Online Sports Betting In The UK

Fancy a flutter on a sports game, match, or tournament from the comfort of your own home (or wherever else you happen to be)?

You’re in luck - online sports betting in the UK is perfectly legal (unlike some other nations). In fact, the UK has the safest and widest range of regulated online sports betting providers in the world.

In this guide, we’ll look at what online sports betting is, how it is regulated in the UK, and how to go about finding a good online sports betting site, set up an account, and start placing bets.

What Is Online Sports Betting?

Online sports betting is similar to offline sports betting, but the bets are placed and processed through the website of online bookmakers rather than in a betting shop or racetrack.

Sports betting involves wagering on the outcome of a sporting event, or betting that a certain event will happen during the game. For instance, betting on a football match may involve wagering that a certain team will win, the result will be a draw, a certain player will score the first goal, or on the number of corners taken in the first half.

The possibilities for online sports betting are wide, with plenty of obscure events and sporting games to bet on, especially online. For example, some sites allow you to bet on arm-wrestling matches and eSports events.

When you place a bet, the online sports betting site will offer you specific odds. Odds are based on the probability of a certain thing happening. For example, you may bet on a tennis player to win a match, given odds of 4 to 1. This means you get £4 back for every £1 wagered, so if you were to bet £10 and the player won, you would get £40 back in total.

The higher the odds, the less likely you are to win. An unfit racehorse may have odds of 400 to 1 to win for instance, which means they are very unlikely to win the race, but if they do you will get a seriously big payout.

The odds of a certain outcome can fluctuate up or down depending on the bookmaker’s risk or new information that may affect the probabilities, but once you place a bet those odds are fixed and cannot be changed. It’s always worth finding out which online sports betting sites offer the most favourable odds to maximise your winnings.

Another popular type of bet is an accumulator, which means you bet on the outcome of several, unconnected sporting events, and the potential prize multiplies as a result. A football accumulator may involve betting that Arsenal, Manchester City, Crystal Palace, and Liverpool all win their matches on a given day. Although the odds of each event may be quite low, the fact that the bets accumulate means you can win a big prize.

The Laws Governing UK Online Sports Betting

In the United Kingdom, online sports betting is legal, as long as online bookmakers follow the regulations set out by the government and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

The UKGC makes sure that online gambling, including sports betting, is safe and secure for UK punters and is free of criminal involvement. In fact, it’s generally considered that the UK is one of the safest places in the world to gamble, whether in real life or online.

In 2014 the Gambling Licensing and Advertising Act came into force. As a result, the UKGC ensures that online sports betting companies stick to the rules regarding customer fund protection, fairness, and security, by applying a strict licensing system. Online sports betting companies need to prove that they comply with all the regulations and guidance before they are issued with a license to offer their services to UK customers.

Due to the rigorous regulations and licensing, it is just as safe to bet on sports online in the UK as it is to use a high street betting shop or bookmaker.

How To Get Started With Online Sports Betting in the UK

Whether you’re new to sports betting or a seasoned gambler moving from high street bookmakers to online sport betting, you can get set up placing bets within a short space of time, often within 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the speed with which the betting site processes your account verification and deposit request.

As long as you are aged 18 years or above and based in the UK, you’ll be eligible to set up an account and start wagering on your favourite sports. Here are the steps you need to take to get started with online sports betting on a UKGC licensed UK sports betting site.

1

Choose a reputable, UKGC licensed online sport betting site

We recommend that you only go for online sports betting providers that are fully UKGC licensed and comply with the regulations. You can use our guide to the best online sports betting sites as we select only licensed sites that offer the best bonuses, promotional offers, favourable odds, and excellent customer service.

2

Create an account

The next step is to create your online sports betting account. For most sites, all you need to do is enter your personal details - name, date of birth, address, email address, phone number - to begin the registration process.

You will usually be asked to verify your email address and/or mobile phone number by clicking on a link that is sent to you. Please note that on UKGC licensed sites, you won’t be able to deposit any money and start wagering until you have verified your account in the next step.

3

Verify your account using identity documents

Once you have entered your details and verified your email address, you will be requested to verify your identity before you can make a real money deposit.

The site will usually ask you to upload a scan or photo of a formal, government-issued identity document such as a UK driving license or passport. You may also be asked to take a photograph of yourself and upload that too.

Some sites will also ask you to provide an additional proof of address such as a utility bill dated within the last 3 months.

Most online sports betting providers carry out the verification process pretty quickly these days, some use automated AI to do it almost instantly.

However, some sites may take a bit longer, but most will do it within a few hours at least. Once your identity has been verified, your account is active and you’ll be able to deposit some money to bet with.

4

Deposit some cash

Now that your account is active, you can deposit some money through a payment portal on the website. Each site allows different deposit methods, with some offering more ways to deposit than others. We take this into account in our guide to the best online sports betting sites. Most sites allow debit card deposits, PayPal, and some e-wallets such as Neteller and Skrill. Some  allow open banking transfers using a service such as Trustly.

There is usually a minimum deposit amount, which ranges between £5 and £10 on most sites. You can also set up deposit limits to ensure that you gamble responsibly and stay within the amounts you can afford to lose.

When you make your first deposit, you may also be asked whether you want to opt-in to a welcome bonus. Many online sports betting sites offer first deposit or sign-up bonuses. The welcome offer may be a free bet or bets, some of which may have betting requirements attached. You may be offered a free £X bet for the first £X bets you place, from a minimum of £10 up to £100, for example.

5

Start betting

Now you’re all ready to go and start betting on the site (and hopefully winning!). Most sites are easy to navigate and will have tabs for each sport they offer.

You can simply click on the sport you want to wager on and you’ll be taken to a page with the events on offer and odds available. You click on the event you want to bet on, then enter the amount you’re willing to wager, accept the odds and place the bet.

After the event has finished, you’ll either lose your stake or get some winnings paid directly and instantly into your online betting account. You can withdraw your money through the banking page.

There may be a minimum withdrawal amount and there will be various withdrawal options. Some sites insist that you withdraw funds using the same deposit method up to the value of your last deposit. Check the site’s deposits and withdrawal terms and conditions for more information.

Most Popular Sports For Betting in the UK

It’s fair to say that people in the UK love betting on sports. A whopping £14 billion is spent on sports betting in the UK each year by British punters. So without any further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most popular sports to place a bet on in the UK.

Football Betting in the UK

It probably comes as no surprise that football is the number one sport for online betting in the UK, considering it’s the national sport and borders on an obsession for many British adults! For this reason, you can bet on pretty any football match that is taking place anywhere in the UK.

The simplest bets available in a football betting market are called match bets and they involve predicting either a home win, away win, or draw (sometimes referred to as Win-Draw-Win bets). In addition, there is a wide range of bets that you can place on before or during a football match, including:

  • Full-time or Half-time Result (FTR/HTR)
  • Full-time or Half-time Correct Score (CS)
  • Total Goals Scored (Exact or under/over bets)
  • First Goal Scorer (FGS)
  • Last Goal Scorer (LGS)
  • Draw No Bet (DNB)
  • Accumulator Bet
  • Plus, many more niche bets such as time of first corner, number of throw-ins, number of free kicks, etc.

The abbreviations given above are commonly used on online sports betting sites.

You should be aware that there are certain rules that apply to football betting and some vary from site to site. For instance, some sites include extra time or penalties when deciding the match result, others will only accept the result at the end of 90 minutes of normal play. Most sites also disallow own goals when it comes to goalscorer markets, e.g. first or last goal scorer 

bets.

Horse Racing Betting in the UK

Horse racing is one of the oldest forms of sports betting in the UK and is still one of the most popular. When it comes to betting on horse races online, there are plenty of options, with all major online sports betting sites offering horse racing markets, for both ante-post (at least one day in advance), pre-race and during-race (or in-running) betting.

One of the most exciting things about horse racing is the wide variety of odds available on any given race. The odds are worked out by the bookmaker according to the form and ability of the horse compared to the race conditions.

To the beginner, horse racing can seem a bit confusing with all the different groups, grades, classes and race meetings. To confuse matters more, in the UK there are different classes and groups for both flat racing and jump racing (also known as national hunt racing). Don’t worry too much about the terminology for now though, the betting process is similar for all sites.

There is a wide variety of bets you can place online on any given horse race including:

  • Straight bets - win (first), place (first or second), or show (top three places)
  • Exotic bets (combinations) - horizontal wager (parlay bets) or vertical wagers (exactas, trifectas, and superfectas)
  • Quinella - pick first and second horses, but can finish in any order.
  • Boxing bets - picking the placement of horses in order - e.g. from first to sixth.
  • Totepool betting - a type of betting market that offers fluctuating odds rather than fixed odds, set price betting.
  • Plus other more obscure bets such as Classix bets.

Tennis Betting in the UK

Tennis is another popular and dynamic sport for betting in the UK. There are major events and tournaments throughout the year in various parts of the world, both indoor and outdoor, to wager on. Some of the most popular events to bet on are the four grand-slam championships: Wimbledon (grass courts), US Open (hard courts), Australian Open (hard courts), and French Open (clay courts).

When it comes to betting on tennis through UK online bookmakers, you can choose between match bets to predict the winner of a given match or tournament place bets. There are other more exotic bets that can be placed such as number of double faults in a match, number of net calls, etc. 

Due to the sizable duration of tennis matches, often lasting several hours, it is a popular sport for live betting. Many tennis betting punters like to analyse the in-match stats and if they see that a player’s first serve percentage is dropping, for instance, they can place a bet against that player.

Cricket Betting in the UK

Another massively popular sport in the UK is cricket. Cricket matches go on for hours or days, which means there is plenty of scope for live betting, especially with the growth in popularity of cricket in India which has made it the second most popular sport in the world.

Cricket is a game that can be analysed in-depth due to the time it takes for each bowl to take place. This makes it a popular option for serious or even professional sports gamblers.

There are a multitude of ways to bet on cricket. Online sports betting providers offer bets such as:

  • Match Outcome
  • Series Winner
  • Highest Run Scorer
  • Highest Wicket Taker
  • Highest Scoring Openers
  • Man of The Match
  • Number of Boundary Points Scored (fours and sixes)

Rugby Betting in the UK

Rugby is another popular sport in the UK. UK punters bet heavily on the outcome of big rugby events like the Six Nations or British Lions Tour. You can bet on both Rugby League and Rugby Union games, depending on which is your favourite variant of the game.

Rugby bets tend to be on the match winner or tournament winner, as no-score draws are pretty rare in the game. 

Golf Betting in the UK

Golf betting provides good value for UK punters, with the ability to win big amounts if you know what you’re doing. But it can be pretty difficult to select an overall tournament winner as many tournaments have big fields of over 100 players.

The great thing about golf is the big variety of bets you can place, such as:

  • Tournament Winner
  • Head-to-head Winner
  • First Round Leader
  • First Birdie
  • First Eagle
  • Hole in One

Snooker Betting in the UK

Snooker is a very popular sport in the UK, and it is growing rapidly in popularity in the Asia-Pacific region. This means that there are plenty of online betting opportunities on snooker all year around. Most online sport betting providers offer snooker betting with favourable odds.

Snooker provides lots of opportunities for different types of bets, including:

  • Match Winner
  • Tournament Winner
  • Total Winning Frames By Player
  • Highest Break By Match
  • Correct Match Score
  • Correct Frame Score
  • Number of Fouls By Frame or Match

Virtual Sports Betting in the UK

Virtual sports are sporting events, matches, and games that are simulated by a computer. In other words, they don’t happen in real life and use a computer program to decide the winner. You can watch the race, match, or edited highlights on most online sites that offer virtual sports betting.

The computer algorithms are designed to decide winners and placement in races to match the correct frequency dictated by the odds. In other words, in a virtual horse race, a horse that is 14 to 1 on to win the race will win one race out of every fifteen, on average.

The most popular virtual sports for online betting are:

  • Virtual Football Betting
  • Virtual Horse Racing Betting
  • Virtual Dog Racing Betting
  • Virtual Tennis Betting
  • Virtual Motorsports Betting
  • Virtual Cycling Betting

UFC/MMA & Boxing Betting in the UK

Brits love to bet on the outcome of a fight. Big fights between well-known fighters in the MMA or boxing world generate a flurry of bets. For this reason, pretty much all UK online sports betting sites offer odds on the outcome of bouts or tournaments.

Darts

In the UK, darts is a popular sport for playing, watching, and betting. Let’s face it - Brits enjoy any sport that you can play with a drink in your hand! In terms of betting, online sports betting sites offer odds on match or tournament winners, as well as plenty of over and under betting on the number of sets won by individual players.

Other interesting bets are available on some sites, such as “King of the Oche” which is where you bet on a player to win a match, as well as getting the highest checkout and the highest number of 180’s.

Motorsports

Obviously, the most popular motorsport to bet on in the UK is Formula 1. You can also place bets online on other race series such as NASCAR and smaller events around the world. You have plenty of betting options such as race winner, championship winner, fastest lap driver, fastest lap time, etc.

eSports

eSports are growing in popularity, especially amongst the younger generations. eSports involves individuals or teams of players competing in video game tournaments.

The growing popularity means that online sports betting operators have started offering odds on the outcomes of big eSports events such as the FIFAe Club World Cup, VCT Challengers, and RLCS, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sports betting legal in the UK?

Yes, sports betting is perfectly legal in the UK as long as it is offered in accordance with the UKGC licensing requirements. This means that sports betting providers must offer fair, safe, and secure gambling opportunities and protect player’s funds carefully.

How does online betting work?

Online betting is carried out through a website or mobile app. There are dozens of licensed online sports betting sites in the UK to choose from.

You simply sign up for an account, verify your identity, deposit money into your online account, then you can place bets through the online platform.

Different sites offer different odds on sports event outcomes, as well as offering different bonuses and promotions.

What is online sports betting?

Online sports betting is similar to betting at a high street bookmaker. The online provider will offer odds based on their calculations and you choose which bets to place.

As long as you have money in your online betting account, you can wager money on the outcome of different sporting events, choosing from a variety of sports, tournaments, and championships.

How do odds work in online sports betting?

Odds are calculated by the online bookmaker by taking into account form, conditions, and the amount of wagering placed on the event. Once you place your bet, the odds are fixed at the amount offered at the time. For instance, if you’re offered odds of 3 to 1 on a particular horse winning a race, you get three times your stake back. For example, if you bet £20 on a horse to win a race with odds of 11 to 1, you’ll get £220 back if it wins, but nothing back if it doesn’t finish in first place.

Olivia Johnson

Olivia Johnson

Olivia is responsible for all content on BettingGuide UK. Olivia has a degree in journalism from Cardiff University and loves to play different casino games in her spare time. If you have any questions regarding online gambling in the UK, don't hesitate to contact her.

Last updated: 6/28/2021