What Does It Take to Be a Good Bookmaker in the UK?
We should first appreciate the fact that the competition within the massive online bookmaker industry is staggering. The number of online UK bookmakers is forever increasing, new online bookmakers surge onto the scene at a rapid rate and for new UK customers selecting the best betting sites may seem like an intimidating task.
This article aims to help guide a new customer into selecting the correct online bookmaker based on ratings, outlining features to search for and compare when looking into what it takes to be a good bookmaker in the UK. As there are so many sports bookmakers out there, have a look at our ratings and rankings as a starting point when selecting a new online bookmaker.
License – Reputable and Trustworthy Bookmakers
When looking at UK bookmakers, a legitimate concern for any new customer will be the reliability of the operator and how regulated the online betting site is. All UK betting sites are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, other betting sites may be licensed by other gambling commissions depending on their location in the world. The Gambling Commission lays down strict regulations that a licensed betting site must adhere to, these regulations are there to protect the customer.
Well-established online bookmakers such as Paddy Power or William Hill generally come with a good reputation as being reliable and trustworthy which is backed up with a good user experience and ratings. New online bookies may not have an experienced reputation but this is not to say the bookmaker is not trustworthy or reliable.
A new customer should always check that the bookmaker is legitimate and licensed, check terms and conditions and look for any poor reviews of the bookmaker such as poor customer service or failure to payout. Online bookmakers without a license do not need to follow the regulations laid down by gambling commissions which can leave customers unprotected in the case of any wrongdoing.
What is the UK Gambling Commission?
All gambling in the United Kingdom is regulated by the Gambling Commission. This does not just include Bookmakers and online betting sites. It regulates all corners of gambling; Bingo, Lotteries, Casino’s, slot arcades and companies that provide the machines and the software. The commission licences and regulates the businesses and people who work in or provide gambling in the United Kingdom. As well as laying down guidelines for the involved businesses and people to follow the commission is also there to protect the public. Any complaints about transactions or service that customers may have encountered can be communicated to the commission. The commission also promotes safer gambling, gambling awareness, getting help and avoiding any fraud and scams.
A User-Friendly Website
There are two ways to define a user-friendly website. First, we refer to on-site navigation and the layout of the pages. Can visitors find what it is that they are looking for? How easy is it to encounter the most relevant sports? How long does the page take to load? Is a help section clearly labelled? What are user ratings of the website that are intuitive in their design will naturally attract a more robust customer base.
The second point to address is the fact that there should be numerous customer service options in the event that an issue arises. Email, live chat widgets and a dedicated toll-free phone number are all recommended.
Sign-up Process of a Betting Site
For a new customer, the first experience they will have once they have selected which online betting site to deposit with will be the sign-up process. The best betting sites will have a simple, streamlined and secure verification process which can also set an example to a new customer as to how the rest of the online betting site will operate. Nearly all online betting sites require the same customer information in the sign-up process. It is the ability to easily and securely input this information and the amount of time it takes the bookmaker to verify the details that a new customer should take into account when deciding upon a new UK bookmaker.
Mobile Version of the Website and a Mobile App
A growing number of users are now accessing UK betting sites while away from the home or the office. So, it only stands to reason that every portal must be able to be fully displayed on a smartphone or a mobile device. This can help to accommodate the needs of those on the go and once again, such an option is sure to attract a wider customer base.
Mobile applications have become synonymous with effective websites. And this same principle holds true within the world of sports bookmakers. A mobile “app” enables clients to quickly and easily visit their account, to view the latest sports standings and ratings. And perhaps most importantly, to take advantage of the best spreads when they become available. A mobile application also signals that the company is seeking to cater to the needs of its customer base.
The Variety of Sports Available at the Betting Site
The range of sports and sports betting markets available to customers differ from one UK bookmaker to another. One of the main reasons new UK customers will sign up to a bookmaker is to place bets on their chosen sports and a variety of sports available to place bets on. Nearly all UK betting sites will offer sports betting markets on major sports such as football betting, horse racing, boxing and tennis, however, more and more online bookmakers are offering sports betting on the more niche markets and the more obscure sports. For example when football betting a punter may not just want to bet on matches in the Premier League but to look further afield and to place bets on matches in the Dutch Eredivisie or the Australian A-League
. Other customers may be only concerned with horse racing betting and should look to select the best online bookmakers offering the best sports betting markets for horse racing. A new customer should search out which are the best betting sites for football or which are the best betting sites for horse racing depending on their needs. In general, the best online bookmakers will have a wide range of sports to place bets on and feature leagues and sports events from around the world.
Fixed Odds Betting
Fixed-odds betting is the most common form of betting that UK bookmakers offer. In general terms, it means that when making a bet with the bookmaker the odds that the customer and bookmaker have accepted will remain the same without varying until the settlement of the bet. Whatever the price of the bet accepted at that time, no matter what happens in the market the price will not change, compared to when a customer places a bet taking the starting price where the price of the odds at the beginning of the event are the odds placed by the bookmaker.
The advantage of placing a bet with fixed odds is mainly to secure the bet without the possibility of the odds changing, especially when betting on an event where the odds may change depending on the market. For example, betting on horse racing where odds will fluctuate until the race starts, a customer has the opportunity to place a fixed-odds bet on a horse that they believe is a good price.
The Number of Deposit and Withdrawal Options
There are several benefits associated with the ability to offer numerous deposit and withdrawal options. This enhanced level of flexibility can cater to clients of all levels as opposed to only those who utilise specific tools such as Skrill or PayPal. Also, we should mention that a greater number of payment methods the bookmakers have tend to be associated with higher levels of security. Some of the most common forms include:
- Debit cards
- Direct debit
- Online payment portals such as Neteller and PayPal
There are some bookmakers that are now even beginning to accept Bitcoins as payment options. A kaleidoscope of transfer methods is the hallmarks of a reputable bookmaker site.
Withdrawal Times of a Bookmaker
As a rule of thumb, withdrawal times will vary as they depend upon the type of service employed. For example, PayPal states that an online transfer request will take between two and three business days. Transfers directly into one’s bank account could take considerably longer.
Despite these general rules, it is still a fact that some UK bookmakers delay withdrawals. This is unwise, for clients are likely to become frustrated if their money is not sent as soon as it is requested. There can be cases when processing takes a day, but this is seen as being the maximum amount of allowable time. Summarily, quick withdrawal times reflect a transparent and efficient bookmaker.
High Betting Odds and High Payout Rates
Sports betting is primarily based upon the odds offered, the inherent spreads and payout rates. One of the biggest selling points of any sports betting site is if the bookmaker is offering the best odds available towards the client and the payout rates are just as agreeable. According to analysts, the bookmakers average payout rate is approximately 90%. The remaining percentage is the calling rake (reserved for the bookmaker). While this may seem quite high, the fact of the matter is that some sports betting sites now offer figures as high as 95%. This is obviously beneficial to the customer in question.
Odds are another major concern. Not only will these ratios determine the payout in question, but they can help to highlight whether or not the bets are thought to be wise. Higher odds (within reason) are always agreeable. Astute sports bettors will often compare and contrast the major bookmaker sites to appreciate which bookmakers offer the best odds.
Live Betting Options
Live betting options are now becoming common for all bookmakers. Why is this the case? We first need to take into account high-speed Internet access and 4G mobile phone speeds. Live in play betting allows customers to place bets once the game or race has started offering customers a new dimension to sports betting.
Live in-play betting is exciting, as odds on the spread can change quickly depending on variables occurring such as goals, substitutions or tactical changes. Also, bookmaker sites that offer in-play betting tend to experience higher Internet traffic. In turn, this will help the portal itself to rank higher within the search engine results page (SERP). Higher rankings equate to a better bookmakers reputation.
Live Streaming Options
We should never forget that a bookmaker is primarily concerned with sports. Whether referring to horse racing, basketball, football or rugby, customers need to be kept up to date at all times. After all, late-breaking information will undoubtedly impact the ways in which they place bets.
This is the primary reason why popular UK bookmakers will offer live streaming options within their websites. Recall that this is not only concerned with embedded flash videos. Streaming spreads and odds should also be displayed. Any sites which do not offer a live streaming feature are not considered to be “modern” in the contemporary sense.
A good online bookmaker essentially needs to provide great customer service. From step 1 of signing up with a bookmaker to problems with withdrawal or general questions about a betting account, customers should expect expert help with their queries from their bookmakers where questions can be answered and problems solved as quickly and professionally as possible.
The best online bookies offer live chat, telephone and email customer service that is available 24/7 for instant feedback. The number of positive ratings of the bookmakers’ customer service will reflect on the dependability of the betting site.
What offers do Bookmakers Provide to New Players?
Due in part to the competition, it is always critical for online bookies to attract new players. New betting sites often come with an excellent welcome bonus. Although the structure of the site, as well as its internal features, are very important, many players have a particular interest in the bookmakers sign up offers for a new customer.
Although the bonus of the welcome offer may look attractive there are requirements that need to be met for free bets such as wagering requirements, how long free bets will be valid before they expire or what are the minimum odds to bet when using free bets. What are some of the most common bookmakers sign up offers that the best betting sites use?
Deposit Bonus Offers
Perhaps the most common welcome offer bookmakers award for new players is a one-time deposit bonus. In the majority of cases, this equates to a certain “matched” percentage of the amount that the player deposits or uses for their first bet. For example, a new customer has made a deposit of £500 and that a first-time bonus offers a matched 20%. In this case, the player would receive a bonus of £100. Therefore, having £600 to place bets with.
No Deposit Bonus Offers
A no-deposit bonus is a bookmaker’s welcome offer which states that those who register will receive a certain amount of free credits or a free bet without having to make any instalments to the bookmaker. However, it will be necessary to make a future deposit to claim any accrued winnings.
There can be times regarding a welcome offer when a bookmaker will award a certain amount of cashback after an instalment or when he or she has placed a specific number of bets. The bookmaker often rewards the bonus in the form of a free bet or a number of free bets, of course, the exact stipulations will vary between each online bookmaker.
A Free Bet Offer
A free bet allows a customer to place a bet without using their own money. Although named “free bet” the free bet offer generally requires customers to make a qualifying first bet before being awarded the free bet. Often a bookmaker will entice a new customer to their site with the offer of a free bet within the welcome offer. Free bets will be rewarded to the betting account after making a qualifying bet, such as bet 10 get 30 in free bets, the free bets credited after settlement of the first qualifying bet. Time limits and required minimum odds generally come with free bets, a 7 days free bet is the usual time limit a bookmaker will require a customer to play the free bets.
The Asian Handicap: Established Bookmakers Have It in Their Portfolio
Asian Handicap (AH) is available as a betting option within many established UK bookmakers such as William Hill. Due to that, it eliminates the possibility of a draw during a sporting event (represented as 33 per cent). In other words, the outcome of any match can be one of three ways:
- A win
- A loss
- A draw (depending upon the sports)
An Asian Handicap prevents a draw from entering into the equation. This is an especially useful option when two competitors or sports teams equal in possessing the same skills and levels of expertise. So, bettors can instead rely upon their preference for one side or the other. Also, Asian Handicaps are OPTIONAL as opposed to mandatory. So, customers will have another choice besides a standard bet. In conclusion, bookmakers that offer flexible sports betting options will experience a more robust customer base.
Ongoing Promotions for Regular Players
Customer loyalty for online bookmakers is paramount to enjoy longevity within this industry. Despite the majority of betting bonuses and promotions being for new customers. Likewise, it is logical to highlight that reputable online UK bookmakers offer unique prizes for ongoing members. Some of the most common online bookmakers ongoing promotions include:
Cashback bonuses in the form of a free bet
VIP or Loyalty Programmes – receiving the best odds, free bets and bonus offers
Bonus virtual “credits”
Multi-bet bonuses (higher payouts when UK customers bet on more than one sport).
Virtual credits when one makes a specific number of bets.
These are only a few examples of the countless number of promotions that currently exist. Once again, it is wise to take a look at the best betting sites ratings, look at user ratings of bookmakers to determine which provides the best bonuses for their players.