The United Kingdom is something of a bettor’s paradise. Traditionally, the countries of England, Scotland, and Wales have been home to a gambling-friendly culture. Since the passage of the Betting & Gaming Act of 1960, sports betting has been a part of the UK’s cultural landscape.
But gambling has a much longer history in this part of the world – gambling houses were the number one social setting for people in the 16-1700’s, and most of the modern cultural sights in the UK were at least in part funded by lotteries. The British Museum, for example, was almost entirely funded from sales of lottery tickets sold expressly for that purpose.
Lying as it does (both culturally and on the map) immediately between the European landmass and that of America, it is no surprise that gambling in the UK is a blend of both old-school European and modern American traditions. From continental Europe comes a passion for games like baccarat and Pontoon, and from America, a cultural obsession with fruit machines and modern forms of sports wagering.
The category of betting where the UK really shines is, in fact, sports. The world’s best-known and most influential online sportsbooks are headquartered in the UK – names like William Hill, Ladbrokes, Skybet and Bet365 are all benchmarks for the rest of the industry, and all are of UK (specifically British) origin. A transition from kiosk wagering only to the availability of phone and then Internet wagers has led to a huge increase in the revenue stream for these sports wagering businesses – and the launch of a thousand knockoff sportsbook sites focused on other markets.
Let’s take a longer look at the best available UK online sportsbooks, as well as notes on gaming law in the UK, popular UK deposit methods, and other features of the roaring UK-based sportsbook market.
Are UK Online Sportsbooks Legal?
The short answer: Yes, but with a couple of important restrictions. Citizens of England, Scotland, and Wales are well within their rights to place wagers on sports on the Internet, provided those wagers take place according to restrictions put in place by the UK Gambling Commission:
The minimum gambling age for all Internet wagering in the UK is 18.
They’re pretty serious about this one – both local and national penal codes in all parts of the UK apply special penalties and fees both for bettors who wager underage and the sites that accept their illegal wagers. This age was set because of financial restrictions put in place by the banks and other institutions that process payments to and from online sportsbooks. In short, online bettors in the UK regularly use financial products that require a minimum age of 18 for issuance.
Sites that offer bets to UK citizens must obtain and maintain a specific form of remote gaming license.
This one isn’t really a concern for UK-based bettors, but rather for operators of sportsbook sites in the United Kingdom. If a site is caught operating without this specific license, it will be shut down and its assets can be seized. Criminal prosecution of individuals that work for the company is not unheard of, either.
The United Kingdom’s gaming commission accepts licensure from a big pool of licensing bodies from around the world, considering them equal to their own licensure. But keep your eyes on the news, because the government is considering no longer supporting these alternative licensures, and may require that all sites that are available to Britons, Scots, and the Welsh be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission.
The Gambling Act of 2005 has another important role in this question – that act was partially designed to address the very serious issue of problem gambling in the United Kingdom. It’s unclear at this point whether that aspect of the act was successful – here’s the quote I’m talking about: “… the gaming industry must act responsibly on the issue of addiction and gaming, requiring groups that offer online gambling, lottery games, and other contests of chance and skill to contribute.”
By that requirement, all UK-based sportsbooks and online casinos must contribute some of their revenue to anti-problem gaming campaigns. According to the UK Gambling Commission, the British arm of the industry alone contributes some £3 million annually to programs designed to battle gambling addiction and other gambling problems. But has it done much to stop the spread of this terrible disease? At this point, that issue is up for debate.
What to Look for in a UK-Facing Sportsbook
If you use just a little common sense, you can choose a good UK sportsbook based entirely on your personal preferences. That’s because the market is regulated by the government, so that highly-competent sites have flourished.
Bettors in the United Kingdom hold a huge advantage over the massive betting population found across the pond in the United States – they have legal access to all sorts of sportsbook properties, payment methods, and bonus offers. While the US restricts legal access to most of these things, bettors in the UK can use this advantage to shop around for the best possible features, or the ones that suit their needs the best.
Another advantage – it’s easier to identify legitimate online sportsbooks and do business only with above-board operators. Americans are at times faced with so few options that they’re forced to sign up with services that they know to be slow-to-pay (or worse) for the simple fact that they have no other options.
The same goes for the payment methods market – Americans are often forced to choose just one method (the one they have access to), while people in the UK can choose the one that makes sense for their budget, that’s the fastest, or that features whatever aspect they’re looking for in an online sportsbook.
Here are some features to consider when shopping for a United Kingdom-based sports betting site:
- Available Bonuses & Promotions
I like to use a site’s promotional program as a barometer of its overall value – and this has nothing to do with chasing actual bonuses. Sure, if you enjoy promotions like free wagers, loss rebates, and bonus cash, UK online sportsbooks are going to be a good fit. They use these offers the way shops use Buy-One-Get-One-Free offers and supermarket coupons – as incentives to place bets at their shop over the one at the URL next door. But even if you aren’t planning on chasing a welcome or reload bonus, or claiming a referral offer or a cash rebate, it’s good to look around at the bonuses a site is offering. Generally speaking, the more promotions that are available, the more trustworthy the betting site. Offering rewards requires that you have a decent cashier and legal department, and it also shows some measure of concern for the playing experience of their customers, which is always a good sign.
- Available Betting Markets
I’m not saying that you should only play at UK online sportsbooks that offer wagers in every sport known to man. Instead, when you’re researching a book before you sign up, just make sure that they offer all the markets you’re interested in. If you prefer to wager on American sports, like the NBA or Major League Baseball, it doesn’t make much sense to join a site that specializes in international football. Because you are wagering in the UK market, you don’t have the same safety concerns as bettors in other parts of the world, so it’s fair to be picky about the book you join.
- Deposit & Withdrawal Methods
Again, because you live in the UK, you’re going to have a lot more choice when it comes to payment methods than US-based bettors, or bettors in Australia. The UK market for payment methods is pretty much wide-open, so you have a ton of choice in this matter. So much choice, in fact, that you can and should leverage your deposit method when joining a book. If a sportsbook doesn’t offer you some sort of bonus or special perk for using the deposit method of your choice, just check out a new site. You’re bound to eventually find one that will offer you a special deposit bonus (usually 5-10%) just for using UKash or whatever UK-specific payment method you prefer. Be snobby, be demanding, and remember that since you have lots of other choices, it’s a buyer’s market.
Top Deposit Methods for UK Online Sportsbooks
Because UK online sportsbooks tend to be aimed at bettors outside of the United States, their list of available deposit methods tends to reflect what’s available to people in England, Scotland, Wales, and the rest of Europe.
The three deposit methods described briefly below are easily the most popular ones used by UK residents (and people outside the UK) to make deposits to the cashier accounts at their United Kingdom-based online sportsbook:
- Debit/Credit/Gift Cards – Because the credit market is wide open to games of chance and skill in the UK, deposits via branded debit, credit, or gift cards are extremely common, cheap or free depending on the rules of the book you’re looking at, and as easy to perform as any online purchase.
- Bitcoin – The latest form of deposits being accepted by many of the UK Sportsbook operators is the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. This form of payment is quick, easy, transparent and safe. It is not accepted by all UK sportsbooks yet, but slowly they are starting to jump on board the Bitcoin train.
- PayPal – Though PayPal doesn’t allow deposits and withdrawals from American customers (and bettors from other markets), UK-based bettors can use their PayPal accounts to instantly send money to and from their online sportsbook accounts. This method rivals the use of branded cards in terms of convenience and cost, as it’s not hard to find a site that will happily accept your PayPal deposit free of all charge.
- eWallets – This isn’t a specific example of one deposit method used in UK sportsbook sites – rather an example of a whole family of options available to bettors in the UK and other parts of Europe. eWallets like UKash, Instadebit, Neteller, and Click2Pay are rabidly popular across Europe, and are used for all forms of retail shopping and bill paying.These aren’t just products designed for casino and sportsbook deposit and withdrawals. They’re legitimate financial products that most UK- and US-facing sportsbooks are all-too-happy to accept. It’s common to find special deposit bonuses for payments using a specific eWallet product.
The Best UK-Facing Online Sportsbooks
Here are brief reviews of the best online sportsbooks for players from the United Kingdom:
|Top UK Sportsbooks||Sign Up Link|
|Bet365||SIGN UP HERE|
|William Hill||SIGN UP HERE|
|Ladbrokes||SIGN UP HERE|
|Skybet||SIGN UP HERE|
Bet365 is one of the leading UK sportsbook websites and with one look at the site you will see why. The site is very simple to navigate and the information you need is right in front of you. They are licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission and have been a premier sportsbook in the UK for many years.
There are many great features on the site and they have a very generous welcome bonus. Bet365 also has a racebook, poker room, games, casino, and bingo. They cover all sports from around the globe and even have virtual sports and financials.
Bet365 has all the great things that any reputable and solid UK betting website should have and much more. They offer live in play betting and on the main page you can check out the events that are live and have odds. There is live streaming, a bet slip, Top Coupons, and a bet slip. Odds can be viewed in decimal, fractional, and American form and there is mobile gaming. Bet365 also has a lot of UK sports betting info and there are even stats for soccer as well as stats for other European, American, and Australian sports.
Bet365 is one of the better UK sports betting sites in terms of bonuses and promotions. They not only have a solid welcome bonus for new players, but also several others such as a Euro soccer and Euro basketball bonus, tennis accumulator bonus, a parlay bonus, and a bore money back bonus. Their bonuses and promotions are always changing and they have many for the bigger events such as the Champions League and the World Cup.
If you need good customer service you cannot beat Bet365. For any question that you may have for United Kingdom betting or anything else they have you covered. Their customer service department is 24/7 and you can contact them via e-mail, phone, and even Live Chat. They also have an extensive help section on the site, which breaks down many questions that people often have. Bet365 offers many deposit and withdrawal options and the site can be viewed in many languages.
Overall, it is hard to beat Bet365 with all the things they offer their players. Their reputation is one of the best in the business and with all they offer and how their attractive site is set up and simple to navigate it is easy to see why.
William Hill is one of the more trusted and reputable online UK betting sportsbooks and they have been taking betting action since 1934. No matter what your betting needs are William Hill has you covered and they cover most every sport the world over.
Besides a top notch UK betting sportsbook William Hill also has a casino, live casino, racebook, poker room, scratchcards, and bingo. They offer solid customer service, bonuses and promotions, and mobile and live betting and they are licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission.
You will see by visiting the William Hill UK betting website all the information is at your fingertips. They have all the Live Betting games shown on the main page and all the big upcoming events as well. It is very simple to navigate the attractive site and all the sports that you can think of have links that will show you the upcoming action in those events. William Hill also offers things that many other sportsbooks do not such as WHTV Live Streaming, Radio/Podcasts, a Tip Advisor, and Betting TV. You can also follow William Hill on Twitter and Facebook to keep up on all that is going on with the UK sports betting site.
William Hill has a generous new customer offer where if you bet 10 pounds you will get 30 pounds in free bets. That is just one of the promotions they offer, as just a few more are getting an extra 15% bonus if you bet the horses and your pick wins by at least two lengths, getting the odds you want by Tweeting them, Enhanced Odds on Favorite Markets, Cash In My Bet, and more. You can check out the odds for all the events in decimal, fractional, and American form.
William Hill offers links for the Major Betting Events as well as Football Quick Links. The 24/7 customer service department is a good one and they have an extensive FAQ section as well that will answer most of your questions. Besides a great UK Sportsbook that is part of the William Hill PLC group there is also William Hill Australia , William Hill US & William Hill Italia. William Hill also had many land-based UK betting shops and there is a Betting Shop link on the site making them easy to find. No matter what you are looking for in terms of a great UK betting website William Hill has you covered.
Ladbrokes is an exceptional UK betting website that has everything a solid online sportsbook should have and more. If there is a sporting event happening around the world Ladbrokes will have odds for it. They have the links for the more popular United Kingdom betting sports of football, cricket, rugby, tennis, and golf and they also have a link for A-Z sports, which features odds for every other sport imaginable. They are licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission and their landing page is jam-packed will all the betting information you need. They are also one of the leaders in the online gaming industry when it comes to other types of betting, as they offer bingo, a casino, slots, poker, lottos, a racebook, and virtuals.
Ladbrokes features a bet slip, in play betting, streaming, and other useful UK betting information. They also have land-based shots and even have a shop located link on the site making them very easy to find. They have a form and stat predictor and mobile betting is available. On the landing page you will see all of the in play betting action that is going on that you can wager on. Ladbrokes also has more betting information such as the Stats & Result Centre and the Sports News section.
If you are looking for great bonuses and promotions from a UK sportsbook than Ladbrokes is the website to check out. They don’t have one, but a few of them and they link some of them to big events that are happening at that time. They offer many football/soccer bonuses, especially for the Premier League and Champions League, and also offer unique ones when the World Cup rolls around. They are also known for having good ones when it comes to horse and greyhound racing. Customer service is available 24/7 by phone. There is no lack of deposit and withdrawal methods and not only do they have mobile betting, but betting over the phone as well.
— LadbrokesPromos (@LadbrokesPromos) February 25, 2017
Ladbrokes is one of the leaders in the UK sportsbook field and that is easy to see with all the information, promotions, and betting options they offer to their players. The site is very attractive and while packed with useful betting information and tools it is still very easy to navigate. You can also view the site in many languages and there is even a Settings link where you can set up the UK betting site the way you like. Overall, if betting in the UK is your cup of tea you cannot go wrong using Ladbrokes.
Skybet is of the premier UK betting online sportsbooks that is part of the giant Sky media brand. They are one of the best sites when it comes to Premier League football betting and no matter what the sport, chances are, they will have odds for it.
The layout of the website is very easy to navigate and they have Top Sports, Quick Links, and A-Z Sports right on the main page, so it is easy to find what you are looking for. Skybet has all the features any good UK sportsbook should have from tons of sports to wager on to bonuses and promotions to top-notch customer service to betting tips. Skybet is licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission so you know they are reputable and legitimate.
Skybet offers all the sports that have odds from the bigger Premier League matches to lower cricket league matches and everything in-between. They even have link to their other UK betting sites for Poker, bingo, racebook, and casino. Live betting is available on the site and navigation for the attractive website could not be easier. They even offer mobile betting as well.
There is no lack of promotions and bonus offers at Skybet, as they not only have a solid new customer free bet promotions, but many others as well. Just a few of their offers include a £5 FREE bet every week that you spend £25, Price Boosts for various events, free spins a the casino, and paying four places instead of three at the racebook. There is a help section right on the main page and a MyBets link that allows you to easy check what bets you have made and how they are doing if the event you wagered on is happening. You can always stay up to date for betting in the UK, as on the main page you will see the Forthcoming Events as well as the Next Races. Also offered from Skybet is a Betting Calculator where you can work out your returns and a Horse Racing Form.
The Customer service department at Skybet is top notch and in the Help and Support section there is a lot of information in whatever type of support you are looking for. For England Premier League betting Skybet not only has great betting action, but various promotions as well as league information. All in all Skybet is one of the premier UK sportsbooks online today and their reputation as a Sky brand cannot be beat.
UK-based online sportsbooks are some of the best-loved and best-reviewed in the world. Unfortunately, they tend to be closed to business from US players, thanks to restrictions on that country imposed by the 2006 UIGEA bill. For now, if you live in the UK, you have some of the most liberal gaming laws in the world to deal with, and as long as you’re 18 years old, you can take your pick of dozens of big-name sportsbooks willing to fight for your business with bonuses and other special offers.