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Established brands and newer operators alike dominate the online sports betting UK industry. The older brands have a background in retail betting while the latest additions to the market only have an online presence. The number of online sportsbook UK operators increases all the time as bookmakers based overseas target the UK market, which is one of the biggest in the world.

Online Sportsbook UK 2019

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ONLINE SPORTS BETTING UK REGULATION

The online sportsbook UK betting industry is highly regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. The body has introduced compliance guidelines with regards free bets and bonuses. The main online sports betting UK operators still use welcome offers to attract new customers. However, there is a growing trend for dynamic offers which reward the loyalty of existing customers.

WELCOME OFFERS

One of the main features of the online sports betting market is welcome offers for new customers which are generally in the following categories:

  • Matched deposit bonus.
  • Matched bet bonus.
  • Free bets.
  • Free bet tokens.
  • Bet credits.

These offers have similar characteristics in that only new customers are eligible; they must deposit funds into a new account and meet the qualifying rules before claiming the offer. There are time limits for placing the qualifying bet after opening an account and using the free bets after they have been credited. The online sportsbook UK industry relies on welcome offers to attract new customers.

OTHER PROMOTIONS

Online sportsbook UK operators also use promotions for existing customers to gain and maintain market share. The industry is highly competitive and customers are fickle. They will take their business to firms that have the most lucrative welcome offers and the best dynamic promotions. Here are some general offers that online sports betting firms provide for their current players:

Best Odds Guaranteed

Most of the leading online operators offer Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) on horse racing in Britain and Ireland. If a punter takes the board price and the eventual odds are different bets will be settled at the best odds. So the early price could be 6/1 (7.0) and the SP could be 8/1 (9.0) which means returns are calculated on the basis of 8/1. Online sportsbook UK sites display odds in fractional format by default but customers can change this to decimal or American format. The BOG promise also applies to greyhound racing with some operators.

Acca Boosts

The accumulator is a popular bet with online sports betting UK customers. Punters can place bets in singles, doubles, trebles and accumulators which include four selections or more. This type of multiple bet is popular for customers who bet on football and horse racing. Each selection must win for the bet to be successful and the odds are multiplied to calculate the returns from a winning bet. Some online sportsbook UK firms enhance the profit from a winning multiple and this type of concession is known as an acca boost and is an integral part of online sportsbook operations.

Enhanced Odds

Enhanced odds are a similar concession to acca boosts because customers get extra returns from a winning bet. The offer often applies to the outcome of major football matches in the Premier League or Champions League. For example, customers with some online sportsbook UK firms may be able to back Liverpool at 33/1 to beat Tottenham in the final of the Champions League after 90 minutes. However, the maximum stake is £1, and extra returns are paid in the form of free bets. The headline offer appears very attractive, but the rules are restrictive. Online UK bookmakers must clearly state the Terms & Conditions related to these offers.

SPORTS

Sports betting with online sportsbook UK firms has grown massively over the last 20 years. Horse racing was the core betting sport and is still an important element of a sportsbook. However, there has been a move towards other sports which attract a huge amount of betting interest. The three most popular online sportsbook UK sports are the following:

Football

Football is by far the most popular betting sport in the online UK market. It accounts for about 80% of bets placed and a bigger proportion in terms of turnover. The most popular betting leagues are the Champions League and the main domestic leagues in Europe. However, by some distance, the most bet on competition is the English Premier League. Turnover is huge on every fixture in the online sportsbook UK betting industry. Bookmakers display the three-way match result odds with a link to additional markets which appear under several headings such as:

  • Match Result
  • Handicaps
  • Totals
  • Corners
  • Cards
  • Goals
  • Scorers
  • Specials

Online sports betting UK firms also publish outright betting for many leagues and Cup competitions and update odds after each round of matches.

Tennis

Tennis is the second most popular betting sport around the world and with online sportsbook UK firms. It is one of the few sports in which more bets are placed in-play than before matches begin. Tennis lends itself to live betting because of the changes in momentum and fluctuations in the odds. At different stages of a match a player can be the favourite and underdog. Odds change after each point, and there is a significant move after a break of serve. All the online UK operators offer an extensive range of tennis betting options both for pre-match and in-play markets.

Horse Racing

Despite the growth in sports betting, horse racing is still an important sport with online UK bookmakers. Most sites offer odds on race meetings in the UK and Ireland and important overseas fixtures. If a customer places a bet, free live seaming is available. Ante-post betting is also popular with online sportsbook UK customers. Bookmakers issue odds for major races at the Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot and individual races such as the Grand National over jumps and Classics on the Flat.

BETTING TYPES

The online sportsbook UK industry has developed over the last 20 years, and in that time five types of bets have become established. The industry is constantly evolving, and there are new developments all the time, but at the time of writing these are the bets that dominate the online sports betting UK industry:

Pre-Match

In the days leading up to a fixture, odds are published for some of the main outcomes. As the event approaches, online bookmakers add more exotic markets to the offer. Despite the growth in in-play betting more bets are placed before the match for most sports. The most popular pre-match bets are singles and accumulators. Multiples and combinations combine a number of permutations. The Yankee and Lucky 15 are the most popular system bets with customers of online sports betting UK firms.

In-Play

All the online operators offer an in-play betting service. Customers can place bets during matches and the odds fluctuate depending on the score. Some interfaces provide live streaming of events while others display a graphical representation of the progress of play. The most popular in-play betting sports in the online sportsbook UK industry are football, tennis and cricket. Bookmakers suspend odds after a key event such as a goal in football, break of serve in tennis or wicket in cricket. The markets soon reappear with updated odds.

Cash Out

One of the more recent developments in online sportsbook UK betting is cash out betting. Bettors are allowed to close a bet before the outcome is known to ensure set winnings or cut the loss. The cash out value depends on the original odds, stake and current odds. Bets can be partially or fully cashed out during in-play events and the account is updated immediately with the betting funds. All the major online sportsbook UK firms provide customers with the cash out facility.

Ante-Post

Bookmakers issue odds for major leagues in football and competitions in other sports before the start of the season. A typical ante-post market is on the outright winner of the Premier League in England. Odds are available before the first matches in August and are updated after a programme of fixtures right up until the end of the season in May. Online sportsbook UK firms also accept ante-post bets on the winners of the World Cup and finals of the European Championships.

Customised

Online sports betting UK firms now allow bettors to create personalised bets. The customer requests odds on match accumulators that are not available in the regular betting. Some of the outcomes are related so the odds are adjusted accordingly. These bets are attractive because they have the potential for a big win for a small stake. Over time more online UK bookies will offer this feature or their variation.

CLOSING COMMENTS

The online sports betting UK industry is the most developed and regulated in the world. The industry is a model for betting in other jurisdictions. Many of the key changes in betting were originally developed by firms that operate in the online sportsbook UK sector and that situation is unlikely to change in the near future.

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