Bookmaker Review for Beginners – The Ultimate Guide

It is not easy navigating the complicated world of high street, online and live event bookmakers. The UK market is packed full of proven bookies, ambitious start-ups and the occasional bookie you would do best to avoid. To help find your way through the minefield, we have compiled a comprehensive guide to the cream of the UK bookmaker crop. This ultimate bookmaker review should enable you to cut straight to the chase and start making money quick smart.

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The latest statistics from the Gambling Commission showed us that there are still 8,788 betting shops with nearly £3.5bn generated from non-remote sports betting – the remote betting, bingo and casino market worth nearly £4.5bn now and only getting bigger.

Before the irresistible rise of the online bookmaker in the last 10 years, bookies operated mostly from trackside at the courses or the high street where you could watch the greyhound and horse races from the dedicated racing channels broadcast in house. If you couldn’t be bothered to leave your house, you just got a bookie on the phone for a bet.

Nevertheless, every move forward in technology threatens to leave some people behind, while the mammoth choice available in this day and age can also be mightily confusing. That’s not even considering the myriad of bets available now from the thousands of markets for each game of sport including the growing request-a-bet market that certain bookies have carved out a profitable niche from as well as your traditional win or each-way bets.

With so many tempting offers rolled out for beginner gamblers every day by all of them, how do you know which bookmakers suit you and the type of betting you enjoy the most?

William Hill Bookmaker ReviewWilliam Hill Logo Bookmaker Review

Bill Hill, as this old-school betting powerhouse is also called, has been one of the big players on the UK scene for several decades. They still manage to maintain this place at the top table on the back of its longevity, comprehensive sportsbook and, more importantly, innovation. They were quick to get a foothold in the booming in-play and cash-out market, while still offering a gargantuan number of bets on sports across the board. Founded in 1934 when gambling was illegal, it currently brings in revenue above the £1.5bn mark with a healthy profit of around £165m on the back of approximately 16,000 employees. Trust is important in the betting game, which is why punters flock to Bill Hill as the company listed on the FTSE 250.

Their mobile offering is one of the better ones, while they have acted very smartly in catering to audiences who might not see English and pound sterling as their preferred language and payment conduit. Streaming is also another area where they have done their homework with those punters unable to watch live on traditional broadcast TV given a plethora of live viewing options to keep track of match bets, cash out in play or research future bets.

Outside of the online market, they still offer less tech savvy clients the option to place bets over the phone or by text. As a sign of their class they also sponsor the annual William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, the best of its kind, which is “dedicated to rewarding excellence in sports writing”. Proven gem and currently offering new customers £30 in free bets (credited as 3 x £10 bets) off a £10 bet. Read the full William Hill Bookie Review with Bonus offers here!

  • Choice – 5 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 4 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 5 stars out of 5

Ladbrokes Bookmaker ReviewLadbrokes Logo Bookmaker Review

Even before the mega merger, Ladbrokes and Gala Coral were two of the biggest operators in the UK let alone once they walked down the aisle finally in November 2016. They turn over an incredible amount of revenue that exceeds William Hill, even though they were forced to jettison 350-400 shops for the £2.3bn merger to go ahead. It was a wise move to join in the rapidly evolving betting scene as many punters had started to gravitate towards innovative tyros such as Betfair. They had become somewhat stale operating alone, but look far stronger now singing from the same hymn sheet.

Ladbrokes has been around since 1886 with their early clientele drawn from the British aristocracy who populated the streets of central London at that time. Like many betting companies, Ladbrokes suffered a financial rollercoaster over the years in its various guises leading to the recent merger with Gala Coral. Under the Ladbrokes Coral name, you get two bookies under one name with Ladbrokes offering a massive sportsbook and hit mobile app. Much like William Hill, they have fine-tuned their in play, cash out and streaming options to guard against the new kids on the block while maintaining the services that helped build them up into the powerhouse from advertising campaigns featuring the likes of Chris Kamara & Ally McCoist. Bet £5 first time out with Ladbrokes and you can get £20 to play with in four free £5 bets.

  • Choice – 4 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 5 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 5 stars out of 5

Coral Bookmaker Reviewcoral logo Bookmaker Review

Gala Coral started out themselves with Joe Coral and his bookmaking business in 1926. Very much a track man, Joe built up an enviable empire that led to a first Ladbrokes offer in 1997 that was knocked back by the UK Monopolies and Mergers Commission before Gala bought Coral in 2005. Coral, meanwhile, offer the same as William Hill with three free £10 bets from an opening £10 bet. They always have an excellent set of promotions to lure new or existing punters into placing a bet with a loyalty scheme that ranks right up there with the best. Their radio commentary service, TV option and live streaming operation across their key sports of football, golf, horse racing and tennis ensure punters get bang for their buck. Read the full Coral Bookmaker Review with signup offers here!

  • Choice – 4 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 4 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 5 stars out of 5

Betfair Bookmaker Reviewbetfair logo Bookmaker Review

Betfair, on the other hand, were founded in 2000 and soon went after horseracing publishing company Timeform in 2006 to give themselves a much-needed sheen of respectability on the UK scene. The world’s biggest peer-to-peer exchange betting service is as big a disruption of the betting industry as we have seen in the last 20 years with punters able to buy/back or sell/lay an outcome. You are also able to trade in real time thereby snaring a timely profit or getting out early so you do not lose too much. Exchanges generally garner revenue by charging a small commission on winning bets.

Betfair are also known for their outlandish stunts and amusing promotions that stand out from the crowd. Once they have tempted you in with a £20 free bet after placing five bets of £10 or more, you can also bet through a more traditional sportsbook which generally excellent odds across the board. The original in-play and cash-out king favours heavy volume gamblers as you can sniff out multiple value working both the exchange and sportsbook, if you put the hours in outside the daily promotions that tempt less prolific punters. Their customer service is usually spot on whether through social media or the more traditional routes, while their comprehensive live streaming is another big plus. Once you’re on the Betfair train, it is hard to get off as their constant innovation works well.

  • Choice – 5 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 4 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 4 stars out of 5

Bet365 Bookmaker Reviewbet365 logo Bookmaker Review

One of the biggest British success stories in recent years, Bet365 has given the old boys a big scare thanks to original betting shop operator Peter Coates and his enterprising daughter Denise, who helped move it away from the high street into a superb online bookie that has put Stoke-on-Trent back on the map.

One of the most aggressive innovators in the industry, they were quick to firm up their cash out, in play and streaming services and the move into the esports market was a clever play. As a player, you can move seamlessly between desktop, tablet and mobile, their extensive live streaming service (depending on location) arguably the best in the business which is a big bonus for rookie punters. They are usually very quick to resolve queries which make them very attractive to beginners and those seeking a fresh betting platform.

  • Choice – 4 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 4 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 5 stars out of 5

BetVictor Bookmaker ReviewBetVictor Logo Bookmaker Review

Known to older punters as Victor Chandler, BetVictor has also been aggressive in the online market of late with TV adverts featuring Victor himself giving the brand a certain charm to make it stand out from the crowd. It originated with William Chandler in 1931, then went down through the family before it ended up in the hands of Victor Jr in 1974. His brave move to shift the entire business off-shore to Gibraltar to avoid UK gambling tax blew the industry wide open with the current BetVictor moniker adopted in 2012 ahead of a big online push that ensured it got ahead of most of the game.

Racehorse owner Michael Tabor took over the company in 2014 and he has now helped the brand entice customers in over 160 countries with a turnover in excess of £1bn. The Gentleman Bookmaker, as it has become known, has a dash of style that gives it a unique edge along with excellent odds in the football and horse racing markets especially. For more tech savvy punters it might feel a bit staid but for punters not as technologically gifted, it’s easy interface is a dream come true. They have worked hard to nail the in-play side of things which, allied with a tempting bet opener of £30 in free bets and £10 casino bonus for the first £10 spent, makes them an appealing and loyal proposition.

  • Choice – 4 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 5 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 5 stars out of 5

Betfred Bookmaker Reviewbetfred logo Bookmaker Review

One of the big UK players, Betfred have blazed a trail by focusing their efforts on horse racing and football. They stream all UK and Irish horse races, which has helped underpin the rest of their operation. Their acquisition of Totesport in 2011 for £265m was also a stroke of genius. As part of the overall purchase, Betfred was awarded an exclusive seven-year licence to operate pool betting at UK racecourses, Tote’s 517 shops and the online arm of Totesport.com.

They have also earned the moniker of The Bonus King on the back of daily bonuses and promotions that help differentiate themselves from the growing competition. Even if you are not into your nags or footy, they still possess an exciting range of odds and offers across the rest of the sporting world as befits an operation that counts itself as a top-tier independent company. Their entertaining in-house channel Betfred TV also enjoys a decent following plus it is a trusted choice for greyhound fans. If you want to join the party online, then they offer £30 in free bets if you stake £10.

  • Choice – 4 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 4 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 4 stars out of 5

Betway Bookmaker Reviewbetway logo Bookmaker Review

Known for its extensive sponsorship and showbiz promotion, Betway is fast becoming a big player. Despite only a decade of service, it has a sportsbook that stands up to scrutiny. But, more importantly, they have an easy-to-use service across various app or Web platforms. Known for giving coverage and tempting odds on more obscure sports, they have also locked in a promising loyalty scheme that benefits from a trusty streaming service for in-play bets. The sheer volume of punters and markets at the bigger firms often results in confusion. However, Betway takes some of that stress out the equation with its friendly and simple approach. Get started with £30 worth of free bets from a minimum £10 stake and see if it suits your game.

  • Choice – 4 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 4 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 4 stars out of 5

Unibet Bookmaker Reviewunibet logo Bookmaker Review

One of the big movers, Unibet threw a large amount of money behind brand awareness and its paying off. Founded in 1997 and one of the first to master the online experience, Unibet were known across Europe as a smooth operator. However, they were struggling to get a foothold in the UK market. This has turned out to be one of their strengths with punters always keen to find value in lesser known sports played out on the continent.

They offer an array of odds and promotions that could tempt beginners. Their mobile app is also quick and easy to navigate. If you are lured in with the standard £30 free bets off an opening £10 bet, Unibet could get you to stick around for a while. Get the full bookmaker review and get your welcome offer here!

  • Choice – 3 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 4 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 4 stars out of 5

Bwin Bookmaker Reviewbwin logo Bookmaker Review

Just like Sportingbet, Bwin has recently been acquired by GVC Holdings and now operates under that umbrella. It was founded in 1997 and was quick to get into the burgeoning online sports betting market. They cover more than 90 different sports with football the anchor that drives bets through the company. With its European background, they are particularly strong on continental sports while they are also strong on novelty bets. They are one of European football’s most visible brands thanks to Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and AC Milan sponsorships. Also, they also have a strong presence in basketball and MotoGP. If you bet £30 straight off, then expect £30 back in free bets to get you started.

Get your Bwin Bonus Code and read the full bookmaker review here.

  • Choice – 3 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 4 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 4 stars out of 5

Sportingbet Reviewsportingbet logo Bookmaker Review

Sportingbet are one of the more well-known operators in the market. Their football shirt sponsorship of Wolverhampton Wanderers brought increased brand awareness. They offer a £50 welcome bonus to anyone wanting to get in on the action. Even though the basic blue interface doesn’t shout ‘Pick me!’, they offer up tempting odds. There’s a clear focus on American sports such as basketball and American football to boot.
Get your Sportingbet Promo Code and the full bookmaker review here.

  • Choice – 3 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 3 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 4 stars out of 5

Winner Reviewwinner logo Bookmaker Review

One of the new firms on the block has a lot going for it. Now the mega mergers have come and gone between the industry giants at Ladbrokes Coral and Betfair. Winner have a jovial approach to the betting experience, which suits some new punters more than others. Everybody loves something for free, and Winner stand out with a bevy of offers. You can zip through the website without too much in the way of bells and whistles to slow you down, while you can snag up to £200 bonus from the outset. Definitely one to watch in the future.

Get your Winner Coupon Code and the full bookmaker review here!

  • Choice – 3 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 4 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 3 stars out of 5

ComeOn ReviewComeon logo Bookmaker Review

Another fascinating firm on the rise has made customer loyalty one of its primary goals. This should help ComeOn eke out a decent spot in the market to those following the herd. They offer a ripe £25 welcome bonus and £10 free bet straight out of the gate. They promise “No Shakespeare” and ”No Einstein” policies, with a single wallet cashier system. The points system rewards loyalty and weekly free bet along with a nice spread of markets for you to jump in on and slick in-play betting. No BS here.

Get your welcome offer and the full bookie review here.

  • Choice – 3 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 3 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 4 stars out of 5

NetBet Reviewnetbet logo Bookmaker Review

The popular promotions on offer at NetBet are the introductory £50 free bet and Golden Goal promotion. These can lead to decent jackpots, while they are ramping up awareness with shirt sponsorship at Hamilton Academical, St. Etienne and Steaua Bucharest. It has a similar look to others, an easy interface to get bets on quickly, especially in European markets. Once hooked, they have a sweet loyalty programme too.

Get your sign up offer and the full review here.

  • Choice – 3 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 3 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 3 stars out of 5

Betstars Reviewbetstars logo Bookmaker Review

A spin off from the huge global poker site PokerStars, BetStars is building a reputation for F1, football and tennis. The interface isn’t as complicated and showy as other firms, perfect for a beginner. They have just brought programmatic marketing specialist Fresh8 on board to target customers with personalised adverts, so expect to see them more.

Get the full review plus Free Bets here.

  • Choice – 3 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 3 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 3 stars out of 5

Marathonbet ReviewMarathonbet round logo Bookmaker Review

One of the older operators on the market, Marathonbet is an independent sportsbook operator that was established in 1997. One of the biggest betting companies operating in Russia, they offer great odds across the board. They have the usual array of free bets and promotions with the intriguingly named Advancebet if you have unsettled bets on your account. When you first join, you will receive a 100% matched deposit bonus capped off at a £20 free bet.

Get the full book maker review plus free bets here!

  • Choice – 3 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 3 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 2 stars out of 5

Black Type ReviewBlack Type Logo Bookmaker Review

Bet £10 when you join and get a £10 free bet from one of the industry’s newest firms. Black Type claim they will not restrict customers for winning and will guarantee to lay any price to lose at least £500. They are adamant that clients using computer programmes to profit via betting exchanges will be barred. “Three-strikes-and-out”. In order to maintain margins, they won’t offer guaranteed best odds, inflated odds or free bets to new customers.

  • Choice – 2 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 3 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 2 stars out of 5

The Sun Bets Reviewsun bets logo Bookmaker Review

The Sun Bets is a joint venture behind The Sun newspaper’s parent company News UK and Australian giant Tabcorp. This could be a blink and you miss it venture if they cannot turn around early losses. The website is not easy on the eye, while they only offer a £10 free bet on the back of an opening £5 bet. So, you can see why they are struggling even though they do have tempting odds with English football.

Get your Sun Bet Bonus Code and the full bookmaker review here.

  • Choice – 2 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 2 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 2 stars out of 5

BETDAQ ReviewBetdaq Logo Bookmaker Review

Part of the huge Ladbrokes Coral Group since 2013, BETDAQ is the second largest betting exchange operator behind Betfair. They originally started trading in 2001 under Irish businessman Dermot Desmond. It’s strong brand awareness ties with Celtic and Charlton Athletic in football. They also tie with London Irish in rugby union to ensure punters know it means business, even if they lag behind Betfair. They can cope with Premier League football and they love a novelty bet. Though, avoid if you want value on less showbiz sports once you’ve taken them up on their 0% commission for the first 30 days.

Get your sign up promo plus the full bookmaker review here!

  • Choice – 2 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 3 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 3 stars out of 5

Matchbook ReviewMatchbook Logo Bookmaker Review

Matchbook are one of the more enterprising firms to have emerged in the last decade. They run just 1% commission on bets which has helped entice a large number of punters who bet high volumes. Like Betfair and BETDAQ, Matchbook is a betting exchange. After a relatively slow start, they benefitted hugely from new investors in 2011. Liquidity issues mean they can miss out to Betfair in some smaller sports and markets. However, their website is bright and breezy and they offer very good value on popular events. New customers get £500 commission refund in their first five weeks, so a pleasing enticement.

Get your Matchbook Bonus Code and the full bookmaker breakdown here.

  • Choice – 3 stars out of 5
  • Navigation – 3 stars out of 5
  • Trust – 3 stars out of 5