How We Rate Online Betting Sites at BettingLounge.co.uk

We believe in transparency and honesty when rating and reviewing online betting sites at BettingLounge.co.uk. That's why we have compiled a list of how our experts rate, test and review each online bookmaker.

We are committed to providing unbiased, accurate, and honest reviews of each UK bookie while only recommending the sites that pass our rigorous process.

As of February 2024, we have reviewed over 170 online betting sites in the UK. We recommend only 37 online betting sites, so we advise avoiding over 130 other bookmakers.

Some are in the avoid category because they have simply shut down or no longer operate in the UK. However, we do not recommend joining 30+ UK betting sites still operating legally in the market.

Written by Steven Hubbard
Verified by BettingLounge team
Last updated 13/12/2023

Our evaluation process of online betting sites can be split into seven sections, each addressing key aspects that we believe are important.

  • Licence and Industry Reputation

  • Betting Offers

  • Customer Support

  • Betting Experience

  • Payment Solutions

  • Sign Up Process

  • Real Player Reviews

Licence and Industry Reputation

This is probably the most essential thing assessed by BettingLounge.co.uk. People thinking about joining a new betting site in the UK need to feel assured it is safe. Checking out how the site is licensed and regulated is the first port of call here, followed by seeing what security measures are in place to protect customers' data.

We ensure the UK Gambling Commission fully licenses every online sports betting site on BettingLounge, and we display the license number and links to the license in our reviews.

We also check the operator's history and reputation in the industry to see if they have received any fines or an unusual number of negative reviews while also studying whether they have adequate player protection tools.

Unfortunately, just because the UKGC licences a betting site does not necessarily mean the place is safe or trustworthy. For example, a few white-label new betting sites are now on our list to avoid after an overwhelming amount of 1-star reviews and worrying feedback from real players.

We currently recommend reading our expert reviews and accurate player comments before joining any white-label sites, and it is wise to follow this practice before joining any betting site, as even the established bookies sometimes fall short.

Betting Offers & Existing Customer Promotions

All betting sites in the UK use promotions to bring in new users. However, it is important to look below the surface to judge whether a bonus offered constitutes good value.

A big free bet as a welcome offer might catch the eye, but if there is a maximum win limit attached, this might put some people off from signing up. Welcome bonuses also often have wagering requirements that need to be met.

This means the bonus money cannot be withdrawn until certain conditions have been met. Promotions are not just for new users either. Many of the best betting sites in the UK now have free bets up for grabs weekly as part of a rewards club. This encourages people to return to a betting site regularly.

But, the best value betting bonuses come when you sign up as a new customer, especially during significant sporting events. The free bet is a staple of many online betting sites, but some are better than others. We also offer several exclusive free bet no deposit bonuses and free spins no deposit offers.

Some offers require special bonus codes you must enter to claim these exclusive bonuses during registration. But bonus codes are not as popular as they used to be. For most sign-up offers, you must click through one of our complete links to claim the bonus.

Still, some betting sites require promo codes, and be sure to read the significant terms and conditions below each offer to see if the offer suits your betting style.

Existing Customer Promotions

A tremendous sign-up offer is all well and good, but you want your betting site of choice to have regular promotions and some kind of rewards scheme for existing customers.

Some of the best betting sites in the UK have yearly promotions or pop-ups during select sporting events.

Below are some examples of promotions for existing customers:

  1. Free Bet Clubs - Place a certain amount of money/bets each week to qualify for a weekly free chance.
  2. Accumulator Bonuses - Most betting sites offer accumulator bonuses such as Acca insurance, Acca Boosts, etc.
  3. Odds Boosts - Daily odds boost for select events on most betting sites in the UK.
  4. Money-Back Specials - Money back (mainly as a free bet) if your horse finished second to the SP favourite.
  5. Games - Paddy Power's Beat The Drop game, which you can try for free to win up to £1000!

We have listed the promotions and rewards in each review for all the betting sites on BettingLounge. But they update regularly, so we recommend checking the promotions tab when you log in.

Customer Support

Customer support is essential to many people who want to feel assured that if they have a problem with their account, they will be able to resolve it quickly. Many of the UK's top betting sites now offer customer support via social media. At the same time, it is still expected to be able to access help via alternative methods such as email and telephone. Live chat facilities are also often staffed on a 24/7 basis so that users can get the help they need no matter the time of day.

Never settle for betting sites with poor customer service. Regarding your money, they should have 24/7 customer service with fast and responsive support agents. Several contact methods should exist, including live chat, phone, and email.

Customer service is even more critical with the new changes to the age and identity verification rules. From 7th May 2019, UK betting sites will require your age and identity before you can deposit. However, we are seeing reports of betting sites failing to verify the age and identity of punters before allowing them to deposit.

Tip: Verify your age & identity on each bookie before you deposit to avoid any withdrawal issues.

Betting Experience

Betting experience is broad, but we break it into three distinct sections. Live betting and streaming, mobile betting, sports & betting markets are available, plus a look at their odds/margins.

Sports, Markets & Betting Odds/Margins

Most betting sites in the UK have a similar range of sports and betting markets. Some operators try to stand out by clearly focusing on something new or different, such as esports or virtual betting. Those who want to bet on a slightly more minor sport, like sailing or darts, will want to ensure the site offers this.

In terms of the betting markets, again, there tend to be similarities across all the betting sites. However, some have more options to pick from than others. For example, football fans wanting to bet on a Premier League game can sometimes find more than 500 bets. At the same time, the selection might be relatively restricted to other betting sites in the UK, with about 200 choices.

You will find a list of the sports available on each betting site and the average number of public betting markets in our bookies reviews. Make sure they have the sport/sports you like to bet on and see how many calls they offer on those sports.

There are so many online betting sites you simply do not need to settle for one that does not provide a wide variety of markets and 30+ sports to choose from.

Betting sites also need to make sure they have high betting odds. Sports fans placing their bets want to ensure they get the best value from their selections.

Even a tiny difference in the prices offered between two betting sites can significantly impact the potential profit that is up for grabs if a customer is placing a large bet. Some betting sites are known for having high betting odds on specific sports, with less appealing prices available for others.

This leads us to bet margins, essentially the cost betting sites "charge" you for placing your bet. Look at our betting margins guide if you are unsure or want to learn how to calculate them. We independently test a small sample of events and markets and post the results in each bookie review.

Betting margins tend to vary from sport to sport. For example, SBK has some of the lowest margins for tennis, while BetVictor has low margins for football.

Live Betting & Streaming

Live betting is an essential part of gambling, and live streaming allows one of the best experiences in the betting industry. Some of the best betting sites offer free live streams if you have money in your account.

One of the most significant developments in online betting in recent years has been the rise of live streaming. Betting site customers can now often tune into the live-action from various sports worldwide - all through their accounts. Sometimes, they might have to place a bet on the action to get access to the streams, which are slightly delayed.

When reviewing the live betting experience, we look at the following:

  1. The markets and odds that are available. Does the bookie have all the sports/events you want to bet on and a wide range of needs?
  2. Is there a live stream available on the site? Do they have decent graphics and live stats to make up for it?
  3. Is there a cash-out feature, as nothing is worse than seeing a late goal ruin your bet?

The best in-play betting sites will offer all three, and you shouldn't comprise.

bet365 is one of the most popular betting sites for a reason. You will find many sports, events, and markets while offering thousands of live streams monthly. Also, they have different cash-out options, from complete to partial cashouts.

Mobile Betting

With smartphones dominating our everyday lives, almost all sports betting sites now have mobile apps for both iOS and Android users. It is best to use a combination of both the app and their desktop site, but it's entirely up to you.

Depending on the betting sites you choose, you may favour desktops over apps or vice versa. Check out our reviews of the UK's best betting apps for iOS and Android.

Payment Solutions

Firstly, you want to know which payment methods the betting sites accept, whether that is a debit card (credit cards are no longer born in the UK), Paypal, e-wallets, etc.

Secondly, you want to know whether depositing and withdrawing are straightforward. Most betting sites make it very easy to deposit, of course, but withdrawal times can vary quite a lot, and some new bookies even charge for withdrawals!

Lastly, you will want to check how much you can deposit and withdraw (both minimum and maximum) depending on your gambling style. The lowest minimum deposit on most bookies is set at £10, but there are a few £5 minimum deposit betting sites. As for the withdrawals, some bookmakers allow you to withdraw as little as £0.01, but most are set to £5 or £10 minimum withdrawals.

If speedy withdrawals are essential, we recommend checking out our list of the fastest withdrawal betting sites in the UK to see which bookies offer instant withdrawals. You can also find all the payment methods offered and the average withdrawal times for each payment method in the individual bookmaker reviews.

Sign Up Process

In May 2019, the UK Gambling Commission updated online betting sites' Age and Identity Verification rules. Know Your Customer (KYC) is an account verification process that all online betting sites must follow before a player can deposit, bet or withdraw any money.

Players will now need to verify their name, address, and date of birth before they can:

  • Deposit
  • Bet with money or bonuses
  • Play free-to-play games
  • Use any bonuses

We have seen reports from several players stating some betting sites are not following these rules, and we recommend reporting the operator to the UKGC if this happens to you. All customers, new or old, need to verify their accounts before being allowed to gamble.

Completing the customer verification process has improved with this regulation change, and it is now much easier and faster to verify your age and identity.

On most online sports betting sites, you must provide a proof of identity document containing your full name, date of birth and address; the verification process usually takes 24-72 hours. Most bookies require:

  • Photographic ID (Drivers licence, passport or ID card)
  • Proof of address, such as a utility bill
  • Copy of the front and back of the debit card or other payment method

These documents can be uploaded directly to the operator's website, and customer support can verify accounts within a day or several hours if you are lucky. But there can also be delays, and betting sites may need additional information to verify your account.

Real Player Reviews

Of course, it is not rare to see online betting sites with many bad reviews. Even the most reputable bookies in the industry have a lot of negative reviews, but some are worse than others.

Also, the nature of the actual player reviews dictates if the betting site is on our list. For example, if a bookie is accused of locking accounts and refusing to process withdrawals, it will be more severe than a player complaining that the site has lousy betting odds.

But, we check player complaints and reviews on TrustPilot and manually search on Google to ensure we haven't missed any red flags or issues reported by real players.

We recommend reading our expert reviews and the players' comments before joining any betting site so you know of any issues or complaints before depositing money.

Steven is an experienced iGaming content writer who has been working in the industry since 2018. He is passionate about sports betting and enjoys writing about all aspects of the industry, including bookmaker reviews, betting tips and strategies, and news and analysis. If you have any questions about online gambling in the UK, please don't hesitate to contact him.