Picking a bookie can feel a bit like being a kid in a candy store – there’s so much choice online!
That’s where we come in. Here at the ThePuntersPage, you’ll discover some of the most detailed and honest bookmaker reviews in the UK, helping you sort out the wheat from the chaff. In this article, we’ll explain why our ranking system is the best and most comprehensive around.
How We Rate Online Bookmakers
Ratings run our lives – they’re a great way of figuring out what’s worth trying or not. If I were looking for a restaurant and saw a score of 3/10, I would probably steer clear. It’s the exact same for bookmakers. Our ranking system will guide you to making the best choices when it comes to operators.
Our ranking system takes into account 10 major aspects, with each section contributing 5 points. The tally is then added up, and a rating out of 5 stars is calculated. Let’s go through each section and how we rate them in more detail.
Security – The Number One Priority
Imagine you’re walking down a dark alleyway. You can’t see where you’re going, and all you can think about is what could be hiding in the shadows. Makes you feel uneasy, right? Well, that’s what a shady bookie might make you feel like.
For us, security is the most crucial aspect for bookies to be considered any good. When dealing with money, and in some cases, a lot of it, we all need peace of mind, knowing that we won’t get scammed out of our hard-earned cash. We rate how secure a site is by using the following criteria:
UKGC Licensing – 1 point
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission is the authority for all gambling withing the UK. If a bookmaker doesn’t have this, and their operating in England, Scotland or Wales, they’re doing so illegally.
Having this is really the bare minimum, and many bookies will have many licenses to operate in other countries and regions as well, look out for the following to make sure that the bookies are legal in the UK:
(Source: Paddy Power)
Various limits are available- 1 point
Another great way to tell if a site actually cares about your well-being is whether they offer certain tools to help monitor your spending. These could be daily, weekly, or monthly deposit limits, general betting limits, and anything that will help you manage your bankroll and gambling behaviour.
Online Reputation – 1 point
This mainly pertains to whether or not a bookie has breached any rules or regulations set by the UK Gambling Commission. We also take note of any feedback from the general public and if there have been any scandals of note.
Responsible Gambling – 1 point
Something we take very seriously is what lengths a bookie will go to make sure that you get the help you need. For many punters this could be a place to set time outs for a short period of time, or self-exclusions, if you need long term changes.
In addition to adding limits, there should also be helpful links to organisations such as GamCare or GAMSTOP, which are usually found at the site’s footer.
Registration Process – Accessibility is Key
To join a new bookmaker, you’ll naturally need to create an account. Most of the top bookies will ask for the same information throughout this process on their registration form.
What makes a truly good registration process is how user-friendly, quick, and easy it is. Our criteria are as follows:
Steps and ease of signing up – 3 points
You’ve clicked on ‘Join Now’ or ‘Register’ on a new bookie. What’s next? Some bookies may split this process, or some might fit everything into the same page. The most important thing is that it’s easy to fill in. If it isn’t, it may become overwhelming and frustrating.
Most bookies will ask for the same information, i.e., email, username, password, address, age, and so on. So, if a bookie is asking for too much information, it may be off-putting – unless it’s justified.
You also may need to add a promo code if you want to benefit from a particular promotion. This field should be clearly displayed to ensure that you don’t miss out.
Verification Process Requirements – 2 points
Odds are, if you have registered on a new bookie, you’ve done a KYC. ‘Know Your Customer’ is a process to confirm all the information you have provided, normally in the form of an I.D. card and a recent utility bill.
Being able to get this process out of the way quickly comes down to how the bookmaker presents it – be it a pop-up on screen or a notification on your account page.
Welcome Offers – The Best Value for Our Users
Everyone loves a welcome offer. For most people, it’s this first offer that attracts them to try out a site. It’s important to remember that not all welcome bonuses are created equally. Some offer something better, some require more work – it all depends on what it is. Below is how we rate the best welcome offers available.
Overall Generosity – 2 points
This concerns just how good an offer is. The prevalent ‘bet to get’ promotion is a classic, usually advertised with a description on the lines of “Bet £10 and get £30 in free bets.” Other examples include ‘bet £5 get £5’ or a ‘bet £5 get £50’.
Another type of offer is the deposit match, where the bookie will add a certain amount to your initial deposit. For example, a 100% matched deposit means that if you deposit £50, you’ll actually get £100.
How Achievable is the Bonus? – 1 point
This is important, as some bookies may have welcome offers which require you to do something first. A simple ‘bet £5, get £20’ offer still means that you have to bet £5 first. An example of something much harder would be to bet £100 and get £150 – while this sounds good, a £100 bet is way too high to start with for most.
Some bookies might add challenges, such as placing bets on two different sports or playing a casino game. Performing a lot of tasks may make the offer feel like work – nobody wants that.
Wagering Requirements – 1 point
Wagering requirements including everything that happens after you get your reward. Including how and when the money can be withdrawn. For example, if I bet£5 and get £20, can I play them, and withdraw the winnings right away? Or do I have to wait until I’ve played a certain number of bets. The best bookmakers will keep this as simple as possible for you.
Overall General Terms and Conditions – 1 point
If to claim a welcome offer, you have to ‘make a £50 bet on Sunday at midnight on a system bet on a tennis match’ – you may think it’s not worth it, and fair enough. Simplicity is key. Most bookies will set some limits, these are normally the minimum odds you can punt at, and the maximum you can stake on a bet. We give a point to whoever makes it easy on punters.
Deposit and Withdrawal Options – The More the Merrier
Ugh! There’s nothing worse than joining a new bookie only to find out that they don’t offer the payment method that you use. A site with very few choices can be seen as a bit of a red flag, especially if they have limited withdrawal methods.
We love sites which have many payment options. Of course, bookies can’t please everybody, but versatility is extremely useful in this regard. Here’s how we come up with our score.
How many options are available? – 1 point
As we mentioned before, a bookie who offers many options is deemed to be more reliable. The added choice also lets you diversify your deposits which may be beneficial for many punters.
Are there any fees involved? – 1 point
Many bookies have managed to avoid charging their customers extra costs, making depositing and withdrawing completely free. While you may be asked to pay a fee by your bookmaker, or your bank, we believe that less is more in this case. We give a point to bookmakers who don’t charge fees.
How long do withdrawals take? – 1 point
Withdrawals are slightly harder to compare. Each method may vary in processing time compared to others, but in general, we give this point to bookies who have the fastest withdrawal times. These tend to take less than24 hours – and are often e-wallets. In the case of traditional methods, less than two days is often a good time frame.
Is bookmaker known for having withdrawal issues? – 2 points
You’ve just won a huge payout, and it’s finally time to withdraw your winnings… but they don’t arrive! This is a nightmare scenario for every punter, and withdrawal delays, issues and cancellations happen sometimes.
Naturally, we aim to avoid such issues entirely. Our thorough testing process involves trying things out for ourselves, including actually withdrawing cash from the bookmaker being reviewed. We also seek input from other users about their experiences for the sake of balance and transparency.
Bookies with no issues whatsoever are given the full 2 points.
Yes! You open up your emails or log onto your bookie, and you find a new promotion you can use. From anything as small as a £1 free bet to a £50,000 jackpot, everybody loves a boost when betting.
There are a few things to keep in mind, however. Some bookies are specialists at a particular sport, so you may want to check out which operators offer what types of promotions.
Here’s how we rate sportsbook promotions for new and existing customers.
Amount of existing customer offers – 2 points
Super simple stuff. The greater the number of existing customer offers, the better. For rating’s sake, we give 1 point if there are at least two offers available and 2 points if there are four or more promotions at that time.
(Source: William Hill)
We also make sure to take into account when the review is being carried out, as there may be more offers during special events, such as a World Cup, or less during quiet months, such as after the football season ends.
VIP Programme – 1 point
VIP programmes are reserved for high-rolling bettors on a particular site. The scheme often includes giving these punters extra free bets, bet boosts, and much more. These groups tend to be by invite-only, often with different tiers depending on how much a punter spends.
VIP programmes are particularly common in casino and bingo sites, as players often spend large sums there. Even so, there are still some excellent sportsbooks with VIP programmes – if you know where to look.
Loyalty Programme – 1 point
A loyalty programme is similar to a VIP programme in many aspects, with a number of overlapping features. The key difference, however, is that loyalty is normally measured by how frequently a punter places bets.
Frequent bettors are often rewarded with weekly offers and specials. On a similar note, some bookies may offer promotions which are similar to loyalty programmes.
Overall terms and conditions – 1 point
Last but certainly not least, we take a look at each offer to see if they are actually worth claiming. If a bookie offered 50 promotions, but you had to spend £50 to claim each one, that would be £2,500 spent.
To put it simply, we look to make sure that each offer is achievable and worth the stakes. So we give a point to those who have many easy to achieve promos. Most offers are easy to claim and are mainly there to give incentives to punters.
Pre-Match Betting – Variety is a Priority
Any markets and odds available before the start of an event are known as pre-match bets. Who knew, right? Well, pre-match betting is quite frankly massive, and the biggest bookies will offer tens of thousands of options across dozens of sports and events.
We do our best to go through a variety of sports to get an idea of how in-depth a bookmaker’s offering is. Our bookmaker review takes the below three aspects into account.
Number of Sports – 2 points
Tired of betting on football? Why not try something different. Oh, your book only offers three sports? That’s not what we want is it? A great bookie will offer a vast number of sports to choose from. The really good bookies will have over 30 available – perfect for bettors who love switching it up from time to time.
The number changes drastically when dealing with different types of operators. Pools betting sites tend to have much less variety, and it’s the same for spread betting and betting exchange sites. We keep all of this in mind when coming up with our score.
Betting Features – 1 point
We also give an extra point to all those bookies who go the extra mile, making sure that punters are always getting the best bang for their buck. Some classic add-ons which are great for betting include cash outs, bet builders, early payouts, and many more.
Besides these add-ons, some aspects which you may not notice but are ever present when betting include minimum and maximum stakes, minimum odds, number of legs or folds available in one bet, and how easy it is to actually place a bet.
Esports and Other Specials – 2 points
That’s right – esports and specials are becoming more and more popular as an excellent alternative to regular sports. We divide these two points depending on if bookmakers offer the markets and if they’re any good.
Esports betting – Esports betting has become immensely popular and you will often find betting markets on League of Legends, Dota 2, FIFA, Valorant and many more. The rise of esports means that most bookies now offer at least something – but we check for quality just as much as quantity.
Specials betting – Not as popular, but just as interesting, specials are where all the weird and wacky bets which don’t have a place in regular betting live. From general elections to Love Island, specials capture the imagination and are a fun betting option.
In-Play Betting – Every Aspect of Live Sports is Covered
About 45.5% of UK punters have punted on in-play bets1. That’s no surprise, given how up-to-date and in-depth online markets have become. In fact, it has become so popular that when you go to any bookmaker, the first thing you’ll see is live betting.
Every operator offers the service, so our criteria are used to see just how good a bookie is. Here are the criteria we use.
Offers in-play betting – 1 point
You guessed it. The first thing we check is if the bookmaker in question actually offers in-play betting. It’s become a vital part of online betting, so we rarely find a bookie without live betting.
In-play betting pages are almost always found on the front page of an operator but may vary in prevalence. Safe to say though, if a bookie doesn’t offer live bets, they automatically get a zero for this section.
Number of markets for major events – 1 point
Once we confirm that in-play bets are offered, we look at what exactly is available. The best bookmakers will offer almost as much as the pre-match markets and will do this for all major events.
We give 1 point to the bookies who are able to provide some great, in-depth markets with competitive odds on all the best sporting events. Of course, with dozens of major matches and games taking place every day, we make sure that they offer a good number of major events to bet in play as well.
Availability of Sports – 1 point
Want to bet on something more niche than football? We believe that a good bookie should provide in-play options on as many markets, events and sports as possible, and we add an extra point to any bookie who gives punters the best choice when it comes to live bets.
We check that a bookie provides lesser leagues, such as the Norway Division 3 and less popular sports, such as badminton and Gaelic sports.
(Source: bet365 – odds correct as at 17/07/2023, 12:30)
Do they offer livestreaming? – 1 point
If you bet on sports, odds are you love watching it too. The top bookies provide that bit of extra content to make your betting experience is that much better. While some may only provide statistics, some go the extra mile with livestreaming services.
This feature can really add value to in-play bets. However, it’s important to note that not every sport or event is available, and it’s very much subject to licensing deals and partnerships.
General odds and margins provided by bookmaker – 1 point
The last point goes towards a vital part of in-play betting: odds and margins. Basically, every bookie creates their own odds for every market. Some markets may be better or worse odds than their competitors. The trick is to find an operator who consistently remains competitive.
We test a number of events in various sports to ensure that we can accurately measure whether or not a bookmaker provides favourable odds.
We also check out the payout margin, and we even have our own payout & margin calculator to ensure precision.
Service and Customer Support – User Satisfaction is Number One
We’ve all been there – panicking that our payout hasn’t arrived yet, or worrying whether our payment method isn’t working correctly. With all this to worry about, here’s a chance you have contacted a customer support service of some kind.
There’s nothing better than knowing you can reach out to someone competent should you need to do so. Bookmakers offer many different types of customer support services, and we give points for each one. Here’s our breakdown.
The most used form of customer service, live chat is often the quickest and easiest way to solve any issues regarding betting. There are a few things we look at when giving points for live chats, such as what time is the service available and whether you are talking to a real person or a bot.
It’s quite simple – we give this point to bookmakers who provide efficient services throughout the majority of the day, with a real person talking to you.
Email or Phone – 1 point
If chats aren’t your thing, most bookies offer a phone number or email address for you to contact. Personally, I’ve found that chats tend to be faster, but calls and emails are great too. We give out 1 point if a bookie offers either one of these alternative options.
(Source: LiveScore Bet)
How fast can they solve issues? – 1 point
Efficiency is key! Especially when dealing with sensitive topics. We try out every channel of communication that a bookmaker offers to make sure that they are quick and helpful. It’s not useful if an operator has five methods of contact but never answers.
Bookies get the point if they are able to answer questions without leaving punters waiting for too long.
Social Media and FAQ sections – 1 point
Probably the first places that most bettors will go to are the FAQ section for general information or social media to check if there are any issues with the site. Both are extremely helpful, and we give this point based on how useful each page is, with a particular focus on the FAQ section’s range and detail.
Quality overall – 1 point
Are they friendly? do they solve the issue? Are they improving our betting experience? These are the questions we ask when deciding on the overall quality of a bookmaker’s customer service. Since we test out every contact method, we have a generally accurate idea of the overall quality, but we do consult with other punters through various reviews.
Design and Usability – Looking for the Best User Journey
If you’re thinking – I don’t care what the site looks like, as long as I can bet? – think again. A great site could make your life much easier, and a terrible site can ruin your whole experience.
We take the whole picture into account, including how easy the site is to use and the user journey. Let’s take a look into how we rate our best bookies.
Good overall design – 1 point
Have you ever entered a site and thought: There’s too much going on! Well, a cluttered site can feel like a headache, ruining your mood and testing your patience.
A well-designed site is clean. The layout of a site is crucial to us, including where the search bar is, what’s in the left and right tabs, the position of your bet slip, and much more to ensure that the site offers the best experience.
Navigational ease – 2 points
It’s so frustrating to be looking for something specific on a site, only for you to spend ages looking through page after page to no avail. It’s almost not worth the trouble. Conversely, a great site makes sure this never happens to you.
Similar to the overall design we give these points based on how easy the site is to navigate, meaning we search specific markets to see how long it takes. We also base it on how easy the site is to use, such as visible help sections, simple ‘My Account’ sections and much more.
Responsiveness – 2 points
Nobody wants to wait a long time for a site to load; the best bookmaker’s browsers are fast and react instantly to whatever you need – you add a leg to a bet slip? It’s there as soon as you click. You open the ‘Live betting’ tab? – it opens straight away. The two points are given to the quickest sites that don’t leave you waiting and watching a loading screen.
Mobile – Great Experience When Betting on The Go
Who has time for a browser when we’ve got a phone right at our fingertips? I the past, a website has always been the way to go, but as new technologies continue to improve, so too have betting companies. The introduction of many betting apps and phone-friendly browsers as been a revelation meaning the phone has become a go-to for betting.
Some sites have dedicated apps or at least a mobile-friendly site. – Either way, if a bookmaker wants to compete, they have to cater for mobile users. Here’s how we make up our score.
Is there an app available? – 1 point
Nothing compares to the convenience of a mobile app, so any bookmaker offering one earns points in any one of our reviews. To help you narrow down the choice available out there, we’ve compiled a list of the best betting apps available in the UK.
Mobile friendly websites- 1 point
What’s the next best thing to an app? A mobile-friendly browser. Many sites have made sure to offer a brilliant service on mobile and we make sure the mobile version matches the performance of its desktop counterpart.
(Source: bet365 – odds correct as at 17/07/2023, 12:30)
Is the app available for iOS and Android? – 1 point
We’re not here to solve the debate of Apple vs Android, but we do make sure to check that a site offers its app on both operating systems. We give half a point (0.5) if they operate on one platform and the full point if it works on both iOS and Android.
(Source: LiveScore Bet)
Special Mobile or App features – 1 point
We want only the best when it comes to our apps. This point goes to any bookmaker who offers extra add-ons or special features which are exclusive to their app. This could be in the form of a welcome bonus, free bets, bet boosts and anything which is unique.
The idea here is that we want to see that the app is actually worth downloading in the first place. If not, punters may as well stick to the desktop site.
Overall Mobile Quality Provided- 1 point
Rounding things off is the overall mobile quality that is offered by a bookie. Whether it be on an app or through the mobile browser, we want to experience the same great feel as the browser version.
What do we look for? Our main concerns are responsiveness, ease of use, compatibility, and overall level of the product. If the mobile version holds up to the standards of the website, we give out this point.
ThePuntersPage Final Say
That’s what it takes to be a perfect betting site – to us at least. We’ve created this in-depth review point system to ensure that you can trust our reviews, knowing that we have been completely transparent in the process. Furthermore, our operator scores represent how well they match our high standards.
1 Gainsbury, S.M., Abarbanel, B. and Blaszczynski, A. (2020) The relationship between in-play betting and gambling problems in an Australian context of prohibited online in-play betting, Frontiers in psychiatry. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7644858/#:~:text=Statistics%20on%20the%20prevalence%20of,in%2Dplay%20(2).