Sports betting and gambling have an important place in UK history: The first commercial casino in the United Kingdom launched in 1961, but people were already gambling way before that. Since the first Gaming Act that legalized gambling in 1968, betting booths started to appear in the streets of London. Today, they are a part of the city’s history and culture: Statistics show that nearly 5% of the local population visited these booths at least once. It is also a pretty common thing to see commercials of British bookmakers on TV, even during the prime time. In short, British people love to gamble and they have a special interest in sports betting. Therefore, an important question arises: Which ones are the top UK bookmakers? How to find the best UK bookmakers and how to evaluate their features?
These questions require expertise to be answered fairly and objectively. Well, don’t worry: We have that expertise and more. In this article, we will talk about the best UK online bookies and new UK bookmakers, and give you a current list of bookmakers UK with guidelines on how to evaluate them. Once you are done with reading, you will learn everything you need to know about the English bookies.
Biggest and most recommended bookmakers in the UK
Which One Is The Biggest Betting Company In UK?
Contrary to popular belief, finding the biggest bookmakers in the UK is not a hard job: The stocks of these companies are traded on the stock market, so we exactly know how big their revenues are. Note that these values show only the size of the companies, and being the biggest does not always mean being the “best”. We will elaborate on this topic in detail below, but for now, let’s continue with the list of the biggest bookmakers UK. Below, you can find the biggest bookies in UK according to their yearly revenue.
Yearly Revenue: 2.500.000.000 GBP
There was a time when William Hill was the biggest British betting company, but this title belongs to the Ladbrokes/Coral group now. Both are very famous bookies and they have quite a history: Ladbrokes is established in 1886 and Coral in 1926. The group also owns BETDAQ – it is the biggest betting exchange in the United Kingdom. In other words, they have an impressive infrastructure when it comes to online bookmaking. GVC Holdings, the owner of the group, is also a big one: It also owns and operates lots of other famous brands, such as BWin, PartyPoker, and SportingBet.
Yearly Revenue: 1.700.000.000 GBP
The founder of this bookie is Mr. William Hill (hence the name), and the company is established in 1934. Ironically, Mr. Hill believed that “betting was a sin” but for some reason, he followed a quite aggressive strategy in the online betting UK market. Mr. Hill passed a long time ago, and nowadays the company does not have a real “owner” – only shareholders. William Hill is also probably the most widely known UK bookmaker outside of the United Kingdom.
Yearly Revenue: 1.650.000.000 GBP
These two companies merged in 2016 and they became one of the biggest bookmakers in UK. PaddyPower is the oldest company in the merger: It is actually an Irish brand and founded in 1988. Betfair is fairly new (established in 2000) but it launched the first P2P (peer to peer) betting exchange in the United Kingdom. This was quite a revolution back in the day, so it gained popularity quickly.
The rest of the list contains also familiar and famous brands, such as Bet365, 888 Holdings, and UNIBET. We are sure that you saw their betting booths all over the United Kingdom if you live in this country: They all offer online and “physical” betting services. However, as mentioned above, being big does not mean being good: Use this list just to get a general idea about the biggest brands in the market but do not think that they are your only option to get the best online bookies UK service. These two are different things, and we will discuss this topic in more detail below.
How Big Is The UK Online Bookmakers Market?
The gambling industry in the UK is controlled by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) and they share pretty detailed reports every year. In other words, this question is also easy to answer. According to these reports, here are some of the interesting facts about the UK bookmakers market:
- The overall income (casinos included) of the UK gambling industry is 14.400.000.000 GBP per year.
- Non-remote (physical booths) betting industry is worth 3.254.000.000 GBP in total.
- The online bookmakers UK industry is worth 5.391.000 GBP in total.
- There are 8.406 betting booths in Great Britain.
- Sports betting covers 23% of the overall gambling industry.
- There are a total of 2.820 licensed gambling operators in the UK, and 20% of them are betting operators.
- 029 people are employed in the sports betting companies.
- Surprisingly, 49% of employees in this industry work at English bookmakers.
- Remote betting (online bookmaking) sector grows 13.8% every year.
- Football and horse betting are the most popular types of sports betting.
- The biggest bookmaker payout is 1.000.000 GBP for a 50p bet. This happened in 2008 and a lucky punter named Fred Craggs beat the “2.000.000 to 1” odds by betting 50p on three horses. To this date, this is still the biggest payout according to the bet amount.
The interesting fact here is that while casinos take a larger part in the gambling industry, online bookmaking employs a lot more people and gains a lot more revenue than casinos. This is actually normal: Most of the casino software can work fully automated and does not require “human” intervention that much. Bookmaking, on the other hand, is still a delicate job that requires “human touch”. In terms of revenue, it is also normal that bookmaking makes a lot more profits: The house edge ratios are higher than casinos and sports betting can be played via physical booths too – you can literally walk into a store and place some bets.
How To Find The Best Bookmakers In UK?
And now, here comes the “not so easy to answer” part. Like we mentioned above, being best and being big are two different things, so do not pay attention to the size of a company when evaluating its features. Best bookmakers UK have some distinctive features and sometimes, they can be found even in the “smallest” brands. Over the years, we have developed lots of criteria to examine, review, and pick top bookies UK. Below, you can see them and find out what to look for when evaluating all UK betting sites.
- Fair and competitive odds. There is a lot of confusion in this regard, because “high”, “good”, and “competitive” odds are very different things. Allow us to explain with examples: Let’s say the (fractional) odd of an outcome is 9/1. This means you have the opportunity of winning 9 GBP for every 1 GBP you bet. This is a “high” odd and you can find this type of odds at all UK bookies. But the probability of this outcome happening is only 10% – so this is not a good offer, just high. A “good” odd would be 1/4, for example, which means you can win 1 GBP for every 4 GBP you bet. This may seem like a low figure but the probability of this outcome is 80% – this is a “good” odd.
- “Competitive” odds are somewhere in between good and high: For example, 4/1 odd means that you can win 4 GBP for every 1 GBP you bet, and the probability of this outcome is a flat 20%. Now, this is a risk you can take – you make a very low investment with the 20% possibility of high returns. We always check whether the bookmaker offers UK are competitive or not. Only the bookies that offer advantageous odds can enter our best UK bookies lists.
- User-friendly website and app. Nobody wants to spend minutes while trying to figure out how to navigate in a website or app. Even the biggest betting companies UK can make this mistake and design an unpractical interface. We always check for how easy it is to use the website/app and how practical it is to place a bet. This is especially important for live betting; as even seconds are important in that feature and you need to quickly figure out how to react. If you cannot take action because of a badly designed interface, even the biggest bookmakers UK sites are pretty much useless.
- Lag-free streaming and live betting options. The most important thing about live betting is the necessity of watching a match from start to finish. You need to keep track of events in real time and analyze the odds – this is how you make money. Biggest betting sites UK offer the real-time streams of every match and these should be broadcasted without any lags. In addition, you should be getting dynamic and constant new offers during the match – smart bettors know how to analyze these new odds and make the best out of every outcome. In short, the best bookmakers must provide live streams and keep the bettors interested with new offers during matches.
- Lots of betting types and sports categories. Odd-hunters know that foreign leagues and exotic sports usually get the best odds. Everybody can place a bet on UK football teams – that’s why their odds will never be high enough. But there are only a couple of people who follow the football leagues of Africa, for example. Or, a sumo wrestling match in Japan – the important thing is, you should be able to place a bet for any sports event in any part of the world: the more the better. So, we make sure to pick UK bookies that support lots of foreign leagues, exotic sports, and a variety of betting options.
- Professional customer support. Best online bookmakers UK offer multiple ways to contact the support team and make sure all agents are properly trained. You should be able to reach an agent at any time of the day and all of your complaints must be resolved in a reasonable time frame. As doing this will also require providing localized support methods, we will give more detail about the subject below.
UK Bookmaker Bonuses: Use Promotions To Your Advantage
Actually, bonus offers are also an important part of the criteria above, but we decided to create a separate section for them. While creating the best UK bookmakers list, we prioritize the fairness of bonuses and other promotions, that are available to both new and current members. Note that we did not say “big bonuses”, because like every other thing in this industry, being “big” and “fair” are two different things. Let’s start with a short list of bonuses you can find in bookmakers UK sites, then we will explain what we mean by that.
- No Deposit Bonuses: This type of promotions usually gives you a small balance to place a free bet. Making a deposit is not required, as the name implies, you get your free bet coupon (usually for 5 GBP or so) as soon as you complete the registration process. If you win that coupon, the profits are yours to keep but with some conditions.
- Welcome Offers: These offers are available only for new members and they require making a certain amount of deposit. For example, you are asked to deposit 10 GBP and get 30 GBP as bonus funds in return. You cannot withdraw these funds but you can place bets with them, and the winnings are yours to keep (again, with some conditions.) Usually, new UK bookmakers offer the best welcome bonuses.
- Reload Bonuses: Same as welcome offers but these promotions can be used more than once and by all members (not only the new ones). You get a free betting balance according to the deposit amount you make, usually every week.
- Cashback Bonuses: The betting site refunds a certain percentage of your losses, usually between 15-25%. This promotion can also be used every week and there is a maximum limit of the money that can be refunded.
Now, all of these sound good and advantageous, but they should also be fair. Allow us to explain: Every bonus offer comes with a playthrough/turnover requirement. This means your bonus/refunded funds are actually “locked” and they will become usable only when you complete this requirement. To complete it, you are asked to place bets with a certain odd until you reach a total. For example, a betting site may ask you to playthrough a welcome bonus with 1.25 odds and 5x rate. Let’s say your bonus funds are 50 GBP in total. This means you need to deposit a total of 250 GBP (5×50) and use them to place bets with 1.25 odds minimum. Once you do that, your bonus funds will be unlocked and can be withdrawn.
These odds and rates must be fair in order for a bonus to be advantageous. If they are too high (or have a short time limit to complete) you won’t be able to benefit from them at all. That’s why we pick only the fair bonus offers when creating our best bookmakers in UK lists, and we are not fooled by high rates.
Unique Features Of UK Bookies
UK online betting sites have some specific characteristics that can be used to easily identify them. We can list them as follows:
- A UKGC license. All bookies UK are licensed from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission; this is the most common feature they have. They can be licensed from other agencies too (such as MGA and eCuracao) but in order to accept British members, having a UKGC license is a must. Check the bottom of the main page of the site to see the UKGC seal. If you click on the seal, the UKGC verification page should be opened.
- Localized customer support. UK online bookies must be able to offer telephone support in the United Kingdom. Now, telephone support is a feature that can be seen in other betting sites too, but we are talking about a telephone number in Britain here, not an international one. And once you dial that number, you should be connected to English speaking agents.
- Localized payment methods. UK bookies online support local payment methods for deposit and withdrawals, as well as global ones. For example, bank transfers and credit cards are a global payment method and can be found in all foreign betting sites. But support for Delta, EuroCard, and Solo/Maestro cards can only be found in UK bookmakers. SO you will be getting payment methods specific to your country.
- Fractional odds. The world of sports betting is divided into two when it comes to odd formats: Europe (UK included) mostly prefers fractional odds and USA-based operators use decimal odds. Fractional odds have a history in the United Kingdom and for most British bettors, they are easier to understand. For this reason, if you are seeing the odds in fractional format, this means you are visiting a UK bookie website. To clarify, fractional odds look like this: 1/4, 9/1, 1/1, etc. Decimal odds, on the other hand, look like this: 1.25, 2.32, 4.0, etc. Note that they are actually the same mathematically, and they do not offer different probabilities (or payouts).
- Good old British betting terminology. Everybody knows what sports betting is but only the British will understand the meaning of “punter”. Or “dam”, or “fillie”, or “jack”. (If you are wondering, first two are horse racing terms and the last means 5 GBP.) In other words, the British have their own gambling terminology and UK bookmaker websites use this terminology too.
New UK Bookmakers Vs Big Ones: Which One Is Better?
We mentioned that being big and best does not mean the same thing multiple times in this guide. This is true: Not all big UK bookies are the best and sometimes, small and independent bookmakers are more advantageous in terms of odds and bonuses. New UK bookmakers have a tendency to offer quite good deals and odds because they need to increase their member numbers. Biggest UK bookies, on the other hand, already have thousands of members so they do not feel the need to make new and exciting features. In other words, you may be happier with new online bookmakers UK companies, as long as you pick them well.
The biggest names have the advantage of being reputable – they belong to large companies and can satisfy even the most paranoid bettors. You know that there will be no problems in regards to payments when you pick a “big” bookie to play. Picking a new UK bookmaker, on the other hand, is a little riskier: They do not have the history nor reputation yet. But for the same reason, they are eager to gain new customers and offer better odds & bonuses.
As long as you follow the criteria we listed above and play at our recommended UK bookmakers, there will be nothing to worry about. Our advice will be creating multiple accounts at both “big” and “new” bookmaker sites. That way, you can get the best of both worlds. Use your account at new bookies to take advantage of higher odds for specific matches, and use the account at big brands for everyday betting. After a while, you can entirely switch to the new bookmaker, once you are satisfied with it. As a general rule, do not stick to one site (no matter how big it is) and always be open to trying new opportunities. New UK bookmakers offer really good features and bonuses, and as long as you pick them wisely, your betting experience will be greatly enhanced.
FAQs for choosing the best online bookmakers in UK
Today, all of these industries are controlled by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, the official gambling regulatory authority in the UK. A UKGC license is quite prestigious as it is very hard to get one: Only the individuals with a perfect background can have this license and its fees are pretty high.
The British government asks UK bookmakers to pay a flat 15% tax on all their gross profits, so in a way, the operators are paying players’ taxes too. In short, as long as you don’t own a UK bookmaker company, you don’t need to pay any taxes at all.
● UKGC asks players to complain to the UK bookmaker first. If you directly address your complaint to UKGC (without reaching the operator) it will be rejected. You will be asked to prove that you complained to the bookmaker first and the problem did not resolve that way.
● You must wait eight weeks after making a complaint to the operator. If you reach UKGC after contacting the operator but before 8 weeks, it will be rejected.
● UKGC cannot resolve your complaint, it is not a court. Instead, UKGC will refer you to an ADR (alternative dispute resolution) provider. These are independent agencies and you do not need to pay for their services. There are lots of ADR services and the one that is approved both by the bookmaker and the player will be chosen to solve the problem.
● The decision of ADR is not final: You can still take the matter to courts if you are not satisfied with the outcome. However, you will probably lose that case, since ADR already investigated the matter in detail. Same goes for bookmaker too. If you want, you can also complain about the ADR to UKGC. But note that this won’t affect the decision of ADR, UKGC does not have that kind of power.
The whole process is explained in detail at the official website of UKGC, so we recommend taking a look at that page too. You can also find a petition template at the site.
They can still accept complaints to an extent but the only thing they can do is canceling the ABB membership of a specific operator if it fails to meet these standards. They are not a court nor an official regulatory body. In any case, they created most of the responsible gambling practices we all know today, so they are still important.
Pick A UK Bookie And Start Playing Today!
This was a long article but it was worth it: We believe that you know everything important about the UK online bookmakers and can choose wisely now. Sports betting can be an enjoyable and profitable experience as long as you make wise decisions, and you are ready to make them – go out there and place some bets. We will keep updating our content so do not forget to visit us often. We are your best source when it comes to new and biggest bookmakers in the UK: Visit our site first before placing a bet!