On this page you’ll find a list of all of the bookmakers that we recommended. We’ve personally tested each and every one of these and have written detailed reviews covering everything from the sites odds and promotions through to how easy it is to find a bet.
Every bookie listed on this page (and every bookie and casino listed on this site, for that matter) is licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. Most are also members of IBAS.
Note that you must be of 18 years or older to gamble. Terms and conditions will apply so please make sure you read these before joining or claiming any offer.
Looking For Betting Offers?
There are hundred of pounds worth of new customer offers up for grabs at the bookies with new brands popping up all the time. You can find a full list of these kinds of bonuses for both sports and casino on the pages below.
Best Online Bookies in the UK
Family Run Irish Bookie
Classic No-Frills Site
Biggest Polish Bookmaker
How Do Betting Sites Operate Legally?
When online bookmaking became a thing, there was no specific law in place to deal with them in the UK, who were still playing catch up when it came to the era of the internet. There were laws for bookmakers in general, of course, but the internet was something of a modern day Wild West, filled with unscrupulous and untrustworthy characters that were out to make a quick. As a consequence, a decision was make to come up with some very specific laws and regulations that online bookmakers would have to follow if they wanted to offer their business to British customers.
This was done by passing two gambling acts that looked specifically at the world of internet gambling, the first of which was the Gambling Act of 2005. This act ensured that any gambling that took place online was open, fair, and honest. It added some order to an otherwise ungoverned world, like a sheriff riding into a lawless town and kicking the bandits into shape… which is an odd analogy we know but yeehaw, deal with it.
This didn’t clarify everything, though, and as the industry developed a decision was made to pass another act that would help to define certain aspects of the online gambling world. The 2014 Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act clarified some of the previously vague grey areas. The two acts together define how things work for online bookmakers and casinos in the modern era, including the fact that a bookie has to have a licence from the UK Gambling Commission if it hopes to entice UK-based punters to use its services. Licensed companies are then bound by law to ensure that your money is safe and, because the UKGC is an independent organisation, governing parties can’t interfere. If a company doesn’t have a licence then they’re breaking the law and your money is at risk by betting with them, so always check their validity on the UKGC’s website by using the Public Register.
How Do Online Bookmakers Make Money?
The burning question that you might really want the answer to is how, exactly, a bookmaker makes their money. Don’t mock, it’s a valid question, and it’s not actually as simple as ‘people losing their bets’.
The simple answer is that they fiddle the odds by building in margins. That’s not to suggest that they’re doing anything wrong, merely that they balance the odds of a market in a way that means they will always make a profit regardless of any given outcome.
Say you’re betting on the flip of a coin. The actual odds of it landing heads or tails are evens or 1/1 (2.0 in decimal), . It’s got to be one of them, so it’s 50/50 on the outcome. Bookies, however, treat this as though it’s a 5/6 (1.83) outcome either way when they set their odds, meaning that they get a margin whichever way it lands. If they can guarantee an equal weighting of bets on both possible outcomes then they will always win.
Building in a margin means that a bookie ensures they are in profit as often as possible, regardless of the outcome. Say a bookmaker takes £100 worth of bets on a coin landing on heads and the same amount of money on it landing on tails. If he paid out at evens then he’d get £200 in and pay £200 back out again (on average), whichever way around the coin landed. By building in, say, a 5% margin the bookie takes in £200 of bets but only pays out £190 in winnings. He’s earned himself £10 profit and doesn’t need to worry about the results.
Obviously in this instance the result was binary which works perfectly when explaining the concept, yet in sporting events there are normally several possible outcomes that the bookie has to consider. Still, it gives you an idea.
The bookie will work out the probability of something happening, alter the odds a little to build in their margin, and then offer these odds to punters. The margin is their fee for providing the service.
How Can Bookmakers Afford Sign Up Free Bets?
Building in margins is one thing, but how is it that bookmakers can afford to give new customers free bets? After all, there’s no margin in giving people something for nothing.
The simple answer is that bookmakers normally earn huge profits each year and therefore a few free bets won’t hurt them all that much.
The longer answer is that free bets are used to entice new customers onto the site in the hope that that customer will continue betting with the bookie in the future. All industries do the same thing; supermarkets run special price drop promotions to get you through the door before putting them up again; banks offer 0% interest for a limited time in the hope you will take out a credit card and keep it long term; a language tutor might offer your first class free in the hope you sign up for the term. We already know that bookies have a margin built in to their odds, so it naturally follows that they will win in the long run the more that people bet with them.
Let’s put it another way: not everyone who places a bet with a bookmaker is as wise as you. They won’t visit a site like this to find out about free bets and offers. We know the odds are in the favour of the bookmaker, even when they’re giving you something for free, but this doesn’t mean free bets and bonuses are not worth taking.
The thing to remember is to only use these offers for bets you would have placed anyway, this is the best way to get added value as a customer.
How Do Bookmakers Reward Loyalty?
In exchange for your loyal custom, most bookmakers will offer some sort of reward. This normally takes the form of something like a free bet every week as long as you’ve bet X amount in the days leading up to it, or perhaps the boosting of odds for certain events.
Some bookies also have rewards programs that see you gain points for everything you do on their site, which you can save up and then swap for gifts or free bets and the like. They are often tiered too, and the higher your tier the better your rate of reward. You might be surprised at what you can get if you have enough points – even holidays and such.
They all work slightly differently but the scheme might look something like this:
*PNT = Points Needed For Next Tier
|Tier||£ Wagered||Points Earned||PNT|
So the higher your tier the more points you earn per pound spent.
These ongoing promotions are often updated and added to and can be a lot of fun; some really enhance the enjoyment of a bet such as Betfred’s Double Delight where you get extra winnings if you bet on a player to score and they go on to score more than one.
Bookies know if they look after you you’ll keep betting with them, so it’s in their interest to keep you sweet. The lower overheads in operating a bookmaker online vs the real world also means offers are naturally more generous when you delve into virtual betting.
Responsible Gambling and Complaints
As well as promising to keep your money safe and to operate with transparency, bookmakers also try to ensure that their customers gamble responsibly. This includes the ability to limit how much you can deposit into your account in a given period of time and also the option to lock yourself out of your account completely.
If you feel that you’re losing control then make sure you do something about it whilst you still can. Only ever gamble with money that you can afford to lose and seek help immediately if you think you might need it. The sooner the better. There is now a choice of independent sources of support and advice, Be Gamble Aware.
If you’re feeling aggrieved at the way that you’ve been treated by a bookmaker then your first port of call is the company itself. Bookies have a responsibility (dictated by their licence) to ensure that disputes are settled as quickly and as fairly as possible.
Sometimes, though, no amount of communication with the company will solve your problem. To be honest, this is unlikely to happen, but if it does then you should know there’s somewhere else you can turn. That somewhere is the Independent Betting Adjudication Service, or IBAS. They’ll do what they can to solve your problem.
If it’s relevant to your complaint you might also want to turn to either the Advertising Standards Agency or the Gambling Commission, too.
Tax On Betting and Gambling Winnings
Ready for some good news? You do not have to pay any tax on either the stakes that you place or any winnings you might receive.
Bookmakers, betting sites, online casinos, bingo sites and even lottery sites, on the other hand, have to pay a point of consumption tax on all UK profits (if they are a legal site of course) regardless of where they are based.
In the past many companies based themselves in the likes of Malta or the Isle of Man in order to limit the amount of tax they had to pay, or even avoid it completely. This changed when the point of consumption tax was introduced, so whether your betting with a bookie based on London or Luxembourg they will still pay tax when you bet with them. Saying that betting with a UK based bookie also means they are contributing to the local economy in ways that foreign based companies are not, through jobs, rents, etc. If you are patriotically minded therefore seek out a British based bookie and keep your money in the country.
The bookies aren’t stupid, though, so even though they do pay some tax they find ways to pass that onto the customer. This might be through an increase in their margins, for example, but whatever happens they’re unlikely to take on the full amount of tax themselves. There’s nothing you can do about it, but it’s always worth knowing and bearing in mind. At least whatever you win is yours to keep without worrying about having to declare it to HMRC.
Should you have an extremely large win though it is worth informing the revenue service. You can declare these as gambling winnings, there is no penalty or fee to pay, and it ensures you are safe in the future if anyone wanted to investigate where the cash came from.
What are Platforms & White Labels?
You may have seen these terms tossed around a bit and wondered what they meant. Most bettors don’t know much about what goes on behind the scenes but it can actually have a fair amount of impact on your betting possibilities.
That’s because the platform your betting site uses will come with specific betting features. The platform is essentially the template for the website, what that site is capable of doing, and the features it offers. There are a number of different platform providers and they all have their own style, which is why some sites looks similar, and you might get on better with one than another.
They also have their own features. For example, a bet builder is a betting feature, and not all platforms provide this option. Fast markets and Pulse Betting are another, where you can bet on events to happen within the next few minutes in a football match, for example. So if you love in play betting then choosing a bookie powered by a platform that provides these options would be a good shout.
A white label refers to a betting brand that is using a platform provider’s license and platform in order to get up and running quickly as a business.
Platform providers offer the full package – they like to call it a turnkey solution; as in all you need to do is pay them, turn the key, and you’re up and running – which means a new brand can start taking bets without putting in too much leg work.
It’s a bit like buying a personalised t-shirt; the t-shirt has already been designed by the company, but you decide what message gets printed on it.
The difference is that where a bigger company will have their own license and may even integrate a platform provider’s content with some of their own, all white labels using one provider will operate on the same license and be limited to that one platform provider’s choice of products and services.
Biggest UK Bookies
There are a shed load of bookies currently operating in the UK, the market has never been so saturated, but if you are the cautious type and are only interested in betting with the biggest then there are a few names you should consider.
The benefits of betting with a bigger bookmaker can be things like:
- More reliable
- Greater resources
- High number of products
- Availability of betting markets and bet types
- Extra betting features
- Generous offers
Not that you won’t get some of these things with smaller companies too, but the weight and depth of bigger brands is clear to see in comparison.
This, in no particular order, is what each of the biggest bookies are best known for:
|Ladbrokes||Horse Racing, Betting Exchange|
|Betfred||Bonuses, Tote Betting|
|William Hill||Traditional Markets, Live Streaming, No Nonsense|
|Coral||Greyhounds, Great Value, Coral Connect Card|
|Paddy Power||Niche, Comedy, and Irish Markets, Wacky Promotions|
|Bet365||100% Independent, Long Term Offers, Huge Book|
|Betfair||Invented the Betting Exchange, Low Margins|
|Unibet||Continental Markets, Price Boosts, Honesty|
|BetVictor||Best Football Odds, Stylish Website, Perfect App|
Of course there is so much more to each site than the few attributes listed here, so check out our full reviews for the bigger picture.
Why Trust Our Recommended Bookmakers?
We only recommend bookies that we use ourselves and on a regular basis too, so we have real experience of them and know for certain that they are licensed to operate in the UK. If you bet with one of the bookmakers that’s on this page then we can promise that your money will be as safe as possible and that the company will conduct itself fairly and lawfully. The only thing we can’t guarantee is that you’ll win your bets – that bit is down to you!