Punters in the United Kingdom have the highest standards for betting on sports. The country has had an established online sports betting industry for years while other jurisdictions have been struggling to pass laws. As a result, the UK has some of the best online bookies due to the intense competition for passionate punters.
Top UK Sportsbooks of 2021
These are the best sportsbooks that we recommend as of 2021 based on bonuses, odds and overall betting experience:
- UK Players Accepted
- Promo Code: JOIN125 (Minimum Deposit: £3125)
- UK Players Accepted
- Minimum Deposit: £100
New websites keep arriving, and whether they are regular sportsbooks or a betting exchange, you can expect the highest quality from the online bookies you will find in the UK. With this said, let’s focus on some of the pillars of the industry and what you can find here, such as:
- The latest UK sports welcome bonuses and promotions
- A full list of reliable bookies that offer thousands of daily bets
- Complete and detailed reviews of the most popular betting sites
Let’s have a crack at the UK betting industry and see what the most popular betting sites in 2021 have to offer. Find out more in our dedicated guide to the best UK betting sites below!
Nothing will really get you started at a bookie quite the same way as a welcome bonus. These sign-up promotions are there to top off your funds and help you boost your overall war chest. The welcome offer is an opportunity to have a little more to spend, but also to bank on underdogs with the extra funds you get. There are tons of fantastic bonuses the best online bookies in the UK will offer you, but we have only hand-picked the ones you will want to get first.
Get a Deposit Bonus First
Online bookies all come with a type of promotion known as a ‘deposit’ offer. Most often, this refers to the welcome bonus as well as the reload promotions that help you keep your bankroll going.
These types of promotions are very popular, and no self-respecting bookie in the UK would miss out on an opportunity to offer you a decent entry-level bonus, but the available treats are just as good for more advanced players and old-timers alike.
Do you want to have all the fun, but none of the accompanying risk? Well, online bookies in the UK have you covered with free bets. This is a type of bet that’s awarded to a customer’s account on more than one occasion. True, you will mostly expect a free bet when you are first registering, but there are many other instances when a sportsbook could award you a bet for free.
Some bookies call it a ‘risk-free bet’ and they will offer you to place up to $25 on a game, race, match or a fight, and then return the money if your bet misses the mark. A free bet is usually worth around $5, and your potential winnings may be capped at around $100.
Seasonal & Event Promos
UK bookies know how to keep the thrill of the game and that’s why you will see a bunch of promotions that are available for specific events or at the beginning of seasonal events, such as the English Premier League (EPL), for example. There are tons of ‘boosters’ at some of the best sportsbooks out there, that focus on single events, offering slightly enhanced odds, which is always welcome.
What Sports Do UK Punters Love?
Just like the Americans have a bunch of events they keep close to heart, so will UK punters find a selection of games and athletic competitions to bet on. Without any doubt, the United Kingdom is mad about soccer – or as they call it ‘football’ – and horse and greyhound racing.
Bookies in the country run thousands of available bets each and everyday and they cover every local and major event from around the globe. This is the upshot of having had the chance to operate online for decades and cover the world of sports.
You will find boxing, cricket, and even golf to excite an almost equal interest in punters who are happy to have a bet placed on their beloved pastime. Horse races are a strong draw as they happen all throughout the country and while many punters are ardent bettors, they don’t mind nipping out to see a race first hand. Yet, it’s online bookies most people use to make their bets.
Online cricket is another area in which online betting sites in the UK specialize. With UK cricket fans being a fair few around, it’s understandable why cricket is ranked as one of the most popular sports in the country.
Mobile Betting in the UK – Unprecedented Success
Estimated 55% of all punters in the UK prefer to place their bets using a mobile device, according to UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) data. In other words, having access to a bookmaker from an online device is what determines whether half of all punters would even consider a website.
This is an interesting, but somewhat universal insight. For example, bettors in the United States are equally keen on betting online, but most sportsbooks that are state-based wouldn’t exactly allow them – unless the government has passed a mobile betting bill, which usually comes after a land-based one has been introduced.
Nevertheless, mobile betting has been causing a small revolution in the United Kingdom, allowing punters to plonk down their wagers from a range of devices, such as iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and even Blackberry and Windows Phone.
UK Online Bookies and Their Apps
More interestingly, you will find that the majority of bookmakers in the UK that even consider mobile betting will usually have a dedicate native betting app. It’s just the nature of the game and no company would be taken seriously without developing its proprietor iOS and Android betting app. These apps pack a lot of power in them and allow you to swiftly move wagers around and participate in live betting contests with ease.
Live Betting in the UK – Just as Big
Known as both live betting and in-play betting, this form of placing bets has become quite popular. While in the past most punters would have been happy with just placing and waiting out a bet, today the thirst for being a part of the action is overwhelming. Live betting is UK bookies’ way of including more punters and sports fans into a particular contest.
After all, punters love to know that they are betting on an outcome that will have an immediate result, and while they certainly have a few wagers on 1X2 (as the moneyline is called in the UK), they will certainly love to guess the next goal scorer or points leading up to the halftime. Games such as soccer, golf and rugby tend to be the most common athletic competitions where you can make your live bets. There’s also boxing that gets its fair share of the action. In terms of overseas markets, all mainstream American events are duly covered as live markets, whether this is American football, basketball, baseball, or ice hockey.
Live betting doesn’t come without its risks, of course. Live betting is far more dynamic and therefore much riskier. The best online bookies in the UK make their best to facilitate the process, offering intuitive betting slips that offer you cool functions such as ‘cash out’ and a live stream from the game. Let’s delve into these a little deeper first.
The Cash Out
The cash out option is an interesting way to stay in control of your bets. In-play contests will offer you an opportunity to play at ever-changing odds, but you don’t have to be stuck with your choice. Some bookies will offer that you cash out your bets and avoid losses – or potential wins! It’s always a double-edge sword when it comes to the cash out feature.
You may be thinking that a bookie would only prompt you to take your money back if things are going against the website, but there’s hardly any evidence to support this. In fact, most bookies offer cash outs randomly. If you can’t decide whether to keep your money or take it out, there’s a neat middle-ground you would find available. You can take half of your money out and keep the other half running as an active wager.
Live Streaming the Events
The best online bookies in the UK will also cover a lot of the events by streaming them live. Live streams go hand-in-hand with in-play betting, of course, but you can use the streams independently to watch your favorite games at a sportsbook you trust and like. When you use this option to place live bets, however, it helps to know that there could be delays between how the odds are changed and what you see on the screen.
All trustworthy bookies out there will always list the potential delays between odds and live streams, which is usually 30 seconds, but it may go up to a few minutes. Factor this when making your next live bet.
What Kind of Online Bookies Are There in the UK?
It may sound almost strange, but the UK has at least a few possible types of betting portals to consider. Apart from the racebooks, which are a small world in their own right, there are also regular bookies and betting exchanges. A betting exchange is a website that serves as a mediator between punters. In other words, websites such as Betfair, just ‘host games’ and for a game to happen in terms of betting, two people should take each side. Let’s say Liverpool is playing versus Manchester City. You would readily see people supporting both sides. Whoever wins takes – and in the case of multiple bettors – splits the pot.
Betting exchanges are a great concept that has been quite successful, even though it lacks endorsement from many of the mainstream sports betting operators out there. This hasn’t discouraged some of the most successful websites offering such options to continue doing so.
Of course, the example of Liverpool vs Manchester City is very much a choice where you won’t see a shortage of punters willing to back either parties. However, for some smaller games, it becomes more difficult to find punters as nobody really wants to bet on fringe teams or players.
Betting exchanges are fully compatible with all mainstream features, such as live betting and mobile betting.
Banking Options for UK Punters
Betting in the United Kingdom is an easy affair. With the market fully-legalized and companies having operated successfully for years over land-based and online channels, it’s easy to see why depositing your money or making a withdrawal wouldn’t be an issue at all. Thanks to the legal go-ahead, UK bookies are capable of offering dozens of handy payment options, such as banking cards, e-wallets, and various pre-paid vouchers.
Innovation has been the leading principle for UK bookies, and some have become bolder in adopting cool alternative banking methods, such as cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum are just some of the popular currencies that a small but growing number of bettors are using today.
Another interesting way of funding your account is by using Apple Pay, which has been available in the United Kingdom for a while now. Apple’s devices and payment options generally provide a better level of security and iOS users are definitely enjoying the comfort that this payment methods offers.
The United Kingdom offers high depositing and withdrawing limits which are nevertheless subject to AML and KYC checks. If you want to save yourself the tedium of verifying your identity, you could try registering with Trustly instead, although not all bookies offer this option still.
Withdrawal times are very quick for UK punters, and they might take between a few minutes and up to 24 hours at the latest. Some specific payment options would ask for a little more time though, usually the banking methods such as cards and wire transfers, so you might need to wait 3 or 5 business days.
Overall, the UK betting market is very flexible when it comes to payment options, which is one of the biggest assets for punters there.
New Online Bookies in the UK
While the UK market seems to have reached a maturity, it’s far too early to expect a downward trend. Sports betting in the United Kingdom is constantly expanding and new online bookies are a common sight. Thanks to the high level of security and regulatory measures, you can expect to find exciting new places to make your bets at. Here are some of the objective reasons that may motivate you to try new bookies out:
- New online bookies usually have better bonuses
- You can find enhanced and slightly more competitive odds
- Customer support will respond quicker and seek a positive outcome of any development
- You can be one of the first punters on the website and benefit from extra promotions
- New betting sites come with all the technological advancements of their time
While the UK market remains competitive and the biggest brands will necessarily have met all criteria in full and offer you a highly-polished overall experience.
Regulated Sports Betting in the UK
The United Kingdom’s bookies are some of the safest in the world. This is all thanks to the years of hard work involving non-government organizations (NGOs), lawmakers, activists, and of course the country’s regulator in the face of the UK Gambling Commission.
While punters in the UK have some of the best privileges when it comes to betting, bookmakers are obliged to meet some of the highest standards. And the bar is constantly raising to help protect players from coming in the way of harm.
While the UKGC allows bookies to be licensed in other countries as well, the regulator now requires everyone is licensed by the Commission as well. A license from the UKGC means that you will always have a strong ally if you believe you have been wronged while betting.
Furthermore, a license from the Commission also guarantees that your private information – as a bettor – will be stored in adherence to the highest security standards. The country’s operators are also teamed up with some of the best independent auditors and mediators.
However, these mediators are only there to help find a realistic and fair outcome of difficult situations. Here are the mediators and agencies that help the Commission regulate one of the most vibrant betting markets in the world:
|IBAS||The Independent Betting Adjudication Service is a watchdog tasked with settling disputes between punters and bookmakers.|
|ESSA||The European Sports Security Association is an integrity body that strives to build a safe and reliable betting network across the European Union. One of ESSA’s main responsibilities is to uproot match-fixing and other forms of cheating.|
|GambleAware||Gamble Aware is a charity organization that focuses on helping punters who are exhibiting symptoms of gambling addiction or are being treated for gambling addiction to get the necessary help.|
Are UK Bookies Safe?
Bookmakers in the United Kingdom are absolutely safe mainly thanks to the above-stated reasons. Licensing is not the same as registering your business. The Commission and authorized third-parties inspect the offer of each applicant in great detail. Furthermore, you as a punter may submit complaints to the UKGC and if your complaint is based on the grounds of real violation on the part of the bookmaker, you could help suspend the license of a bookmaker that is intentionally colouring around the lines.
To answer the question shortly: yes, you have nothing to worry about. The entry-level in the industry is set very high in the first place. If some slippages occur and a bookie starts falling below the mark, the Commission steps in with fines. Plus, each bookmaker is required to have a liquidity of cash that would allow it to pay out to all punters in the event the betting site is shut down.
Best Bookies in the World are in the United Kingdom
Without any doubt, the United Kingdom has built an industry that can serve as an example for the rest of the world. The online bookies in the country set the standards high for the industry worldwide. Yet, the UK has some leeway, as while regulators are very strict, the entire country has helped build sports betting into a national pastime. True, there are some issues to address and the standards are probably going to get much higher as well, but even then – the UK bookies lead the rest of the world by example.
Frequently Asked Questions
In 2018, there were 8,406 betting shops in the United Kingdom. However, as of 2019, William Hill announced that it would be closing around 700 shops, bringing the total to sub 8,000. More closures are expected to follow, as the FOBTs terminals limits have been reduced from £100 to £2 in April, 2019.
Yes, the United Kingdom only allows bookmakers that have been licensed by the national regulator – the UK Gambling Commission. No other operator may offer bets in the country legally and regulators discourage punters from opting for such bookies in the first place.
Yes, the majority of operators are. This is all thanks to the strict supervision exercised by regulatory authorities – including ASA and UKGC, the media and gambling regulator in the United Kingdom respectively. In the event a bookie is not living up to the industry’s standards, they risk having their activities suspended.
You can call the National Gambling Helpline at 0808 8020 133. The UK has the most helpful NGOs and public initiatives focused on helping tackle gambling addiction. BeGambleAware, GamCare and the National Health System (NHS) all collaborate to offer assistance to gambling addicts and make sure that help is always readily available in a bid to prevent gambling-related self-harm.