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Which are the best UK and Ireland betting sites?

The online betting scene is very big business in the UK and Ireland with a countless number of bookmakers offering a huge range of sports betting markets catering for all requirements.

Many new betting operators appear on the scene each year and each one generally provides a similar offering to the established providers, often on a smaller and less comprehensive scale. 

The result is that there are now hundreds of betting providers offering their services to players in the UK and Ireland, whether they are sportsbook operators, online bingo halls or online casinos.

The list is endless and this in turn means that the customer has a massive choice of offers and bonuses. It also increases competitiveness between bookmakers and as a result there are some exceptional bonuses on offer to customers.

Bookmaker offers and promotions

The general rule is that all online betting providers – whether new or well-established – offer a welcome bonus of some sort to new customers who register an account. These take many forms and vary significantly between operators, however they usually require the player to make some sort of deposit before they are released. 

These bonuses are geared towards players from each individual country, for example players in the Republic of Ireland can take advantage of a great number of Irish customer free bets from the many online betting sites in Ireland. Similarly, there are numerous bonus offers geared towards certain major sporting events, for example the Grand National, Wimbledon or the World Cup.

For new players, the most common bonus is a simple free bet and this is offered by the majority of online bookmakers. Quite simply, you will be asked to make an initial deposit and then place your first bet (of a minimum amount) which will then release a free bet bonus.

For example, some operators offer a ‘Bet £10 Get £30’ bonus and in this instance your free bet bonus of £30 will be released once you have deposited and wagered at least £10. 

Similarly, some online bookmakers offer a matched deposit bonus and this simply means that your initial deposit will be matched penny-for-penny, for example ‘Matched Deposit Bonus of 100% up to £100’. In this instance, you can deposit any amount up to £100 and the bookmaker will effectively double it.

A less common but nevertheless popular welcome bonus is a ‘risk-free bet’. Claiming this is simple, just make an initial deposit and wager up to a predetermined amount. If this initial bet is unsuccessful, the bookmaker will offer a refund, usually in the form of free bets. 

From time-to-time, some bookmakers will offer new customers a no-deposit free bet bonus. This effectively means that you will be handed a bonus simply for joining, although the amounts offered will be minimal – for example £5 – and will often sit alongside one of the other bonus offers mentioned above.

Many of the UK free bets available from the leading betting operators are offered alongside a casino bonus, for example ‘Bet £10 Get £30 plus 100 Free Spins’. In this instance, the free spins will be available for use on selected slots and will be released once the initial wager has been placed.

Check the terms and conditions

The important thing to consider when taking advantage of a welcome bonus is that there are certain terms and conditions which need to be met. Details of all these terms – along with any wagering requirements – will always be displayed on the bookmaker homepage. Read these carefully as they will vary significantly between providers.

When searching for a new bookmaker to join, it isn’t always a case that the longer established operators are the best. True, they will have a wealth of experience behind them and generally offer the greatest variety of sports and betting markets, however many of the newly launched bookmakers have some unique selling points of their own. 

Many of the newer bookmakers offer betting odds and bonuses that are a match for longer established operators such as William Hill and BetVictor, while some focus more on certain sports and markets. All online betting operators provide markets for the major sports such as football, tennis and cricket, however some focus more on horse racing or American sports and this can be important when choosing a new bookmaker to register with. 

While football is the largest sport in the UK and attracts the largest number of online bets, horse racing is foremost in the Republic of Ireland and this is reflected in the many bookmaker bonus offers for Irish customers which are geared towards this particular sport. Horse Racing Ireland is the governing body for racing on the Emerald Isle and they work closely with the many online bookmakers operating in the country. 

It is hugely important that you do some research of your own and ensure that any online bookmaker that you are considering registering with actually offers good coverage of your preferred sports or markets. Some operators might give less coverage of so-called ‘fringe’ or ‘minor’ sports while focusing primarily on the big hitters such as football and horse racing.

Banking and payment methods

Banking is another important consideration when searching for a new bookmaker. All of the main established operators such as Ladbrokes, Betfred and Boylesports accept all of the main banking methods such as Visa, MasterCard and eWallets, however the choice may be less for some of the newer operators.

One of the most important considerations when choosing a new bookmaker is that they are reliable and trustworthy. As a rule, the vast majority of online betting operators are completely trustworthy and to ensure this is the case, they must be registered with the UK gambling commission in order to operate in the United Kingdom. Only register with an operator which has been licensed to operate in the UK and Ireland.