It is becoming more and more common for people to enjoy a flutter, with the internet giving users a prime place to head to find somewhere they can have a bet. The issue is, what exactly is out there is a little confusing, with many sites seeming to offer a wealth of different options. It’s hand to have all of that simplified, offering users a clear guide that breaks down the sort of thing that you can expect to find when you head to an online betting site.
What Can You Bet On?
First things first, let’s have a look at the sort of things that you can bet on. It can be slightly confusing because the various sites will offer different things, with some of them being akin to a one-stop-shop whilst others are more specialised. You could head to a bookmaker’s website, for example, and see that you’ve got the ability to place wagers on sports events as well as play at their online casino or even some bingo games.
Equally, a bingo site might let you play some slot-style games, or an online casino might let you play bingo, but neither of them are likely to allow you to place bets on sporting events. It all comes down to what is ‘generic’ and what is specific. It is harder for a site that offers generic things, like casino games and slots, to offer something specific such as a sportsbook. It is, however, easier for a site that has specific offerings to also allow customers to play generic games.
Sites that tend to offer casino games will also look to offer the likes of online poker and lotteries. If they offer one, they’ll usually attempt to offer more, seeing as though they see themselves as a one-stop-shop. They want you to sign in and do all of your gambling with them, regardless of whether you’re the sort of person that is usually quite specific in the betting that you do. As a customer, your job is to look around for the best deals, ensuring that you don’t just settle on the first site that offers you what you’re after.
The beauty of the modern era is such that you can always shop around. If you find one site offering you what you want you’ll be able to find ten similar sites. The problem is that sometimes they’ll be white label sites, which is a way of staying that they’re essentially the same site but with different branding. This means that you are unlikely to benefit from better odds for your sports bets or an improved gameplay on the likes of bingo or casino games, given they’ll be using the same game engine.
That being said, there are still plenty of unique sites out there for you to explore. Make sure that you’ve signed up to a couple of different ones to give yourself a heap of options in terms of deals, offers and promotions. We always encourage customers to online sign up to sites that are licensed by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, given that they have to meet certain regulatory conditions in order to gain their licence. That’s why we only recommend such sites on our pages.
Let’s start by having a look at the sort of games that you can expect to encounter when you sign up with an online casino. In essence, you can usually expect to experience the same games that you’d be able to play in an actual casino, with the only difference being that you’re not physically in the casino. There are even live versions of table games, complete with a real-life dealer who is happy to chat to you about your various moves and options when placing a bet.
One of the most popular places to head in an online casino is the area that boasts the table games. Whether you’re a fan of roulette, three card poker or blackjack, you’ll be able to find an electronic version of the game that you love in your casino of choice. The beauty of these games is that they’re available to play whenever you fancy, meaning that you don’t need to wait for a dealer to come on duty and open up the table. Instead, the computer handles all of the intricacies involved in playing the game.
You don’t need to be worried about whether they’re fair or not, either. These games are handled by Random Number Generators, which ensure that every time you are dealt a hand it is as close to real-life as possible. If a company has an online site then they will have had to go through the process of ensuring that their RNG games are fair, with the UKGC constantly checking up to make sure that this is the case. Random Number Generators are used across a wealth of different online games.
As far as the exact sort of table game that you’ll be able to play, the options are virtually limitless. The only thing constraining you is your imagination, so if you can think of an actual table game that you’ve played in real life then it’s likely there will be an online version of it somewhere. Here’s a quick look at some of the games that you can expect to encounter when you login to a site that has an online casino that you’re able to use:
- Three Card Poker
- Pai Gow
- Caribbean Stud Poker
- Sic Bo
- Casino Hold’em
- Casino War
- Mah Jong Exchange
- Wheel Of Fortune
- Punto Banco
Obviously that list is far from limitless, but it gives you a sense of the sort of games that you’ll be able to play at an online casino. Some of them are variations on the same theme, but then some people really do prefer to play French roulette over its American counterpart. Regardless, the options are plentiful and you won’t be disappointed when you sign up to a few online casinos and begin your game-playing experience.
If table games are popular in most casinos, they’re as nothing compared to the world of slots. Slot machines fill up the floors of casinos around the world, whether you’re in Las Vegas, Macau or London. It’s no surprise, therefore, that they are just as popular a thing that you can get involved in at online casinos. It would be impossible to list all of the games that you can play here, given the fact that every site will literally have hundreds for you to play.
Whilst there will be hundreds of different slots that you can get involved in, many of them will work in much the same way. Some will have five reels, some will have three. There will be some sites that offer customers the ability to play on the likes of a Megaways game, which has changed the way slots work in general. Whatever type of game you opt for, the likelihood is that they will work in the same way: press ‘Spin’ and let the computer take care of the rest.
You can change your stake amount, alter how many lines you’re playing and so on, but the general experience will still be the same. As with the computerised table games, online slots are controlled by Random Number Generators. This allows you to have a degree of certainty that you’re being treated fairly by the machine, even if it doesn’t feel that way when you lose several spins in a row! The reality is that they will behave just like physical slots in a casino, only paying out in the manner they’ve been programmed.
One thing to look out for with online slots is the RTP%. RTP stands for ‘Return To Player’, meaning that the RTP% is the amount of money that will be returned to players over a period of time. The worst games will have an RTP of 90% or lower, with the best coming in at closer to 98 or even 99%. The thing to remember is that this doesn’t mean that you’ll get 98 pence back from every £1 that you bet. Instead, 98% of money will be returned to all players over a period of hours, days or even weeks.
You could play a slot, spend £10 and lose all of it. Meanwhile, someone else in a different part of the United Kingdom could be playing the same game, spend £10 and get £19.60 back. The slot in question has still obeyed its 98% Return To Play rules, it’s just that it isn’t you that has benefitted from it. You still want to make sure that you sign up to play the games with the highest RTP percentage as it at least increases the chances of you getting some of your money back.
If you enjoy playing slots and want to be in a position where you can win yourself a decent chunk of cash, one of the things you might want to do is to play on a slot with a progressive jackpot. Progressive jackpot slots are ones that have the normal things you can win, as well as a larger prize that can be triggered at any moment. Everyone that plays a game will usually find that part of their stake is paid into the progressive jackpot, meaning that it is always increasing in size.
Whilst the jackpot itself doesn’t usually require anything special to happen in order to be triggered, it is often the case that players need to be playing the full number of lines available on a reel in order to be part of it. Other versions of the game will only allow you to win if you’re playing the maximum stake, so it’s always important to read the terms & conditions of a site to find out what it is that you need to do in order to be in which a chance of winning the biggest prize on offer.
One of the most popular casino games in the United States of America is video poker. There are almost as many versions of video poker available as there are slot games, so try to find your favourite one and go from there. Regardless of how many there are, they all tend to work in the same way. That is to say, they will be a version of poker that you play in a more limited manner than a full on game of Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Stud or another version of the game.
Video poker is, in essence, a fixed-odds version of the game that sees a player dealt five cards. At that point, you can discard whichever cards you don’t think are useful, even if it ends up being all five, then you’ll be dealt replacements. At this point, you’ll be paid out according to the hand that you’ve been given. A pair will pay the lowest amount, whilst you can get differing amounts for other poker hands up to and including a royal flush.
The proliferation of online casinos has allowed companies to create different versions of video poker that includes popular versions like Texas Hold’em. Again, you’re aiming to get the best hand possible but instead of being dealt five cards you’re dealt two in the hole and then three onto the table as the flop is dealt. You can then decide whether to stay in in order to see first the turn and then the river. At the end, if you’ve got a decent hand then you’ll once again be paid out according to the pay table.
There are numerous different versions of video poker out there for you to play, such as Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker and Double Bonus. Regardless of the one that you opt for, it will match the table games and the slots insomuch as it will operate according to a Return To Player percentage and the Random Number Generator that makes most online casino games work. If you like poker, it’s a fun way of playing it without needing to be drawn into a tournament or anything like that.
Live Dealer Games
Something that has become more and more popular in recent times is the ability to play casino games with a live dealer. Whether you’re a fan of blackjack, roulette or even the Wheel Of Fortune, you’ll be able to find online casinos that present you with the opportunity to play such a game with a live dealer taking charge of the play. Let’s imagine that you’re thinking of playing roulette with a live dealer as a good example of where to start, so we can get a sense of how it works.
There will be a physical croupier with a real life roulette wheel and table in front of them. They will ask you to place you bets and you use electronic chips on an electronic table, placing them where you want your bet to be. The croupier will spin the wheel, flick the ball and call ‘no more bets’, at which point your bet is locked in place. When the ball lands, you’ll be automatically paid out on your bet by the computer, if it has ended up being a winner.
The same sort of thing can be expected when you’re playing blackjack, with the dealer dealing real-life cards to themselves and to the players, with the only difference being that all players have the same cards. You decide whether you want to stick or twist, whether you’d like to split or double and the dealer will deal accordingly. You might choose to stick whilst another player splits, so you’ll actually get to see what would have happened if you’d chosen to split, but your own hand will work out as if you hadn’t.
Live dealer games are a good way to engage with online casinos, largely because you can enjoy some interaction from the dealer. There is usually a chat window where you can post comments and they will read them and respond. You’ll often find players telling them the card that they wish to be dealt or the number that they need the roulette ball to land on. Obviously the dealers don’t have any more control over the outcome than they would in a real casino, but it’s a nice way to enjoy a game regardless.
Here’s a look at the sort of games that often promise users a live dealer when playing online:
- American Roulette
- European Roulette
- Three Card Poker
- Sic Bo
- Wheel Of Fortune
In short, it’s the same sort of games that you can expect to find in an online casino, with the only difference being that there is a live dealer involved instead of an entirely computerised experience. All of the above are the generic game types that you can play, with more specific versions available of each of them. There will be themed roulette games, for example, or a Wheel Of Fortune style game that is based around a TV show such as Deal Or No Deal. Shop around for the one that you want to play.
If you’ve logged in to a bookmaker’s site that offers an online casino rather than an online casino specifically, you’re going to be able to play bets on sporting events. Whether you’re a fan of tennis, football or rugby, you’ll be able to have a wager on your favourite sports team or athlete when they’re involved in a match or tournament. You can place Single bets for them to win, Each-Way wagers that will cover them coming in the places or even accumulators that offer big odds for many selections.
There is barely a sporting event on the planet that isn’t covered by one online bookmaker or another. You can usually look to place bets on horse races taking place in America, for example, or a tennis tournament that is playing out in Dubai. Again, the sheer number of online sportsbooks mean that you’ll be able to explore your options and ensure that you’re signing up to the one that offers the best odds. Here’s a look at some of the features you’re likely to encounter with an online sports betting site:
If your chosen sportsbook is worth their salt, the likelihood is that they will offer live streaming of certain events. Not all events can be live streamed and not every bookmaker that offers live streaming will be able to stream the same games or matches, but in most cases you can watch the event play out in front of you and place your bets accordingly. Normally you’ll need to place a minimum bet in order to get the live stream to be able available for you, but once you have you can watch it in its entirety.
There are numerous things to think about when betting on a live stream, including the fact that the word ‘live’ is a bit of a misnomer. In actual fact, the stream that you’re watching will be a few seconds if not more behind the real event. This only really becomes an issue if you’re betting on the likes of an exchange, where the person that you’re betting against might have information that you don’t because their stream is faster than yours or they’re actually at the event in person.
Linked to live streaming is the option to engage in In-Play betting. This is something that only becomes available once a match or event is underway, but it gives you the chance to bet on what you think is going to happen. Let’s imagine that you’re watching a football match, for example, and you think a certain player is going to score the next goal. You can hop onto your sportsbook, head to the In-Play betting section and look for the Next Goalscorer option.
You can engage in In-Play betting on virtually any sport, including the likes of which player will win the next point in tennis, say. As with live streaming, you must remember that you’ll actually be a little bit behind real time, which is why you’ll often find the In-Play betting option is frozen if something is happening in the event you’re betting on. A penalty being won in a football match will result in the Next Goalscorer market being temporarily, for example.
One of the biggest advantages of placing sports bets online that you can’t do in a shop is the ability to Cash Out your bet. Let’s stick with our example of a football match for a moment and imagine that you’ve placed a bet on Everton to beat Liverpool in the Merseyside derby. You got odds of 5/1 for this to happen, which you think is going to be great when Everton take a 2-0 lead. Then, as the hour mark approaches in the match, Everton have a man sent off and Liverpool score a goal.
With half an hour or so still to play and the form of both teams suggesting that Everton aren’t going to be able to hold onto their lead, you decide that you’d like to be paid out for your bet. You will never be given a fair reflection of the bet as it stands, but if you stood to make £55 from the wager when you placed it you might be able to take £13.50 now. The longer you hold onto it, the higher the offer will climb, but if Liverpool were to equalise or even take the lead then the offer will plummet.
In essence, Cash Out betting allows you to react to what you’re watching play out in front of you. It is different to a normal bet placed in a shop because you usually just have to let them ride, even if you can see your wager slipping away in front of your very eyes. Cashing Out your bet means that the bookmaker will get to take their cut from you twice, but if it means that you’ll be able to walk away with some money rather than none whatsoever then it is probably a price worth paying.
Betting Sign Up Offers
If you’re relatively new to the world of betting then you might not be aware of the fact that companies will often make offers to their customers in an attempt to persuade them to spend more money. Whether it be Sign Up offers, Loyalty offers or some other form of promotion being put forward to customers, they are all designed to get punters to spend more money in the long-run. Being canny with how you take advantage of these offers is a crucial step in have a sensible betting plan.
We’re not going to look at specific offers here, but rather the general concept of offers and how they work. There are certain words and phrases that you need to look out for when considering whether to take an offer, with the main ones being ‘wagering requirements’ and ‘deposit requirements’. You might, for example, see an offer that promises up to £10 in free bets if you deposit £10 or more. This means that if you deposit £5, for example, you’ll get £5 in free bets, or if you deposit over the maximum, such as £20, you’ll get £10 in free bets.
There may then be some wagering requirements attached to the free bets you receive. This will usually be expressed by something such as ‘500% rollover’. This means that you’ll need to bet 500% of the free bet before you’ll be able to withdraw any money. If you deposited £20 and got £10 in free bets, you’d need to bet £50 before you can withdraw your winnings. Obviously each new bet increases the chance that you’ll lose the money, which is why you need to be sensible with the bests that you place.
It’s also worth noting whether or not the company in question asks for you to meet certain minimum odds requirements. Let’s imagine that you’ve been given £10 in free bets on a sportsbook and there is a 100% rollover requirement. The company will not want you to bet on something with odds of 1/5000. Instead, they’ll likely add a requirement that your bet needs to hit minimum odds of Evens or greater.
Casino Deposit Bonuses
One of the most common forms of a bonus offered to a punter is a casino deposit bonus. There are different types of bonus that you can be offered by a casino, but they all tend to work in a similar way. A deposit bonus, which can also be referred to as a matched bonus, says that if you deposit an amount of money into your newly opened casino account, it will be matched with a bonus deposit of the same amount. Usually there is a limit on how much will be matched, such as £100.
Deposit bonuses are the types of bonus that are usually associated with wagering requirements, meaning that you’ll have to meet the requirements laid out by the casino before you’ll be able to withdraw your winnings. Other bonuses that are often offered by online casinos is the likes of a loyalty bonus, which says that you’ll be given £10 in free bets if you deposit £10 into your account on five occasions, say. Sometimes you’ll be offered a bonus if it’s your birthday or if you refer a friend to use the site.
Things that you need to look out for in addition to the deposit requirements and the wagering requirements include any country restrictions. Some bonuses may only be available in certain countries, so you’ll need to make sure that you’re located in one of them before you sign up and expect to get the bonus. Similarly, some games will not be valid for using the deposit bonus on, so you need to make sure that you pick the right games when you’re looking to play with your deposit or hit your wagering requirement.
Free Casino Spins
When it comes to figuring out what free spins are, it is relatively easy to work it out for yourself. It is a promotion that applies to slot games that gives a customer a certain number of spins without needing to spend any money. You can see the reels spin around and keep your money in your pocket, which is an extremely attractive proposition. The thing that you need to think about, though, is that they are not really as ‘free’ as they might seem.
Instead, companies will usually add a series of requirements to them before you’ll be able to actually withdraw any money. For starters, the free spins will usually need to be used within a given time period. It’s also likely that free spins will not be valid with other offers or promotions, unless they were put forward at the same time and are part of the same package. The key one will be wagering requirements, which will state that you’ll need to bet any winnings a given number of times before it can be withdrawn.
Regardless of the promotion that you’re offered by an online casino or betting site, always make sure that you read the small print so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. With free spins, for example, it might well be the case that you’re only allowed to win up to a given sum of money, such as £100. Ensuring that you’ve read the terms and conditions will help you to avoid any unwelcome surprises and mean that you know what is expected of you to get any winnings.
Sports Free Bets
For those of you that enjoy placing a bet on a sporting event, there are normally some promotions and offers that you can take advantage of too. Oftentimes the likes of a matched deposit will be something that a bookmaker will offer. This will involve you getting the same amount of money that you’ve deposited into your account added as a free bet. The free bet will then have wagering requirements attached to it, such as betting the money once at odds of Evens or greater before you can withdraw it.
Other sports promotions include the likes of a money back bet. This means that you place your bet, making sure to meet the requirements on minimum odds as well as as the maximum amount that will be covered, then if your bet is a loser then you will be refunded the money as a free bet token. Sometimes you’ll be offered the money back as cash, though this is less common than free bet tokens. Again, ensure that you read through the terms and conditions of the wager.
Are The Sites Safe?
It’s entirely understandable that people new to the world of online betting might be dubious about the various betting sites available online. What we can tell you is that your money will be as safe as possible, provided you bet with the biggest companies out there and ensure that they have been given a licence by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. It is important to point out that there are different levels of protection offered to bettors, so you’d do well to bet with the sites that offer the most protection.
Bookmakers are legally required to offer one of three levels of protection: no protection; medium protection; high protection. It’s slightly misleading to suggest any company will offer no protection, given that your funds are still held in an account that is separate from the company’s funds. Yet if the company were to go bust, the funds that belong to customers would not be ring-fenced and would instead be treated as an asset of the company by an insolvency firm.
Medium protection means that arrangements to protect customer funds are in place should a company go bust, but it comes in the form of an insurance policy. This would mean that funds should be given back to customers, but they might need to be fought over. The best protection level is high protection, which keeps the funds of customers legally separate from the company. Should they go bust, the funds cannot be treated as an asset and will usually be given back to the customers by a third-party.
Whilst it is always recommended to bet with a company that offers the highest level of protection, it is worth bearing in mind that some of the biggest gambling companies out there actually offer no protection. In this instance, they do that because they feel as if they’re too big to ever be in financial trouble. Whether that is true or not, you’ll usually be given at least some form of a warning sign if a company is in trouble, so you should have plenty of time to withdraw any funds before they disappear.
The Organisations That Protect Players
Should you have a disagreement with a gambling company, there is an odd situation in which you can’t seek any help to reclaim your money until you’ve first contacted the gambling company directly. The first port of call will always be to speak to the customer service team of the company in question and attempt to resolve your differences amicably. Should this fail to be the case, however, you can turn to the Independent Betting Adjudication Service, who will look to mediate your situation.
An IBAS decision is not legally binding for the customer, meaning that if you disagree with it then you’re still entitled to take the gambling company to court. The decision is legally binding for betting businesses, however, unless IBAS are asking them to pay more than £10,000. In this instance, a company can themselves look to have the dispute heard in court. Either way, IBAS is the first place that you want to turn if the company you’re dealing with won’t offer a fair solution to the problem in your eyes.
The governing body for gambling in Britain is the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. It is their responsibility to ensure that companies are meeting the requirements of their licences and the organisation can fine those that aren’t. They can even go so far as to strip a licence from a company, should they decide that they’ve failed in their duty to protect their customers. You can’t complain directly to the UKGC, which is why IBAS exists as an organisation, to essentially bridge the gap.
The final thing that is worth talking about is the need for bettors to engage in responsible gambling whenever possible. Firstly, the key thing that you’ll want to do is to ensure that you only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. Whether it’s £5 or £5,000, you should only ever put money into your betting account if you know that you won’t be left in a bad situation if you end up losing it. There’s a reason why the phrase ‘the House always wins’ exists, which is that most bettors lose their money.
Gambling sites have numerous tools in place to aid customers in their desire to keep themselves safe. One of the main things you can look to do immediately is to put a deposit limit in place. This will stop you from depositing more money into your account than you can afford to, with limits usually being able to last for a day, a week or a month. You could, for example, say that you only want to be able to deposit £100 every month and once you’ve hit that mark you won’t be able to deposit anything else until next month.
As well as deposit limits, you can also place wagering limits on your account. These work in the same way but are based around the amount of money you actually bet. This will help to stop you from betting too much of your winnings, should you find yourself in a situation where your gambling has been hugely successful. The best thing to do is to have a clear sense of your bankroll for betting, only wagering within your own limits each month and withdrawing winnings when you get some.
Of course, even the most well-intentioned of bettors will sometimes find that their wagering is getting away from them. Should you find yourself in this situation, there are companies out there that are able to help you. Gamblers Anonymous is a good place to start, which works in a similar way to Alcoholics Anonymous and other such groups. You can also turn to GamStop, which is a self-help organisation that allows punters to restrict their gambling activities.
GamStop works by contacting all online casinos, bookmakers and other betting sites that are registered with the organisation, letting them know that you’ve chosen to self-exclude. This means that you’ll no longer be able to sign up for a betting account or sign in to the accounts that you already have, provided you’ve given them the correct information. There’s also a scheme called MOSES, which stops you from being able to place bets with high street bookmakers in a similar manner. In short, if you’re struggling then seek help where you can.