Gambling is one of the many industries that have been completely transformed in the digital age, with millions of punters worldwide now placing their wagers on their computer or mobile, as opposed to land-based betting shops.
More choice means more competition, and bettors are now presented with a huge number of betting markets, meaning that whether they are into chess or cricket, there are more wagering opportunities than ever before.
In mature betting markets such as the UK, there are hundreds of bookmakers all vying for as big a market share as possible. From classic bookies who date back to the 19th century, all the way to new betting sites who built and based their offering around smartphones, there is something for recreational bettors who enjoy the occasional flutter, as well as professional punters.
But with so much choice, there are a number of factors that can help you determine which betting site to use.
Safety and security
Online gambling regulations vary per country, and users need to ensure that they are only using trusted bookmakers. In countries like Canada, where online bettors use overseas sportsbooks, you should ensure that the betting site is licenced and regulated before even considering using it. You can check sites like MyBettingSites.com for a list of safe and secure bookmakers.
On top of holding a valid gaming licence, online betting sites should run on a secure, encrypted connection. If you end up on a site that doesn’t have https:// at the start of the web address, that is a big no-no.
By doing some basic research into betting companies, you can see whether or not they have a history of quality service and a high number of players. If a bookie has stood the test of time, you can trust them.
Variety of betting markets
One of the beauties of online betting is the amount of different betting markets and types of wager that have become available.
While you can still simply pick a horse to win a race or back a basketball team to cover the spread, this is now just the tip of the iceberg. On the best betting sites, if you click on an English Premier League football fixture, you will be presented with hundreds of different bets, such as Asian handicap, the result after 10 minutes, and even in some cases the number of passes or tackles a certain player makes.
A number of bookmakers allow their customers to request bets which are then priced up by traders and placed on the site. A more recent function on some sites is the Bet Builder, which is essentially a single-game parlay in which multiple outcomes within one event are combined into a single bet.
Niche sports tend not to have so many available bets, but the top bookmakers do a great job of offering as many different markets as possible for the likes of Esports, table tennis, and bandy.
Betting offers and promotions
The best way for bookmakers to attract new customers is by offering a lucrative welcome offer that could come in the form of free bets or a deposit bonus.
For betting sites that offer sports betting, casino, and poker, new users can choose which offer they want to claim. Deposit bonuses and free spins are common casino welcome offers, but instead of focusing on the amount of money awarded as a bonus, you should look for the wagering requirements.
There are wagering requirements in place on casino offers so that gamesters actually play with the money. You cannot simply claim a juicy bonus and then walk away with it.
Welcome offers are usually the biggest, but regular promotions for existing customers are also something to look out for. Once the initial bonus is complete, are there any further rewards such as weekly free bets, reload bonuses or free spins? Are there regular enhanced odds on the sportsbook? The more value you can get in this way, the better.
Live betting and streaming
In-play wagering is very popular within many sports, as the action plays out over a long duration and the odds change constantly amid the ebb and flow of the event.
Live betting adds excitement to the viewing of any fixture, but because wagers are generally less calculated and thought out compared with pre-match punts, you should really only bet live on sports you know inside out.
Betting sites with a dedicated mobile app have the edge when it comes to live betting, as many live wagers are placed on smartphones and it is much easier to do so on a state-of-the-art app as opposed to betting through your mobile internet browser.
The in-play betting experience is even better when there are graphics, stats, or even a live stream on display on the same screen as the odds. Graphics and stats should be the bare minimum, but a stream is a huge bonus.
Odds and payout percentage
While no betting site will have the best odds for every single market, a quick analysis of a cross-section of sportsbooks will give you a good indication as to where you can get the best value.
For example, if you are into betting on the NBA, and you want to bet on a team to cover the spread, the line may be set at 10.5 points, but the odds for each team to cover might be 1.83 (5/6) on one betting site, and 1.91 (10/11) on another.
Always aim to go for the site with the better odds across the board, as in the long run, this will make a big difference when it comes to your profit and loss.
Each bettor prioritises different elements when it comes to online betting, but the overriding factor should usually revolve around one thing: value.
Betting sites with the best odds and offers are often successful, but a smooth user interface and the availability of a mobile app is also key.
Meanwhile, safety and security should be a major consideration, and if your preferred payment method is offered by the bookie, you are good to go.