We are living in the digital age. No longer are you forced to dash off down the street in the pouring rain because you forgot to slap down a bet on your favourite nag or footy team. Nowadays, you can bet from the comfort of your own home, or on your way home from work via your mobile phone. Online sportsbooks provide us with that medium, and if you aren’t yet signed up at one, you’re missing out on saving yourself some time, effort and in many cases, money when it comes to betting on sports.

Now that we’ve got your attention, the question is: how do you get involved if you aren’t already? In this guide, we’ll take a look at joining an online sportsbook for the very first time, including how to create betting accounts. We’ll explain everything to you so that your transition from legging it down to the high-street Betfred, to playing at your favourite online bookie is as easy as pie. Let’s get started then.

Getting yourself started at an online sportsbook

Before you register for a betting account, you must first choose an online sportsbook. With so many out there to choose from, you’re spoilt for choice, as you can see from our list of top 100 bettings sites here. After you’ve made your decision (the safest bet is to go with your favourite high-street bookie or a leading online sportsbook such as William Hill) you can join a betting site in a matter of minutes. Now, the process to register betting accounts is as simple as 1, 2, 3. Here’s how…

  1. You’ll need a username (your e-mail address will do) and you’ll need a fairly strong password. Fill out your personal details in the registration form of each online bookmaker, and that’s all there is to it.
  2. Now that betting registration is complete, it is time to sign into your betting account and start exploring your new home for sports betting.

Using your account to get around

After you have decided to create a betting account, you need to sign-in using the password and username you created. The login page is usually the first page you encounter at an online sportsbook, so pop in your username and login password and then click the login button to enter what is known as the lobby.

From the lobby, you will be able to access plenty of different betting markets and sections of the sportsbook. There will be options which take you to customer support, links to various sports betting markets (the most popular ones will be displayed in the lobby, or on the homepage), and buttons which take you to promotions and banking options. If your bookie allows you to watch live matches or place live in-play bets, you can get there from the lobby, too.

Some of the larger bookies will also run online casinos, bingo sites, poker sites and other forms of gambling games. If your sportsbook does this, you will be able to click on the navigation bar in the lobby to take you to there. Generally speaking, your sportsbook account is also linked to those sections, so you don’t need to create a new account. Any money you have on there will be valid at a sportsbook’s casino site, and anything you win there can be transferred back to your sportsbook, for example. This makes for exciting gameplay since you can place sports bets and then spin a few slot reels with the same account. Not all bookies offer this option, but most of the big ones do.

Broaden your horizons by playing at multiple sportsbooks

Is it legal to play at multiple domains, and have numerous accounts at several sportsbooks in the United Kingdom? Yes, absolutely, if you don’t have multiple accounts at the same one. You can readily set up a betting account at several sportsbooks, and in fact, we’d advise it. When you open a new betting account at multiple sportsbooks, you have access to different aspects of the betting world. Some bookies are able to offer you markets which others don’t cover, obscure sports, for example. Some sportsbooks don’t offer casino games and others do, whilst some have far better promos and bonuses, as well as odds than their counterparts. Having multiple accounts at different sportsbooks gives you the best of both worlds. The betting account sign up process at most online bookies is similar, so you should now know how to go about doing that.

A spot of sports betting on the go

Not all sportsbooks offer mobile betting. If you create a betting account at one which doesn’t, you may wish to open a new account with one that does. As we’ve said, you can run them both side-by-side, with no trouble. Mobile betting offers a more streamlined approach for players, with software which caters to players on the go, and is specialised for their phones and tablets. Just like an online bookie offers you a different experience from a high-street one, you may even be able to pocket a few perks and privileges, such as special bonuses and markets at mobile sportsbooks, which you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to enjoy at an online sportsbook.

Reasons why your account may be suspended or closed

There are occasions where you may find access to your sportsbook account restricted. A few betting sites (and we’re talking about a very small number here) may restrict access to your account if you haven’t bet in a while. This practice has all but died out over the last few years, though. However, there are other ways in which you may be locked out of your account.

If you have broken the sportsbook’s terms of service or terms and conditions, you could have your account suspended. Terms and conditions can be lengthy and tedious but are worth noting. Here’s a cracking example of what they look like. Fun, right? Completing the betting registration process as a minor is one way to see your account closed, or if you decide to open a betting account at the same sportsbook twice, you may also see your account restricted. Similarly, if you live in a country where the sportsbook doesn’t operate or set up a betting account in someone else’s name, you may find your account deactivated. Simply don’t register betting accounts at the same sportsbook, and abide by their terms and conditions and this shouldn’t happen to you.

Funding your betting experience

Now, back to the basics of when you join a betting site for the very first time. Once you have your new betting account, you’re going to want to fund it. Initially, your account is probably going to be empty. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to put a few quid into your account, though. You’ll need to do that if you want to start wagering on sports.

By going to banking page, you can deposit into your betting account. The most common deposit options include VISA and MasterCard, or debit cards such as Maestro and VISA Electron. However, that involves entering your card details into the site. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re playing at a secure sportsbook, but if you don’t want to risk it, we advise you to use e-wallets. These include Skrill, Neteller and PayPal. You’ve probably got a PayPal account anyway, and Skrill and Neteller work in the same way. E-wallets don’t require you to share your bank details, offer faster withdrawals times, and often come with no transaction fees, the latter being something you’re going to want to avoid if you can.

Once you’ve got your dosh all squared away, it is just a small matter of going back to the lobby and eye-balling the most recent sporting fixtures and events, or browsing through the long list of betting markets for the sport and thus the bet of your choice. Your betting slip is always available in the lobby, and it will let you place your bet and tell you how much you can win. When you’re ready, hit that bet button and you’ve placed your first bet.

Can I create a betting account if I’m under 18?

Players need to be 18 to play at online sportsbooks in the UK, however other countries have set the age limit to 21, and it varies from nation to nation. In theory, it is possible for a minor to open a betting account by lying about their age, but they won’t get very far. Most online bookies will check that you are who you say you are, and they will demand proof of your identity, as well as proof of your banking details if necessary. This is usually done by scanning your documents and sending them via e-mail, although some bookies will call you over the phone for more information if it is required. You will almost certainly have to prove your identity before you withdraw any winnings (rather conveniently, that isn’t always the case when you deposit money into your account). If you are caught as a minor or using someone else’s name, you will certainly have your account closed, and bookies may confiscate your winnings. In extreme cases, you may be banned for life, or have your information passed on to casino monitoring and anti-fraud groups. Just do everybody a favour, and wait until you’re the legal age to gamble.

Bagging those bonuses whatever the weather

The chances are that after the betting registration process is complete, you will be able to claim a sign-up bonus when you make your first deposit. At some bookies, these consist of free bets (if you lose your deposit betting, you get it back, but often just once), and at others, you may get a cash bonus (which you won’t get back if you lose) based on the amount you deposit.

Loyalty offers can see players pocket points for each wager the make, and over time those points can be accumulated and later redeemed for real money and goodies. Players may also be able to claim reload bonuses when they continually deposit at sportsbooks. These are almost always cash bonuses.

Special offers and bonuses can be claimed from time to time, too, particularly on special sporting events. No score draws and first to score football bets are popular deals, whilst event-based offers on tennis, F1, rugby and American sports are not out of the question. It is not uncommon for a major sportsbook to offer mobile-based bonuses to players, either.

When is it time to bow out – albeit briefly?

If you find yourself wagering beyond your means, or have another reason you are concerned, it may be time to bow out, albeit briefly. Identifying the signs of problem gaming can be tricky, but most sportsbooks offer guides to help you identify problem gambling. Major bookies will allow you to temporarily suspend your account or close it down completely if you need to. This can help you if you realise that you have a problem. Keep in mind that if you do close your account, some bookies may never allow you to reopen it. Some are known for refusing players to reopen closed accounts.

Should I join a betting exchange instead?

Online sportsbooks offer their own fixed odds whilst betting exchanges can offer you fairer, more valuable odds. These more competitive odds can be attractive enough that you wish to open a new betting account with a betting exchange like Betfair. However, they often come with far fewer bonuses and privileges for you to snap up unlike bona fide online bookies. If you are new to the world of sports betting (particularly online betting), we would always recommend that you join a betting site before tinkering with the idea of opening a new account at a betting exchange.

If I want to bet on football or horse racing, where should I play?

Every online bookie has their own selling points. Many die-hard footy fans tend to prefer Unibet and Paddy Power as their home for footy betting, namely because they have considerable markets and plenty of promotions related to the beautiful game. However, William Hill and Betfred are all well-known for their love of the nags. These bookies even have exclusive and specially designed racebooks for you. Racebooks are, in essence, separate sportsbooks specifically for bettors who love a punt on the horses.

Ultimately, the decision is yours to make. However, who says you must make one at all? If you’ve read our guide this far, you will remember that we advised you to register betting accounts at numerous online sportsbooks. Why settle for one over the other when in the online sports betting world, you can have it all?