Before the Internet, sports betting in America meant going to a small number of brick & mortar sportsbooks. In the days before Web-based sports betting, lotto-style parlay tickets, and daily fantasy, betting in a sportsbook meant betting in a casino’s sports betting room in Las Vegas.
These days, 80% of Americans have access to some form of legal in-person sports betting. That figure includes online sportsbook wagers, which are now legally available to most American bettors. An entire industry devoted to Web-based sports betting has popped up to support this newfound American interest in offshore or online sports bets.
Sports Betting Headquarters has the lofty goal of reviewing every US-facing online sportsbook in a fair and player-centered way. We want to build a database of the most extensive and detailed sales-free review content for the American online sportsbook industry.
To do that, we asked all of our writers to contribute to creating criteria for reviewing and analyzing sportsbook offerings. Over time, our entire staff will add to this growing collection of Web-based sportsbooks. This page will act as a repository for that knowledge, including details about our review criteria, tips for selecting the right online book, and an FAQ for customers interested in online sportsbook action.
First, a word on how our approach to reviewing sportsbooks is different from our competitors.
How Our Sportsbook Reviews are Different
When we write reviews, we write as though we’re talking to our friends. All of our writers are real sports fans and sports bettors. That means we’re happy to celebrate online sportsbook features that we like. However, we also feel a real sense of duty in terms of reporting on the negative aspects of a given book.
We do this because we want to be seen as unbiased. We also do it because it’s easier. Why spend time making up falsehoods or inventing new ways to say “welcome bonus” when you can just plainly and simply report on the facts?
Our reviews are written by real bettors who have actually used the services they’re reviewing.
We’ve never been paid to give a particular sportsbook or betting site a good review. We don’t accept that kind of money and we never will. We believe that we don’t have to get paid to review sportsbooks – as long as we earn the trust of real sports bettors, we’ll have a place in the industry.
Our writers are paid to produce accurate and honest reviews. They won’t earn more if they love a sportsbook, and they don’t earn bonuses for posting undeserved negative takes. We hired nonfiction specialists, and we leave the fiction up to Hollywood.
Having said all that, there is one way a sportsbook can improve upon a negative review they earn from us – they can improve their services, fix the issues we identify, and request we take a second look.
Our Sportsbook Review Criteria
We try to keep our sportsbook reviews focused on five main areas. Our writers occasionally drift off into other aspects of a book’s services, and that’s often a wonderful addition to our site’s variety of coverage. But, for the most part, when we review an online book’s services, we try to keep them focused on the five areas below:
Our writers dig through forums and review sites, compare what they see there to what they find at the actual book, and try to get a sense of how the online betting public as a whole feels about a particular book.
- Bet Variety
We focus on the markets most popular with our American sports bettors – the big four (basketball, football, baseball, and hockey) along with a smattering of coverage for more niche markets. We also provide coverage for amateur markets, mostly in the form of college leagues in the big four and other sports.
- Financial Details
Is it easy to send money to a particular book? Is it equally easy to take money out again? Does a book provide deposit and withdrawal methods that US-based bettors have access to? What do other reviews and user posts on gambling forums have to say about a book’s financial methods? These are the questions our writers focus on.
- User Experience
A great variety of bets and a fine-tuned set of deposit and withdrawal options aren’t worth anything if the site is ugly, broken, or difficult to use. While a little less important than the first three factors in this list, the way a book presents itself can be a no-go for some bettors, or even a red flag for generally unfriendly behavior and policies towards customers.
In our opinion, this is the least important of all the factors we consider for a review, but we understand for some bettors, the list of a book’s available bonuses and other promotions is a big deal. We cover this category to the extent that we can, as fine print and other details often muddy the picture when it comes to sportsbook giveaways.
How to Pick a Sportsbook
When you’re ready to open an online sports betting account, there’s four simple steps we hope you’ll take:
Step one – read reviews.
The Internet is nothing if not a conglomeration of user reviews. This is at times a panic-inducing headache (ever try to compare two different diapers based on Amazon reviews?) and at times a lovely benefit to being Extremely Online. Read reviews of any book you’re considering. You should take both super-negative and super-positive reviews with a grain of salt and look for trends in complaints. We hope our sportsbook reviews will also play a small part in your decision-making process.
Step two – ask questions.
Does a book you’re interested in have a live chat feature? Use it. Put it through its paces. Then call the 1-800 number and ask the representative a ton of questions. Not only are you testing out their customer service options while gaining answers to any questions you have, but you’re also going to get a better sense of the book as a whole. It’s during this step that bettors start to identify less-than-reputable books.
Step three – shop around for financial options.
Once you have a short list of books that you’ve contacted (and that seem to have at least acceptable customer service features), it’s time to compare the financial methods you have available to you to those presented by the book. Don’t focus on a crypto-centric book if you can’t tell Elon Musk from Satoshi Nakamoto. This would be a good time to look into bonuses, if that’s something you’re into.
Step four – make a small test deposit.
Having decided on a book to patronize, don’t send your entire gambling bankroll at once. We recommend that you start with a small deposit, $50 or $100, and place a number of small wagers as test bets before you commit 100% of your hobby to this one provider. Limiting risk, even after doing your homework, is best practice in all aspects of life, not just in gambling.
Online Sportsbook FAQ
Are online sports bets legal in America?
Most Americans can place legal sports bets through online sportsbooks. A few US states have laws on the books seemingly prohibiting these wagers, but for most US-based bettors, the answer to this question is “Yes.” Some special cases exist – for example, daily fantasy sites no longer do business with people from Texas and a handful of other states. The best way to get an answer for this question is to do your research using your state as a jumping-off point. Note that in a few cases, some sportsbooks have restricted business from customers in states where sports betting legality is in question. If all else fails, contact the customer service department of a book you’re interested in and ask them about your particular case.
Are online sports bets safe?
Provided you do business with a legitimate offshore sportsbook, it’s as safe to do business with a sportsbook as with any other online business. Legit sportsbooks are those that are licensed and regulated by a gambling authority. The best of these have a long-term track record of doing good business. Gambling forums are great sources for this sort of information. If a string of recent customers is complaining about an issue, it may be something to be worried about. A few minutes of digging into a book’s history is all it takes to tell the scam artists from the real providers.
How do I send money to an online book? How do I get paid from an online book?
Reputable online sportsbooks will offer multiple methods to both deposit and withdraw funds from your player account. This is tricky in the US, since federal laws exist that limit the ability of financial institutions to do business with sportsbooks and other gaming sites. Still, bettors can use credit cards, bank checks, and even cryptocurrency to send and receive cash from their sportsbook. Before you sign up with any online betting shop, do some research into their accept deposit and withdrawal methods to make sure you have access to a compatible method.
What’s the safest financial method to use with online sportsbooks?
Every player’s situation is different. For bettors familiar with crypto (Bitcoin, etc.), that method may be seen as the safest. Bettors who don’t understand cryptocurrency may not find that method safe. Bettors with access to Instant e-Check options may find that option is safe, since it uses traditional ACH banking services to send money back and forth, not much different from paying with a conventional check. The safest method available to you depends on your location, your financial options, and the options provided by your sportsbook. It’s always a good idea to contact a book’s customer service department to discuss your financial options.