Britain loves a good bet. Whether it’s a cheeky fiver on the Grand National, a weekly acca on the football, or even a trip down to the bingo hall with your Granny every Thursday.
What’s more, in an ever increasing digital age, it’s no surprise that more and more of us are doing our betting online – and that’s what this site is all about.
On these virtual pages you’ll find info on how to find the best online bookies as well as simple, easy to understand guides on how to bet.
Best Online Boomakers: May 2020
Betting Sign Up Offers
If you look at the list we’ve provided above you’ll notice one common theme – all of them offer an introductory betting bonus. This could be a free bet, first bet insurance, promo cash or even ludicrously enhanced odds. The important thing is that they’re up for grabs so make the most of them whilst you can!
Why Bet Online?
So why should you bet online rather than in person? Putting aside the pure convenience for a moment, there are a number of benefits that internet betting has over its’ brick and mortar counterpart
One of the most exciting aspects of the online betting industry is the speed that it moves at. It seems that there are new bet types, features and promotions to trial from dozens of bookmakers almost on a weekly basis.
One of the biggest differences when betting online compared to betting on the high street is the diverse nature of each bookmaker. On the high street, it is very much a case of ‘if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all’, but with online betting the differences can be immense.
Some of the main features to keep a lookout for include:
- Live streaming
- In-play betting
- Cash out
- Free bets
- Existing customer promotions
- Range of sports and markets
- Competitive pricing structures
- Integrated casino, bingo and poker rooms accessible from a single wallet
Are the Best Odds Online or on the High Street?
The top and bottom of it is that generally, you will find online odds to be a lot better than those of high street betting shops. There are two main reasons for this:
- Lack of competition – A high street bookmaker is going to be going head to head with maybe 1 or 2 other high street betting shops in their vicinity. They can afford to offer slightly higher odds as the competition is lower and people have less choice about where to bet.
- Vigorish – This is basically the cut that the bookmakers take for each bet. For example, the odds for a coin toss would be 50:50 or even money for either result. The bookmaker would offer you around 1.90 though, meaning that they take a 5% cut. The high street would take more than this, generally speaking. This is because of an increase in overheads (rent, wages, bills) and also links back to point number 1, competition.
It is worth noting that although this is often the case, it is also a bit of a blanket statement. It won’t always be the case that online odds are better for every bet, but if you search around online, you will usually see at least one bookmaker that will match the price in your local betting shop, if not beat it.
A Quick Guide to Betting Online
In this next section, we’ll take a look at the key things you need to know when betting with an online bookie.
Depositing and Withdrawing Money
One of the things that those newer to online betting can get confused about is how to go about depositing and withdrawing money from the bookmaker. On top of that, many wonder about the safety of their funds.
Banking with an online bookmaker has never been so easy and nor has it ever been so safe. You might have heard horror stories about bookmakers failing to pay out, maybe freezing accounts or even worse, going broke and leaving customers high and dry – these things happen to around 0.001% of all online transactions and that applies any industry, not just bookmaking. It’s no more dangerous than buying from an online store.
Depositing money is going to be an instant process. You will be prompted by the bookmaker to choose your payment method and then choose your deposit amount. One of the things to note is that not all bookmakers offer the same deposit methods, so make sure that you are aware of which they do offer and that they suit how you like to bank.
Popular choices include:
|Debit Card||Visa Debit/Electron/Maestro||Everyone has one||The bookie has your bank details|
|Credit Card||Mastercard/Visa Credit/ American Express||n/a||Not permitted for gambling after 14/4/2020|
|EWallet||Paypal/Skrill/Neteller||Much faster withdrawals||Not always available with bonus offers|
|Transfer||Bank transfer/Wire transfer||Very safe||Longer processing, can attract fees|
|Prepay Voucher||Paysafecard/ecoPayz (eco-Card)||Anonymity||Low limits, no withdrawal|
|Other||Applepay/Boku||Hassle free alternative||Not widely accepted, no withdrawal|
With each of these options there are tons more variations, especially when it comes to e-wallets which are a great way to bank without storing personal banking information with the bookie. They also tend to be the fastest way to withdraw funds.
You’ll find that very few bookies will charge a fee for deposits and the process will be pretty much instant unless you use either cheque or bank transfer. Once you have loaded your account you will be good to go, meaning you can start betting right away.
Withdrawals will take longer to process than a deposit will. The bookmaker has to process the request and then your bank or payment provider might take time to clear the money as well. Some bookies even keep your request pending before they process it. It’s frustrating as they are super-fast to accept deposits, but it’s just something that you have to live with.
The time it takes will vary depending on the withdrawal method, but you should expect between 3-5 working days as a general rule, unless using ewallets which can be within 24 hours; some are even completed within the hour, which means that moving money about is a lot easier.
You Can Even Bank Via High Street Shops
Another option that those who transition from the high street to online can take advantage of, is one-account systems which link your online and your betting shop accounts.
This allows you to deposit and withdraw money in cash but place your bets online, and vice versa.
The likes of Coral and Ladbrokes are two of a number of bookmakers who have rolled this out with great success.
This also cuts out withdrawal times for smaller wins. You could place a bet online, then if it wins you could nip to your local betting shop 10 minutes later and withdraw the winnings in cash. Goodbye processing times.
Proof of Identity
Finally, at some point the bookmaker will ask you to prove that you are who you say you are. They are now super-hot on fraudulent accounts and need to make sure that people are legally able to bet and not what could be considered vulnerable.
They are also making sure that betting activity is not used as a way to ‘wash’ ill gotten criminal gains – in other words, it’s an anti-money laundering technique.
If they don’t ask you to verify when you sign up, it’s better to contact them and get it sorted straight away so it’s done and dusted and doesn’t slow you down later.
Banking and Betting Limits
All online bookmakers will have limits on the amount that you bet and the amount that you can deposit. Please take note that these are two separate things.
First let’s start with banking limits.
Moving on to betting limits, and this comes in two parts.
The betting limit is the maximum amount you can wager on a single bet. This is likely the most that the bookmaker is willing to take on that specific market or individual bet. There will be a minimum bet as well, usually 5-10 pence.
The payout limit is the maximum amount the bookmaker will pay if a bet you have placed is successful. These amounts are usually well into the tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds for most bets, so won’t affect the vast majority of our wagers. This cap can be hit with accumulators though, or by those who bet high stakes.
For example, let’s say that the bookmaker has a max payout of £10,000. You place a bet of £100 at odds of 1000/1, which would return £100,000 profit if you won. But the bookmaker would only pay out £10,000 regardless, so your stake was 10x higher than it needed to be to get the same payout. The bet will be still be accepted though, as your stake is under the maximum bet amount, so you would lose the full stake should the bet lose and not be paid out the full amount should the bet win.
It’s your responsibility to understand the maximum payout, then adjust your stake accordingly to make sure that it’s in line with their terms and conditions.
Do I Need to Pay Tax on my Winnings?
Tax is an area that many people get confused about when it comes to gambling, online or otherwise.
There are two separate legislations in place for punters and bookies:
As a punter you pay no tax on any of your winnings. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional bettor or a recreational bettor, you won’t need to pay any tax.
A bookmaker does have to pay tax as they are a registered business, with rates rising again in 2019.
Let’s run through a brief history to keep you up to speed.
Originally the punter was taxed on their bets. This tax was applied by the bookmaker who was asked for 6% from the government and passed it off as 9% tax to the punter. You were able to choose if you wanted to pay the tax on the amount staked or the amount won at the time of placing your bet.
Laws changed in 2001 and the government decided that it was time to start making some money from one of the fastest growing industries in the world. A 15% tax on gross profits was included at the point of supply, which would hit the bookies rather than the punters.
However, this caused many bookmakers to simply move offshore and take advantage of tax havens such as Gibraltar and the Isle of Man. It meant that they were paying around 1% of tax compared with the 15% set out by the British Government, whilst still being able to trade to UK based customers.
In 2014 the rules changed again, and this time the 15% tax was changed from the point of supply to the point of consumption. This meant that it now didn’t matter where you were based, if the bookmaker was earning money from players in the UK, they would be taxed on this.
A further change was implemented in 2019 called the Point of Consumption Tax for Remote Gambling. This tax saw the bookmaker’s rate increase to 21% for ‘games of chance’. These include the likes of roulette, blackjack, slots, craps and the vast majority of casino games. Whilst the increase will be felt by the gambling companies the likelihood is that the punter will be hit as well, as the gambling companies will change their margins for these specific games to offset the tax change.
You can see how these increases would affect a fictional business earning £100,000,000:
|Income: £100,000,000||Tax %||Tax Paid|
Given that the big brand bookies can take upwards of £1,500,000,000 (that’s one thousand five hundred million) in revenue, you can see how heavy their tax bills can be!
Why are all the Major Bookies Based Abroad?
As you may or may not know, a lot of major brands are based abroad; BetVictor, 888, Betfred, bet365 and Unibet, to name just a few. As stated above, a lot are there for the tax relief that they get.
Take Gibraltar for example, where a lot of companies are either officially based or have parts of their business stationed there. They pay just 10% corporation tax compared to 20% in the UK, but they are also able to write off any VAT paid for things like marketing. So, whilst they will likely already have significant marketing budgets in place, residing in a tax haven abroad means they can essentially boost this by 20%, so multiple millions are either reinvested or saved.
A lot of the brands work in other countries outside of the UK as well. So, whilst the UK charges them 15% tax at the point of consumption, this might not be in place with other countries meaning that they save a huge amount of tax with international bettors.
Most of the bigger betting firms still have UK-based offices where they run a lot of their business from in terms of customer support. So, whilst you may see them registered abroad, their point of contact will often be in the UK.
The Demise of the High Street Betting Shop
There is little argument that the increase in popularity of online betting has been one of the biggest reasons why the high street betting scene is starting to fade. That, coupled with the fact that high streets countrywide are turning into ghost towns, with out of town and online shopping proving much more practical for most.
It’s also fair to say that the reason many betting shops still exist is down to the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) that can be found in the vast majority of betting shops.
These machines have been huge money makers for high street bookies, and are so lucrative that often the same company will open up multiple shops either on the same high street or within very close proximity of each other.
Well, the number of terminals that each bookmaker can hold is limited. This means that the amount of money that each shop can make is limited. So they open up more than one shop in order to offer more FOBT’s in one area. That’s how financially beneficial they were.
But this all changed in 2019. The government rolled out legislation that limits these FOBTs to just £2 a spin. Given that some would previously allow you to spend up to £200 per spin you can imagine the difference this has made.
William Hill have already come out and stated that there could be up to 900 betting shops (over 10% total shops in the country) close down as a result of this legislation, putting 4,500 jobs at risk as a result. Given that betting shop numbers have been in steep decline over the last decade or so, it could be the final nail in the coffin for the high street bookmaker.
The alternative to all this comes in the form of online betting. To give you an idea, here are some telling industry stats from 2016 to 2017:
- Total Gross Gambling Yield – 4.5% increase
- Total Gross Gambling Yield Remote Sector (mobile, online etc.) – 13.7% increase
- Market share of remote betting – 3% increase
- Total number of betting shops in Great Britain – 1.8% decrease
This shows that the industry is growing, but its growth is coming from online and mobile betting rather than from the high street, which is undeniably in decline.
FOBT (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals)
Let’s expand on FOBT’s a little further.
For those that don’t know, they are essentially slot machines which work as an online casino, so you can play a host of casino games and games of chance on these machines.
The machines were highly lucrative and earned bookmakers an insane amount of money. To give you an idea, in 2016 in the UK, punters lost over £1.8bn on these machines alone.
This was around about 15% of the total losses throughout the entire gambling industry, only online gaming (bingo, casino, etc.) and the National Lottery had bigger losses in the same timeframe.
The machines allowed punters to stake up to £100 every 20 seconds, so the money could really start to rack up for bookies.
There was a lot of controversy surrounding the damage this was doing to local communities and a lot of bad press directed towards FOBT’s, putting pressure on the government to act.
The change in legislation in 2019 limits the maximum stake to just £2 in an attempt to combat problem gamblers losing everything, but this also means that the revenue from these machines will plummet.
But How Does This Affect the Betting Industry?
Well, the fact of the matter is that these machines are pretty much the sole reason why the majority of betting shops remain open today. Each machine has the ability to take more money in a day than a typical betting shop would take with sports betting alone.
Whilst this might not be the end of the high street betting shop, it will surely see an increase in betting shop closures. The majority of betting shops have been absorbed by just a handful of bookmakers such as Ladbrokes, William Hill, Coral, and Betfred. Many believe that they are little more than billboards for these businesses, making peanuts compared to their online betting sites.
The online sports betting industry already has a workaround for the decline in FOBTs, which comes in the form of online casinos. These are huge money makers and you will notice that pretty much all of the major bookmakers have an online casino to go alongside their sportsbook.