Choosing a bookmaker (bookie)
What are some important things to consider for when choosing a bookmaker or online casino?
Key things to consider before choosing an online bookie
The online gaming industry is such a crowded one that it can be confusing knowing which site to actually choose. With bookmakers and online casinos constantly bombarding us with advertising, where large welcome offers & various promotions are being offered, it can be tempting just to sign up after seeing one of these ads with the lure of 'FREE' bets/bonsues. However, spending a bit of time in choosing the right site will pay dividends in the long run, as there really is a surprising difference between bookies.
Here we consider some key questions you should ask of any bookie before handing over any of your debit card details:
Is the Bookie/online casino reputable?
This is perhaps the most important question of all. When joining a site you’ll want to know that the funds you deposit to the site are safe, that your financial details are safe and that you’ll actually be paid out when you win. You can feel completely at ease in this regard at the majority of bookies and particularly those that have been in the industry for a long time (or have the money to sponsor a big football team!). Key pointers to a reputable bookie include being licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. Many of the known sites that advertise on TV or sponsor sports teams will tick all of these boxes. If unsure about a particular site, take some time finding out a little more about them – and look at our Bookie reviews - if they are worth a review, then that's a good sign that they are big enough & reputable enough to trust
How good is the initial welcome offer?
This is an important question, as your bankroll will be given a very welcome early boost. Bonuses will generally come in two forms – a free bet, or a bonus based upon a percentage of your initial deposit. Obviously you’ll want to choose a bonus which gives you the most ‘free’ money, however you should ensure you know the full details behind the bonus, so always read the ‘terms and conditions’. Some bonuses may have a wagering requirement (particularly online casinos), where you’ll have to gamble the total amount of your deposit AND the bonus a certain number of times. There is also likely to be minimum odds that your qualifying bet needs to be laid at, plus you need to be aware that most bonuses will have an ‘expiry date’ - there is nothing more disappointing than missing out on a bonus, due to not being aware of the small print.
How good are the Reload/ongoing offers on the site?
Some bookies will have a wide range of offers available across a number of sports. As examples, a site might offer your money back as a free bet if a game ends 0-0, or if a horse finishes second in a particular race. Check out the offers available at the sites, and consider which of the common reload offers might be most beneficial to you. Ideally you’ll want a site that you will give you offers on bets you'll be making anyway, as you’ll effectively gain ‘free’ money when gambling as you normally would.
How good are their Odds?
You'd be surprised how different the odds are for certain events when comparing bookies (for example, the odds given by William Hill for horse racing in comparison to Royal Panda can sometimes be quite significant). This is the bottom line for any user, as a site with bad pricing simply won’t give you value for money. If shopping on the high street and you see exactly the same product £10 cheaper at one shop than another, you’d obviously go for the cheaper option, and sports betting is no different. Fortunately, in this day and age, comparing the prices from site to site is particularly easy, due to the emergence of odds comparison sites. You’ll generally find that sites might offer better odds at some sports than others, so look at the areas of betting that interest you and see which site offers the best odds in those markets.
How easy is the site to use/navigate?
A site needs to be cleanly laid out and intuitive. This goes without saying when you are using your own money to place bets (it's not such an issue with the casino sites, as a lot of them tend to use the same slots & table layouts). If it is difficult to find a specific horse or horse race, then it can be infuriating (a lot of sites don't even have a search function)
How good are the Mobile Betting Options?
Many bookies now have apps or specially designed responsive mobile sites for iPhones, Android and various other devices (a great example is the Leo Vegas app). As more and more of us use smartphones as our main internet enabled device, it just makes sense that the bookie/casino has a decent app, or at least a site that has been enabled for mobile use. Obviously the quality of these apps or mobile sites can vary, and being a site you’ll be using often, you’ll want as user friendly an experience as possible.
Fortunately you’ll be able to check these out before actually signing up, so if a site has an app, download from the relevant app store and give it a go.
How responsive is the support given?
As a new client to the site (& perhaps to sports betting and online casinos generally) you may be unsure about some of the bonus offer requirements (all the caveats involved in qualifying for that free bonus), chasing the promised bonus, whether your ACCA has been placed correctly, what's happened to your balance withdrawal, and so on. And there is nothing worse than not getting a quick or straightforward answer. Thankfully, almost all decent bookies out there have some form of online chat support - but, how responsive are they (if you have an in-play only bonus, yet you can't get through to support), or do they have unhelpful opening hours (some close at 6pm?) - these are all important questions to try to get answers on. Make sure you check out our Bookie Reviews, to help you make that choice.
By asking these questions you are exercising a great amount of quality control and you’ll find yourself choosing a site which is ideal for you. Choosing the right bookie initially will ensure that you are starting off on the right track and may make you more money over the long term.
And remember to check out our Bookie Reviews section to see our thoughts on the top UK bookies and casino sites