It is fair to say that online betting is no new invention. Online sportsbooks have been around since the late 90s, and the first live betting markets were introduced to the public in 2002. Not long after those two landmarks, mobile gambling started to take off. The popularity of online sports betting has been on an upwards trajectory since then, and new sportsbooks are popping up all the time.
If you have never used a betting site before, you may be daunted by the sheer number of bookmakers and extensive betting markets that are being offered. Punters who have been betting at the same site for donkey’s years may also be a bit daunted by all the content that is being provided nowadays too. You do not need to worry though. In this article, you will learn about all the benefits of betting online and what to look out for in a sportsbook.
What is an Online Sportsbook
Online sportsbooks are sites that offer bets on which you can stake real money. There are lots of betting sites out there, including both local and offshore operators. Some of the most historical betting companies, such as William Hill, Betfred and Betsson also have embraced the world of online betting.
Advantages and Benefits of Online Betting
What may have started as a fad has now become a massive global industry. Punters from all over the world are constantly using betting sites and for good reason too. There are many ways in which online betting is beneficial, especially for regular punters.
There is no need to go to your local store or betting shop to make a bet. Say goodbye to reading the odds on those betting screens in the shop or those printed forms with lengthy lists of bets. Nowadays, you can view all the betting markets and place your bets whenever and wherever you want. It does not matter whether you have a computer nearby either, as you can simply open your smartphone and open the betting sites there. This comfortable access to the sportsbooks cuts out the time you would spend travelling and waiting.
You will never have to settle for a wager you do not want at a good betting site. The sports coverage and scope of the betting markets are extensive. You can find hundreds of betting markets on football games, and some books also offer odds on demand. This way, you can ask prices for bets that are not included, and hopefully strike a good deal. The sports coverage at online bookies is amazing too. You may find some books cover over 30 different sports – including everything from Aussie rules to winter sports.
Sportsbooks have a lot of competition and to stay ahead of the market, they need to go the extra distance to attract punters. This works highly in your favour, as the odds at sportsbooks may be extremely generous. The books have far fewer overhead costs than betting shops, and so the money they save can be put towards slashing the juice in their betting odds. For more information on how this works, check out our guide to sports betting juice.
Competitive odds are a major perk but big promotions will catch the attention of most punters much quicker. There are loads of different types of promotions that bookies can offer bettors. Weekly free bets are always welcome, especially when they do not require massive deposits and they can be placed on the sport of your choice. Odds boosts can also be extremely advantageous. Be sure to check out our top tips for using odds boosts. Bonuses may also be offered on deposits, big accumulators, featured bets, and many more.
Online sportsbooks usually offer a large variety of payment methods. Topping up your account usually takes seconds, and you can instantly start betting with that money. Taking money out may not be as swift, as you may have to wait for an hour or a few days, depending on which payment method you use. It still beats carrying around a ticket and then going back to the bet shop (during working hours), to pick up your winnings.
In-play betting is not exclusive to online sportsbooks. There are a few betting shops that offer bets during games, however, placing live bets at these shops or terminals is not convenient. First, you must always stay close to the shop or terminal during a game or race. If you spot some great odds, then you have to fill out a form, submit it to the cashier, take out your cash or bank card, and then pay to finalise the bet. If there is a waiting line, then you will have to wait. All these minor obstacles kill off time, which is extremely valuable for live betting. Remember, the odds can change with every passing second.
Were you to place a live bet online, you would not encounter any of these hassles. You can view the bets and then simply click on a selection, add a stake, and then confirm the bet. You should prepare ahead of time by putting money into your account, but that is all. Most of the betting sites also offer live streaming of the events you can bet on, so you can stay up to date with all the action. If there are no streams for the event, then there should be a live game or race card.
Mobile betting and betting apps give you the chance to place bets instantly, and all you need is a stable internet connection. It does not matter where you are. You can watch a game at your favourite pub, go to a friend's house, or even from within the stadium or arena itself. Live betting and mobile apps go hand in hand for a lot of bettors. These betting apps are designed so that you can top up your account, find your bet, and then place it all within a few minutes. A lot of books provide cash out tools, with which you can pull the plug on your bet and collect money that the book is offering you for it. With betting apps, you only need to tap twice – once to cash out and then again to confirm.
Betting sites offer tonnes of betting markets and give you lots of betting possibilities. These possibilities are extended even further with the advanced betting slips they offer. You may be able to form all sorts of parlay combinations. You may want to bet on a live tennis game and combine it with the NFL game later today and the big soccer derby next week. Within one game, you may want to make a parlay of lots of different selections. Punters who want to form more complex bets can also find ample opportunities. Lots of sites support round-robin betting with which you can combine numerous selections and still have insurance. If you are not familiar with round-robin betting, you can catch up to speed by reading our brief analyses of round-robin betting.
Online Sportsbook Licensing and Regulations
Online sportsbooks are regulated by gambling regulators, in the same way, betting shops and casinos are. A book must obtain a betting or gaming licence to operate legally. This licence can only be granted by the proper authorities in the jurisdiction where the bookmaker is based in. For example, a UK sports betting website needs to obtain a betting licence from the UK Gambling Commission. Or, a bookmaker in Malta needs to be licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority.
These gambling regulators ensure that the bookmaker operates legally and has the financial means to pay out your winnings. Should you have a dispute with a sportsbook, you can reach out to the gambling regulator.
How to Pick an Online Sportsbook
Now that you know the benefits of betting online, you may want to shop around to see if there are any that may suit you. There definitely are, but to narrow down your search, you should consider what you really need. Big bonuses and thousands of betting markets can be misleading. These are, of course, important – but your ideal book should first, and foremost, give betting markets and offers that you will actually use.
Our recommendations are as following:
Sportsbooks usually cover 20 up to 40 different sports, including a variety of esports and maybe virtual sports. Most punters stick to a handful of sports, if not only one, and do not use any of the other markets. You should consider what you would like to bet on. There are lots of fantastic opportunities, but it is better to stick to what you know and not bet blindly on random events. The sportsbook you want to bet at should provide extensive betting markets for your selected sports.
Types of Offers
You will encounter tonnes of different promotions across various sportsbooks and may be torn between a handful. What you must do then is evaluate how useful the promotions are. If they do not relate to your chosen sports, then you probably will not need them. Read the fine print on all the conditions of bonuses. Some free bets require you to make large deposits, whilst others are only awarded if you bet frequently. This may suit some punters but not all. The same goes for odds boosts, which may be only offered on bets that you do not want to place. Instead, try to look for offers that you can take advantage of. If you do not need to change the way you bet to get the offer, then it is the one for you.
Live Betting Experience
Whilst all betting sites offer live bets, there are many aspects in which they can differ. This may boil down to the lack of live streaming, or it can be a limited number of betting markets. Cash out functions are a must, and with lesser-known sportsbooks, do your research as to whether their software is up to scratch. Live betting requires seamless performance and odds that update constantly, without becoming unavailable for long durations of time during play. A few seconds are acceptable, especially if the odds need to adjust after a goal in a game of soccer. Longer than that is a big red flag, and will adversely affect your live betting experience.
It is crucial to have at least two convenient ways to manage your finances at a sportsbook. If your first method backfires, for whatever reason, then you have another option to top up your account or withdraw your winnings. You may want to transfer funds in and out of your bank, use an e-wallet, or employ any other electronic payment service to transfer your funds. Another aspect of payment to consider is the minimum and maximum limits. Usually, you will have no problems depositing small amounts into a sportsbook. Withdrawals are what you need to look out for. Some places may have high minimum limits, which does not suit all bettors. Also, be sure to check whether deposits and withdrawals are charged. Most books do not charge either unless players make smaller deposits or withdrawals.
Gambling is always a risk, and you should only play for fun. If you do feel like your gambling is getting out of hand, your chosen sportsbook should offer tools with which you can control it. Deposit limits and time limits are a good way to make sure you do not get carried away. There should also be a self-exclusion tool, in case you want to take a longer break from betting.
Customer Support and Availability
Most betting sites offer live chat and email customer support. This is excellent, as you can ask your quickfire questions in the chat box, and then send an email when you want to attach documents and go into more detail. Be sure to check whether the services are offered 24/7 or whether they only operate during working hours.
Offshore betting sites may need to be looked at more thoroughly, especially if they are aimed at a different target audience. You may encounter some sites that do not have the language setting you need. Also, some websites may have limited currency options or do not offer certain promotions in your currency. You can look into these, and test the customer support for yourself by asking your questions. Good, professional support agents are always happy to answer these inquiries, especially if they can bring in more customers.
The variety of betting markets and the broad coverage of online betting sites give punters plenty to think about. There are masses of betting opportunities available online that you can take full advantage of. As a bettor, you have the luxury to pick from loads of different online betting sites. This is not limited to newcomers either. Those bettors who have been using one sportsbook for years may be surprised at the generous offers and promotions being thrown about by new operators. Every once in a while, it is worth checking out what new trends are hitting the industry. You can do so by keeping tabs on certain sportsbooks, or stay up to date through our blog articles, which always bring you all the latest news in the industry.
Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.