With hundreds of licensed online bookmakers in the UK, separating the wheat from the chaff of UK sportsbooks has become an arduous task. This is why we decided to carry the load for you and have gone ahead to weigh and measure all the UK bookies to bring you the very best ones. We are listing all the fundamental criteria that constitute a top online UK book maker, helpful info on the new bookies that have been awarded a UK gambling license and the complete online bookmakers UK directory.
How to choose the Top UK bookmakers
Before we get started we’ll take a few seconds to explain how exactly we rate the best bookmakers in the UK. There is a set of key parameters that each bookie must pass before we will ultimately recommend it. These include:
- Good odds. Pretty much a punter’s bread-and-butter when betting online. High bookmakers odds mean that you will earn more on every win, making long term profit much easier.
- Easy to use site/app. Few things are more frustrating than having to spend half a minute searching a bookie’s platform to find your favourite markets, not to mention having to tap your smartphone screen 10 times to find the withdraw button on the cashier.
- Good bonuses and offers. A high joining bonus will enhance your starting bankroll allowing you to be more versatile on how you bet. A large amount of offers and a loyalty program is a welcome addition, as long as the UK bookmaker is not trying to compensate for poor odds by awarding free bets and bonus offers.
- Quality live streaming. Let’s face it, betting live with no streaming is like drinking no-alcohol beer. You might get a familiar taste, but there’s no kick in it. We don’t expect to watch the UEFA Champions League Final live on a sportsbook, but a lack of streaming on Europe’s largest football league’s and Britain’s top racing events is a sorry excuse of an in-play betting platform.
- Amount of events and markets. The more markets you can find on a United Kingdom bookie the higher your chances to stick around. Having many choices on your bets does not only allow you to pick a market you might feel comfortable with, but also, let you shop the best possible odds from a number of UK sportsbooks.
- Top customer service. We’ve seen some travesties during the past years with some outsourced customer service agencies, as low budget bookies will try and cut costs wherever they can. This is why customer support agents, similar to the ones on 888sports, who are knowledgeable, fast and helpful get all five stars from us.
- Variance of in play markets & events. Similar to pre-match markets, there shouldn’t be any limits on your market options when betting live. This means that apart from match result and goals markets, you should be able to find nearly every selection that was available before the start of the match.
- Early prices & odds. Shopping early for bargain prices means that you can find profitable opportunities before bookies decide to balance their odds. This is especially true on racebooks, as early prices can vastly differ from board prices. Obviously, a bookie that offers a best odds guarantee gets bonus points from us.
- No limits on winning accounts. It’s a sad truth that winning players are bad business for online operators. Unfortunately, very few UK licensed bookies will allow winning customers to keep betting for long without placing any limits, there are however some trusted brands like Betfair and Pinnacle that deal fairly with us through the years.
Key characteristics to identify a UK bookie
The UK gambling market is filled with local and foreign bookmakers who are claiming that they offer the best sports betting product. However, a large number of them are not adequately optimized for the average punter, as they might be more focused on other country markets. Before you decide to sign up on a new UK bookmaker, make sure to confirm as many key points as you can from our list.
Your top priority is to check if the bookie you want to sign up is licensed by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. This can be easily viewed at the bottom of the bookmaker’s screen, where a logo of the Commission should be clearly visible.
British Pound accepted
It goes without saying that a bookie should let you deposit and withdraw through GBP. Thankfully, all legally licensed brands offer this option.
English customer support
And by English, we mean native English. We’re not trying to play the blame game here, but some Asian operators have been at fault for hiring customer support agents that had a hard time understanding players’ complaints on their live chat.
EN payment localization
Apart from well-known payment methods like Visa, Mastercard, Skrill etc, a truly localized British bookie should accept British banking methods like Ukash and Stripe.
Obviously most of us love punting on football, tennis and horses, however, we all know that there’s more to that. Darts, rugby union, cricket, netball, badminton, snooker and even drone racing are all highly competitive sports with dozens of markets.
Correct sports categorization
It might not seem that important on first sight, but being able to find your favourite football leagues and events at the top of the sports selection, can save up a lot of time and frustration.
This one is pretty much self-explanatory. You might be able to understand the difference between -150 and -250, but trying to calculate the exact value of an odds set can be impractical.
Special betting markets
Politics, entertainment and Royal specials are quickly becoming player favourites as they let you claim a couple of freebets and offer a whole host of highly valued underdog options. Although not a necessity, they are a welcome selection when you want to bet place a small wager on a fun market.
Existing customer freebets
Apart from receiving a freebet when you sign up on a new bookie, it’s always nice if you can get even more freebets through your betting action. This is one of the key aspects of the best bookies UK.
Acca, money boost etc offers
Special offers on your accumulators like Acca boosts and insurances are some of the favourite promotions among UK punters. Odds boosts and cashback bonuses are also welcome additions on the top UK bookmakers.
Obviously you can tell the difference between American Football and real football, however, few things can kill your immersion faster than a poorly translated bookmaker.
Casino, Bingo, Live Casino, Virtual Sports and e-sports are all welcome especially if you are looking to expand your gambling knowledge.
Biggest UK bookmakers vs New UK bookmakers
Dozens of new sportsbooks are launched every year as the UKGC does not place any limits on the number of license holders. Given that the Commission is extremely strict on how they audit new bookies, there is no real cause of becoming suspicious of how safe new online bookmakers UK really are.
What cannot be denied, is that the biggest UK bookmakers have managed to gain our trust by keeping us happy through the years by offering fair and complete sportsbooks. Seeing that we are creatures of habit, we will seldom switch a good bookie for a new one.
Our piece of advice is to always choose trusted bookmakers to place your bets and by all means, to do some research before you ultimately decide where to sign up. It is, however, important to keep an open mind towards new operators. By doing so you can not only get cool promotions and bonuses, but you may also find brand new game-changing features your existing sportsbook doesn’t offer.
Why you should use multiple bookmaker accounts
We’re gonna draw a broad analogy here and compare shopping for odds and offers on various bookmakers to shopping for groceries at your local store. There’s always the chance you might be lucky. You may find fresh vegetables and inexpensive spices, the same way you may have signed up on a bookie that has top odds and frequently showers you with freebets and offers.
Bookmakers, like any other vendor, want our money, plain and simple. This is why they will offer us first deposit bonuses and why they will award a freebet out of the blue when we have been inactive for a while. They want us to keep betting and they want so on their own sportsbook. Fret not though, as there is a way to beat the bookies at their own game.
Shopping on multiple bookmakers lets us choose from among dozens of different odds sets, allowing us to pick the very best ones. There’s also the case of finding various bookmaker sign up offers by joining new bookies, letting us claim a bit more money simply by placing our bets as usual. You can visit our bookmakers bonus page to compare all the available sportsbook offers.
Bet on the best UK bookmakers for 2019
Online bookmakers UK vs High street bookies
We will spare you the usual “bet 24/7 from the comfort of your home” BS. The reason bookmakers online in the UK are more easily accessible compared to bookmaker shops is obvious to everyone. What we’re looking into is if and how the best online bookmakers UK are superior to high streets bookies, strictly in terms of betting.
First of all, you have more betting options. There’s no way you can find all the different markets and events that are offered on an online bookmaker when betting on a high street bookie. There are simply many more leagues and markets on different odds sets. Second is live betting. Unlike British online bookies, you may find yourself stuck waiting to place a bet at the bookie’s desk and miss a profitable opportunity far too often.
There are also bonus offers. Betting shops, unfortunately, will not shower you with offers in the hope that you stick around, nor will they offer you a sign-up offer when you place your first bet. Online bookies UK, on the other hand, will be more than happy to give you some kind of promotion as a reward for playing. Also, payment options are really important. High street bookies obviously accept cash and card deposits, but what happens if you don’t want to tap into your bank account? Online sportsbooks will accept PayPal, Skrill and even mobile payments, letting you deposit and withdraw with a few clicks.
On the other hand, betting shops do have these big screen TV’s plus we love some free tea or coffee with our banter. Betting on high street bookies is obviously more sociable, however, you must draw a line on why and how much you are betting. If you are doing it for profit, then you shouldn’t hit the bookies just to pass the time. If you simply enjoy betting with your mates, then it’s important to bet based on logic and not blind emotion.
Best small and independent UK bookmakers
Although the term small might seem a bit off, as it’s used to describe a bookie with annual revenue below £500,000, there are quite a few bookmakers that are focusing their efforts on offering a single brand to the UK market. Additionally, there remain quite a few independent UK bookies that have stood the test of time and mergers to make for about 20% of the total sports betting revenue in Britain.
Boylesports is Ireland’s largest independent bookie, also holding a small stake within the UK. With a wealth of Racing event sponsorships and brand ambassadors, but somewhat poor odds they are considered as an average option for football betting and horse racing.
Betvictor is one of Britain’s most well known independent bookmakers partly due to their former chairman, Victor Chandler. They operate a number of betting shops in the UK while betvictor.com and their subsidiary mcbookie.com are run from Gibraltar.
Betfred was formed by icon duo Fred and Peter Done and operates 850 betting shops within the United Kingdom. They also operate Betfred.co.uk and some Tote focused domains where they mainly focus on football betting and horse & greyhound races.
Low deposit bookmakers
If you are looking to bet on a budget then we’ve got you covered. Although most UK sportsbooks will only let you a minimum of £10 some bookies will go the extra mile and allow you to deposit on half that amount. These minimum deposit £5 bookmakers include but are not limited to Bet365, Dafabet, Coral, Vbet, Ladbrokes and Betvictor. What’s even more amazing is that all these bookies will let you claim their registration bonus even if you deposit the minimum of £5.
Worst bookmakers in UK
Unfortunately not every operator is dealing fairly with their customers as there have been a few instances of UK bookmakers who are quick to limit winning players, not honour bets or even not honour self-exclusion from all bookies.
If you should happen to feel wronged by an online bookie then you can access the UKGC backed Resolver to send your complaints. If you are looking for a faster solution, then feel free to contact us on the live chat by mentioning the bookie, your complaint and when the instance took place.
Full list of UK online bookmakers
Right below you can see a list of secure UK bookies that operate in Britain. You should be able to view all the helpful info such as their address, license number and the names of bookmakers.
Q: Is betting legal in the UK?
Yes, sports betting on fixed odds and betting exchanges is perfectly legal in the UK, provided that you are at least 18 years of age.
Q: Do I have to pay a gambling tax on my winnings?
Ever since 2001 and the abolishment of Gambling Duty, players are not required to pay any taxes on their winnings.
Q: What payment methods can I use on UK bookmakers?
You can use nearly every local and international banking method you can think of, as UK bookies are extremely versatile when it comes to payment options. Some of the most well known and used include Skrill, Neteller, Paypal, Paysafecard and Bank Transfers.
Q: Are there any illegal bookmakers in the UK?
Understandably many bookies are willing to get a piece of the British betting pie, however, not all can be considered as safe by the UKGC. These sportsbooks will, in turn, go rogue and accept British punters without holding a local license. Although in 99% of all such instances the United Kingdom Gambling Commission will discover these bookies and block them, you must be extra careful not to fall victim to such a tactic.
Q: What is the Association of British Bookmakers?
Abbreviated as ABB, the Association of British Bookmakers is a loose coalition of some of the United Kingdom’s most influential bookies. These operators respect the rulings of the UKGC but otherwise tend to support their own agenda, often in direct contrast to some of the government’s policies.
Q: Who are the leading UK bookmakers?
The top 5 British bookmakers according to revenue are the following.
- 888 Holdings. Launched in 1997, 888 holdings has managed to become one of the world’s largest gambling conglomerate through their numerous assets. Although they were hard hit from their exit of the USA betting market in 2006, they bounced back and are now one of the most well-known bookies in the world.
- GVC Holdings. GVC has steadily expanded since their first pounce in 2012 when they acquired the largest share of Sportingbet Plc. GVC is now the owner of a few of the top UK bookmakers including Bwin, Coral, Ladbrokes and several sportsbooks that target grey and black markets.
- Kindred Group. Based in Stockholm, Kindred is one of the most innovative operators in the world. They cater to puters from dozens of countries worldwide through their flagship sportsbook Unibet and a few other brands more focused on casino gambling.
- Paddy Power Betfair. Ireland’s largest sportsbook and the world’s top betting exchange merged in 2016 to form one of the leading gambling groups not only in the UK but also the entire western hemisphere. It is split almost equally between former shareholders and run as two separate brands that cater to completely different products.
- Hillside Ltd. Hillside is the legal entity behind the world largest bookmaker, Bet365. Not much needs to be said about Bet365 as they are rightfully considered the best bookmaker in the UK by dealing fairly with their customers and offering the most complete sports betting product.
Q: How many UK bookmakers are based abroad?
As many as 58% of all UK bookmakers are based abroad according to UKGC industry statistics. The reason is the significantly lower taxes they are required to pay. Common destinations include some British Overseas Territories like Gibraltar, Alderney and the Isle of Man.
Q: Which are the best bookmakers on UK election?
Seeing that the UK political landscape is highly volatile due to the recent Brexit and the rise of the alt-right in Britain, a UK election is surely on the cards. The best bookmakers on UK election are without doubt Paddy Power, William Hill and Coral. The reason behind this is that Will Hill and Coral are well known for spoiling us with various special events freebets, while Paddy Power has admittedly the best odds on fun bets.
Q: How many bookmakers shops are there in the UK?
The number of betting shops remained stable more or less during the past decade, amounting close to 8,500. Following the recent FOBTs stake reductions, there have been massive layoffs and shop closures, as fewer and fewer operators are willing to offer both online and land-based gambling. According to a March 2018 census by Statista the number of betting shops per operator are as follows:
- William Hill – 2298
- Ladbrokes – 1894
- Betfred – 1667
- Gala Coral Group – 1594
- Other – 1079
Q: What is the history of UK bookmakers?
Although gambling itself dates back to the prehistoric ages, bookmaking in the UK took off during the 19th century when the urban masses tried to gain a fortune by gambling away their petty incomes. The British Parliament tried in 1845 intervened by outlawing all forms of gambling, with the grand exception of horse racing, seeing that much of the nobility frequently enjoyed betting on horses. As betting became illegal, players turned to underground bookmakers who were renowned for using illicit methods to cheat their customers and collect their dues.
This all changed in 1960 when the UK government decided to legalize and regulate gambling by allowing the land-based bookies to operate. This gave rise to the golden age of high street bookmaking, that lasted until the turn of the millennium and the introduction of the internet. The most recent significant development concerning UK bookmakers took place in 2005 when the Gambling Act was put into effect, stipulating from all British and foreign bookmakers to heed to the United Kingdom Gambling Commission requirements.
Q: Who should I contact for any bookmakers complaints UK?
Like we mentioned above, in case you feel wronged by a UK bookmaker you should either contact us through our live chat channel or bring your case to the UK resolver that works directly with the UKGC.
Q: Where can I see all the bookmakers with UK license?
You can check all the licensed online bookmakers on our comprehensive list above. If you are looking for all the licensee holders (both active and inactive) including remote and land-based, you can visit the UKGC public registry page.
Q: How many UK based bookmakers are there?
In terms of active remote operators, 125 licenses have been issued to real events betting remote operators. 41% of them are based within the United Kingdom (no British crown dependencies or Overseas Territories) bringing their total number to 51.
Q: Which are the most popular bookmakers in UK?
Once again, industry statistics tell the whole story as revenues go hand in hand to popularity. The percentages of sports betting customers per gambling group are as follows:
- Paddy Power Betfair | 27%
- Bet365 | 23%
- William Hill | 15%
- SkyBet | 10%
- Ladbrokes Coral | 9%
- Others | 16%
Q: How many bookmakers are there in the UK?
As of Q1 2019 there are 10,808 non-remote gambling premises across the UK, 78% of which offer real events betting.
Q: Where can I see all the UK bookmakers by size?
This is a bit tricky as the UKGC follows an in camera approach towards the sizes and revenues of all UK bookmakers. Thankfully nearly all online bookies are traded on the FTSE100 or London Stock Exchange where they need to publicly reveal their per annum financial gains, where you can find all the info on each operator’s size.
Q: Who was the first bookmaker in the UK?
Although countless persons or organizations have acted as bookies through the ages, Harry Ogden is first ever recorded Brit to set up shop close to a racecourse in 1790. He became renown as he was the first bookie to start offering different odds on various horses instead of a fixed price for all horses.
Q: Who are the top UK horse racing bookmakers?
There are many active UK racebooks however very few have managed to separate themselves from run-of-the-mill operators. These include but are not limited to BetVictor, Bet365, Betway, William Hill, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Betfair.