What Makes a Bookmaker Good?
As previously mentioned, with so many bookmakers to choose between, from traditional companies to up-and-coming platforms, it is worth bearing in mind just what exactly separates a good bookmaker from a bad one. While consistency across the board is obviously what we are all looking for, the following areas are just a sample of the most important factors to look out for when making a selection:
- Markets Offered – While some bookmakers will choose to specialise within certain markets, the majority will aim to offer good all-round options when it comes to sports betting markets. While sports such as football and horse racing have long been among the most popular markets when it comes to wagering, the ability to bet on more obscure disciplines, such as cycling, boxing and eSports is becoming increasingly important. As a result, bookmakers who offer a wide range of markets are likely to achieve more success, attracting a greater number of customers in the process.
- Welcome Bonuses – In order to help attract new customers, the majority of bookmakers will offer some form of incentive, aside from their regular services. Sign up offers are an easy way to establish a unique selling point, with such promotions ranging from free bets to price boosts. With some bookmakers even matching initial deposits up to around £200, it is clear to see why certain bookmakers attract such levels of attention.
- User-Friendly Interface – The ability to quickly navigate between markets, locate odds and place bets is an increasingly important factor for customers. While some bookmakers pack their pages with a large volume of information, making it difficult to locate preferred areas of the site, others make it easier for customers by ensuring that navigation is as stress-free as possible.
- Customer Services – Whether it be via telephone, email or live chat, customer issues or problems should be dealt with quickly and efficiently, ensuring that they can get back to what they are online for, placing bets! Response times at some of the more well-established bookmakers are significantly less than those found at newer sites, which is just one of the reasons as to why it is so difficult to compete with the large organisations.
- Clear Accounts – Customers should be provided with the option to quickly view all information related to their betting history, ensuring that they can keep a track of their spending and success rates. Despite this appearing to be a simple feature, many bookmakers make this extremely difficult.
- Competitive Odds – Many bookmakers will claim to offer the best odds around, however a platform that consistently provide customers with competitive odds are likely to achieve more than the rest. Welcome offers and free bets are all well and good, however it is the odds that will make customers money in the long run.
- Additional Features – Another area in which bookmakers can separate themselves from the rest is by offering additional features, which can be anything from live-streaming to cashing out.
What Makes a Bookmaker Bad?
While many focus upon the factors that combine to make a good bookmaker, there are also a host of operational issues that ensure that a platform does not run smoothly. The following are just some of the reasons as to why a bookmaker can be considered as bad:
- Limited Markets – While the majority of major bookmakers not cater for fans of a wide range of sports, the depth of markets is now just as important. Simply focusing upon Premier League football, tennis majors and the Cheltenham Festival is not enough anymore, with the ability to bet on semi-professional and amateur events now more popular than ever.
- Lack of Promotions – As previously stated, in the long-term, odds are far more important than promotions. However, a generous welcome bonus or rewarding free bet can often provide the perfect platform to begin a winning run, with bookmakers who fail to provide such offers struggling in the end.
- No Special Features – The ability to simultaneously bet on and watch live sporting action is a popular pastime for many punters, with bookmakers who fail to offer such features set to lose out in the race for customers.
- Slow – Due to the ever-changing nature of sports markets, the ability to quickly take advantage of markets is crucial. Those bookmakers who offer a slow website are unlikely to achieve much success as a result.
- Cluttered Interface – Upon first entering the website of a bookmaker, you will generally be greeted by a wealth of information. However, there are ways of doing this whilst still ensuring that customers are not overwhelmed.
- No In-Play Options – Live betting is now one of the most popular methods of betting, with backing the next team to score in football or player to win the next set in tennis often used as a quick way to increase the odds. As a result, those who fail to offer a wide range of in-play options are likely to miss out.
- Withdrawal Fees – Having successfully placed a bet, the last thing you want is for a chunk of your winnings to be snatched away from you due to withdrawal fees. While often being at a nominal rate, bookmakers who fail to offer free withdrawal fees are likely to receive bad feedback.
Criteria for a Top Betting Site 2017
Betting Markets Offered & Odds
Having registered with a bookmaker, kick-starting your sports betting strategies can often be the most difficult part of the process. However, it is important to stick to what you know, with football, horse racing and tennis being the most popular markets within the UK. Let’s take a detailed look at the three sports in terms of their betting potential.
Unsurprisingly, football is now the largest betting sport around, with it only set to continue to grow in the near future. There are now more leagues and tournaments than ever before, with any bookmaker worth its weight offering a wide variety of markets in this field. While top-flight competitions such as the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup are commonly found at virtually every online sportsbook, the depth of the sport is huge, with Non-League and lower league action from around the world now available at a whole host of platforms. With customers able to utilise many different markets aside from simple outright winner options, including first goal scorer, correct score and number of corners, bookmakers are now having to ensure that they cater for such demand from customers. While odds on such markets will certainly vary between bookmakers, for football fans, checking the consistency of websites in this area is an important factor to consider. Elsewhere, the opportunity to bet on teams during a 90-minute match is also gaining in popularity. Whether it be betting on Manchester United to come back from a goal behind to win or Chelsea to keep a clean sheet, odds on such markets during a game are considerably more appealing than pre-match markets.
Horse racing has long been a firm favourite among punters looking to win big from sports betting, with events such as the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National among the biggest meetings in the sporting calendar. Betting on such events can be done so through many bookmakers via ante post markets, while daily races are available to bet on right up until the horses take to the starting grid. Odds within horse racing can fluctuate right up until the final moment, with factors such as the weather, form and the distance of the course all having an impact upon a horse’s potential success. Due to the number of runners in a race, along with the unpredictable nature of meetings, odds on horse racing are often very appealing. The battle to gain horse racing punters is bigger than ever, with many bookmakers claiming to offer the best odds in this area.
Despite tennis’ most successful players being offered extremely short odds due to their dominance on the professional tour, many punters are now taking advantage of the vast coverage offered by major bookmakers in the sport. While many bookmakers offer the opportunity to back the likes of Andy Murray and Serena Williams in pre-match markets, some also provide in-play markets, such as the player to win the next point, game or set.
Fig. NetBet In Play Tennis
Usability & Handling of the Website
In all aspects of their operation, bookmakers must ensure that their website runs quickly and smoothly. Easy access to markets, quick deposits, good customer service response times and rapid settlement of bets are just a sample of the most important factors for bookmakers to consider, alongside the ability to easily maneuver between markets and features. Below are some of the most important aspects of betting on sports online.
Mobile betting has become increasingly popular over recent years, meaning that bookmakers have had to adjust to the way in which they offer their services. As a result, most of the major bookmakers now offer a mobile app or mobile-friendly version of their website for customers to utilise, meaning that all you need is mobile data or wi-fi in order to place bets using your device. Available free of charge and through a number of different mobile providers, there is now no excuse to miss out on potentially lucrative bets.
Live Betting & Streaming
Many sportsbooks now too offer a range of ‘in-play’ options, which allows customers the opportunity to place bets at any point throughout the duration of a match or event. Therefore, it does not matter if you missed the first ball being kicked or the first serve being hit, you can still be on the match in a number of different ways. There are now thousands of live markets available, with odds offered often far more appealing than pre-match odds. Elsewhere, some customers are even able to watch live sporting action through their chosen sportsbook, with a number of bookmakers providing live streams from around the world. Mainly focused upon football and tennis, the ability to simultaneously view and bet on matches is becoming more and more attractive.
Promotions & Bonus Offers
Every betting firm online today is looking to add to their customer base, with promotions and welcome bonuses often seen as the most effective way of doing so. With such offers being advertised through a variety of means, they are often the first thing you will notice about an individual bookmaker. Whether it be a 100% matched deposit up to £100 or a price boost on opening bets, there are a number of terms and conditions that will come with such promotions. As a result, it is important to think carefully before registering, questioning whether you can actually make the most out of the deal. It is now very rare to find a bookmaker that does not offer some form of incentive, however there are a few which focus upon attracting customers simply by their excellent odds.
Netbet Bonus Offer
Customer Service & Support
In order to deal with any customer issues or queries, all bookmakers have some form of customer support. While these will range in the amount of features and response times depending on the stature of the sportsbook, this is an area of growing importance for punters. Whether it be a free telephone line, email address or the increasingly popular live-chat option, it is important to select a bookmaker that can quickly help you when problems arise. Meanwhile, with many customers betting during the night or at weekends, a bookmaker offering 24/7 customer support is likely to receive better reviews over those who do not.
Cash & Withdrawals
Upon registering with a new bookmaker, your first port of call will be to deposit cash into your account, freeing you up to make bets. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, including major credit or debit cards, e-wallets or bank transfers. Many of these options are almost instant, as well as being free of charge. Processing times are different for those looking to withdraw winnings from their account however, with such transactions also sometimes carrying small fees. Be sure to check out the deposit and withdrawal information before selecting a new bookmaker, which is normally made readily available online.
Security & Reliability
Given the personal information and banking details given by customers, security and reliability surrounding wagering has become more important than ever. In order to ensure the integrity and security of their client’s, companies will use a variety of different technologies in order to protect such information. As a result, customers can rest assured that they are safe to bet online, with all personal data remaining confidential. SSL encryptions, firewalls and gambling licenses are all signs of a bookmaker being efficient in this area, with no third parties ever having access to restricted information.
Our Best Betting Sites 2017
With no one bookmaker excelling in each and every area of sports betting, here are our selected sportsbooks, all of which offer excellent services and features within different areas of their operation.
Best Betting Site in General
NetBet have been in operation since 2001, with their number of sports markets accompanied by a fantastic customer service team, who are available 24/7 in order to quickly deal with customer issues. Elsewhere, their easy-to-navigate website makes wagering easier than ever before, with live-betting, a generous welcome bonus and betting limits making them a great all-round bookmaker.