“How to Choose the Right Sportsbook!”
So you have decided to start betting online – or maybe you just want to find a new trustworthy sportsbook – what do you need to look out for?
Well I am in a position to speak from some experience – I did at one time hold accounts with about sixty bookmakers in Europe, UK, Australia and offshore – the latter catering mainly to the US market. I have had at least three online sportsbooks go broke on me – luckily my losses were kept to a few thousand dollars – that may sound a lot but it could have been a lot worse.
It is not that easy finding a reputable sportsbook – partly because the web is populated by website owners who will sing the praises of a sportsbook or casino simply because they earn revenue from signing up customers via an affiliate program. Often these website owners know nothing about betting, do not hold accounts with the sportsbooks they are advertising and have not researched the companies they are involved with.
You are keeping your money in an account online. Therefore you should think of the sportsbook you are considering as a bank – a place that you intend to keep funds long term.
So what do you look for:
Read press articles as opposed to reviews – reviews are usually written by the sportsbook’s marketing team.
Test run the software by joining and playing for free – most sportsbooks offer this facility.
Find out if your funds are insured or separated in ESCROW accounts so that if the sportsbook company goes under – your funds are still safe.
Find out if the sportsbook is independently audited.
How long has the operation been online – three to four years is usually a good marker as a minimum.
Test out the customer services to see if they meet your standards or the standards they promise you.
If you know about betting already, then check some of their odds and lines – are they in keeping with what you would expect? Some less scrupulous sportsbooks offer very attractive prices to lure unsuspecting bettors.
Find out if the sportsbook is part of a larger group of companies. Sometimes this means added solidity.
What are the deposit and withdrawal options and the associated charges. These vary quite a bit from book to book. Options should be available that are ‘free’ or where the sportsbook absorbs the charges. But ask yourself ; “how easy is it to get access to my money and how much does it cost?”
Not all the above are critical – but help towards finding a secure book.
If you have already have an account with a sportsbook watch out for lapses in customer service and slowness of payment – these can be signs that the company could be in trouble.
The UK has a number of established books including William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral, and Victor Chandler. I also like SportingBet (www.SBSportsbook.com) who take US customers and cater for global sports.
I would say that US bettors are at most risk since they are generally forced to bet at offshore sportsbooks due to legality issues. The offshore books with whom I work are top grade but it is in the offshore environment that problems occasionally occur. It is, therefore, critical that those US customers put in the research before signing up.