How To Choose A Safe, Reliable Online Bookmaker

Online betting is a very competitive industry. But in our opinion there’s only a small number of factors a player needs to consider when choosing one Bookmaker from another — and it’s mainly down to personal preference.

So what should you ask yourself before depositing money at a Bookmaker? How can you be sure a Bookie is safe and reliable?


Licencing & Legality

Does The Bookmaker Have A Licence?

There are still a number of Bookmakers operating illegally, accepting customers outside of their jurisdiction. You need to disregard these ones from the outset — regardless whether they offer enticing bonuses — and narrow your search down to the legal ones.

Licensed UK Bookmakers are governed by the Gambling Commission, and bare their logo on their site. While licenced Bookie cant usually guarantee that your funds are 100% protected, they are required to prove financial stability before obtaining a licence. In effect, your money is perfectly safe.

Furthermore, in the event of a liquidation the licensed Bookmaker has an obligation to protect player funds as much as possible. So it makes little sense to risk losing your funds by betting with unlicensed vendors.

Rest assured that all of the recommended Bookmakers on this website hold a licence with the UK Gambling Commission.


Payment Methods

What Payment Methods Does The Bookmaker Offer?

Consider how you would prefer to deposit and withdraw your funds to/from an online Bookmaker.

Bank transfers are accepted by pretty much all Bookmakers, as well as various cred/debit card options. However, a lot of online gamblers opt for e-wallets due to its speed and ease of use. E-wallets reduce betting-related activity at your bank, which vastly reduces the likelihood of receiving (time consuming) phone calls to clarify or unblock transactions.

So if an alternative payment method is for you, then it’s important that your chosen Bookmaker enables you to make transfers.

For this site we’ve hand-picked Bookmakers offering an array of popular & alternative payment methods. Just keep in mind that most free bet promotions are only credited to customers that deposited by card/bank.


Transaction Fees

Does The Bookmaker Charge Any Transaction Fees?

Unfortunately some Bookies charge for a withdrawals (and even deposits, on rare occasions). The fee differs depending on your chosen payment method.

Small flat fees are undesirable, but excusable. However, imagine paying fixed 3% fee per withdrawal. For a £250 payment that’s £7.50! It’s extortionate, and no way to treat a customer. Yet several Bookmakers charge this.

So before you even deposit, ensure that your Bookmaker plays fair. Otherwise look for a competitor that does.

All of the Bookmakers recommended on this site have little, or no, fess for deposits and withdrawals.


Withdrawal Times

How Long Does The Bookmaker Take To Pay Out?

We believe that Bookmakers should pay out winning quickly, without any hassle.

Withdrawal times vary for each Bookmaker. Some are extremely fast, paying out in less than an hour. Others are much slower. The majority of well-known UK Bookmakers tend to take up to three working days, on average. Anything above this is considered slow.

We encourage players to be patient with their first withdrawal, as there are procedures Bookmakers must adhere to in order to keep their licence. For example, before paying out withdrawals, Bookmakers need to perform verification checks to protect against fraudulent activity and money laundering. This can sometimes delay payouts — but thankfully it’s usually just a one-off formality.

Our site only recommends Bookies with speedy withdrawal times.


Free Bets, Bonuses & Promotions

What Bonuses Does The Bookmaker Offer?

If you bet regularly then you ought to be rewarded from time to time. So it’s a good idea to find out which Bookmakers boast the highest rewards, or frequently offer promotions.

Enhanced prices, refunds and bonuses are promotions regularly offered to existing customers. They’re often related to current sporting events (e.g. Wimbledon, The Grand National, Football Internationals).

Many Bookmakers also offer loyalty schemes with consistent, predictable, long-term rewards that may interest you. You’ll need to browse through our Bookmaker reviews to determine what schemes are most appealing to you. Or alternatively, just keep accounts open with several Bookies, so that you clock up multiple rewards!

If you’re unclear on how sports betting promotions/bonuses work, then read our post: Bookmaker Free Bets Explained.


Offline Services

Does The Bookmaker Have An Offline Presence?

Some UK Bookmakers offer shop and racecourse betting. Others don’t, and probably never will.

So if you’re someone that regularly bets at physical locations (shops, tracks), then that could influence your go-to choice of online Bookmaker. Bettors who have accumulated loyalty points at a physical brand, can often carry those over to an online account.

With a loyalty system punters are able to unlock benefits such as deals & discounts for cinemas, leisure activities, your favourite restaurants & pubs, sporting events etc.

Learn more about the incentives provided by our recommended Bookies.


Ease of Use

Is The Bookmaker’s Website Or App Easy To Use?

Some Bookmaker websites are more user-friendly than others.
You may find that one site makes it easier to navigate to your favourite markets than another. Or that one site has a customisable feature that another doesn’t. It might just be that the colours of one site are easiest on your eyes. It’s all down to your preference.

Our top rated betting sites are very well-designed and easy to use. And with so many of us betting on-the-move nowadays we’ve carefully considered the user-friendliness and overall quality of the mobile apps.

Be sure to check out our full reviews to learn more about the mobile and web interfaces for our highly recommended, accredited Bookies.


Range of Markets

Does The Bookmaker Offer The Sports You Want?

Popular football events are covered by almost all online Bookmakers. Horse Racing is covered by most popular UK brands — but not all.

Bookmakers vary more in their offering of niche sports/markets, and additional products. For example, some Bookmakers are well-recognised for their casino, games and poker sections, too. So if you’re someone that likes to switch between gambling products then it’s a good idea to leave your options open with a good “all rounder”.

If you only care about sport, then just ensure the Bookmaker offers the depth of markets you’d want. For example, if you enjoy betting on obscure leagues in Football, you should check whether it’s available first. But importantly the range of markets doesn’t necessarily reflect quality of service.


Value For Money

Are The Bookmaker’s Odds Competitive?

Last but not least, you need to ensure your chosen Bookie offers competitive prices (odds).

Most popular UK Bookmakers have relatively synchronised prices — but some offer noticeably more value than others.

Our advice is to open accounts at various reputable Bookies. That way you have the flexibility to select the best odds at any point. Over time you’ll begin to work out what online Bookmaker offers more value for the sports/markets you frequently bet on.

Just remember that some Bookmakers provide more services, and better incentives than others. So the odds alone may not dictate what site offers the best overall experience for you.

To help you out, we’ve reviewed all of our favourite Bookmakers. Rest assured that only trustworthy, reliable, well-received companies made it onto our site.