Best Betting Sites For Football

Green 3D Abstract Smartphone and Footballs

Betting on football is big business and whilst no bookie can be classed as an out-and-out football betting site – they all offer the full range of sports and other betting options too – there are many top-class online bookmakers for whom football is their number one area and focus. As a punter, that means that if you love betting on football, you really are spoilt for choice as there are so many brilliant bookies to pick from.

In this article, we will look at the basics of what a betting site is, what they offer and what alternatives there are to the mainstream options. We will bring you details of some of the best football betting sites around, including information on their respective pros and cons. We will also look at the legality of using such betting sites, as well as the important issue of responsible gambling. So, if you want to know everything there is to know about the top football betting sites and online bookies out there, you’re in the right place.

Best Football Betting Sites - Updated May 2024

Coral - Huge Range of Build Your Bet Options, Stats Galore

Coral Build Your Bet Screenshot

Coral's founder Joseph Kagarlitski, better known as Joe Coral, was amongst the early pioneers of legal gambling in the UK. Their strong online presence is backed by hundreds of shops up and down Britain's high streets, making them one of the largest bookies in the country.

Football markets on the Coral site can be found either by the main menu on the left-hand side, or from the tabs along the top of the screen. Once on their football page, you will be able to find that day's, or upcoming matches, where you can change from match odds to other popular markets such as BTTS. There's also a selection of current in-play matches to scroll through.

Build Your Bet markets are a prominent feature here, available not just on the top leagues but throughout the lower leagues in England, Scotland, Spain, Italy and Germany amongst other European countries. These are simple to put together with a huge range of options, generally with 30+ market tabs to choose from. There's also suggested bets under the #YourCallSpecials tab, ordered from the shortest to the longest odds.

An area where Coral stands out is the readily available stats on individual matches. Form, standings and player stats are shown for most matches, with individual stats also available for markets such as BTTS and over/under goals scored.

Betfred - Stacks of Bonuses and Promotions

Betfred Football Match Markets

Betfred is recognisable to both online and high street bettors, having opened their first shop back in 1967, financed from backing England to win the World Cup in '66. The Betfred website was launched in 2004. Co-founder, Fred Done, is an avid Manchester United fan, having grown up in Ordsall, Salford, just a stone's throw from Old Trafford.

The Betfred site has a simple layout with the football section and a couple of football sub menu's found via the sidebar. On the football home page you can select between in-play matches, competitions such as the Premier League or EFL leagues, TV matches, coupons, and a catch-all more section which contains all non-live markets.

The TV matches area is useful if you are looking to bet on games that you can watch live. Upcoming fixtures are listed by kick-off time and broadcaster logos show you where matches will be screened, which is handy with so many subscription channels out there.

Betfred have a wide range of football coupons, which are a quick way to select multiple matches and markets. Their 'Goals Galore' list is a long running both teams to score coupon, where instead of showing individual BTTS odds, you select a number of games where you think both sides will find the net and a set price is generated. You can even have a lucky dip.

As the self-styled 'Bonus King' Fred Done and Betfred ensure there are plenty of bonuses, boosts and other promos on upcoming games. There are also regular free bet offers on the higher profile feature matches.

10Bet - User Friendly and Clear Layout, Lots of Free Bet Offers

10bet Football Match Betting Markets

10bet may not have the bricks and mortar history of some of the more traditional operators but when it comes to online betting, they have been one of the pioneers, having launched over 20 years ago.

Perhaps the first thing you will notice when landing on the 10bet site is that rather than being bombarded with confusing banners or a jumble of graphics, you are met with a rather muted greyscale palette. This however is a key aspect of 10bet's standout feature which is their focus on usability. Football can be found at the top of the list of sports on the sidebar and there's normally a selection of leagues or tournaments in the 'Top Action' list on the homepage.

When you are on the main football page it again has a simple selection of menus which are Competitions, Matches and Outrights. Again, this is to make navigation as simple as possible. Simplicity doesn't mean a lack of markets however, with a huge range of betting options on even the lower profile matches, plus the addition of the 10bet Bet Builder for creating your own custom bets.

When it comes to stats, rather than having endless facts for the competing teams, the key metrics such as current form and head-to-head records, win probabilities and goal conversion rates are displayed. They also have a neat countdown to kick-off.

An area where 10bet don’t tend to get the credit they deserve is with their betting offers for both new and existing customers. They will often have free bet bonuses or refunds, particularly when it comes to football.

T&C’s apply 18+ #ad

BetVictor - Quick & Clear Navigation, Competitive Odds

BetVictor Football Betting Screenshot

BetVictor was established back in 1946 by William George Chandler who was an on-course greyhound bookmaker who went on to own the Walthamstow Stadium. However, despite having roots dating right back to the start of legalised gambling in the UK, BetVictor provide an entirely modern betting experience.

Football betting is front and centre when you visit the BetVictor site, with featured matches, enhanced odds accas and the latest in-play matches readily available.

Coupons such as upcoming midweek or weekend match odds, BTTS and over/under markets can be found easily via the 'Accumulators tab', as can the extensive range of games where Bet Builders are available. Here you can you can generate your own Bet Builder or pick one of the numerous pre-built options, neatly ordered by their overall odds.

Particular leagues or cups can be found using 'Competitions' and you can switch between matches within that league/cup using the three dot menu found in the top right corner.

BetVictor's website is slick, quick and easy to navigate but this doesn't come at a cost when it comes to pricing structure. A primary focus for BV is providing competitive odds across their football markets.

Over the years BetVictor have invested in sponsorship deals with Aston Villa, Liverpool and Fulham, as well as being backers of the seventh tier in English Football – the Premier divisions of the Northern, Southern and Isthmian Leagues – during the 2019/20 season.

The Football Pools - Great Choice of Pools and Betting Markets

The Pools Classic Pool Bet Slip

Football pools have been around for almost as long as the game itself and involve predicting the outcome of a series of matches in order to win a prize.

The first Littlewoods Pools coupons were handed to fans outside Manchester United's Old Trafford Stadium in 1923. Although only 35 of those initial coupons were returned it wouldn't be long before Littlewoods had the biggest pools business in the country, becoming a routine pastime for many, with 14 million people playing each week at its peak.

The Football Pools was launched in 2007 as a merger between the Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters pools. The Pools brand was created in 2018, offering not only the Classic and alternative football pools, but also everything you would expect from a modern betting site, including a sportsbook, in-play betting and online casino.

Football betting with The Pool can be found from the quick links, favourites or from the A-Z list of sports on the side bar. There are well over 100 markets available for most matches as well as coupons and the Create a Bet custom bet builder.

The key feature of The Pools however is their football pool products. Their Classic Pool will be the most familiar, picking 10, 11, or 12 matches out of the 49 on the coupon to play out a score draw, for a chance to win a share of the jackpot.

Other pools include Goal Rush, were you pick 8 games where you think both teams will score out of the 35 on the coupon, and the Premier 6, 10 and 12 where you choose if there will be a home win, away win or a draw in each the 6, 10, or 12 selected matches. Lucky dips are also available.

18+, UK only. £3 million top prize is for correctly predicting 9 scores draws when there are only 9 score draws on the coupon. Prizes shared if there are more than one winner. T&Cs apply. #ad

Unibet - Extensive Statistics and Free to Play Football Competitions

Unibet Football Match Stats

Unibet began life in London in 1997, initially as a phone betting operator, before quickly making the move into online betting. Fast-forward to the present day and they are now part of the Kindred group with around 9.5 million customers across the globe.

The Unibet football page has three main menus, Matches, Outrights and All Football. The Matches menu is where you'll find all upcoming games with the Outrights page containing league winners, top scorers etc. The All Football section is where you can find the complete range of available markets by country and competition, with international tournaments like the World Cup and Champions League also found here.

Unibet don't have a dedicated coupons menu but they do have a useful market selector drop-down list within the Matches page so you can essentially create your own coupons from any of the upcoming fixtures. Outside of this, most games have hundreds of available options.

Unibet customers have access to a huge stats database which includes fixtures, tables, squad lists and player stats. They have detailed head-to-head information on teams, and you can use the selector to compare any of the teams in the chosen division. You can even get information on the match referee from cards shown to penalties awarded.

In terms of promotions, bet boosts are regularly available as are free bets offers and free to play football prediction games.

What Is a Betting Site & What Do They Do?

It might seem like a question with a very obvious answer but what appears straightforward to one might not be straightforward to all. In terms of what they do, we will focus on the sports betting side of things here, in particular football. Later in this feature, we look at the other gambling options most, if not all, sites now offer alongside their original core product.

With this in mind, we can say that betting sites accept wagers from their account holders, and offer odds on a wide range of sports and events. In one sense they can be viewed as a catalogue of all the different sports and events that are taking place, as well as all the different bets that are available on each of them. If punters like the look of a bet and the odds that are offered, they can opt to risk their money, hoping to win more back if their prediction about a game, match, race or tournament is correct.

Odds

Isolated Green CalculatorUnderstanding odds is key to understanding betting and what a betting site offers. Odds essentially tell a punter what they stand to win. Odds can be expressed in many ways but the most common in the UK are fractional and decimal. The former includes 1/10, 1/1 (usually known as evens) and 6/1 and are the traditional system used in the UK by bookmakers. Those same odds in decimal are, respectively, 1.10, 2.00 and 7.00. Decimal odds tend to be used in Europe and various other areas, at betting exchanges (of which more later), and often by younger punters.

Looking at evens, or 1/1, or 2.00, this indicates a bet where your risk, in the form of the stake, is the same as what you stand to win. So bet £1, and you will get £1 back, plus your £1 stake, leaving you £1 up overall if your bet comes in. Looked at from the perspective of decimal odds, 2.00 indicates your return (including stake) from a bet of one unit. Bets at evens have around a 50% chance of winning, in theory at least.

A bet at 6/1 gives you six units back on top of your stake, and is less likely to happen. At the other end of the spectrum, a wager at 1.10 (1/10), will give you back £1.10 (including your stake of £1). Bets like these where the winnings are smaller than the stake are described as “odds-on” and, again in theory, are very likely to happen. Note that although we said “winnings are smaller than the stake”, you still end up better off because, of course, you also get your stake back with all winning bets.

Bookies are a business

Pen Resting on Profit Pie ChartWhen you make a bet at a “normal betting site”, or bookie, as opposed to a betting exchange, or even with a friend in the pub, your bet is, of course, with them. You are betting against the bookie, not anyone else. The betting site has a lot of expenses, from the cost of their website development and staff to their marketing, plus all the winnings they have to pay out to successful punters and various taxes to the government as well.

Because of this, and the fact that they often have shareholders who demand increasing returns, the odds that a bookmaker offers are not directly representative of the chances of an event happening. Imagine there was a Champions League final between Burnley (they did play in the European Cup in 1960/61 before you start laughing!) and Real Madrid. Now really stretch your imagination and go with it when we say that the bookies felt that both sides had exactly the same chances of lifting the cup.

If the bookie was offering “fair” odds, they would price both sides at evens, or 2.00 if you prefer, to be crowned that season’s champions. However, in reality, the top betting sites around might price both sides at 10/11. Lesser sites, with worse odds, might go as low as 5/6 or perhaps even just 4/5.

By reducing the odds in this way they create a profit margin for themselves. A perfectly balanced book, with exactly the same risk and reward on all possible outcomes, is rarely achieved by a betting site. However, for the sake of simplicity, let us assume they attracted £50,000 of bets on Burnley at 4/5 and the same on Real, at those same odds.

Whichever side lifts the trophy, the bookie will have to pay out £40,000 in winnings but keep the £50,000 that was lost on the other team. If they had priced both teams at evens instead, they would have paid out £50k and also won that same amount. With no money to pay staff, maintain their website, have their logo emblazoned on a Championship side’s shirt and certainly nothing to keep shareholders happy, they would soon go out of business.

What can I bet on with a betting site?

The best football betting sites offer odds on far more than who will win the Champions League final. They will have just about every football league you can imagine available, from all over the world. They cover youth and reserve teams, women’s football, lower league and even non-league, one-off friendlies, senior tournaments plus, of course, all the biggest and best leagues and competitions in the world.

Choice of Markets

BetVictor Premier League Match Betting Screenshot

Unsurprisingly you will find the most in-depth coverage for leagues such as the Premier League and La Liga (plus many others), as well as the Champions League, the World Cup, the Euros and other major events. For a big Premier League clash, for example, many sites will offer hundreds of different markets. These will cover just about any aspect of a game you can think of, from goals and who will score them through to corners, bookings, assists and much more.

Many of these markets are often further broken down into different time periods, so you might, for example, bet on a team to win just the second half, or on how many corners there will be in the first half. Some sites go further still and offer bets that relate to even more specific time periods, such as the first 10 or 15 minutes of a clash. Then there are the various bet builder tools that many sites offer, which we will discuss shortly.

Accumulators and Multiple Bets

Betfred Premier League Accumulator Betting Screenshot

As if all that wasn’t enough, bets can also be combined, with accumulator (or acca) betting, which is very popular with football fans. With an acca you pick a number of different, unrelated bets, for example the results of six different games of football. You place a single bet on them all to win and if they do the stake and winnings accumulate from leg to leg. This can potentially deliver huge wins from a small stake but on the downside, if just one leg loses, the whole bet is lost.

There are many other related multiples bets involving several legs but where you can still win even if one or more of your picks flops. Bets such as a Lucky 15, Lucky 31, Yankee and Super Yankee are all hugely popular with football fans looking to land a decent win.

Other Sports

Unibet Golf Betting Screenshot

Accas and other similar wagers, as well as standard singles, can be placed on any sport, not just football. All of the great bookmakers we work with offer thousands of markets across hundreds of events, spanning just about any sport you could name. And some that you may well never have even heard of.

You can make bets on all of the most popular sports, from golf to tennis, rugby to cricket and horse racing to dog racing, not to mention snooker, darts, motorsports and boxing. You can also have a punt on less mainstream sports including badminton, pool, cycling, table tennis, mixed martial arts and volleyball, as well as all the big US sports, baseball, basketball, ice hockey and American football. In addition, you might also see sports such as bandy, hurling, Gaelic football, winter sports, Aussie rules and more. Hopefully you get the impression – pretty much all sports and events are available to bet on!

But “sports” betting is not limited to sports. In a “sportsbook”, a bookmaker will offer bets on a whole host of non-sporting events. This might include which song will top the charts at Christmas, the Eurovision winner, various markets concerning the weather, music and film awards, such as the Mercury Prize or Oscars and more. In addition you can bet on almost any reality TV show out there, such as Strictly, I’m a Celebrity or Britain’s Got Talent, as well as things such as who will be the next James Bond, or even which character will be guilty of murdering someone else in one of the big soap storylines!

Betting on politics is an increasingly popular option with punters too. These markets can be very volatile but if you follow the news carefully you may be able to get ahead of the crowd and find the value bets. Markets are offered on politics from all over the world too and range from who will be the leader of the various parties, election results, the outcome of the big referendum, or even how long a leader might last in their job! Even if you aren’t necessarily a politics expert, these markets can be a good way to soften the blow, either economically or psychologically, if an election does not go the way you wanted it to.

Features offered by betting sites

Taking bets is the raison d’être of any bookmaker but aside from this they offer many interesting features that are of use to someone interested in betting on football or other sports. Some of these are different types of bets but some stretch well beyond a bookie’s primary offering. Let’s start, though, with some bet-based features.

Bet Builders

10bet Bet Builder ScreenshotWe mentioned bet builder tools in the section above and could have elaborated more in that part of this article. However, we didn’t because they are not something offered by all sites, though these days more and more of the best bookies do have something similar. Bet builders allow punters to formulate their own complex wagers on a single game, picking and choosing from a number of markets and combining them in a way that is not normally possible.

When we discussed accas we said that legs must be “unrelated”. This is because otherwise the odds and probabilities of one leg can affect those of another in a way that is unfair to the bookmaker, creating artificially and incorrectly inflated odds. With a bet builder, however, the “legs” are all on one game and so are related, but the site’s algorithms automatically calculate the correct odds.

So you might, for example, pick the big Sunday game and create a bet all of your own. You could opt for over 1.5 first-half goals, over 3.5 goals in the whole game, under 10.5 corners, the home team to win, the away team to score first and the game to see a penalty missed. This builder comes in at an impressive 275/1 but is, of course, hugely unlikely.

You can add more selections than that, or fewer (sometimes between two and eight but this varies from bookie to bookie), whilst you can make your picks more mainstream, or increasingly niche. Adding in some longer-odds picks, for example a named player to score first, or perhaps to score twice, can really boost those odds.

Whilst creating a bet builder at a huge price is tempting, you should always remember that the margin the bookie takes on these bets tends to be on the large side. In simple, general terms, that means that a crazy builder at 23,000/1 offers a huge reward, but worse value than simply backing the home team to win at evens. These bets are fun but don’t always offer the best value.

Live betting

TV on Football Pitch Showing Match

Live betting, often called in-play betting, is another feature that could well have fallen under the more general umbrella of what a bookie does. It has grown steadily over the past two decades and now probably accounts for the majority of betting revenue at most bookies. Indeed, one site, that really pushes this facility in ads starring a popular London actor (you know the one!), reportedly takes as many as 80% of their bets in this way.

Live betting involves placing wagers whilst an event is actually taking place, as opposed to before it starts. With more and more football (and other sports) available to watch live, plus the computing power and widespread nature of mobile phones, conditions are perfect for in-play punting. Whether you are watching a match from the pub, a friend’s house or the comfort of your own sofa, it is so quick and easy to observe the action and make a bet.

Live betting is so popular for a range of reasons. It means you can access the nature of a match (or other sporting contest) before committing your cash. It also gives you the option to place more bets throughout the game. This can be handy if your first wager wins, or less happily loses, very quickly. If you back both teams to score (BTTS) and the game is 1-1 after 10 minutes, it is great that your judgement was so good and you have won your bet. However, your interest in the match from a gambling perspective is over. With in-play wagering you can simply make another bet, perhaps that the game will have over 4.5 goals.

Streaming

Man Watching Football Match Stream on Phone

Linked to the rise in in-play betting is another great tool offered by many of the top bookmakers, live streaming. This allows you to watch many of the games you bet on, including lots that are not generally available through the normal providers. These high-quality streams are often available free to people who have an account with the betting site in question. At the worst you may have to have had a bet on the game, or perhaps have funds in your account, or at least have made a bet within a certain timeframe. The best football betting sites offer hundreds of matches a week so there is almost always a decent game to take in and, if you want, have a bet on as well (though you are equally free just to watch).

Stats and Information

Ladbrokes Football Match Stats Screenshot

Modern life, and certainly modern football, are increasingly stats-based and data is certainly key when trying to identify good bets. Handily many of the best football bookmakers offer their own stats for each game, meaning you can see the important numbers alongside the odds, neatly all in one place.

If you’d rather someone else do the hard work for you, many bookies also have expert pundits, often ex-pros, offering tips for the big game. Never take someone else’s tips as gospel, but at the same time, such offerings can be a good starting point and give you ideas about what areas of which games may provide some value.

Betting Exchanges & Peer to Peer Betting

Football Match Against Digital Data

For a long time the only option when it came to making bets was a traditional bookmaker. That changed, around the turn of the century, with the advent of betting exchanges. There are three or four major exchanges available in the UK and all work on the same model. This can be viewed as peer to peer betting. Rather than betting against the bookie, you are instead betting against another punter.

The exchange, or betting site, is, in this instance, simply acting as a middleman. They serve to bring two opposing sides of the same wager together and also to offer security to both parties who can be confident they will get paid. You might want to bet on Man City to beat Chelsea, whilst 300 miles away on the Isle of Skye there might be another fan of football betting who thinks that Man City will not beat Chelsea.

Without an exchange, how would you possibly find this punter prepared to take on your bet? And even if you did, would you be prepared to strike the bet and just trust that an unknown Scott on an, admittedly beautiful, island would pay up if City did the business? The exchange acts as an intermediary, rather than a bookmaker, and they do not care whether you or who you bet with wins.

This is because the exchange has no interest in the stake or the winnings as they just take a small commission on all winning bets. This is usually 5% though can go lower for frequent punters. In addition, because a 5% cut is often smaller than the bookmaker’s margin, odds at an exchange can often be better, even allowing for the commission.

Liquidity, Markets and Offers

Digital Arrows in Opposite Directions

Cutting out the middleman to get better odds sounds like a great deal and a fine example of using technology to disrupt and improve traditional business models. However, it is not all sunshine and cake in the green hills of Exchangeville. Some traditional punters may simply dislike them because they are new and use decimal odds. Though neither of these are really issues, genuine concerns do exist.

The first relates to the issue of liquidity, which is the term used to describe the availability of money within the exchange. Whilst betting exchanges boast millions of customers (the market leader alone claims to have three million registered users), they cannot guarantee that there will always be someone prepared to accept a bet you want to make.

Normal football betting sites will accept bets on pretty much every single match going, offering a range of markets on even the smallest games and sometimes in excess of 300 on the biggest ones. If you want to bet on the Nicaraguan women’s team to beat Peru in a friendly they display the odds and you can just place the bet. The same might well apply if you want to back them to win 5-0, win both halves, or some other less popular wager. You probably won’t be able to bet as much on this game as a Premier League clash but for most punters the limits will be more than enough.

At an exchange, however, fewer markets are offered and even if these niche bets are available, that is not to say you will definitely be able to place a wager on them. At an exchange you need someone who wants to make the exact opposite wager. So if you want to bet on Nicaragua winning 5-0, there must be another punter out there who wants to bet that they will not win 5-0.

Even with three million customers, finding a match on these smaller games and less popular markets is often impossible. This is called a lack of liquidity in the market. At best you may find someone prepared to take on the bet but as there is no market competition, the odds they are offering might be worse than those you could get at your favourite football betting site.

Alternatively you may just not be able to make the bet you want at all, either because the exchange does not offer the market, or because there is no liquidity at all. This is a big issue for those who like more obscure markets and sports but if you like betting on big football games you should find exchanges to be just fine.

One other possible downside to a betting exchange is that they generally provide fewer offers and promotions for existing customers. The best UK football bookmakers will offer a range of great promos, such as acca insurance, odds boosts, free bets, early payouts and more. However, the finer margins of the exchange and the nature of their model mean they rarely offer such betting offers. If you are a fan of freebies and an offer aficionado, you may prefer to use a “normal” online bookie.

What Else Do Betting Sites Offer?

Mobile Casino Chips Cards and Dice

First and foremost, this is a football betting website and indeed, most bookmakers have their origins in sports betting (often horse racing, the dogs and football). In addition, for many, traditional bookmaking is their main focus. However, modern betting sites increasingly tend to be one-stop shops that cater to almost all gambling tastes.

In terms of betting, that means you will find far more than football. As we have discussed, you can expect to be able to place a bet on almost any sporting event out there. And it does not stop at sport. Most sites offer markets on music, awards, reality TV, the weather, politics and more.

All these betting options still sit under the “sports”, or bookmaking umbrella but our favourite betting sites also offer so many other gambling facilities as well. Most have brilliant online casinos, including live casinos that use real dealers and croupiers on live feeds. In the main, at online casinos you will find just about every game you can imagine. Classics such as slots, roulette and blackjack will be plentiful but you will also find (non-live) poker variants, baccarat, craps and more too.

Talking of poker, many sites also have poker rooms where you can play against other people from around the world. No need to struggle to tie your mates down to a date for a game, just visit the poker room of your preferred site and there will be games aplenty, spanning all variants of the game and a number of stake levels.

If poker is too much like hard work then how about bingo? Bingo is quick, easy, fast and fun and anyone can play. You don’t need to pay too much attention as the numbers are automatically marked off and winnings credited. Bingo offers lots of free or very cheap games too so is perfect if your account balance is a little skinny.

Last of all is a range of instant win and miscellaneous games, as well as lotteries. Many brilliant bookies that we might think of primarily as football betting sites, also offer scratch cards, quirky games of chance and other gambling facilities that many punters enjoy.

Are Betting Sites Legal in the UK?

Union Jack Flag Against Bright Sky

The UK is one of the largest fully-regulated betting markets in the world and gambling has long been legal in the UK. Some giants of UK betting such as Ladbrokes, William Hill, Coral and Betfred can trace their roots back 100 years or more. Over the years the laws have changed, with betting initially only legal at the event itself, usually at horse racing.

In the 1960s high street betting shops were legalised, whilst more recently we have, of course, witnessed an explosion in online and, more recently still, mobile betting. All of this is fully legal in the UK with a few caveats. First, there are age restrictions for many gambling activities, with almost all of these now set at 18. That is certainly the case when it comes to making a sports bet with a bookie, be that online or in a shop.

In addition, in order to accept bets from the UK, the bookmaker in question must have a UK license. That is to say, one issued by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). Increasing regulation in the UK has led some to worry about an increase in black market bookies. Various governments have increased regulation, and also taxation, in the industry.

Protecting consumers is vital (see more below) but if this goes too far there is a concern that offshore bookies, operating in the “grey market” – at best – will spring up and attract UK customers. When playing with fully legal, UK-licensed betting sites, punters have more protection and better regulation. There are set processes in place should disagreements arise and minimum standards are expected.

However, bookies that are not fully licensed in the UK may not have to pay the same taxes as mainstream rivals. They might not have to adhere to the same stringent rules and work within the same guidelines in terms of responsible gambling and money laundering regulations either. If this enables them to offer more generous promotions, bigger odds and to market themselves more aggressively (in ways which would not be allowed here), there is every chance UK punters may be tempted to take a chance.

The online world retains, at least to some extent, a bit of a wild west feel about it. There are ways and means to get around most restrictions and if punters decide to opt for black market sites it could have a range of negative consequences. Customers could be at the mercy of less scrupulous operators, HMRC will lose tax revenue and UK bookies who play by the rules may struggle to compete.

Tax on Winnings?

Zero Percent in Grass

All that said, the key point is that betting in the UK is legal. We have touched upon tax paid by operators but what about the tax liability of punters? Do you have to pay tax on that £200 you win betting on the Champions League final? Quite simply, no. There is no tax to pay on gambling winnings in the UK as far as punters are concerned. This is not the case in a number of other countries, including some states in the US, for example.

It is the betting site that carries the burden of taxation here though, so any winnings are all yours to keep. They do not need to be declared on any self-assessment you might have to complete either, so you can just spend them as you see fit! This was not always the case though and as recently as 2001 UK punters were indeed taxed on bets. They were typically given the option of paying on the stake (guaranteed to cost them but only a small amount) or on the winnings (only due if the bet was successful but potentially on a larger sum). However, happily, things are now very simple for UK punters – there is no tax to pay!

Responsible Gambling Tools

Green Help Keyboard Button

Responsible gambling is, rightly, a hotter topic than ever before. Betting on sports, playing online bingo, or using an online casino, are all activities that millions of people enjoy as hobbies. They are fun diversions that bring people a little excitement and do no real harm. However, clearly many are not able to enjoy gambling in this way.

Thousands of people struggle with problem gambling. Whilst this is only a small percentage of the millions that bet casually and recreationally, it is only right that betting sites and the government act to protect these people and limit the damage that gambling can cause when it gets out of hand.

Since April 2020 punters have not been able to fund their betting accounts using a credit card. This was a huge step, albeit one implemented years after it should have been. This at least restricts gamblers to betting with their own money and puts a more sensible cap on what most players are able to lose.

There have also been a number of highly visible ad campaigns to promote and encourage responsible gambling. Each year the industry holds a Safer Gambling Week where these messages are really pushed and the many tools that are available to those using betting sites are widely publicised.

Some of the tools and facilities you will see at all of the best UK football betting sites include:

  • Deposit limits – all sites must now offer the option to place a limit on how much you can deposit. This is typically prompted at the sign-up point when you first join a new bookmaker. It is optional but we recommend that you set a limit as this will promote you from chasing any losses or betting more than you really want to if you are, for example, under the influence of alcohol, upset or tired. Limits can often be set by day, week or month, with multiple options available.
  • GAMSTOP – all betting sites licensed and regulated in the UK are part of an initiative that enables punters to self-exclude from all sites in one single step. GAMSTOP allows you to bar yourself from all sites licensed by the UKGC for six months, a year or five years. The exclusion period is set as a minimum of that time period but continues until you manually remove it. This is a great tool that makes it really easy for problem gamblers to remove all temptation.
  • Self-exclusion – self-exclusion is a less severe option than using GAMSTOP and can be useful if there is just one site you want to stop using. Each site has their own version of this with different exclusion options, in terms of time, and whether these cover everything they offer or just certain types of gambling. For example, if you want to continue to bet on football but are losing a lot on casino games, you may be able to exclude from the casino and related betting suites but leave the main sports betting section of the site open. As with GAMSTOP, different timeframes will be available, usually starting at six months.
  • Time out – taking a time out is a wise move if you are just beginning to have doubts about whether your betting habits remain both fun and affordable. Rather than the more permanent nature of self-exclusion, time outs tend to last between a day and a month. You can extend them but if you find you are continuing to lose more than you want to then self-exclusion may be the best option.
  • Other tools – many of our favourite online bookies also offer a range of further tools that help you stay in control. These include simple profit and loss charts, that allow you to see your overall position over a certain period of time. Some bettors may be unaware of how much they are really losing, in part because there is a tendency to remember wins but forget losses. Seeing in black and white that you have lost, for example, £1,200 in the last 12 months, may make you reconsider your choices. You can quickly and easily see why you haven’t been on that holiday you have been talking about or got a deposit for a house or whatever else you might have spent your money on. Session-time reminders are another common tool. It is easy to lose track of time when you are making bets on live football games around the world. Before you know it three hours may have disappeared. Gaming time reminders will give you a pop-up after a requested length of time and can make you think twice about having another bet or getting out of the house and going for that run you keep talking about!