One of the most important decisions you’ll make in online betting has nothing to do with picking the right side or total of a game. This crucial decision is picking your online bookmaker. There are dozens of companies offering sports betting on the internet, and many of them seem to offer the same service, so how do you decide which one is best for you?
Here are our top betting tips for 10 critical factors you’ll want to consider:
1. What Do You Want to Bet?
All bookmakers will allow you to bet the basics – straights, totals, parlays, etc. But not all will offer riskier markets like quarter lines, half time lines or teasers on events.
Similarly, some will have a much better live betting selection than others. Every website will offer action on NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college sports. Many, however, will offer limited selection on more obscure events like NASCAR, tennis, golf, UFC, soccer, eSports, cricket, rugby, political betting, Oscars, DWTS, etc.
When it comes to prop bets, the difference amongst bookmakers increases even more. This is because it’s much more difficult to set these lines and the exposure to the book is greater. Fewer sites will offer unique betting props or futures on sporting events for that reason.
2. Website Downtime
Try hitting the company’s website at different times throughout the day, especially during peak betting hours. Watch how fast their site loads and check some of the links to ensure there are no technical difficulties.
3. Mobile Betting
Although we all love the internet, we can’t always be at our computers. Check to see what other options the firm offers for placing bets. Other alternatives may include smartphone and tablet betting, as well as betting over the phone.
Word to the wise: make sure you take note of any restrictions for these alternatives; often there is a minimum bet amount required and/or fees for placing your bets over the phone with an operator.
4. Check Out Some Sportsbook Reviews
What are others saying about the bookmaker? Just as you should do your research before picking a team, you should find out as much as possible about your online sportsbook. Read some online bookmaker reviews and to learn more, check out How to Pick Your First Online Sportsbook.
5. A Welcome Bonus Isn’t Everything
Remember the saying “if it sounds too good to be true….”? Don’t open an account with a bookmaker simply because it offers the highest welcome bonus.
There are plenty of shady online websites offering 100%, 200% or higher bonuses to new customers. They are usually small, desperate operators on the verge of bankruptcy, or worse, scam outfits. Reputable bookmakers know that they can’t stay in business if they give away the store, and they don’t need to.
Also consider that the bigger the welcome bonus, the bigger the rollover requirements attached. That’s the number of times you are required to risk your deposit and bonus before you will be allowed to withdraw your money. In fact, most professional sports bettors never take a welcome bonus at all for that reason. (For more insight, read Online Betting: Sports Betting Bonuses Explained)
6. Minimum Deposits May Not Be Minimal
See how much of an initial deposit the firm requires for opening an account. Some allow you to open with as little as $20, while others will ask $100 or more. Beware of higher minimums on over the phone bets: some companies require as much as $100. This might be fine for some bettors, but not others.
7. Extra Betting Options Are Important
When choosing a bookmaker, most people are probably thinking primarily about betting sports. Remember there are also many betting alternatives that aren’t necessarily offered by every company.
This includes casino, poker rooms, racebooks, lottery, and sports contests. Again, the quality of each of these products will vary from provider to provider. Consider what you are looking for with regards to betting action before you commit to anything.
8. Customer Service Counts
There is nothing more exasperating than sitting on hold for 20 minutes waiting to get help. Before you open an account, call, email or chat the company’s help desk with a fake question to test how long it takes to get a response.
This is also a good way to test the quality of their customer service staff. Many of these call centers are located in offshore jurisdictions where English may not be their first language.
9. Getting Paid When You Win
Everything else might be perfect, but if you don’t get paid when you win, it’s all for nothing. Check your site’s cashier page for details regarding payout options, fees and expected time to receive your payments. The most common forms of payment from bookmakers are Western Union, Money Gram, check, bank wire, re-loadable debit cards and bitcoin.
10. Ease of Funding Makes a Difference
If you plan on using your credit card to fund your account, this is a very important consideration. Many online bookmakers struggle with processing customer credit cards. Success rates vary, but are seldom higher than 40%.
As well, most accept Visa, but not Mastercard or American Express. When deciding where you are going to play, choose your top 3, so if your credit card gets rejected at your first choice, you can try your second or third options.
The Bottom Line
With a click of the mouse, from just about anywhere in the world, you can bet a game, play blackjack or even poker using an online bookmaker. Choosing the right sportsbook for your needs and style of play is key to finding an edge and improving your odds of becoming successful.
Looking for Your Next Online Sportsbook?
If you’re looking for an online sportsbook, check out our Bookmaker, Bovada, 5Dimes: The Best Online Sportsbooks Reviewed.