Online sports betting has seen significant growth over the first two decades of the 21st century. Hence, the betting industry has been transformed by the internet. In fact, some of the leading online sports betting sites are amongst the most successful global businesses. So, online sports betting works well because of the nature of sport and the fluctuations in form. Live betting is a major element of most online sports betting sites. Some offer live streaming, but most have an animation of the action and provide live bettors with live match data.

Football dominates online sports betting. Hence, more than half sports bets are related to football. Therefore, all the online sports betting sites issue odds on the main domestic leagues in Europe and South America and other parts of the world. The Premier League in England and the Champions League are the most popular football competitions for betting. The next most popular betting sports with UK online bookmakers are tennis and horse racing. Europe-facing operators do not always offer horse racing markets. However, they focus on European and global sports, like basketball, handball and volleyball.

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The UK has the most regulated online sports betting industry in the world. Hence, the UK Gambling Commission is one of the most trusted regulatory bodies in the industry. So, traditional bookmaking began in the UK, and some brands are the most recognised and trusted in the world. The top online sports betting sites in the UK are either operators that have a retail division or others that just trade online. Most of the online sports betting sites have a welcome offer and provide in-play and cash out betting. Here are five of the most popular online sports betting sites with bases in the UK.


SkyBet continues to grow, and one of the reasons is the association with the Sky broadcasting channel. So, the site features betting on over 20 sports and novelty markets like Politics and TV and Entertainment specials. The SkyBet welcome offer credits new customers with £30 in free bets after placing the qualifying bet. The operator also provides a full package of ongoing promotions for existing customers. The site features pre-match, in-play and ante-post betting


bet365 is possibly the biggest bookmaker in the world based on active accounts. The company have never run betting offices so they can focus all their resources on providing one of the best online sports betting services in Europe. The operator was founded in Stoke-on-Trent, and the company still provides employment in the local area. New customers with bet365 can claim up to £100 in the form of bonus tokens. The operator also provides a package of ongoing promotions for all players.


Ladbrokes formerly had the title of the biggest bookmaker in the world due to the number of licensed betting offices the firm ran in the UK. However, the onset of online sports betting sites has affected the cash market in betting offices in the UK and other parts of Europe. Ladbrokes offers a modest welcome offer. However, the terms are easy to understand and achievable. Customers can place bets on over 40 sports in pre-match, in-play and ante-post betting markets.

William Hill

William Hill is another trusted brand due to the operation of licensed betting offices in the UK. Hence, the operator has a reputation for doing business in the right way. The William Hill online sports betting site features odds for about 25 sports. The service is UK-facing, but William Hill has active accounts in other European countries and the rest of the world. William Hill is a member of the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) and the European integrity unit.


Betfair does not have a retail division, so the service is only available on the internet and mobile devices. The online sports betting site is fully functional and easy to use. At any time the site features betting markets for about 50 sports. The operator is part of the Betfair Group that founded exchange betting and dominates the market. The Betfair welcome offer credits new customers with up £100 as free bets. There are many live betting opportunities, and customers can fully or partially cash out bets.


Online sports betting operators express odds in up to four formats:


Decimal odds are the default format with European bookmakers and exchange betting companies in the UK. The odds are displayed including the stake. So, 2.00 equates to Evens. Hence, a £1 bet at Evens returns £2. Online sports betting customers in the UK are now more familiar with the decimal format because of the growth of exchange betting.


Fractional odds are the default odds format in licensed betting offices and racecourse in the UK. So, bookmakers generally express odds in quarters, and each price equates to a basic factor. The basic factor for evens is 2.00, which is the same as decimal odds format. So, a selection at 3.50 in decimal odds appears as 5/2 in fractions. Many online sports betting operators use fractions by default.


US-facing sites and other based in Central America use American odds. This format displays the amount won for a stake unit of 100 at Evens or bigger, so even money is 100. At odds-on, this format shows the stake required to win 100. There is no standard calculation to convert American odds to decimal or fractional odds.


Asian betting markets display the odds in Hong Kong, Indonesian and Malaysian formats. There is no calculation tool which converts the odds from other formats to Asian odds. There are now more UK sports betting online sites that offer this option. Asian handicaps are popular, but bookmakers express the odds in decimals and not an Asian format.


One of the features of the online sports betting industry is the welcome offer bonus. There are specific and general Terms & Conditions. Bonuses tend to incorporate staking requirements and odds restrictions. However, there are often time limits, and the bonuses expire after a certain number of days. So, here are the most common online sports betting bonuses:

Matched Deposit

The value of the bonus is related to the original deposit. If the bonus is for the same value as the deposit, the offer is a 100% matched deposit bonus.

Matched Bet

The value of the bonus is related to the first bet. If the bonus is for twice the value of the first bet, the offer is a 200% matched bet bonus.

Matched Deposit And Bonus

The value of the bonus is related to the value of the qualifying deposit and first bet. If the bonus is for half the value of the deposit and bonus, the offer is a 50% matched deposit and bet bonus.


Bookmaker offers are an important element of the online sports betting industry. So, all the leading online sports betting operators offer a package of concessions and bonuses for current players. Ongoing promotions are often sport and event specific and cover high-profile sporting events. They are available for customers who join the online sports betting site using PC, mobile and tablet devices. The offers can be time-related, or others are ongoing and not date-stamped. These offers complement the welcome offer for new customers, and the most common are described below:

Acca Insurance

When customers place an accumulator with four selections or more and one selection loses, bookmakers refund the stake in the form of a free bet. This offer usually relates to football multiple bets. However, the refund does not really compensate for missing out on a winning multiple bet, but it is a genuine free bet.

Enhanced Acca

Another concession related to single-line multiple bets is the enhanced acca. This usually applies to multiple bets with four legs or more. So there is a sliding scale of enhanced returns, depending on the number of selections in the bet. Typically, an online sports betting firm will increase the return from 5 to 50%. Accas with 16 selections or less qualify for this concession.

Odds Boost

Bookmakers offer odds boost for a selected horse in a major horse race or a team in a high-profile football match. A typical odds boost would be 3/1 (4.00) to 7/2 (4.5) which equates to about 18%. Some online sports betting companies limit the profits that can be won from an odds boost. In some cases, bets placed at the bigger odds cannot be cashed out.

Extra Places

Each way bets on horse races are settled in line with industry place terms. The proportion of the win odds and number of places depends on the type of race. A handicap with 16 runners or more has place terms of one quarter the odds for four places. Some bookmakers offer one quarter the odds for five or even six places depending on the number of extra places.

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