There’s a vast amount of choice out there in the UK Horse Racing & Sports Betting market so it’s often difficult to choose the site that’s right for you. This is especially the case if you haven’t had much experience of these sites before. Many of our readers report that the wide range of promotions and joining bonuses on offer at many of the sites we have reviewed make it even more difficult to assess which site actually offers the best deal as they obscure the benefits that can be obtained after the initial joining period. Our buying guide, along with our trademark extensive expert reviews into what’s on offer in this market, helps you choose between the big players in this category.
What is Online Sports Betting?
Simply put, online sports betting and horse racing sites provide all of the same services that regular high street betting shops and bookmakers provide. These sites, as with their “bricks and mortar” counterparts, provide players with information about entrants in particular events, odds on bets on those events and later, up-to-date information on which entrants won which races. What makes these sites different from regular high street bookmakers is the sheer level of convenience that users of these sites enjoy, along with their general ease of use.
In addition, many users who wouldn’t feel comfortable attending a bookmaker's in person enjoy making use of the services these sites offer. As well as all of these features, online sports betting and horse racing sites provide users with loads of promotions, bonuses and special events that keep them coming back for more – so it’s also a great way to make your gambling money go a little further.
Our in-depth reviews give you an idea of what you can expect at the biggest and most popular sites and services in this category. The exact range of features and promotions varies considerably from site to site, so the following list helps set out the most important ones to look out for:
1) Event Coverage
One of the most important features of any online sports betting site is its coverage of sporting events in the UK and beyond. The sheer number of sports that users can place bets on means that it’s not always possible to get odds on every single sport, but users should reasonably expect all major sports to be covered including football, hockey, basketball, golf, horseracing, rugby and many more. As well as sporting bets, a number of sites offer “special bets” on political, social and cultural events – such as the birth of the next member of the Royal Family or the election of a new Prime Minister – which can add an additional element of fun to membership of these sites.
2) Promotions, Joining Bonuses & Special Plays
One of the most popular elements of online gambling sites is the wide range of promotions and bonuses that users can take advantage of. These promotions give players the chance to place free bets on many major sporting events, pick up big bonuses when they deposit funds with the site and also benefit from special plays and frequent “special events” when major sporting events (such as the Grand National or FA Cup Final, for example) take place.
3) Additional Games & Features
Many of the services we have reviewed in this category are part of wider networks of gaming and gambling sites that offer a wide range of different opportunities to spend (and hopefully win) money. Users should look out for sites that offer the chance to play a range of supplementary games, such as casino games, poker, bingo, online scratchcards and more. These can be played without the need to open a new account or add additional funds, and these can often help with a spot of “instant gratification” when sporting events aren’t taking place.
4) Customer Support & Gambling Awareness
Although by no means the most exciting features to consider when choosing an online gambling and sports betting site, effective customer service features are essential in ensuring that any problems that may arise are dealt with quickly and efficiently. Look out for services that provide user support by email, phone, chat and FAQs to ensure problems are dealt with as quickly as possible. Users should also look out for sites that offer gambling awareness and gambling addiction prevention tools and functions, such as betting limitations, notifications and warnings.
Safety & Security in Online Gambling
As with many online activities there’s always a slight risk that users may encounter some security problems when gambling online. All of the sites we have reviewed in this category have adopted industry-standard security and privacy tools and procedures to ensure the best possible standard of safety throughout. Although, as always, we’re confident that, for the most part, users won’t encounter any problems at all when using these sites, anyone who is concerned about security can check out user forums and message boards for information on those sites that are widely known to have a few more security problems than most.
The Bottom Line
The most important factors to look out for when you’re choosing a site in this category are ease of use (especially if you’re new to online gambling) and value for money. Look out, in particular, for those sites that offer users extensive promotions and bonuses that help your money go a little further. Also look out for sites that offer additional features, special games and seasonal event-based promotions as these help to keep membership of a particular site more interesting. Finally, if you’re a little confused by some of the terminology used, you can always check out our glossary of terms for more information, too.