The last twenty years have seen a sea change in the world of sports. A combination of omnipresent internet and massive sponsorship deals worldwide have led to an explosion in both the coverage and popularity of most games. Sport is now a truly huge business worldwide with 24/7 coverage on dedicated sports channels now the norm in most markets.
This expansion has also been matched on the betting side of the equation.
As a sports gambler, there's never been a better time to grab a slice of the action with literally hundreds of online sports betting sites furiously competing for your business.
In this article we'll guide you through the factors to consider when trying to choose between the best sports betting sites.
Let's start with a look at some of the characteristics the leading providers tend to share.
General Characteristics Of The Best Sports Betting Sites
Sports betting has a long and illustrious – if occasionally controversial – history in most countries. In the UK for example, the first professional bookmaker is commonly agreed to be Harry Ogden way back in the 1790s.
You'll see this history reflected in some of the major providers on the market. In contrast to the world of online casinos – or more modern phenomena such as binary options trading – the majority of major sports betting providers tend to have long established roots in the offline world.
Perhaps due to the United Kingdom's relatively early legalisation of offline betting shops in 1961, you'll also find that some of the major players in the industry are British.
We're not suggesting by any means that you completely ignore sports betting sites without an established offline presence but there are a few factors to bear in mind that can make them advantageous:
- A solid track record: A lengthy history of providing value to punters offline bodes well for a company's ability to continue that trend online. Companies with offline presences are usually also fully regulated by the appropriate local authority.
- Compelling bonuses and promotions: Historically established bookmakers tend to have deep pockets and offer some of the best bonuses and promotions in the business to attract new users.
- Deep market knowledge: Established players usually have the resources and in-house analysts to offer the largest range of betting options across a good spread of betting markets.
Let's move on to specifics at the account level that the best sports betting sites share.
Account Level Items To Look For In The Best Sports Betting Sites
What distinguishes the best sports betting sites is the day-to-day reality of using their services on the account level.
There are a number of key things here you should be looking out for from the outset. Let's quickly run through them.
Full Sportsbook Coverage
The first is perhaps the most obvious. You want to be sure that your bookmaker offers full sportsbook coverage in the market or markets you're most interested in.
If you specialise in horse racing for example, you need to be sure that you will be able to get a bet on at even the smallest meets. If you're an avid English soccer fan, you want to be certain you can bet on the early round of cup competitions where there is often the most value.
Make sure to fully research the markets your provider offers to avoid frustration down the line.
Mobile Betting Options
We live in an increasingly mobile world. You're probably already receiving most of your betting intel via mobile devices so it's important you're able to act quickly and secure your wagers via the same medium.
These days, the vast majority of major betting providers should have fully functional iOS and Android apps available for free download. Be sure to put a few test bets through early to get a feel for the interface and overall performance.
Some bookmakers have invested considerably more time and money in their apps than others. Demand the best.
Low Account Fees
With any reputable provider, account fees or commissions should be two things: minimal and clearly explained.
If you find yourself baffled by a series of poorly explained and mysterious "administration" fees, take your business elsewhere.
Easy Funding Options
Being able to quickly and conveniently manage your deposits and withdrawals is essential.
More adventurous or tech savvy gamblers may also be looking for options such as Bitcoin which is accepted by a growing number of providers.
Full Range Of Bonuses
Online sports betting is a staggeringly competitive global market. The best sports betting sites are willing to offer highly attractive bonuses for both new and existing users.
You should be on the lookout for sign-up bonuses along with deposit and no-deposit bonuses and regular free bet bonuses.
Full Range Of Online And Offline Promotions
In addition to attractive bonus offers, the best sports betting sites also offer regular one-off promotions throughout the sporting year. These are often tied to specific high-profile events. They could come in the form of special one-off markets or losing bet refunds on major events if certain criteria are met.
Many bookmakers are also starting to offer attractive offline rewards schemes to regular punters along with special bonuses to the live betting options.
Full Customer Support Options
Our last point is extremely important. Your betting provider should offer a full range of customer support options that you can use free of charge at any time to clear up problems with your account.
Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to quickly resolve acount issues when there is money on the line. Make sure telephone, email and chat options are all available and competently staffed.
Now let's move on to the action itself.
Sports You Can Expect To Find At The Best Sports Betting Sites
Unless it's a site specifically dedicated to one market, the best sports betting sites should all offer a full range of markets on most high-profile sports.
Expect to be able to wager on any or all of the following:
The Sport of Kings has long held a fascination for gamblers worldwide. Expect to be able to wager on high-profile races such as the Aintree Grand National, Melbourne Cup and Epsom Derby as well as a full range of local meets.
EPL and Soccer
Soccer is truly the global game at this stage. The English Premier League tends to dominate a lot of sports betting – particularly in Asia – but you should expect to see markets in other major leagues such as La Liga, Seria A and the Bundesliga available.
Golf presents a special challenge to the punter with the sheer amount of possible winners and combinations possible. All the four Majors should be covered by any serious betting site in addition to major PGA events and of course the Ryder Cup.
Expect to see the four Majors covered along with major ATP tour matches and high-profile events such as the Davis Cup and the ATP Masters.
Though the legal issues surrounding betting in America can be tricky, the nation's sports have long held a fascination for gamblers worldwide.
Expect to find a full range of NFL markets along with, depending on the site's focus, NBA and MLB coverage.
Each region will have its own speciality sport that gamblers worldwide may not be overly aware of. Examples here would be cricket in the UK, Australia and Indian sub-continent, AFL also in Australia or ice-hockey in Canada. A solid sports betting site will have a full range of markets on sports of local interest.
Legal Issues Regarding Sports Betting
Here at Bookmakeranalyst.com, we strongly encourage responsible gambling and a major part of that is making sure you are operating legally within the parameters of the jurisdiction that applies to you.
Please bear the following points in mind:
- USA: Sports betting is highly regulated in America and illegal in most states.
- Europe: In the majority of European countries, sports betting is tightly regulated but permitted. The UK is the leading market.
- Asia: The majority of East Asian countries do not support legal sports betting but this varies from country to country.
Sports Betting vs Fantasy Sports - Which Is Right For You?
The first thing to point out here is that the two are not mutually exclusive.
There's been a huge increase in the number and sophistication of fantasy sports offerings on the market in recent years and many of them now offer quite serious real cash prizes.
Generally speaking, fantasy sports are slightly more of a social and recreational pursuit while dedicated sports betting will require more substantially more focus.
Most Famous Sports Bets Of All Time
Sports betting has a storied history. Before we finish up, we'll leave you with three of the most famous bets of all time to inspire your own wagers!
- Billy Walters $3.5 million punt on the Saints beating the Colts in the 2010 Superbowl quickly became the stuff of legend.
- Proud father Gerry McIlroy placed £200 on his then 15 year old son Rory winning the British Open by the time he was 25. His faith in his son was later rewarded to the tune of £180,000.
- Frankie Dettori's seven race winning streak at Ascot in 1996 was enough to net one lucky punter £550,000.
That just about wraps up our guide to the best sports betting sites. We hope it's given you some pointers on what to look out for when you're making your selection.
Be prepared to shop around when you are looking for an account. It's a commercial relationship that you could potentially be in for years and it's well worth taking the extra time to make sure you're dealing with one of the best sports betting sites possible.
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