Sports betting is an increasingly popular activity, especially in the USA. Sportsbooks these days run odds on pretty much anything – from exotic sports to politics, to entertainment. With the profile of sports quite high, online betting sites have proliferated and with that, the need for a reliable guideline on how to choose a dependable betting agency has increased. Today, we take a look at some of the best sports betting sites and what makes them worthwhile in the first place.
Our Recommended Online Sportsbooks
Here is a list of the best online sports betting sites that have been reviewed and tested by our iGaming experts:
SportsBetting.ag50% up to $1,000
BetOnline50% up to $1,000
MyBookie100% up to $1,000
XBet50% up to $300
Bovada Sports50% up to $250
How to Choose an Online Betting Site You Will Like
Picking a top online sports betting site for yourself can be a little daunting at first. There are many things that come into play and that you must consider. To begin with, you must ask yourself what kind of sports betting website meets your needs? Is there a specific sport or market you would like to bet on and is it one of the main sports leagues or more of an exotic choice?
Even if you are a well-seasoned sports bettor, chances are that sometimes sportsbooks make it just too difficult to pick – there are so many of them. However, there are quite a few criteria these days that make sports bettors always find their way to the top gambling sites and the markets they are specifically interested in.
Whether you want to bet on the NFL or NBA, horse racing or golf, motorsports, or even table tennis, there is always something available. An online betting site will usually feature over 30,000 – 50,000 active markets, and this number can quite easily go past that at the height of the football or basketball season.
1. Competitive Odds and Markets
The first thing most people look into when visiting a betting site is to make sure they have access to the best odds. This is natural because odds will determine how much of a profit you can turn off your bets. Now, it’s true that most sports betting sites will compete with each other, and most experienced sports bettors keep at least a few accounts active, to set off any edge sportsbooks may have.
Part of this is picking the websites with the highest volume of markets as well as odds that are consistently better or on par with other established sportsbooks. The sports you can bet on are quite a few, and it would be a good thing to see them featured in the sportsbooks you want to place your bet at.
Most sports bettors focus on NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAAF, NCAAB, MLB, golf, soccer, and tennis and as to the odds, it’s a matter of comparison. In terms of markets, you will notice that each sport has its own specific type of wager. Moneylines are usually the most common form of bet you can bet on – across any sport.
Then you have over/under, point spread and depending on the sport you are betting on, you can also get innings and puck bets, among other specific sport betting nomenclature It’s important to make sure that a sports betting site you consider actually runs the full gamut of available products before you dive in.
2. Banking Options and Limits
While banking is usually what comes after turning a successful bet, it never hurts to know your options beforehand. Therefore, most bettors look for websites that provide them with quick deposits and withdrawals. Moving your money around shouldn’t be an issue. A sports betting site with better banking options usually has the upper hand, providing it meets some standards in terms of betting markets, security, licensing, and so on.
Most bettors agree that reliable banking is the surest and most important aspect of a betting site these days. As a result, they expect to find instant deposits with familiar payment options (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Neteller, Skrill, PayPal, Trustly, Bank Wire, and other) as well as swift withdrawal options. Even the best sportsbooks may struggle to retain loyal sports fans if their banking methods do not meet the expected quality.
In terms of betting and winning limits, every sportsbook is its own world. Most cap your winnings at $100,000, but then, some agree to honor an even bigger payout. This is usually discussed with customer service. As to the size of the bet, if you are betting too much, it’s possible to negotiate a seven-figure bet.
In 2020, James “Mattress Mack” McIngvale placed a $1 million bet on the San Francisco 49ers winning Super Bowl LIV. However, he had to discuss the bet with customer service and a local branch manager at BetMGM in Las Vegas before he could deposit the seven-figure sum. He lost.
3. Safety and Security
Safety and security play an equal part in the choice of a sports betting website. You want to make sure that the sportsbooks you trust are capable of protecting your sensitive data and comply with industry standards when it comes to consumer protection. Therefore, the best sportsbooks usually have state-of-the-art SSL encryption and not a dent to their reputation.
A sportsbook must honor payouts in full or set out clear rules why a bet has been forfeited. However, it often happens that some sportsbooks might cancel a wager or postpone a contest. That happens even to the best in business. At this point, it’s important that the sportsbooks are able to provide a credible explanation as to their reason behind their decision.
Of course, most wager cancellations are always inked into the terms and conditions and you should have an easy time figuring out such a decision.
4. License and Legality
When it comes to legal matters, most top sports betting sites all stick to established industry standards. They draft clear and unambiguous Terms & Conditions that bound any sports betting activity unfolding on their website. Some companies sign agreements with third-party regulators, as in mediators, to help with any complaints and provide a fair ruling in cases where a sports bettor may disagree with the online sportsbook.
Many sportsbooks secure a license from a state or country regulator. In the United States, for example, every sportsbook needs to operate with a land-based partner, for example, and obtain a license from a regulator, whether this is the Nevada Gaming Commission, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement or another state-recognized body.
More regulatory bodies around the world issue licenses to sportsbooks, and they include the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, Spelinspektionen, Alderney Gambling Commission, and many other trustworthy regulatory entities.
5. Customer Service
Every sportsbook ought to have clear and reliable contact information. This helps facilitate communication and avoid any misunderstanding between sports bettors and sportsbooks. Sportsbooks try to cover at least a 12-18-hour window when their customer service agents are available to assist.
The top online sports betting sites will even have customer support 24/7. You can usually pick from live chat, calling a land-based line, or sending an email to get in touch. Most bettors agree that live chat tends to be the quickest way to get hold of online sportsbooks’ customer service.
The Current Licensing Status of Different States
|State||Online Sports Betting||Retail Sports Betting|
|Arkansas Sports Betting||No||Yes|
|California Sports Betting||No||No|
|Colorado Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|Connecticut Sports Betting||No||No|
|Delaware Sports Betting||No||Yes|
|Illinois Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|Indiana Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|Iowa Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|Louisiana Sports Betting||No||No|
|Michigan Sports Betting||Pending||Yes|
|Mississippi Sports Betting||No||Yes|
|Montana Sports Betting||At sportsbooks only||Yes|
|Nevada Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|New Hampshire Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|New Jersey Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|New Mexico Sports Betting||No||Yes|
|New York Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|Ohio Sports Betting||No||No|
|Oregon Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|Pennsylvania Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|Rhode Island Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|Tennessee Sports Betting||Yes||No|
|Virginia Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|West Virginia Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
|Washington, DC Sports Betting||Yes||Yes|
What Type of Bonuses Are There at Online Betting Sites?
Bonuses are just as important to sports bettors as is the choice of a good online sportsbook. While betting on sports is part luck and part skill, nobody can deny the good a bonus can do, including extending your bankroll, overall betting sessions, and opportunity to win more while investing fewer funds. There are many forms of promotions you can pick at the top betting sites and put them to good use. Generally, we differentiate between several main types of bonus options, including:
Each of these bonuses has its strengths and weaknesses but all are accessible and worthwhile. Some online sportsbooks may place the wagering requirements a little too steep, but a sportsbook you can trust will balance an offer well to provide sports bettors a fair chance to win while still betting on their favorite sports.
Sign-up Bonuses are the first promotion you can see at an online sportsbook. Sometimes referred to as a welcome bonus or welcome package, these promotions offer generous starter’s amounts calculated on your first deposit. You can often receive a great matched rate, usually 100%, 250%, or even more.
- Up to $1,000 in welcome bonus funds
- Available upon registration for $10-$20 minimum deposit
- Easy to claim and use on sports you like
- You have to bet at specific odds
- Keep in mind that you have a set time to complete the bonus
- Some markets may be excluded from the bonus
Pro tip: Scooping up a welcome bonus at a sportsbook is great. If you can realistically wager $1,000*times and meet the wagering conditions, by all means, you should. However, it never hurts to take your betting on sports in moderation and claim a partial sum that better matches your immediate betting plans and availability.
Risk Free Wagers
Risk-free wagers are exactly what they sound like. An online sportsbook will grant you a $25 or $50 bonus on the condition of your own bet flops. How this works is, you have to deposit and bet up to $50 on a single sports event. If your bet fails, you can contact customer service – usually within 24 hours after the loss – and the amount will be restored to you.
- Offers a great opportunity to try and turn a profit on long odds
- Makes it easy to secure a better yield from a more reliable betting event
- You still need to deposit your own money
- The maximum amount you can win is usually limited
Pro tip: A sportsbook that offers risk-free bet is definitely worth checking out. Even if you don’t intend to stick around, you can try your hand with this bonus. Still, make sure that the online sportsbook is a website you might consider sticking with.
Odds boosters are there to help you bet on particular sports online. They will cover a particular event and usually back the team or player that is less likely to win. By betting on boosters, you can get a better value for your money.
- Good opportunity to get a better value for your money
- The better value odds don’t change the fact one team is less likely to win
Pro tip: Odds boosters are a good opportunity to get a little more value on a risky wager. If you are planning you bet on your favorite sports and have a team want to back, even though they are not very likely to win, benefiting from an odds booster bonus might offset some of the risks.
A reload bonus will go a long way to keep your bankroll vibrant. The match rate is usually 50% up to $250 or more in bonus funds. Each promotion is different of course, but the outcome is similar – an online betting site offers you a mild financial incentive to get some bonus funds by investing a fixed amount of your own funds. Each sportsbook has it a little different, too.
- A reload bonus helps you keep adding to your bankroll with a minimum risk
- You can extend your betting sessions using the extra bonus funds
- The wagering requirements are low and easy to complete
- The bonus doesn’t offer a great match rate compared to other deposit bonus options
Pro tip: A reload bonus is always a good idea if you want to boost your online betting bankroll a bit. The best online betting sites will make sure they provide you with reload bonuses often enough. To make the most out of a reload bonus, don’t pick it as an end in itself. Rather, have a plan on what events you want to use the money on.
Sports betting has many high-profile contests. This means that there is a bonus for each sports contest out there. You will get special bonus options for the Super Bowl and the Champions League Finals, March Madness, and pretty much any high-profile event from the world of sports. The bonus is usually offered in the form of a betting contest – you get a shot at the prize pool if you make the most successful wagers and win the most. Simple as that.
- The prize pool could go up to $500,000 for the biggest events
- You are actually trying to outsmart everyone else on the sportsbook
- Contests are available weekly, giving you an interesting and worthwhile challenge
- You will be betting against some of the best sportsbook bettors
- Some contests will require an entry fee, usually $25 or more
- It’s usually major sports that qualify for these contests
Pro tip: If you are confident in your skills, you can join any online betting site’s contest and turn a neat profit. You will be winning both your regular bets as well as the potential to win an additional reward. Now, if you want to make the most out of your online sports betting, we recommend that you only join when you are confident enough you can outsmart other bettors.
VIP & Loyalty Programs
VIP & Loyalty programs are delightful little packages that betting sites extend to loyalty bettors. The bonus options in these include exclusive deposit bonuses and other perks that only select members get. You will get to enjoy a variety of great options. An online sportsbook could extend your free bets as part of its offer and even gift you some real-world rewards.
- You get worthwhile betting bonus deals and free bets
- A sportsbook offers you cashback and real-life perks
- You can attend official sports events as part of a loyalty program
- You usually need to deposit a lot to qualify for a VIP program
- You probably won’t be part of the VIP program if you win too many bets
Pro tip: While VIP and loyalty programs are quite awesome, keep in mind that most gambling sites don’t necessarily like it too much if you win every bet. VIP programs are usually granted to players who spend a lot at online sportsbooks. It seems a little unfair, but it’s the nature of the game. However, you can still benefit from the loyal perks, which usually include cashback bonuses and other perks that you unlock by simply depositing.
Live Betting and Online Sportsbooks
You can bet on sports in either of two ways – you can place your bets before or after an event starts. The latter is clearly a more sophisticated form of betting and one that usually means you need to be more experienced.
Admittedly, live betting on sports offers a level of engagement and excitement that traditional markets cannot provide. A sportsbook that runs live markets, though, will usually keep the maximum bets lower, as this is done to protect both parts.
When you bet on sports that are in progress, you should also be prepared to adapt to sportsbook odds that are constantly changing. Most players agree that major sports are the best options when seeking to place a bet on live sports.
Live sports also offer a level of satisfaction that resonates with the human psyche – instant gratification. You can see your bet turning a winner – or flopping on the spot. Odds will change very quickly, though, so keep this in mind when opting for live markets on any betting website.
Odds, Lines and Spreads
As a participant in sports betting, you know that sportsbooks numbers represent the probability of a certain outcome. Through your scouting for new betting grounds, there’s a very good chance that you have encountered sportsbooks that offer slightly different representations of this probability. Keep in mind that the best online sports betting sites will make sure that the odds representations you see are interchangeable and can be filtered to your liking. Generally, there are three ways odds can be expressed:
- Decimal Odds
- Moneylines (American lines)
- Fractional Odds
Decimal Odds are perhaps most popular in Europe. They are very easy to read and some argue the easiest to understand. As the name suggests, these odds are expressed as a decimal value.
With decimal odds, you see a visual representation of how much money you will win for every $1 you bet. In the case of Brighton and West Brom, backing the Home team would bring you $1.8 for every $1 you stake.
Staking money on the Away team will fetch you a tidy profit of $4.33 per each $1. However, bear in mind that the higher the potential profit, the slimmer your chances of actually winning the bet are.
Moneylines (American lines) are an interesting concept devised for a North American crowd. The concept is built around the idea of wagering bets worth $100 (not that you necessarily need to commit such an amount).
Let’s look at the available data for the matches between Orlando Magic @ Detroit Pistons, part of the National Basketball Association (NBA) season.
- Orlando Magic +145
- Draw + 1225
- Detroit Pistons -150
With American lines, the (+) value means that for every $100 you stake, you stand to win back $145. In other words, Orlando Magic is not as likely to win as Detroit Pistons.
When you bet on Detroit Pistons, you need to stake $150 to win back $100. If you think a draw is possible, then you can expect to win $1,225 for every $100 you lay down. Do keep in mind that the odds of this happening are very slim indeed.
Fractional Odds are yet another format. They are just as easy to read than decimals we believe. Let’s use a real example to make things simpler to understand.
Looking at the game between Southampton and Derby County, we can see that Southampton is priced at 7/10 whereas their opponents stand at 4/1.
- Southampton 7/10
- X 14/5
- Derby County 4/1
This simply means that for every $10 you put on Southampton, you will win $7. Your total return will constitute $17 if you only lay $10 to begin with. Now the (X) stands for a draw. The odds of this happening are again pretty slim if you think about it, and if the teams finish tied, you will stand to win $14 for every $5 you’ve committed.
This about sums the types of odds you will find at the best online sportsbooks.
What’s Spread Betting?
Spreads betting is another exciting aspect of the industry. Let’s use our familiar example with Orlando Magic and Detroit, but this time – we won’t consider a draw (X).
- Orlando Magic +145
- Detroit Pistons -150
Now, for our example to be accurate, we want to introduce the “spread”, which is represented with another decimal value. Look closer:
- Orlando Magic -3.5 (+145)
- Detroit Pistons +3.5 (-150)
The numbers in red are our spread. Since we already know that Detroit Pistons are more likely to win (you need to stake $150 to win $100), Detroit Pistons must win with more than 3.5 points in the game.
If the final score is Orlando 89 – Detroit 91, that’s fewer points difference than the spread, so Orlando wins the bet. In other words, you add & subtract the 3.5 value to find out the final score:
- Orlando 89 + 3.5 = 92.5
- Detroit 91-3.5 = 87.5
Spreads betting is quite interesting and it can surprise you quite pleasantly in the long term. For example, you might think that the underdog needs just a few points to get it right, and if they do – then your spread bets will truly pay off.
More You Should Know About Betting
If you have been around the world of sports betting for a while, you probably know there is some science that goes into it. Some people are just dab hands and tend to win more. Whether it comes from some visceral understanding of the game or the careful study of probabilities is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure, though: it’s not all, all about finding the best online sportsbook. There’s a bit of theory as well.
On the plus side, there’re a lot of helpful materials that you can read yourself to make sure that you are on your A-game every time you place a wager:
- Trading Bases by Joe Peta is a story of a bettor who channeled his love for fantasy baseball and amassed a fortune. It’s an inspirational behind-the-curtains work that reveals the mind that has been able to make a comfortable living from his passion for sports.
- Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas is the rather forthcoming account of the author who looks into such important aspects of the industry as decision-making, probabilities, human error, and more, all in a bid to provide you with authentic guidance to betting.
- The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver is a look into the purely theoretical workings behind the idea of making predictions. It’s a book that helps you develop the right mindset and address one of the main tenets captured by the second title, i.e. “why so many predictions fail.”
- Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong address betting heads on, taking into consideration logic and maths, helping you develop the right strategy and look up the important qualities that you will need to beat the bookmakers.
Betting is in a constant state of flux, and this is at least half of the fun. There’s a lot to learn, but the fun is precisely in the thrill of the chase. The global markets have grown significantly and you can participate in all types of online gambling these days, not least – betting on professional sports contests.
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