Online betting in the UK is an industry that is still very much on the incline. Whilst the numbers very much back this up, the quality and the range of the bookmakers that are on offer are some of the best that we have seen as a result.
It seems that every year bookmakers are getting bigger and better. There are more features, more promotions, more sports, more markets and better odds. This makes is a real hotbed for punters looking to get in on the action.
Having said all that, if you’re new to the industry then it can feel as though it’s a little overwhelming. Sometimes too much choice isn’t always a good thing and it can make the decision of which bookmaker to pick that bit harder.
This is the main reason why we wanted to help. We’ve tested a huge range of bookies and also have a massive background within the industry as well. Not only are we able to teach you about what you might need, but we also highlight what is out there and how each element works.
Throughout the site we’ve covered dozens of real-world betting reviews that give you an honest outlook. If something is not right, we aren’t afraid to let you know. The site comes packed with information on a plethora of topics within the industry allowing you to choose a bookmaker that best suits you, not us.
Best Online Bookies For 2021
Coral are one of the biggest bookies in the game right now and have been since they were established back in 1926. The company are now a part of the GVC Holdings group, who purchased Ladbrokes Coral back in 2018.
Little has changed for the brand since the merger to be honest and they are still able to offer one of the best platforms for online betting that you will find. Their promotions section has been one area that we would like to point straight away, and they are one of the best when it comes down to looking after both new and existing customers.
The recent update to the design of the bookmaker has been a welcomed addition and now they are able to rival the brands that are currently sitting at the top of the pile. We wouldn’t say that it was a unique look however, but it is one that is tried and tested.
In terms of range of sports, there are few better than Coral. The site is run around around both football and horse racing, but with that you have brilliant coverage of the likes of tennis, cricket, darts, cycling and a range of American-based sports as well.
In terms of companies that have an all-round presence within the gambling industry (casino, poker and bingo included), there are few more iconic than 888. The company were initially tied into both online casino and online poker, but the success that they saw here meant their launch of 888 Sport was a one that was a no-brainer really.
The bookmaker section of 888 got off to a rocky start to be honest and they were some way behind more established brands like BetVictor for several years. Some shrewd moves within the company and some killer welcome offers soon changed that though, and over the last 5 years we think it’s fair to say that they’ve been up there with the best.
What we liked from 888 was their ability to keep things fresh. They’ve always been big advocates of creating fresh content and they’ve done this with the design aspect of the sportsbook ever since it’s virtual doors first opened. They actually follow these trends through all their gambling platforms, which is admirable and also super-rare!
They’ve been able to add substance to their style though and they cover a huge range of sports as a result. We particularly enjoy logging on to their “Enhanced specials” page that is updated every day with bets that have seen some sort of price boost.
Ladbrokes are a brand that need little introduction. Their merger with Coral has meant they are now one of the biggest gambling groups in the world, although it’s important to note that Ladbrokes and Coral are separate brands when it comes to betting.
The site has undergone many changes over the last decade and if we are being honest, some better than others. What it’s never lacked is depth in the sense of betting markets. It’s always been jam packed and not just with the likes of football and horse racing either, although these are the two biggest sports and by some distance.
Ladbrokes are still one of the best when it comes to offers and promotions though, both for new and existing customers. Pair that with a good range of betting feature (cash out betting, best odds guaranteed, downloadable app, inter-linked casino, poker and bingo) and you’ve got a recipe for success if ever there was one.
Another iconic brand, Betfred have been about since 1967 when Fred Done first opened their doors on the streets of Salford. They’ve grown exponentially since those days and are now one of few that still include a fleet of high street bookmakers to go along with their ever-improving online effort.
If we’re being honest, the Betfred has felt dated at times, but a refresh in 2019 has meant that it’s much better than it used to be, although not perfect. The site is all about function over style though and this is evident in the markets that they are able to offer.
There were three that really stood out at Betfred, which included football, horse racing and greyhound racing. Between the three they do occupy a large portion of the bookmaker, but that does mean that other areas are lacking, far from it.
Betfred are one of the best when it comes to creating new markets. The likes of Goals Galore and Double Delight/Hattrick Heaven amongst others make it a unique bookmaker to use, which is something that lots strive for, but few actually achieve.
The BetVictor brand is another that is synonymous within the industry and it’s grown to a size that perhaps even they didn’t think possible since moving operations solely online.
The bookmaker is best known for its pricing structure and they’ve even been able to win several awards for the best priced bookmaker in the industry. What’s so impressive is just how consistent they are, which from a punter’s perspective is awesome.
BetVictor is more than just favourable odds and you’ll find all the bells and whistles that you would expect from a top-class bookie. They have cash out, in play betting, live streaming, bet boosts and a strong link with Timeform for their horse racing section.
One of their latest initiatives has been that of their #PriceItUp campaign that allows punters to tweet in their bets and the BetVictor traders will create the bet and offer them a price. This allows punters to access markets that they usually would not be able to and add them into a single accumulator-style bet.
The world’s biggest betting exchange needs little introduction. Betfair have been online since 2000 and whilst there have been several attempts from dozens of companies to dethrone them as the best betting exchange in the world, none as of yet have managed to really come close.
An impressive feature from Betfair however, is that they are more than just a betting exchange. Alongside the exchange is a fully functional “traditional” sportsbook as well that users can access from the same wallet for each.
The bookmaker is one that ticks pretty much every box. Their sports and market converge is second to none. They have one of the biggest live streaming services in the industry and their ties with The Racing Post to cover their horse racing section just outlines that class works well with class.
The site has few negatives if we are being honest. There is next to nothing that they don’t cover and you know that between the bookmaker and the exchange, you’re always going to be getting a great price.
Another brand that needs little introduction is that of Paddy Power. The Irish-born bookmaker is now an international superstar and even though they win the (unofficial) award for best marketing campaigns seemingly every year, they are more than just a laugh-a-minute-bookmaker.
Since Paddy Power merged with Betfair it feels like they have been able to take the company to the next level. They were both behemoths in their own right, but the merger has escalated them again.
For us, Paddy Power has always been a standout bookmaker for betting on horse racing. Of course, you can bet on pretty much any and all sports, but horse racing is the area that they are a little bit special for us, with live streaming, live odds, integrated stats, a huge range of both domestic and international races and a link to Timeform for all the latest stats and data.
Finally, we can’t leave without mentioning how good their player retention bonuses and promotions are. They change constantly, so we won’t list them here, but take our word for it when we say that there are few, if any bookies that will be as rewarding in the long run as Paddy Power is!
Unibet has been around since 1997 and when they first started in the gambling industry they were initially very much focussed on the Scandinavian market. But the success the company saw and the fact they were acquired by the Kindred Group on the back of their success, meant that it made sense to allow a wider range of countries in, one of those being the UK.
The site comes with a sense of calm and it’s easily one of the best looking that you can access online right now. It’s got that typical Unibet layout, with the green and the white, but they are constantly tinkering things, and adding features, such as search bars, live streaming, betting guides and a betting blog.
What you get from Unibet is a community feel with it. They try to help you get to grips with the industry if you are new, but even if you are just a fan of sports, then the blog has several articles open day posted by people within the company and also experts within certain sectors.
The mobile app is where we best like to access the bookmaker however, and it’s here that you’re able to get the best user experience, in our opinion at least.
Betway are one of the online platforms that have been able to carve out a nice little sector within the gambling industry. It’s their sportsbook that they are probably best known for and it’s also here where we think that they excel.
It’s been a part of their business that has continued to change, and this is because they have never been satisfied with just having a “good” sportsbook. The design is without doubt one of the best that we have tested, and they have stuck with their clean white, black and green layout.
Existing user promotions are one of the biggest features on site and Betway probably look after you as well as any bookmaker that we have tested. From a betting perspective the site is spot on and even though football and horse racing are huge, there are plenty of other sports to choose from as well.
We loved the fact that you were able to get both in-play betting and live streaming. In fact, the in-play betting section is another area that we have to mention, which includes a stats, match centre, live play, line ups, commentary and even a gauge (like a Richter scale) that tracks which team are in the ascendancy.
A new look for 10bet in 2019 has meant a bit of a revival for the bookmaker. Whilst we wouldn’t say they were ever in the doldrums of the betting industry, we think it’s fair that they’ve always been in the shadows of a number of bookies that we’ve mentioned on this page already.
The site has to be one of the best looking these days and the fact they are on their own platform means that it’s really cool both aesthetically and functionally. Everything from their “quick links” to the huge list of sports in the menu bar all contribute to make it a fun and exciting sportsbook to use.
What 10bet do as well as any bookmaker that we’ve seen is offer an in-play package that is dialled in on the punter. You have an incredible amount of data and also betting markets to choose from, plus you’ve got their new “match tracker” that allows you to see exactly what’s going on. They are another bookie that have introduced an avalanche feature, which highlights phases of play where one team is dominant over the other.
It’s been good to see that 10bet have been able to address a pricing issue that had been holding them back for a while. Our testing found they were much more in line with industry standard than ever before, which is not only great from a perspective of making more money, but also the fact they are clearly trying to continuously improve.
Features to Look Out For
As we’ve stated, the number of features within each online bookmaker seems to be growing year on year. They’ve been able to take advancements in technology and then apply this to their betting brand.
Some have been more successful than others though and below we have listed some of the most popular right now and also outline how they work.
A good bookmaker is one that keeps on evolving for us. By this we mean that they don’t just stand still and rest on a good product, they keep making changes and then they are improving what they’ve already got.
Betting markets are a great way to keep things feeling fresh. Lots of bookies try to come up with new betting markets and some are better than others.
The likes of Betfred and BetVictor are two of the best that we’ve come across in recent times at offering unique markets. Betfred were actually the original bookie to come up with the Lucky 15 bet and then all the variations of this that have since come about.
The problem is, that once a market becomes successful, they are offered by a hose of bookmakers who all want a piece of the action. This is a good thing as it keeps the range of markets on each bookmaker growing, but it does mean that bookmakers may lose some individuality as a result.
Live streaming has to be one of the best features for online betting. It allows players to watch live games or races within the bookmaker and then also link them to live betting as well. In fact, lots of bookies like to integrate the whole package, so you can watch and bet all within the same section of the bookmaker.
The range of sports that you get access to will vary from bookmaker to bookmaker. A lot of the main bookmakers will have a huge range of football matches from all over the world. The licenses that have been obtained with many include the likes of La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga to name a few.
Live streaming is generally free to access. Some bookies will require you to have a funded account or to have placed a bet within the last 24 hours. It’s literally a case of having 0.01p in your account and that is deemed to be funded, so it’s not expensive by any means.
Horse racing is a sport that is now a big part of the live streaming section for most of the bigger bookmakers. Lots of them have teamed up with Racing UK who are independent broadcasters to show racing coverage of all races in the UK and Ireland.
Viewing is a little stricter as a result, with you needing to have placed a bet on that race to get access to viewing it. Once the race has ended, so does the coverage. Some bookies do allow you to take out a season ticket to watch all racing, which works as a set monthly fee subtracted from your account.
Outside of horse racing and football, you’re also able to stream the likes of tennis, cricket, rugby, golf, greyhound racing, darts, e-sports and many more.
In Play Betting
In play betting is where you can bet on sports after the game has started. This allows you to react to certain things that happen after the start of the game or race and place your bets accordingly.
The in-play section is one of the busiest parts of any bookmaker and the number of people betting in play seemingly grows year on year. What’s great about this section is that it varies for each sport and is tailored towards certain markets or bets for that sport.
Football is one of the most popular sports and with this you’re going to be able to get access to some sort of match centre. This allows you to see a live overview of what’s happening the game and also some vital statistics for how the game has been played out. It makes it so that you don’t need to watch each and every match live to be able to place an informed bet on that match.
The cash out feature is another one that has stormed the industry of late. It allows you to settle your bets before the market has closed. This means that you can either lock in a profit or you can limit your loss.
This feature has probably been the most successful innovation over the last 5 years, and you will see that most of the major bookies will be offering this function. Used correctly, it can not only save you money, but it can also lock in nice profits without having to wait until the game is finished.
Some cash out options will come with functions such as partial cash out and auto cash out.
Partial cash out is where you’re able to cash out a part of your bet and leave the rest of it run. This is based on your initial stake which you can then adjust to cash out.
The auto cash out function is one that allows you to set an amount and when the amount hits the target, the bet will automatically cash out. This is ideal if you know you aren’t going to be around to monitor the bet but would be happy to take a certain price from your initial stake.
Statistics and Tools
A bookmaker is far more than just somewhere that you place your bets. They are a hive of information and as a result offer a huge range of statistics and tools that you can access within the bookmaker.
The statistics sections are usually outsourced to companies that specialise in these things. They are incredibly deep in terms of the info that it includes and should be a popular tool for bettors who are looking to get more value from their picks.
When you sign up to a bookmaker one that you want to keep an eye out for are loyalty offers. These are not the same as your sign up offer though, so don’t get these confused. They should be eligible for all existing accounts, meaning that you basically get something back for betting with that site.
It’s worth noting some offers are better than others and you might not want to chase these offers as such, but instead, regard them as an additional feature that gives you some sort of incentive to use that bookmaker over another.
Free Bet Clubs
These are likely going to be the most common type of loyalty bonus that you’ll get when you bet on sports. Basically, the free bet club will reward you for consistent betting at that bookmaker.
A typical example might be that you need to bet £20 per week and if you do, you will get a £5 free bet to use as you wish. Some clubs will trigger this each week you hit the minimum threshold for the duration you are with that bookmaker, but some will need to you bet on consecutive weeks. If you miss a week, then you’re out of the club.
If you’re a punter that likes to stick with just one or two bookmakers (we always recommend at least one to make sure you get best odds possible) then these free bet clubs will start to offer some serious value to your betting account.
The next one on the list is that of loyalty points. This is where you accumulate points each time that you bet with that bookmaker. The points are usually reflective of the stakes that you play.
For example, the offer might be 1 point for every £1 staked. So, if you place a £10 bet, then you get 10 loyalty points.
The points can often be used for a number of different things. Often you can convert these points into prizes, such as bonuses, electronics, holidays, VIP events and so on. You may also trigger certain reward brackets with your points, which could mean that you earn at a higher rate as a result.
Free to Play Games
Whilst not necessarily a loyalty offer, some bookmakers will offer their users free entry into a number of their games each week. The game types will vary but can include things like football predictor and horse racing predictors.
The games are pretty simple that you will likely need to guess the results of a number of football matches that have been picked by the bookmaker or you need to pick the winners of a certain number of horse races.
The good thing about these is that not only are they free to play, they also come with huge cash prizes as a result.
For those that are betting with big money or even those that are betting a large amount of volume, then you’re going to be able to get access to a range of VIP programs in the industry.
These aren’t going to be your run of the mill offers here and they are going to vary from bookmaker to bookmaker. The first thing that you can target is your welcome bonus. These are often much higher than your standard offers but in terms of the amount you will get and the amount you will receive.
For example, the standard offer might be a 100% match up to £100. But the VIP offer might be a 50% match up to £1,000. They will be harder to get, but they will offer more money in the long run.
You’re going to find that you will get treated really well from your bookmaker and you will usually have an account manager assigned to you. This will mean that you might get fast track withdrawals and deposits, access to higher payout or betting limits, and also plenty of complimentary VIP items, such as event tickets and invites to corporate nights that the bookmaker might hold as well.
One thing that we will note with this is that to access these deals you may need to reach out to the bookmaker before making an account. A lot of the offers are actually bespoke, so if you were going to deposit £100,000 for example, then the bookmaker might be able to create a package just for you. Just because they don’t openly have a VIP program or high roller offer, does not mean that they won’t offer you one should you ask.