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Comparing 2018’s Top Betting Sites In The UK

Welcome to topbettingsites.co.uk – it’s our aim to show you the UK’s best online betting sites and review them in more depth and detail than anyone else… and hopefully once you’ve seen the lengths we go to accomplish that goal you’ll agree that we’re doing a pretty damn good job.

Dive right in and check out our power rankings below:

Best Betting Sites & Betting Offers 2018

Who Has the Best Odds?

Sport Betvictor Bet365 William Hill Coral Betfair
Football 4.17% 5.75% 6.75% 6.18% 4.27%
Horse Racing 11.86% 14.49% 16.99% 18.88% 17.84%
Tennis 4.78% 5.02% 6.82% 6.32% 5.12%
Greyhounds 28.98% 26.24% 30.01% 31.10% 30.50%

*All our reviewed bookmakers were tested and the top 5, purely in terms of odds, are listed above.

What Do These Numbers Mean?

At first glance the above table may well look like a large collection of numbers which don’t by themselves mean a great deal. It’s for that reason that we’re going to try to help you make sense of those numbers by not only explaining what they mean but also how they relate to the general practices employed by bookmakers.

The percentages displayed within the table represent what is known as the ‘over-round’ which bookmakers add to given market to help them make a profit – the lower the over-round the better the odds you’re getting.

Over-Round – What’s That?

Bookmakers add an over-round to ensure a profit.

Also referred to as the ‘house edge’ or the ‘vig’, especially when talking about casinos or online gaming sites, ‘over-round’ is in the simplest possible terms the way in which bookmakers ensure that over the long term, they are guaranteed to make a profit.

It is making a profit which is the ultimate aim of any bookmaker, after all, as is the case with pretty much all businesses. That means they can’t simply offer odds on their available markets which directly reflect the probabilities of the different outcomes available to bet on, as doing so would mean that over the long term both they and their punters would basically break even.

In order to give themselves an edge, then, they add an over-round percentage to their markets by adjusting their odds. The higher the over-round percentage, the greater the edge the bookmaker has and in theory, the greater the profit they should make. How that works is probably best explained with the help of an example of how a bookie might in theory price up a market taking over-round into account.

Why Do the Odds Differ So Much?

When it comes to why the odds on offer for the same markets can differ from one bookmaker to another, there are two main explanations.

  1. Each bookmaker has to work out the relative probabilities of each outcome for a particular market occurring for themselves – they have slightly different methods and therefore their odds differ.
  2. Some bookmakers choose to deliberately apply a lower over-round percentage to their markets in order to offer more generous odds in an attempt to tempt in new customers or offer better value to existing ones.

When it comes to different sports… the explanation is rooted in the nature of the event itself. Markets with more possible outcomes or events where the ultimate result is very unpredictable, require a bookmaker to add a higher over-round percentage if they’re going to ensure a long term profit for the market. With a comparatively low over-round percentage, after all, just a handful of long shot winners could entirely obliterate the bookmaker’s edge.

How Much Do Odds Matter?

We all know longer odds are better, when our bet wins we win more money. The question is just how much difference can slightly improved odds make long term?

The best way to answer that question is to look at bet expectation.

Positive Expectation (+EV)
  • A bet has positive expectation if you’re getting bigger odds than the true odds of the outcome – long term this bet will win money.
Negative Expectation (-EV)
  • A bet has positive expectation if you’re getting smaller odds than the ture odds of the outcome – long term this bet will lose money.

The better odds you’re getting the bigger the chance you’re placing a positive expectation bet – which ultimately is the aim as it’s the only way to beat the bookies.

To demonstrate this a little better lets looks at a coin toss which has 50/50 odds for heads or tails.

Odds (Coin Toss) Stake Expectation (EV)
1.90 (9/10) £10 £-50
2.0 (evens) £10 £0
2.10 ((11/10) £10 +£50

As you can see the odds you get matter a heck of A LOT. An adjustment of just 0.20 can turn a negative expectation bet into a positive one.

Which Bookmakers Offer Live Streaming?

Bookmakers With Live StreamingEverything we’ve talked about so far has been centred upon the crucial topic of odds and how a bookmaker offering slightly better odds can make a real difference to the profitability of a punter’s bets. There are many more factors to take into account, however, if and when you’re deciding on which online bookmaker to trust with your custom.

One such factor is whether or not a bookmaker gives their punters the chance to watching sporting action through their website or mobile app by way of a live streaming service. Far more betting sites than ever before do now offer such a service and the table below displays what action is available and where to find it.

Sport
Horse Racing
Greyhounds
Football
Tennis
Cricket
Basketball
Hockey
American Sports

How To Watch?

Bookmakers generally impose what are known as ‘Bet & Watch’ style rules for their live streaming services. These state that a punter has to have placed a bet worth a minimum amount on an event in order to be eligible to watch the live stream.

The exact ‘Bet & Watch’ rules imposed by different bookmakers are described in the table below:

Bookmaker Bet & Watch
Betvictor Punters are required to place a minimum bet of £1 per race to watch (50p each way will qualify).
William Hill To watch horse or greyhound racing a £1 min bet is needed, all other sports only require a funded account to view (or bet in last 24 hours).
Coral You can watch greyhound and horse racing with min bet of £1 on race, other sports funded account only.
Betfred £1 min on all racing and funded account to watch other streams or bet in last 24 hour time period.
Ladbrokes Horses & greyhounds £1 per race to view, other sports funded account or bet in last 24 hours.
Betfair Horses & greyhounds need 50p sports bet or exchange bet of £5, other sports need funded account or bet in last 24 hours.
Unibet £1 min to watch horse racing or funded account / bet in last 24 hours to watch all other streams.
888Sport Horse racing only – bet £1 min per race to view live stream of that particular race.

Geographic Restrictions

Geo RestrictionsAll bookmaker live streaming services have to adhere to what are known geographical restrictions. These are rules placed upon the transmission of different streams depending upon where the punter who is trying to watch them is located.

These restrictions mean some streams will be available to residents of some nations but not others.

It’s broadcasting deals with national TV networks that causes geographical restrictions. Streams of major leagues or the most popular competitions across a number of different sports are generally those which are not able to be shown within the country in which they are actually taking place.

What’s The Best Betting App?

All the top betting sites, especially in the UK, now offer punters a mobile betting app which allows them to place bets on the move via their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

Downloadable apps are generally provided for mobile devices run on either iOS or Android operating systems (the two most popular of such systems), whilst web based mobile sites can be accessed and used by punters with any kind of mobile device.

A note on user rating: to generate user rating figures, we first took into account the user ratings posted by real users of the apps on both the App Store and the Google Play Store before combining that with our rating and taking the average.

We also give added weight to the more recent reviews. That is crucial as those more recent reviews will be of the most up to date versions of the mobile apps in question.

Regulation & Licensing

UK Gambling CommissionWhilst we in the UK are well used to the idea that online gambling is not only legal but also widely popular, the case is not the same in many countries around the world.

The UK, in fact, is one of comparatively few nations where gambling – both only and offline – is entirely legalised and regulated.

The body which does regulate the industry is the UK Gambling Commission and they have the following stated aims:

To keep crime out of gambling, to ensure that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, and to protect children and vulnerable people.
– UKGC

In order to fulfil those aims, therefore, one of the UK Gambling Commission’s main responsibilities is to issue the operating licences which any gambling business or organisation is required to hold in order to operate legally in the UK.

The specific type of licence which online betting sites have to hold is known as a ‘remote general betting (standard) (real events) operating licence’. Bookmakers who wish to offer virtual sports betting to punters also have to hold a ‘remote general betting (standard) (virtual events) operating licence’.

What Does Having A License Mean?

As well as only issuing licences to those companies which they believe are above board and trustworthy, the UK Gambling Commission also use the licences to ensure that any licensed gambling providers work in a way which is compatible with the commission’s stated aims.

The way in which they do that is by making licences contingent on certain licensing conditions and codes of practice (LCCP), and revoking the licences of those companies which don’t adhere to the conditions. The LCCPs imposed by the UK Gambling Commission broadly cover five general areas;

  • Social responsibility
  • Anti-money laundering
  • Information collection
  • Technical standards
  • Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Customer Complaints & Disputes

As mentioned above, UK Gambling Commission operating licences stipulate that all gambling providers must offer their customers dispute resolution by an approved, independent third party ADR provider. That means that if a gambling provider cannot resolve a dispute with a customer satisfactorily themselves, they must offer dispute resolution through an independent third party free of charge. The ADR providers which are approved by the UK Gambling Commission are as follows:

ADR Speciality
CEDR Lotteries. Adult gaming and family entertainment centres.
BACTA Entertainment & adult gaming centres, non-remote bingo, pubs & clubs.
eCOGRA All remote gambling sectors covered.
ADR Group All areas and sectors covered – casino, poker, bingo, sports, lottery.
IBAS All remote, betting, bingo, caisno, lotter & adult centre’s.
Tattersalls Sports betting only.
IPCA Non-remote casino & bingo.
Promediate Dispute resolution across all gaming sectors.
Lindsays Lotteries only.

Disputes which are taken to an ADR provider and which are worth less than £10,000, are expected by the UK Gambling Commission to be dealt with by ADR which is binding. Meaning that if accepted by the customer, the solution decided upon by the ADR provider must be followed through on by the gambling provider. Further mediation can be employed, however, for disputes worth more than £10,000.

What all of that means for punters utilising an online betting site is that a full and comprehensive dispute process will play out as follows:

  1. In using a gambling site, the punter runs across an issue or problem.
  2. They contact the betting company’s customer service staff and inform them of the issue.
  3. The gambling provider do not accept that the customer’s grievance is justified or do not offer what the punter feels is a satisfactory resolution to the situation.
  4. The punter will be able to find information about the gambling provider’s ADR provider on their website.
  5. They can then inform the ADR provider of their grievance and request that they resolve the dispute for them.
  6. The ADR provider will rule on the dispute and if the dispute is worth less than £10,000, their ruling is binding.
  7. If the dispute is worth more than £10,000, the gambling provider can seek further mediation following the ADR provider’s ruling.

ID Checks

IdentificationAs we discussed above, two of the UK Gambling Commission’s main aims are to keep crime out of gambling and to protect children and vulnerable people.

It is those two aims which give rise to online bookmakers performing ID checks, which are unquestionably one of the biggest bones of contention around for punters.

To ensure that no one who shouldn’t be gambling (those underage for instance) is using their site and to block any attempts at laundering money through their site, online bookmakers must perform so-called ‘Know Your Customer’ or ID checks. These checks are mandated by the terms of their UK Gambling Commission operating licences and can involve the bookmaker requesting either or both of the following from their customers:

  • Official proof of ID such as a passport, driver’s licence, utility bill or other government issued documents.
  • Proof of earnings or of the source of money used for gambling such as a payslip, a bank statement with consistent incoming values from an identifiable source or dated proof of an award or payment made to a punter.

It is for those reasons, therefore, that bookmakers do sometimes request such information and suspend a customer’s betting account until such a time as it is provided. If a punter cannot or will not provide the information requested, bookmakers are required to stop doing further business with that customer in order to adhere to – and therefore keep – their operating licence.

Account Limitation At Betting Sites

As we mentioned above, bookmakers requesting ID checks is one of the things which upsets punters most, but if you’re looking for what makes those punters furious you need look no further than the issue of bookmakers limiting betting accounts.

What we mean by account limitation is that bookmakers can sometimes impose restrictions on an account which either mean that only bets of a certain – usually very low – value are able to be placed or that winnings available to the account are capped at a maximum level.

That, therefore, severely limits the possibilities for a punter who holds a limited account and can largely make that account useless. What perhaps annoys punters even more, however, are the reasons why bookmakers commonly choose to limit accounts.

Why Betting Accounts Get Limited:

Profitability

Bookmakers are not typically interested in offering their service to punters who make more money than they lose. Any account which is particularly profitable, therefore, is a prime candidate for limitation.

Bet Size

Accounts which place particularly large bets will also often end up being limited. That’s because such bets represent a greater liability to bookies and also indicate that the holder of the account may be a professional gambler.

Bonuses & Promotions

Accounts which pay no heed to promotions and ignore any possible bonuses will also attract a bookmaker’s attention, as that is also behaviour which is indicative of a professional bettor.

Betting Behaviour

In a similar vein to the previous two points, bookmakers are quite adept at spotting any account which is being used in a manner that suggests its owner is a professional gambler. Customers who log in, place specific bets and then leave the site immediately on a regular basis, therefore, are in greater danger of account limitation.

Terms & Condition Violations

Perhaps the only factor which punters can’t have a legitimate grievance with, bookmakers will also regularly limit accounts which have in any way contravened their terms and conditions.

Are There Any Sites That Don’t Limit Accounts?

Whilst the limitation of betting accounts is something which punters hate and which impartial observers see as being an example of sharp practice by bookmakers, it is entirely legal and in line with the terms and conditions of using any betting site. As such, it is unfortunately something which the vast majority of betting sites do engage in on a regular basis. In fact, pretty much every online sportsbook does limit accounts of some of its customers.

The betting sites which don’t limit customer accounts are betting exchanges like Betfair or Betdaq, and that’s because they work in a very different way to online sportsbooks.

Betting exchanges, after all, are platforms through which punters can bet against one another rather than sites where they bet against the bookmaker. Exchanges, therefore, make their money from the commission charged on the activity of their customers. They don’t care, as a result, whether their punters win or lose as long as they keep betting.

FAQ

Is online betting a scam?
Issues such as account limitation and features of online betting like the over-round which bookies build into every market can sometimes make punters feel like online betting is not quite fair. In all honesty, when it comes to account limitation particularly, that’s a difficult point of view to argue with. It is going too far, however, to claim that online betting is a scam.

Whilst bookmakers are in business in order to ensure that they make money in the long term, it is still perfectly possible for punters to make cash themselves and to have an enjoyable betting experience even if they don’t. What’s more, both online and offline gambling in the UK are amongst the best regulated gambling industries in the whole world, giving punters an impressive level of protection.

Are free bets & bonuses a scam?
If you take a moment to peruse the App Store, the Play Store, Trust Pilot or any other channel where punters review online bookmakers, you will find plenty of people claiming that promotions and offers are indeed a scam. Many of those reviews state that bonuses were not paid when they expected them or that they weren’t able to withdraw funds after taking part in a promotion.

Whilst free bet offers and bonuses are typically subject to a large number of restrictions and conditions, however, those are always made available to punters before they have the choice to take part or not. All offers and promotions, therefore, operate according to those rules which punters can – and should – read before seeking to claim any bonus.

Do you have to pay tax on betting winnings?
From a punter’s point of view, there is no tax levied upon gambling winnings at all. This may seem a little strange but in essence the UK government do not tax gambling winnings as if they did, there would be a legal argument that they would also be required to allow punters in turn to write off gambling losses. As such, the UK government instead tax those operators who provide gambling services by requiring they pay an amount equal to 15% of their gross profits.
How do your rankings work?
At heart we’re punters too and as such, our ratings reflect our own personal experiences of the gambling industry as well as a good deal of research we put in on your behalf. To make sure we give you as accurate and as trustworthy an account of different betting sites as we can, we combine our own experiences with the experiences of other punters – as posted via reviews on App Store, Play Store, Trist Pilot and other channels – in order to produce our final ratings.
How does topbettingsites.co.uk make money?
We’re not looking to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes, we receive a referral fee from online bookmakers in order to make money. We do not let that income cloud our judgement when it comes to recommending betting sites to punters, however, as it would simply not be in our interest to do so. If we recommended sites to readers which it turned out actually offered a poor service, after all, those readers would no longer trust our information and would simply stop visiting our site.