Betting Guide

Betting guide

UK betting guide - introduction

Online bookmakers (also known as bookies) offer a wide range of events on which you can place bets via the internet. Betting opportunities are usually divided into various betting markets based on the type of event, most of which are self-explanatory.

As with online banking, bookmakers aim to protect all potentially sensitive information that is transmitted between your PC and their websites by using data encryption.

Most bookmakers focus on offering fixed odds betting. In fixed odds betting, bookmakers decide on and offer certain odds on a particular event. You can choose to accept those odds by placing a bet. In doing so, you risk a certain amount of money, which is known as your stake. Should you be successful in your forecast of the outcome, the betting site will pay your winnings based on the fixed odds that you agreed, returning your stake in addition. Of course, if your forecast turns out to be wrong, you lose the bet and lose your stake. Fixed odds may be displayed in decimal, fractional or American format. You can usually switch between odds formats to suit your preferences by clicking a prominent link on the betting site. See our betting odds guide for a more detailed explanation of fixed odds betting, including worked examples.

Types of fixed odds bets can range from a simple forecast of the overall outcome of a single event (eg Team A to win) to more complicated bets. More complex bets (which often have special names) can offer varying payouts depending on a mix of outcomes across a number of different events that don't necessarily happen at the same time. For example, many online bookmakers enable you to place accumulator bets, which have the potential to deliver high returns by continually reinvesting (on a pre-determined basis) the rolled-up proceeds of a series of successful bets.

Our betting glossary provides commonly used definitions for some of the most popular betting terms, but you should always check what definitions and rules apply with any particular bookmaker before placing any bets with them - this information is usually available in the help or rules sections of their websites.

In many cases, and especially with sports betting, it's possible to place bets not only before a particular event starts, but also while it's actually taking place. This is known as live or in-play betting.

To encourage both the placing of bets in general and uptake of their in-play betting services, many bookmakers offer clients the option of viewing sports events live on their PCs (or other internet-enabled devices) via live video streaming.

Sports betting

Sports betting (also known as sportsbook betting) is the most popular focus of online betting in the UK. Among sports, football betting is the most active market for online sportsbooks (accounting for around 20% of all UK internet sports betting turnover according to a leading industry body). Football betting's popularity is attributed partly to the sport's widespread television coverage in the UK, with many people preferring to place bets on sports events that they can watch and enjoy. Football also provides a broad range of betting options. For any given match, bookmakers may offer the opportunity to place bets on a multitude of different match-related events (eg bookings, corners, goal times, etc). Football also, of course, affords bookies plenty of scope for offering in-play / live betting events (next goalscorer, next booking, etc).

Other popular online sports betting markets include horse racing, cricket, golf, Formula One and other motor racing, greyhound racing, rugby, snooker, tennis and more. Many UK-focused bookmakers also offer betting on international sports including events from the US, Australia and elsewhere - examples include baseball, basketball, ice hockey, speedway, volleyball and winter sports betting.

Novelty betting / specials

In addition to sports betting markets, many online betting sites also enable customers to place bets on so called "novelty markets" or "specials", examples of which include the outcomes of reality television shows (eg evictions, winners), elections, political events (eg the duration of speeches) and other public and seasonal events (eg snow falling on Christmas Day).

Bookmakers are becoming increasingly creative in offering specials / novelty bets on all kinds of public events with any element of uncertainty regarding their outcome. Whilst bets of this nature may often be promoted with a sense of fun by bookmakers, the risks and potential rewards for customers who place such bets are, of course, just as real as with any other form of betting.

Other betting sites

Other types of betting include spread betting (which can involve much higher risks than fixed odds betting) and person-to-person betting exchanges, whereby people are able to offer and accept bets between themselves, facilitated by an online intermediary. You can find examples of both betting exchanges and spread betting operators within our betting directory.

Betting regulation

Under the Gambling Act 2005, the Gambling Commission is responsible for regulating commercial gambling in Great Britain, including betting and British-based remote gaming. See our gambling regulation guide for more details.

Betting disputes

Many bookmakers are registered with the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), an organisation recognised by the Gambling Commission as being able to act as an impartial adjudicator regarding disputes between customers and IBAS-registered gambling operators (which includes operators of many betting sites). In such cases, IBAS requires gambling operators to have first fully considered a customer's dispute. IBAS would also require both parties to agree to its terms before investigating any properly referred disputes. Such provisions aside, should a betting dispute arise, it may be appropriate to seek legal advice.

Bet Victor

Betting offers

Online bookmakers & betting exchanges

Our featured offers panel shows offers for UK customers from online betting sites.

All offers are new customer offers for UK residents aged 18+. Terms & conditions apply - see sites for details:

Bet Victor
Jenningsbet betting Coral
Vernons betting

Betting Offers

New Customer Betting Offers

Betting offers from some of our most popular listed online betting sites (UK 18+, Ts and Cs apply):

Bet Victor

Betting news

UK online betting news

The following betting news headlines refer to articles from the offers blog. Click on the title to visit our news section and read these and other UK betting and gambling news articles in full:

Responsible betting

Bet responsibly

Resources and advice features betting sites for UK consumers aged 18+. We urge responsible attitudes and behaviour when betting. Resources, help & info:

-'s responsible gambling guide;
- Gamble Aware - advice about gambling;
- GamCare - online, phone & counselling support;
- Gamblers Anonymous - fellowship-based help.