What Makes a Good Online Sportsbook? Here Are Five Things to Look For

Man on Laptop With a Sportsbook Board and Football Stadium

Few industries have experienced the rate of growth that legal online casinos and sportsbooks have seen over the past decade. With significantly more options to choose from than at any other time in the past, bettors must be more selective in order to get the best deal.

Most gamblers know which aspects of a sports gambling site are most important to their strategy, but can overlook some critical details that might lead them to picking the wrong one. In this article, I’ll explain the top five things to look for when you’re seeking an online sportsbook and explain why it matters.

Sports Betting Options

This might seem fairly obvious – having betting options is the absolute bare minimum. With that being said, not all sportsbooks are created equal in this regard. In fact, just about every sportsbook has its own specific offerings.  While most will be similar to other sites, it’s all about which site provides you with the most choices to fit the type of betting strategy you prefer.

What exactly am I referring to when I say the term “betting options”? I’m talking about things like a deep lineup of prop bet offerings, futures bets, and even odds on reality TV events or elections (if you haven’t tried your hand at making these types of bets, they really are fun – just be sure not to make who wins the bachelor your biggest bet of the year).

College Football Players During a Play

Some gamblers prefer to specialize in one or two sports and use that as a guide when choosing a sportsbook. For example, some sites provide a better platform for betting on the NFL, whereas if you wanted to bet on international soccer, you’d want to find a different site. In my opinion, it’s best to simply look for a site that has everything you could ever want in one place.

The bottom line is that you can never have too many betting options on a game. If you want to find a specific bet offering – whether it’s on a quarter, half, or prop bet, and a sportsbook doesn’t have it, that could be an indication that it’s time to look elsewhere.

At the top of the checklist when going through sportsbooks, make sure adequate betting options is number one.

Online Security

It’s not sexy, it’s not going to win you any money, but this one is all about protecting yourself from the potentially-dangerous world of online gambling.

First of all, I don’t want to scare anyone into thinking that their betting balance is going to be reduced to $0 overnight because someone hacked the site. But, if that were to happen, it wouldn’t be the only, first, or last time it’s been an issue with the online gambling community.

With hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars kept in online gambling account balances, the opportunity is there for those with experience in the criminal enterprise of hacking and identity theft. Unfortunately, this is just a reality of modern times and likely won’t go anywhere soon.

Since most people admit it’s impossible to stop people from trying to steal your money, the next best option is to find a site that has a solid, reputable defense against potential bad actors.

Most online sportsbooks will have a section on their website that speaks to the protections they have in place. After reading it, if you still don’t feel secure in the safety of the site, it might be time to look elsewhere.

Online Security Padlock Image

In addition to the information found on the site itself (which if I’m being cynical, can be slightly tilted in favor of the site), there are plenty of third-party sites that review the safety features of all types of betting sites. If you’ve been thinking about making a big deposit, it is in your best interest to read all the information available.

I completely understand the “it won’t happen to me” though-process when it comes to gambling site security. Instead of going into it with that mindset, think about the fact that 10 minutes of research could save you hundreds of dollars – not to mention the time and effort of filing claims, getting your money back, etc.

As a bettor, you’re probably familiar with the concept of risk vs. reward. When you consider all the factors that go into it, finding a secure site is all reward, while there’s a high risk involved if you put your money on a potentially-compromised site.

Quick and Easy Payouts

Of all the frustrations that experienced when using an online sportsbook, payment processing has to be at the very top of the list.

In some ways, it makes sense. The laws that still exist in many U.S. states (and on a federal level) make it such that online sportsbooks are operating in a somewhat grey area. Trying to understand why you have to go through such convoluted process to withdrawal money is frustrating, but until real money online gambling is fully legalized federally, it’s going to differ between states and websites.

With online gambling laws taken into consideration, keep in mind that it’s beneficial for you to read through the withdrawal process before you make your initial deposit. Notice that I said “before” your initial deposit – if you wait until your money is already on the site, you might be giving yourself a bunch of frustration down the road.

Of course, don’t let a website with an easy deposit process make you think that the withdrawal on the other end will be just as smooth. Sites have an obvious incentive to make it easy to deposit to the site, but not make it so easy to get money off of the site.

A few things to look out for are: minimum withdraw limits (which many sites have), minimum risk amount (meaning you have to wager a certain total dollar amount before you’re able to withdraw), or fees for withdrawing money too frequently.

While the ones I’ve laid out above are the most common barriers to easy and fast payment, each website is different. The good news? Typically most sites are transparent with how it works, so take the time to read it over.

Online Sportsbook Reviews

Online reviews can be tricky to navigate, but they’re still important and shouldn’t be overlooked. Even though there’s growing evidence that reviews can be fake or manipulated, the majority are still reliable as far as I’ve seen personally.

Basketball on an NBA Court

Check through a third-party site to verify the quality of an online sportsbook before you take the next steps in signing up. It’s a fact that bettors who have experience with the site will be your best source of information since they aren’t trying to get you to sign up.

If a site doesn’t have reviews readily available, it’s probably best to move on and find one that does. Simply put, be smart and execute your due diligence before wasting any of your money.

Sign up Bonuses

Perhaps the best feature of online sportsbooks, generally speaking, is that they provide a range of incentives for players to choose their site over competitors. These ‘bonuses’ are highly valuable and should be taken advantage of when they’re offered.

It might seem like there’s a catch to things like “free play” and “deposit matches,” but in most cases these offers can be trusted. At the end of the day, the unfortunate reality (for gamblers at least) is that if you bet enough, over the course of time you’re probably going to lose money. The sportsbooks are acutely aware of this fact.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a seasoned sharp, free money should always be a welcome addition to your bankroll. Seek out the best bonuses and you could turn it into real money if you’re able to cash in on your plays.

Take the Time to Choose the Right Sportsbook

It’s clear that there is plenty to consider when choosing an online sportsbook, and there’s something out there for every type of gambler.

As long as you put in a little time and do your research before choosing one, you should avoid any major issues. One final note: the features of some sportsbooks can change based on where you’re located, so always be up-to-date on the latest regulations in your state.