PREMIER ONLINE BETTING GUIDE FOR U.K. and EUROPE
Online Betting is popular around the world and its history is largely rooted in the UK. This relates to the fact bookmaking has been a legal profession here since 1961. Ladbrokes was one the first bookmakers to open London, UK betting shops, and in 1963 became the first provider of fixed odds for football. Soon later, William Hill began opening shops and to this very day the two continue in battle for the title of “UK’s largest bookmaker”. A large number of foreign bookmakers showed up here in the 1980’s and 1990’s and opened “phone-in betting shops” that targeted other places of the world. So with the UK already the world’s betting hub, all it took to trigger an online betting boom was the introduction of affordable home computers and reliable internet service.
As a testament that this was truly the case, in 1998 the Mirror Group and the Press Association partnered with UK’s largest spread betting firm City Index to launch the first ever UK sports betting site. After going online 8 July 1998, their website BETonline attracted over 5,000 unique punters in its first three months, and had over 30,000 clients when it was merged into Blue Square in September 1999. These figures are nothing when compared to Bet365. Seeing the success of Blue Square, Peter Coates (the current owner of Stoke City FC) went all out from year 2000 on, building www.bet365.com and a decade later reported first-quarter 2010 results as £5.4 billion wagered for a £358 million gross win and £104 million in net operating profit. Today, using the internet for online betting is as natural as using the net for anything else, and the UK is where the biggest operators have their roots.
Reasons to Use Online Betting
Online betting provides UK residents with many conveniences and opportunities that the high street bookmakers lack. To state the obvious first, online betting is a time saver. Almost every bookmaker supports mobile phone wagering so it’s possible to place wagers on the go, or to do so late at night from your laptop whilst lying in bed. Outside of the convenience factor, there are the benefits of higher payouts, live betting, additional markets, free bets, promotions, trading and easy odds shopping. I’ll cover a little on each of these benefits here on our home page.
When betting Premier League on 1X2, over or under, or any other common market the odds at betting sites and traditional bookmakers are generally similar. Where you’ll find higher payouts online is with accumulators. For example, Bet365 pays 5% more on successful trebles and 7.5% more on successful 4-folds than any of the UK’s five largest betting shops pay for the exact same wager.
Live Betting, also known as In-Play or In-Running, is the ability to place wagers on a match still in progress. I don’t know of a single UK bookmaker that doesn’t offer extensive in-play wagering for both football and tennis matches. Many also cover horse racing, cricket, rugby, darts, Formula 1 and American sports. Via live betting it’s possible to wager not only on the outcome of a match, but also unique propositions such as the result of a cricket bowl, or which football club will go into the books next.
The markets available online are massive. Using only football as an example here you can wager on 1X2, Asian Handicap, Over/Under, Draw No Bet, Double Chance, Correct Score, Half Time / Full Time, and Odds or Evens. The list doesn’t even come close to stopping here. If you fancy betting bookings, no problem, all UK bookmakers offer this. Also offered at many sites are unique propositions on first goal scorer, total corners, winning margin, time of first goal and some two dozen additional options.
The UK betting market is highly competitive with over 100 bookmakers working on player acquisition and retention. Many sites offer free bets or risk free bets as a method to attract new clients, while other sites such as Bet365 and Paddy Power are famous for offering these at random as a method of rewarding loyal punters. When using online betting there is no shortage of these offers available.
The promotions offered when online betting are many. With some bookmakers there are ongoing promos such as any time a football match finishes nil-nil all bets are refunded. With others bookmakers the offers come at random, such as bet £50.00 prematch on Manchester United and receive a free in play wager of £50 to be used on the same match. These are just two examples – over at Money Saving Expert, forum posters often engage in discussions about the value of the many promotions UK bookmakers have on hand.
The ability to live trade UK sports is a huge benefit online betting offers that traditional bookmakers do not. Trading involves using a peer to peer betting exchange such as www.betfair.com, where you have the ability to back teams (bet that they’ll win) or lay teams (bet that they’ll lose). To provide one example of trading: say you notice a trend that one of the best clubs has a recent history of starting off slow and finishing strong. Here you might choose to lay that team prematch, wait for them to get off to a slow start and then back them at better odds for a guaranteed profit. When doing the same at an online bookmaker, it’s it very difficult to profit as the bookmaker has an advantage built into the odds they offer and betting against an advantage twice is difficult to overcome even when the bet otherwise had equity. With betting exchanges you’re betting at no-vig market rates and only pay a commission after the match is finished based on net market win. There are many trading strategies shared online and this has become one the most popular way sports are now wagered from the UK.
Shopping Sports Odds
The most successful sport punters are generally the ones best at shopping the odds. Can you imagine running around Birmingham all day stopping at Bartletts, Paddy, Currigan, Graham Mace, T Moore, Supersoccer, and William Hill in an attempt to see who had the best odds on tomorrow’s Chelsea match? This is absurd, the time wasted and petrol costs make it not worth the effort. However with online betting here shopping odds is a few clicks away and even just comparing the odds at your 3 or 4 most favourite online betting sites makes this process easy and will help you get paid more on each successful bet.
A final benefit is many online betting sites offer poker, casino, and bingo from the same account balance as sports betting. As you’re now aware, online betting has a plethora of advantages over its traditional betting shop counterpart. However, don’t get me wrong; when I have time to kill I still rather enjoy visiting William Hill where the old timers are often willing to provide strong horse racing tips in exchange for some chat. This, and I met my wife at an O’Bama Power shop in Dublin, no wait that’s a lie, but I do get a kick out of visiting the shops ran by Paddy Power as so often there is something or another worth at least a grin. So although I’m not against betting in person, I just feel for most online betting is the way to go due to convenience, higher payouts, live betting, additional markets, free bets, promotions, trading and easy to shop odds.