The Complete Guide to Online Sports Betting

Online Sports betting is a billion-dollar business and interesting for both providers and players. In our guide, we explain what to look for in online sports betting, give tips and tricks on how to do it right, and help you pick the best online betting sites.

Sports betting is almost as old as gambling itself and basically nothing more than a special type of gambling. When betting on roulette or blackjack you bet on where a ball is going to land or what cards will be come next. In sports betting you are betting on the outcome of a football game or other sporting event.

When playing roulette or blackjack you have no influence on how where the ball lands and which cards turn up. The same is true for sports betting. You cannot influence any sporting event by betting on it. But there is an incomparably greater skill factor in sports betting and in fact it is possible for good players to make long-term profits through sports betting. This is not possible with the vast majority of casino games.

Sports betting has been around for well over 100 years and is now the biggest sector in the gambling industry. In 2019 the sports betting revenue worldwide was estimated to be roughly 51 Billion US-Dollars. Sports betting is widespread in the UK, USA and in Southeast Asia. More than 1 trillion US-Dollars (that is $1,000,000,000,000 – or a million million) are wagered on sporting events every year.

In the past, you had to go to specially designed betting shops to place sports bets. There you filled out a betting slip and paid your stake in cash. Events such as horse races were particularly popular, where you can bet directly on the outcome of each individual race. This form of sports betting and the local betting shops are still very popular, but most of the revenue in sports betting is now made on the Internet. Thanks to the sports betting providers on the Internet, you can bet on practically every sporting event in the world, be it soccer, basketball, Formula One, dog racing or camel racing (yep, that’s a thing in the Arabic region).

You can not only bet on the outcome of a game but on almost every conceivable event that could take place during a game - such as the halftime score, who scores the first goal, which horse arrives second, how many points a certain player in basketball throws or which player drives the fastest lap in a Formula 1 race.

How to find a good online bookmaker?

In our guide we will only cover sports betting on the Internet. Because online the options are incomparably more extensive than the betting shops that can be found on the street.

Most bookmakers differ mostly in the selection of games and in some details. Practically all betting sites allow you to bet on all common sports – football, soccer, tennis, basketball, Formula One, golf, handball and all major sporting events are always represented by all providers. If you are looking for some off-the-shelf sports, such as surfing, greyhound racing or badminton, you may have to search a little, but these are also covered by some providers.

The biggest difference between different providers are the odds they offer. There can be noticeable differences here. The odds are calculated in different ways by the individual betting. For example, it’s entirely possible that one bookmaker has the home team as a favorite, while another bookie has the away team as a favorite in football games. It is definitely worth comparing which bookmaker offer the best odds, because these are by no means identical for all bookies.

The most important feature of a good online bookmaker are good odds. All bookmakers leave a certain house edge when offering bets. This means that if, for example, you bet the same amount on a win, a draw and a loss in a football game, you will automatically lose money. The amount of this loss is the house edge for the bookmaker. The more the provider keeps to himself, the worse his odds are.

Thanks to the highly competitive market on the Internet, most providers of online sports betting have very good odds for popular sports anyway, because otherwise the players would simply pick another bookie. For more unusual sports however, you should always take a good look whether the odds are reasonably realistic.

Outsider bets in particular are chronically overprized at most bookies. For example, at the Football World Cup the odds for the biggest outsider to win are usually 1 - 1000 at most bookies. That means you get back 1000 times the bet if the outsider wins. Realistically, however, the likelihood that a team like Saudi Arabia will win the World Cup is much lower. It is often worthwhile to check different providers of sports betting for the best odds. The unlikely championship of Leicester City in England in 2016 (at the beginning of the season the team was considered the number one relegation candidate) brought in a small fortune for some enthusiastic sports bettors because they found a bookmaker with odds of 1 - 5000 for the Leicester championship.

Important features of online sports betting providers

Fast processing of transactions

Support for common payment options (credit card, bank transfer, PayPal, etc.)

Safe payment

Good customer service

Clear Visuals

VIP club for frequent players

The Online sports betting sites listed and tested by us fulfill these criteria at least satisfactorily, so that you are on the safe side with them. We do not recommend dubious providers who are not licensed within well reputable territories. Although everything may turn out well in most cases, it has already happened that players have not seen their funds again, or that the providers have canceled bets, which otherwise would have had a very high payout.

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How do odds work in sports betting?

Example for odds in sports betting

Let’s take a look at a soccer game. Take the La Liga game Barcelona vs. Real Madrid for example.
This game could offer the following odds:

(1) Barcelona 1.53 - (X) tie 4.00 - (2) Real Madrid 6.75

The 1 always indicates the home win, the 2 the away win and the X stands for a tie. The odds indicate how much you receive if the result happens. In this example, if you bet €100 on Barcelona’s victory and this event actually occurs, you will receive €153.

The lowest possible odds are 1.0 - this is an absolutely safe event. There are no upper limits to the odds – the 2016 Leicester Championship for example hat odds of roughly 5,000.

British and American odds

In the Anglo-Saxon region, the odds are given a little differently. The British betting providers work with initially somewhat confusing fractions and the Americans work with positive and negative numbers.

The odds in the UK system indicate the factor by which you have to multiply the bet to find out your winnings. Does it sound confusing? In the end it is relatively easy. Odds of 1/1 in the UK system mean that if you win, you get your bet as a win, or in other words, you twice your initial bet. Odds of 1/2 mean that if you win, half the bet will be paid out as a profit.

The American odds work with positive and negative numbers. Odds of +100 mean that you get 100 percent of your stake as a win if the event you bet on actually occurs. For example, +200 means you get 200 percent of your stake as a win. -200 on the other hand means you have to bet 200 Euros (or Dollars) to make a profit of 100 Euros.

Fortunately, we live in modern times and if the different odds systems are a little confusing, you don't have to despair because most sports betting sites on the Internet allow you to convert the odds with a simple click so that you can work with the system which you understand best.

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How much can you bet in sports betting?

Most providers of online sports betting limit the stakes so that they do not lose too much in case of an unlikely event. Let's take the example of the 2016 Leicester City Championship again. With odds of 5000 to 1, most betting sites would allow a maximum of a couple of Euros on that bet, otherwise the risk for the provider is a little too high. Bets on regular events, like single games, also have limitations, but here the limit is significantly higher.

In order to prevent betting fraud, however, all stakes are limited to a certain size. In the past, games in low leagues have been fixed. For example, if a betting site sees that several thousand Euros are bet on some in the third league game, mechanisms that prevent further bets usually take effect, since such bets could involve possible betting fraud and match fixing.

Info: Dual Lines to deter professional bettors

Another mechanism that many sports betting sites use is the so-called dual lines. This is a mechanism that offers certain players different odds than the rest of the player pool. Although this is a very common procedure, it is rather unpopular and very controversial among players. Usually, this works like this: If a player performs very successfully on a betting site, it starts to offer him worse odds than it offers the other players. The site wants to ensure that the player does not win too much. As a rule, this only affects professional sports bettors who spend thousands of euros a day on the site. However, since there are players who earn a handsome income from sports betting, there are also players who are affected by these so-called dual lines. It is the betting site’s right to offer such a mechanism, even if it is not necessarily fair to professional players.

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Sports betting bonus

When you're just starting betting on sporting events and are looking for a new provider, most bookies make it very easy for you. Many online bookmakers offer a bonus to new players.

The amount of this bonus is often based on the amount of the first deposit. Such a bonus could be something like: 100 percent up to 100 euros on the first deposit. This means that if the player deposits 100 euros, a further 100 euros will be credited as a bonus.

The player must wager the bonus before they can withdraw it. The bonus often has to be wagered between three and five times on bets which have a certain minimum quota (mostly between 1.5 and 2.0). That means, before you can pay out a bonus of 100 euros, you have to make bets totaling 300 - 500 euros. However, you have several months to do this.

Compared to the bonus conditions that you find in casino games or online poker, for example, it is very easy to actually clear the bonus. If you make a deposit with the intention of betting on many events, you will automatically clear the bonus.

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No deposit sportsbook bonus

There are some providers who also advertise that you get a small bonus without any deposit. Reals bets without having to deposit sounds fantastic. However, such a no deposit bonus is usually linked to a lot of conditions and as a player you have to go through a lot before you can actually see any of the bonus money in your account.

Such a no deposit bonus is usually very small (at best ten euros) and has to be wagered very often (sometimes over 20 times) before it can be paid out at all. Meaning, you shouldn't consider such a bonus as a source of income, but much more as some form of play money to get to know the platform.

If you are serious about sports betting and want to make money, you shouldn't spend too much time hunting for no deposit bonuses. In order to be able to pay out the money in the end, you still have to make a small deposit by credit card or bank transfer - if you have actually managed to clear the bonus - to legitimize yourself. 

How do sports betting providers make profits?

It is very easy for bookmakers to make profits from sports betting. For one thing, bookmakers know the market and games a lot better than most human players. They can estimate odds and probabilities much better than most players who bet rather emotion driven. A player who supports a team quickly misjudges the odds for emotional reasons and accepts far too low odds. Bookmakers don’t have those emotions and relentlessly take advantage of such emotional bets by offering far too low odds.

Furthermore, all sports betting providers have a built-in margin. No bets have a payout ratio of 100 percent. Online, most sports betting providers have a payout ratio of around 95 percent, so that in the long run the providers keep around five percent of all bets as winnings. As player, you don't necessarily notice anything about this payout ratio, as you can only see the odds.

In addition, the providers of online sports betting observe exactly what is happening on their platform. If a lot of players bet on an outsider, the odds will be adjusted and reduced very quickly.

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Sports betting tips and tricks

For a successful performance in sports betting, here is a small list of general tips and tricks that you should always be aware of.

1. Bankroll management: Never bet too much

Sports betting is a business of chance and a game against luck. However, sports betting has so much to do with skill and knowledge that one can hardly speak of gambling here. A single game can always be decided by chance, but in the long run experienced and good bettors always prevail in sports betting. Therefore, if you want to bet successfully and in the long term, it is important to never bet too much of your money.

Assuming you have 1000 euros available for sports betting, it would be fatal to bet 500 euros on a single football game. With a little bit of bad luck, half of the money is gone and you risk losing everything. A player who beats the bookmakers in the long run, wants to make sure that the risk of ruin is almost zero. That is why there are rules of so-called bankroll management. These state that you should never bet more than two percent of your bankroll (i.e. your money available for sports betting) per game.

Of course, this does not apply if you only bet for fun or for the adrenaline rush. Then you can bet as much as you want - provided you can live with losing everything.

2. Concentrate on one team and one sport

Every day you can find thousands of different games, thousands of different events and dozens of sports that you can bet on. However, it is important to concentrate on one sport, preferably one that you are very familiar with. There you should go into as much detail as possible and above all, stick tone one team or one player.

The bookmaker’s odds are generally based on the general market situation, the general trends and the bets that have already been placed. It is comparatively easy to be able to make better predictions about upcoming games through more in-depth knowledge of a team and the opponent than the bookies have. The bookmaker may not know that a key player sustained a minor injury during the week and may not be able to play, the bookie may not know that the game is taking place in adverse weather conditions or may not take other factors into account.

With detailed knowledge of a single team or player and the upcoming opponent, it is very often possible to use the odds of the provider of sports betting in your favor. Many bookmakers also offer very absurd bets, such as the number of corners in a soccer game or the number of yellow cards. Here it is comparatively easy to beat the bookmaker, because often times only very generic odds are applied here, which are only minimally adapted to teams that are playing. If you know how aggressively a team plays, it is very easy to place bets with very good odds.

3. Always bet against the market

This concept is very simple. We had already mentioned the emotional bets mentioned above that tempted many fans to bet on their favorite team even with poor odds. Let's take a fictional game, let's say a Soccer World Cup final between England and France. In terms of skill level this game may be pretty much 50-50 (at least we now assume this for this example) and the bookmakers initially offer odds of 1.95 for both teams to win this game.

On the British market, the vast majority of bettors will now bet on the English team. The bookmakers automatically reduce the odds for England, for example from 1.95 to 1.85 and later to 1.75. At the same time, they raise the odds for France to, say, 2.05.

Here you would have a perfect situation to bet against the market. If both teams are equally strong in terms of their level of play, the probability that France will win is 50 percent - just like the probability that England will win. But the odds for France are much better. Therefore, in this case, you should bet against the market and on France.

Of course, on a platform for sports betting, there are very many professional players who do exactly this, so that there are rarely such blatant situations as the one described above. Nevertheless, the shifts of the odds by players who bet emotionally can be observed very often and in order to be successful in sports betting it is a very common tactic to bet against the market.

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Online Sports Betting FAQ

  • How do you find a safe and trustworthy sports betting provider?

    All of the online sports betting providers listed above are very safe and definitely trustworthy. Most of the providers are large international companies that are traded on the stock markets. While this does not immediately guarantee security, it gives a good amount of trust, because these companies are not mailbox companies that are simply withdrawing customers' money. If you make sure that the provider is licensed within the European Union, certified and works with common credit card institutions, you are practically always on the safe side.
  • What is the smallest bet in sports betting online?

    How little you can bet varies from provider to provider, but the minimum stake is usually one euro. At a betting shop on the street, the minimum amount is much higher, because a live bet is associated with a considerable administrative effort, whereas an online bet is only a single entry in the provider's database.
  • Is there a maximum amount you can bet on sports betting?

    All sports betting providers limit the highest stakes. This is one way how the providers prevent betting fraud. The maximum amount depends on the bet and of course on the provider. In crazy outsider bets, such as the bet that Saudi Arabia will become soccer world champion, the maximum bet is usually a single-digit, at best double-digit amount. This way, the providers ensure that they are not accidentally bankrupt in the unlikely event of a very weird world cup. In normal games, the maximum amount is usually a good deal higher.
  • How old do you have to be to participate in sports betting?

    In most jurisdictions you have to be at least 18 years old to bet on games. We strongly advise against trying to sign up as a minor. Sports betting providers will check very carefully who the bettor is before cash is paid out. If the provider has reasonable suspicion that the account was used by an underage gambler, they will confiscate all funds used.
  • What is the most popular sport in sports betting?

    In Europe, soccer is undoubtedly the most popular sport and the most popular market in sports betting. Other popular sports are tennis, ice hockey, handball, golf and darts for some time.
  • Does it make sense to have an account with several providers of online sports betting?

    All professional bettors have an account with all major providers and with many smaller providers of sports betting. The reason is obvious. Different providers have different odds for the same games and it is worth checking the odds across different providers. Sometimes the odds differ quite a lot. This means you can miss out on an enormous potential profit if you limit yourself to a single provider.