Finding an online bookmaker these days isn’t particularly difficult. If anything, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice.

With such enormous competition between rival bookies, standards inevitably vary from one brand to the next. Looks can be deceiving, so it’s not quite as easy as going for the first shiny-looking website you come across. To maximise your enjoyment, your safety and your winnings (if you play your cards right), it’s worth doing your homework.

Luckily, narrowing things down to a few front-runners can be easy. Next time you’re on the lookout for a decent online bookmaker, keep the following 10 tips in mind and you won’t go wrong:

1. What Do You Want to Bet On?
First up, it’s simply common sense to ensure the bookie provides access to the betting markets you’re interested in. Most will offer a pretty standard selection of major sports and events – the English Premier League, NHL, NBA, UFC, NASCAR and so on. But you’ll also find a whole bunch of alternative betting markets available from some bookies, ranging from political betting to Oscars predictions to eSports and so on. Be sure to check out the full list of betting markets available before signing up, ensuring there’s plenty of variety to keep things interesting.

2. Website Performance
If technical difficulties creep into the equation at the worst possible time, it could be curtains for your biggest and most important bets. So before getting started, head over to the bookmaker’s website at a bunch of different times. See how it performs during peak betting hours and note any inconsistencies or issues. Unless it runs like a dream 24/7, you might be as well taking your business elsewhere. And while you’re at it, see what the bookie has to say about data protection and a general safety/security of its punters. 

3. Mobile Betting
Just because an online bookmaker has a mobile betting service doesn’t mean it’s up to scratch. Most are, but there are also various mobile betting services that are pretty sorry to say the least. Put the mobile betting app or portal through its paces before putting any money on the line, in order to ensure it gets the job done as it should. This is particularly important if you plan on doing most of your betting via mobile, rather than sitting at a computer.

4. Independent Reviews and Recommendations
One of the easiest ways of finding the best bookies on the web is to check out as many independent reviews and recommendations as you can find. Try to avoid affiliates who are paid to tell a skewed version of the truth, instead sticking with the ratings and feedback of real customers. You’ll always find a few disgruntled write-ups aimed at even the best bookies on the market, but you should be able to see where the consensus lies. 

5. Don’t Be Blinded by Bonuses
There’s one simple rule to follow when it comes to introductory bonuses and promotions. If it sounds too good to be true, head for the hills and don’t look back. OTT welcome bonuses typically aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Governed by such ridiculous terms and conditions, they’re simply there to mislead newcomers into signing up and thinking they’re onto a winner.  Precisely the kind of deliberate deception you’ll want to avoid. What’s more, if a bookmaker has to practically beg new customers to sign up with a completely ridiculous deal, it probably says all that needs to be said about its quality and capabilities. 

6. Minimum Deposits and Withdrawals
It’s up to you to decide how much you’ll be wagering during any given day, week, month and so on. If you’re simply out for a little casual flutter here and there, you’ll want to keep an eye on the bookmaker’s take on minimum deposits. While some bookies will allow you to deposit as little as £5 at a time, others won’t accept anything less than £20 or even £50. In which case, they’re probably out of your price bracket. In addition, it may be impossible to withdraw anything less than £100 with some bookies, which may again prove to be useless for your needs.

7. Additional Gaming Assets
It’s far from mandatory, but it’s always preferable to sign up with a bookmaker that isn’t only a bookmaker. Most of the market-leading sports-betting brands now provide access to some of the most incredible casino gaming the web has to offer. From online slots to poker to bingo to roulette and so on, one account typically means seamless access to hundreds, or maybe even thousands of incredible games. 

8. Customer Service Quality
The quality (or otherwise) of the customer support provided by a bookmaker speaks volumes. There’s nothing more annoying than being forced to sit on hold indefinitely, or simply being fobbed-off when you could really do with some help. If you prioritise customer service quality as you should, feel free to put it to the test before you go ahead and sign up. Give them a call and ask a few simple questions, or simply fire an e-mail their way and see how quickly they get back to you.

9. Fees and Commissions
Always check what the bookmaker’s policy is with regard to additional fees and commissions. These days, there’s really no excuse for a bookmaker adding an additional 2% charge onto withdrawals, or charging you a 1.5% admin fee when depositing funds. It’s simply a way of extracting more money from you with no justification and should therefore be avoided at all costs.

10. Odds and Margins
Last but not least, you need only head over to an independent comparison site like to see if the bookmaker you’re looking at is up to scratch.  It’s worth remembering that it’s your money on the line if you’re successful, so why wouldn’t you ensure the odds and margins stack up in your favour? If there are better odds and more favourable margins elsewhere on your favourite markets, that’s where you should be taking your money.

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