6 Things to Look For in an Online Sportsbook

Person Using Laptop Computer, Football Game, Money
As sports gambling becomes increasingly accepted both legally and throughout society in general, sportsbooks are popping up all over the internet hoping to cash in on some of the action. With more legal places to make bets than ever before, there’s no question that it’s a good time to be a sports bettor.

Choosing which sites you’ll place your bets with can be a daunting task. In fact, all the choices usually result in bettors simply picking one site and sticking with it for each of their plays. While there’s always comfort in familiarity, if you’re serious about winning money, you need to be mixing it up.

I’ll lay out what you should be looking for in a sportsbook, and explain why there are tremendous advantages to switching things up on a regular basis.

1 – Initial Promotional Offerings

Sportsbooks, like any other business, want to win your loyalty as soon as you enter the market. In an effort to stand out, many sites will offer amazing promotional deals, or “bonuses” to get you in their doors. For example, many sites will match your initial deposit, sometimes up to $1,000!

While you probably follow the philosophy of “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” these offers are the real deal. Most of the promos are only available on your first deposit, so this is why it’s crucial to spread your bets around.

If you don’t want to have a bankroll going on several different sites at once, simply put a plan in place that allows you to get the most out of initial offers without forgetting about the money you’ve already deposited.

Try utilizing one site per month and cashing out at the end of the month.

Taking advantage of free money is always a good move, and while you might dismiss these offers, you’re leaving valuable dollars on the table. Gambling is hard enough as it is, don’t pass up something that can help make it a little bit easier.

2 – Different Betting Options

You might think that all sites offer the same betting options, but in reality, they vary greatly across platforms. Some online books provide a wide array of futures bets, prop bets, and live betting options. Other books specialize in competitive moneylines in a more traditional setup.

For example, some online books that specialize in football betting offer more unique and varied prop bets that you won’t be able to find on other sites. Other books offer an easy way to place futures bets such as eventual champions of a certain league, division winners, etc. before the season begins.

Professional Baseball Game, Baseball Field

Not only do different sites offer different bets within a single game, but you’ll also find different lines and spreads across the board. It’s absolutely essential to look around to find the site that gives you the best chance to win.

An example of this could be a +4.5 spread being +5 on another site. If you’re betting on the underdog, that extra half point is basically a free bonus that gives you a little better shot to cover. Once you’ve decided on the game you want to play, do everything in your power to stack the odds in your favor. That means line shopping for the best price out there.

3 – Payout Options, Speed, and Rates

Not all online sportsbooks pay you the same way. Some sites require for payment to be completed by sending a physical check to your home, while others might allow you to complete the transactions digitally.

While the method of payment likely won’t have an impact on your payday, some people have strong preferences towards one method over another. Additionally, some sites might give you the option to get paid out in whichever way you prefer.

Now, for the component of payouts that directly impacts your bottom line—fees.

Most sportsbooks do charge a slight fee for utilizing their services.

In most cases, it isn’t a significant amount of money, but why pay more when you have other options available?

Finally, some sportsbooks payout much quicker than others. If getting paid immediately (or close to it) is important for you, make sure you aren’t betting with a site that takes weeks to send over a check in the mail.

4 – Reputation and Longevity

Any time a company is handling your hard-earned money, it’s best to verify before handing anything over. Plenty of information is available on the reputation of various betting sites, so always be sure to do your research beforehand.

Now, back to the “if it’s too good to be true…” thing. Non-reputable sportsbooks have been known to pop up from time to time and will take advantage of bettors who use their site to bet on games. If something seems off, take the time to look up some more information.

A key thing to look for when finding trustworthy betting sites is an online betting license. This guarantees the sportsbook is operating legally and ensures they will have to stick to a set of rules to remain in operation.

Horse Racing, Using Laptop Computer

With that being said, just having a license isn’t always enough. Some jurisdictions hand out licenses to whichever organization pays the fee, but other jurisdictions can be stricter about who receives the license. When in doubt, look up the details to avoid becoming victim to a sketchy online site.

Things can get trickier still when dealing with new sites. While I wouldn’t say it’s good to automatically rule out sites that are just getting started, it should serve as a reminder that you need to look into the qualifications. If you’re considering depositing or betting with a large amount of money, perhaps it’s best to stay away from the new guys until they’ve had a chance to solidify their reputation.

On the flip side, just being in business a long time isn’t enough to validate a site. The good news is that some of the online books that have been in existence for many years will have many user reviews that can help you decide if that particular site is right for you.

5 – Customer Service

I know, customer service isn’t a sexy thing to look for, especially in the world of online gambling, especially in sports. Most people like to avoid the topic altogether simply because any time customer service gets involved, it’s likely going to be a headache.

Just like any product or service you use, things don’t always work out according to plan. Systems malfunction, mistakes are made, and someone has to be there to fix it. By choosing to use a site that has a great reputation in terms of customer service, you know you won’t be stuck calling over and over to fix a problem or answer an important question.

Much like the other criteria for choosing a betting site, there’s plenty of data available on the customer service provided at various sites across the internet. My advice? Choose a site that, at the very least, doesn’t have a reputation for being frustrating to work with.

6 – Security

This one is pretty straightforward, but it’s also the most important.

Make sure to look over the security systems in place that protect you and your money from ending up in someone else’s hands.

Plenty of information should be available regarding encryption when it comes to dealing with your deposits and payouts.

It shouldn’t take too long to verify a site’s security features, but don’t overlook it.


It’s a great time to be a sports gambler with the range of options available online today. With some conscientious research, you can find a handful of sites that you’re comfortable with and select them on a case-by-case basis according to their odds.

Start looking through some of the most popular and most safe sports betting sites today and enjoy the action!