How We Rank Bookmakers: Our Review Process

Written by: Alex Windsor
Fact checked by Brian Webb  
Updated: June 13, 2024

Over 200+ online bookies exist in the United Kingdom, and we at BettingTools firmly believe that our players have the right to make informed decisions on where they will place their wagers – and their money.

Navigating each bookmaker’s terms, keeping track of bonuses that come and go, putting the fairness of odds on a scale, and ensuring the platform is secure enough to bet real money on is technically demanding and can be remarkably time-consuming for most players. That’s where we come in.

Our Approach

Our team of experts has been reviewing online UK bookies for years, as we strive to help you learn everything there is to know about the top sports betting sites.

We have established a comprehensive 6-point reviewing process based on objectivity and professionalism – each bookie has to prove they’re worthy of our Seal of Approval before we recommend them.

In this guide, we will break down our reviewing & benchmarking process so that you understand how online bookmakers are rated, and what makes the best bookies better than the rest.

BettingTools Reviewing Criteria

The BettingTools reviewing system is based on unbiased scrutiny and decades of combined industry experience.

We do not “list” all available bookmakers, we do not endorse sites simply because they’re popular, nor do we publish paid reviews. We review bookmakers through a professional lens and do not discriminate between up-and-coming brands and household names – as long as they show transparency and quality features.

Below is a complete breakdown of every element we are looking for when reviewing online bookmakers, so let’s start from the top.

1. Licensing & Security

UK Gambling Commission

Bookmakers’ license is the very first thing we are looking for when reviewing UK bookies. This is more than just legal permission to operate a sports betting site – it’s proof that the bookmaker has been fully vetted, which establishes accountability.

The main regulatory body governing all gambling activity is the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). Bookies holding an active license with UKGC typically receive the most points, although we’ve reviewed plenty of trustworthy sites licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), and the Gibraltar Gambling Commission (GCC).

After a bookie has passed the start line, we then inspect the site’s security, which encompasses encryption technologies, integrations with payment aggregators, and player safety policies. Our tests strive to determine which data is processed, how it is handled, and who (and how easily) can access it.

We read online reviews to understand how registered players feel about the sites we review, but we take every testimonial with a grain of salt.

Licensing and security are our top priorities. No matter how well-designed a bookmaker’s site is, how exceptional the odds are, or how generous the bonuses might be, it would all fall short if the site isn’t secure.

Our point system for Licensing and Security

  • License = 30 points
  • Encryption = 30 points
  • Data handling policy = 25 points
  • Online reviews = 15 points

2. Betting Markets & Odds

Betway Markets

In general, UK bookies usually cover from 20 to 30+ sports categories, including football, basketball, tennis, cricket, and many other popular sports. However, we dive into each section to determine which leagues and competitions are covered.

With the rise of digital sports, our team at BettingTools also rates bookies based on the availability of virtual and e-sports markets. We then dive into pre-made parlays, proposition bets, specials, and any unique options that may set the site apart from the rest.

In-play betting opportunities presented by reviewed bookies are equally important as their pre-match offerings. Our team scores a site based on several parameters, including the availability of live-streamed matches, up-to-date statistics, match visualisers, and trendy features such as early and partial cashout.

The odds are the crowning point of any bookmaker. No matter how many markets are available, we would never recommend a site if the odds are unfair, or irregularly updated. Our site features multiple tools that you can use to personally convert or test the fairness of any odds at any bookie, so feel free to use them.

Our point system for Markets & Odds

  • Odds fairness = 20 points
  • Sports market coverage = 15 points
  • Market diversity = 15 points
  • In-play betting = 20 points
  • Betting slip and gambling features = 15 points
  • Virtual and e-sports features = 15 points

3. Bonuses & Promotions

BetVictor Bonuses

It’s no secret that bookies use promotions to draw new players, but the best sites genuinely care about their customers and want to provide them with an enjoyable sports betting experience. When putting bonuses on a scale, we take bonus size and frequency into equal consideration.

Bonuses at UK bookmaking sites may come in various shapes and sizes, from free bets and welcome bonuses to daily reloads and sports-specific promotions to VIP rewards, and more. When testing bonuses, we always read the site’s Bonus Rules first to determine how fair and “realistic” these promotions are.

We check the wagering requirements, deadlines, the size of qualifying deposits, max cashout limits, and time-limited promos; we also carefully read the small print to see if there’s a catch that could prevent the player from withdrawing their hard-earned funds.

Our point system for Bonuses and Promotions

  • Bonus variety = 30 points
  • Wagering requirements & other rules = 20 points
  • VIP/Loyalty programme = 15 points
  • Welcome bonus size = 15 points
  • Unique deals and offers = 20 points

4. Banking Options

Banking Options

Placing and withdrawing money from a bookmaker’s site should be quick, easy, and safe. Prominent websites achieve this by partnering with leading, trustworthy financial companies such as PayPal, Visa, or Payz.

Gamblers have different preferences when it comes to making online payments, and the bookmakers we review offer different options – from debit cards and e-wallets to cheques and online bank transfers. We gauge the quality of banking options at online betting sites based on the diversity of available options.

Additionally, we inspect all payment-related rules and terms, seeking any potential fees, payment limits, and restrictions that may affect punters from the UK.

Our team personally tests all available banking methods over a period of several months to determine the average transaction speed. Bookies that offer quick, reliable payments through diverse payment methods typically score the highest.

Our point system for Banking Options

  • Diversity of deposit and withdrawal methods = 25 points
  • Payment processing speeds = 25 points
  • Transactional security = 25 points
  • Accepted currencies & currency conversion rates = 10 points
  • (Lack of) fees and restrictions for UK gamblers = 15 points

5. Customer Support

Betway Support

At some point, something is bound to go awry when you’re gambling online, whether it be a minor website “stutter” caused by a temporary bug or a game-changing issue with the site’s core features. That’s why all online bookmakers have customer support channels – to help punters quickly resolve problems that stand between them and betting on their preferred sports.

We evaluate the efficiency of customer support systems reviewed platforms deployed based on several metrics.

Firstly, we always reach out to the support team via email; this usually gives us a good picture of how customers are treated – if the response is professionally written by real people, consists of practical solutions to our problem, and arrives in a timely fashion, the bookie earns top points in this field.

We are also aware that many punters prefer “impersonal” modes of communication. When such alternative methods are available, we read the FAQs, read support articles in the Help Centre, test the live chatbot, and submit a ticket.

The quality of FAQs we gauge by the valuable information contained in the answers – if they’re roundabout, unclear, or even misleading, we deduct points, and vice versa. Not all bookmakers feature Help Centres, but the ones that do typically score a few bonus points.

Conversely, having a functional chatbot is now the industry’s standard. We typically rate bookies equipped with a live chat helmed by real-life humans higher than sites with an automated bot.

Our point system for Customer Support

  • 24-7 support availability = 25 points
  • Live chat and/or phone lines = 20 points
  • Timely responses across all channels = 25 points
  • Concise, valuable FAQs & Help Center = 15 points
  • A functional ticketing system = 15 points

6. UX & App Support

BetVictor Lobby

Betting at an online bookie will always be different from submitting a ticket at brick-and-mortar bookmakers, but modern sites strive to emulate the real deal as much as possible.

We evaluate the user-friendliness of a website by how intuitive its design is, how straightforward (or even self-explanatory) its core features are, and how simple it is to sign up. Our testing team has a keen eye for aesthetics, but we rarely award or deduct points based on how a website looks, unless it genuinely feels out of touch with modern times.

Our UX review is based on practicality from the perspective of a first-time user. If creating an account, accessing all betting features, claiming bonuses, and submitting a bet is simple, the bookie passes the test.

Finally, we know that many UK punters prefer gambling on the go, so we pay close attention to how bookies approach mobile sports betting.

If the bookmaker has a native app for their site, we determine whether it is exclusive to one platform or available on the most popular systems (like Android and iOS). We also inspect the extent of mobile optimization by testing page-loading times, availability of markets on mobile devices, and the layout of the usual features.

Our point system for UX and Apps

  • The intuitiveness of the user interface = 20 points
  • Categorization of available features = 15 points
  • Filters, search bar, and other navigation tools = 15 points
  • Website and bet slip design and functionality = 20 points
  • Mobile app support = 30 points

Why Trust Our Bookmaker Reviews

At BettingTools, we are committed to bringing you the latest, objective-driven reviews of bookmakers accepting UK players.

We began locally by reviewing and testing UK-based bookies but have expanded our search to international betting sites that support our players and pound sterling so that you have more options at your disposal.

Our team harnesses decades of combined industry experience and an unbridled passion for all things sports to ensure you, the player, can make safe, educated betting decisions.

By trusting our reviews, you can rest assured that you will be gambling at licensed bookmaking sites, have access to the best bonuses, and the fairest odds available in the contemporary market.

Alex, a ten-year iGaming industry veteran and Managing Editor at BettingTools specializes in sports betting and betting tools. He also provides insightful reviews, ensures the accuracy of all offers, and maintains content quality helping you make informed choices. Combining professional expertise with a passion for football and soccer, Alex ensures we offer you a reliable resource, focusing on betting tools to assist with odds, accas, and other betting strategies.