Top 5 Sports Betting Sites

The bookmaker is fundamental to the sports betting industry and can be found trackside, on the high street and in these modern times, online. They enable people to bet by setting the odds, accepting bets/wagers and paying out whenever someone wins the bet. Read More →

The main objective of bookmaking is to have punters bet more than the final prize paid to them. While bookmakers don't have any control whatsoever on the outcome of any sports event, they can still determine the odds for the possible outcome. By setting the odds on all available types of bets, this is how bookmakers ultimately make a profit.

What is a Bookmaker?
A regulated industry formalized back in 1928, bookmaking evolved beyond the racetrack to other sports events and has become a multi-million dollar industry today.

A bookmaker, also known as a bookie, can be an individual or an organization that efficiently facilitates gambling in the world of sports, including horse racing and football, and also non-sporting events. They accept wagers on pre-set odds and pay out on any winning bets.
Bookmakers make money by simply adding a margin to their odds, sort of like charging a "transaction fee" on each bet. Thus, even when they have to pay out, they still make a profit in the end as long as they balance the level of bets and payouts in their favor. This is called the bookmaker's business model.

The Bookmaker's Business Model
How does a bookmaker make money? While they cannot control the outcome of a sports event, they can control how much they could potentially win - or lose - on any given result. The main objective of a bookmaker's business model is to take in more money than they have to pay out. In order to do this, they pre-set odds based on probabilities and also include a margin (also called vigorish/vig, juice, overround) to ensure they will make a profit, no matter how small, on every type of bet they lay.

- Setting the Odds, Fair Market, Bookmaker's Margins
Odds compilers set the odds so this ensures the bookmaker will have a built-in profit margin. A classic example would be a coin toss with a bet of $100, a 50:50 (or evens) probability of landing heads or tails. Whichever way it lands, the bookmaker would not make any profit. This is the so-called "fair market" - odds are set at *2.00 for both heads and tails.

* 2.00 in decimal odds, 1/1 in fractional odds, and +100 in moneyline odds

However, bookmakers never set the same odds. Instead, they apply a margin; for example the margin is at 105%, so the odds would be **1.90 instead of 2.00 (evens). The prize for the bettor would be $90, minus the margin, instead of the whole $100. This means the bookmaker gets $10 despite winning, and this is how the bookmaker makes money.

**1.90 in decimal odds, 10/11 in fractional, -110 in moneyline

With that in mind, the goal of a bookmaker is to create a wide range of bets at various odds to ensure they make a profit no regardless of the event's outcome. Adjustments can be made on the odds corresponding to the amount of money placed on each bet option, and a bookmaker can also lay off bets when their liability goes beyond their accepted level of risk.

-Balancing the Book
A "balanced book" is the ideal scenario for all bookmakers, and they strive to ensure that the balance of transaction and payouts are always leaning in their favor. The equation used here is: margin x turnover = profit.

In the end, having a balanced book means the bookmaker is guaranteed a profit, regardless of the final result of a horse race or any sporting event.

-How to Place a Good Bet
Now that you know the basic concept of the bookmaker's business model, how they apply a margin to make a profit whether win or lose, can you actually "beat the bookie"?

You can actually increase your chances of more wins than losses by doing your own research, knowing inside out your preferred sport, and of course carrying out a more strategic betting gameplay. One needs to be skilled in identifying betting opportunities that represent good value. For example, many tend to place bets on a long game - for more enjoyment and consistent wins over time.

Online Bookmakers
For example, you want to bet on France to win against Belgium in the FIFA World Cup. If the odds listed for "France to Win" are 2/1, and you place a $10 wager, then you will be awarded $20 in the event that this bet is a winner. On the other hand, if Belgium won or the game ends in a draw, then your $10 bet will stay with the bookmaker. This is the common sportsbetting setup seen at online bookmakers.

Online Bookmakers License
In the UK, online bookmakers or sports betting websites are required to obtain a license, in order for punters to consider them as an online entity that is safe, legitimate and trustworthy to place their bets on.
The United Kingdom is composed of four countries (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) functioning as a single political union. One of the great things about the gambling industry in the UK is that it is regulated, legal and controlled, resulting to a safer, cleaner gambling industry that generates billions of income tax revenue.

UK online gambling is regulated by the Gambling Act of 2005. Founded in 2013, the UK Gambling Commission is the regulator, one of the strictest regulators in the industry. If a bookie wishes to offer legal online gambling services to its players, then it must secure a UKGC license.

As long as a gambling site in the UK has a UKGC license, then they can be trusted as the UKGC regularly conducts the testing of games, duly fines operators and constantly enforces operators to do their part on alleviating and eliminating problem gambling. They are a force to reckon with since they have publicly humiliated some of the biggest gambling brands and have charged them tens of millions on many occasions in fines.

A legally-regulated gambling website with a UKGC license means it puts the players' interests first. The UK Gambling Commission is the leading authority when it comes to how online gambling must run. While in other parts of the world there are gambling industries that are full of shady operators and crime is the norm, the United Kingdom on the other hand has virtually eliminated all of that by regulating, legalizing and duly imposing taxes on all types of online gambling.

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✓ Sports, Poker, Casino, Live Casino

✓ Live market and odds

✓ Live streaming, live betting, and mobile betting

partypoker, launched in 2001 by PartyGaming, is known today as one of the top 3 online poker sites. Aside from the online poker room they also have an online casino and live casino platforms. Their latest addition is the sports betting section, initially named Party Bets but revamped to partypoker Sports in 2016. The design is presented in a minimalist layout so everything is seen on a clear background with various betting options at your fingertips.

With over 10,000 bets available, punters will find a pretty decent coverage of major sports worldwide. Baseball, basketball, football, tennis and ice hockey are the top sports choices one can bet on, with around 90 sports covered. The odds may not be as sharp unlike other big bookmakers but are satisfactory enough for casual gamblers who switch between their three platforms (poker, casino, sports) as they please. Live betting is available and it mainly focuses on major sporting events that are highly popular so punters will easily find several betting options to test their skills on fast decision-making. Customer service is available via e-mail, live chat, and toll-free phone.

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 Sports, In-Play, Casino, Live Casino

Live betting and mobile betting

 Large variety of betting markets

 Awards points for everything you do on their site

ComeOn! Sports, launched in 2008, is one of the popular sites in the online betting industry, particularly in Europe, Asia and Canada. Popular sports are listed on the right side while the in-play, upcoming, and highlights of the game are displayed in the middle, making it easy to access the site on any mobile device.

They have daily surprises, weekly promotions and seasonal offers. They also have the ComeOn Points system. With this rewards program, your hard-earned ComeOn Points can get you Free Bets, Free Spins and reload bonuses from their Shop.

Though not the largest online bookie in terms of customer base, they make up for this by providing more than 25 sports events to bet on, which includes the popular ones like basketball, football, volleyball, ice hockey and MMA. They even offer special betting markets such as eSports, Virtual Sports, and TV specials. Comeon Group took home two awards at the International Gaming Awards 2021, and has also won the In-house Innovation category in EGR Nordic Awards 2022.

Aside from sports betting, they also have an online casino and live casino area. They have a mobile app that is compatible with all Android and iOS devices, providing access to all of the same live betting options as seen on their website. Customer service is available 24/7 via e-mail and live chat.


 Deposit €10, Bet With €30!  

Sports, In-Play, Casino, Live Casino

Live betting and mobile betting

✓ Awards points for everything you do on their site

Mobilebet, launched in 2014, is regarded by many punters as the best betting site especially when it comes to mobile gaming, and it is labeled as a bookmaker for regular punters due to their decent low-stake sign up offer – for a mere £10 deposit and bet, you get a £10 free bet. The offerings in their sportsbook are impressive with a wide variety of betting options, in-play betting, consistent highest odds and cashout that will take your gaming experience to the next level. As its name suggests, the app and mobile site works even better, which is clearly optimized for those who love to use their mobile device. Customer retention is quite high at Mobilebet thanks to their loyalty scheme that awards points for everything you do on site. Customer service is available 24/7 via e-mail, live chat and Twitter.


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Live betting and mobile betting

888 Sport is a relatively new bookie launched in 2008 by, and they managed to steadily grow substantially in such a short time. As part of the 888 Holdings PLC, they are backed by the 888 brand which possesses an impeccable reputation in the world of online gaming. They offer betting in 25+ categories and sports, focusing mainly on racing, tennis and football. Live betting and mobile betting options are offered for a more enhanced experience. They offer a well-rounded casino, value for your money, excellent service as well as unique and interesting promotions. 

 Customized bonuses depending on which country you live in

✓ Unique features like Betsson Exchange and Betsson Trader

Sports, In-Play, Casino, Live Casino

Live betting and mobile betting

Betsson is one of the original gambling sites to offer live in-play betting on many of their events, well-suited for European players. Launched in 2000, they offer a huge variety of first-class online gambling games with products including: Sportsbook, Casino, Live Casino, Poker, Scratchcards, and Bingo.

Their bonus offers vary depending on which country you reside. They have a unique Exchange program that allows players to place bets against each other. They also have Betsson Trader, a feature where you can win fast cash by betting on the stock market: with a minimum bet of 1 Euro you can win as much as 20 Euros. The Bettson Sportsbook is mainly for the punter who wants to manage their own bets, with an offering of 4,000+ sports betting channels with attractive odds, geared towards sports like football, baseball, basketball, soccer as well as entertainment industries. You can place bets live as the action unfolds! Customer service is available 24/7 via telephone, email and live chat.

« More betting guides or show all guides Page last updated: 10 June 2022

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