Shopping for a sportsbook is like shopping for a car: there are lots of options on the market and if you do a little homework, you’ll end up happy. However, if you try to cut some corners, you could end up with a lemon. To help you shop for the best place to place your action, we’ve devised an all-encompassing guide on how to choose the best online sportsbooks.
One of the easiest ways to narrow down the list of sportsbooks is by figuring out which ones are available to you. Sports bettors can compare sportsbooks by using the SBR Rating Guide to find a company that services their region.
Next on the shopping list is reputation. We’re not trying to sound ‘clicky’ but you have to be careful who you associate with. If you want to deal with sportsbooks that have a bad reputation, expect all sorts of shenanigans. That means a challenging time opening up an account, questionable customer service and an arduous time withdrawing your funds. However, if you deal with many of the best sportsbooks brand names – like the top-rated books that industry watchdog SBR recommends – then you’ll be in good hands. Many of them are either publicly traded companies or sportsbooks with pristine, longstanding reputations. Those are the books that you want to deal with. The rest will only cause headaches.
After you’ve checked the first two boxes off the list, the next step is to examine the banking methods. There are a whole host of options for depositing and withdrawing from a sporstbook, but many are easier than others. For example: a credit card deposit or withdrawal is instantaneous. However, something like Western Union requires you physically got to a banking location, which takes more effort. You’ll also want to look for books that have lots of banking methods. Should something change in the future, you’ll have more methods to transfer funds back and forth.
Now that we’ve got the technical stuff out of the way, it’s time to have some fun. Online sportsbooks come in all shapes and sizes, and offer all sorts of features. Here are the main elements of a book that you should be shopping for:
Customer Service – Take a look at which ways you can contact customer service, which hours they’re open and how quickly they respond. The best books will have options to call, chat, and e-mail 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Other books only allow e-mail correspondence.
Live Betting – Live betting allows you to bet in-game while the action is happening. It’s a relatively new feature that has been implemented at many books over the last few years, so some books do it better than others. And some sportsbooks still don’t offer it.
Low Juice – The amount of juice that you’re laying directly affects your bottom line. Some sportsbooks offer cheaper lines (-105 on football instead of -110, for example), which means you would have to wager 5% less each time. In the long run, that can save you a lot of money and sharp bettors will understand that. For recreational bettors, this is a smaller consideration.
Variety – Almost all sportsbooks will offer the bread-and-butter lines from the major sports like NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and the college sports. However, as you shop for sportsbooks, you’ll notice that some books have a much bigger variety of betting lines than others. For example: 5Dimes offers a huge selection of major sports props to play. Companies like BetDSI and Bodog will have a big variety of entertainment and wacky props, like betting on reality shows and Presidential Elections. Some books will have a full array of Mixed Martial Arts betting lines that includes KOTC and Bellator, while some books will only offer the major UFC events. Variety differs from book to book, so take that into account.
Casino/Racebook – Speaking of variety, a casino and racebook are an extension of that. Some sportsbooks will have a casino and a racebook side-by-side, which gives you more options to play when sports are not your fancy. If you’re a horse racing enthusiast, you can find some books that offer lines on every racetrack in North America. And if the casino games are your flavor, you can find live dealer, 3D slots and almost every other type of game that you can play in Vegas.
Deposit Bonus – Almost all sportsbooks will give you a deposit bonus to start, but some will offer more than others. 10% is about the industry standard but you can easily find more than that. Make sure you also take into account what rollover is tied to the bonus when you accept it. Lastly, keep an eye on books that have reload bonuses on top of initial deposit bonuses. That gives you a chance to keep collecting coins even when you redeposit later on down the road.