spend surfing a site to find the events that you want to bet on, it can be a real wind-up if the site is slow or counter-intuitive. I also tend to do a lot of my betting whilst I’m out and about, so that why the mobile app matters. Are they the sort of things that matter to you? If not, are you keen to use a company that has really good offers? Some are much better than others on that front, so making sure you find one that tends to regularly give decent promotions might be your number one thing. Someone else might prefer a bookmaker that seems to really value loyalty, deciding to use just one company rather than flit between a number of them. That’s something else to keep a lookout for.
Note: On this site you may notice that I don’t often talk about offers. That’s because I’m more interested in the bookie as a whole, rather than focusing solely on free bets. I do also run a site that lists betting offers for both new and existing customers though which you can find here.
One of the big things I talk about in my reviews are the features offered by each individual bookie. The reality is that the majority of the big boys tend to match each other in terms of both odds and features, so if there’s one that does something you like better than others then you’re always likely to lean slightly more towards it. Most of the bets that I place nowadays tend to be In-Play, so I always tend to login in to my account with the bookmakers that favour that particular feature. I also tend to Partially Cash Out fairly often, so there wouldn’t be much point in me using a bookie that doesn’t even have a Cash Out feature. You might absolutely love to Live Stream whatever you’re betting on, in which case find a bookie with a great Live Streaming service is vital.
The final thing I’ll mention is market depth. Everyone has their own preference on what they bet on, so finding a bookmaker that covers your favoured sport can make all of the difference. If you’re a horse racing fanatic, for example, then RaceBets will be your first port of call nine times out of ten. Liverpool fans might want to look to BetVictor because of the company’s arrangement with the Reds that sees them offer specific odds on a regular basis. That’s the sort of thing you’ll need to work out for yourself and have a bit of an experiment with a few different companies before you find the one for you. After all, if you’re desperate to bet on the fourth division of Danish football and the bookie you’ve joined doesn’t cover it then you’ll be looking elsewhere pretty quickly.
As I mentioned at the start of this section, it’s ultimately a matter of personal choice. You will know what matters to you so have a good long think and have a look at my reviews and keep an eye out for whether or not each bookmaker ticks your personal boxes. If they do then get yourself signed up and start placing a few bets – you’ll soon learn if you’ve called it wrong. Ultimately you might think that it’s worth sacrificing something like decent promotions in exchange for a site that you can use really easily and find intuitive. Much as I wouldn’t tell a vegetarian to eat a steak or a fashionista to wear plaid trousers, so too I can’t tell you which bookmaker is for you. Hopefully my reviews will give you a really good idea, though, and you’ll be able to confirm that through usage of the sites themselves.