7 Tips for How to Select A Sportsbook

Published October 23, 2019.
Check out our Sports Betting Guide for similar articles.

Selecting an online sportsbook is an important decision a bettor must make. You wouldn’t invest your money at an advisory firm without doing due diligence, and sports betting is no different. The difference between an excellent sportsbook and a bad sportsbook can cost you money and make betting less enjoyable. This article will give you the insight to pick a sportsbook that offers you the most for your money.

Tip #1: Understand Your Options

When this article was written in October 2019, 17 states had some form of legal sports betting available. These states offer a variety of sports betting options, including online sportsbooks, physical sportsbooks at casinos, and betting kiosks. Most states with legal betting offer physical sportsbooks at casinos. While driving to a casino and betting on football is a fun weekend trip, it isn’t an everyday solution.

Online sportsbooks, on the other hand, are easy to use, and bets can be placed anywhere in state lines from a mobile app or website. In late 2019, eight states offer sports betting via mobile app: Nevada, New Jersey, West Virginia, Oregon, Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Here is an updated status on each state. If you live in one of these states, look at the legal U.S. Regulated options. Examples of U.S. regulated sportsbooks are DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, SugarHouse, and FoxBet.

If you don’t live in a state with legalized sports betting options, your two options for betting on sports online are 1) wait or 2) bet with an offshore sportsbook. Offshore sportsbooks are online sportsbooks based overseas, often in countries like Costa Rica and Malta. These sportsbooks are not regulated in the United States.

Older offshore sportsbooks have been around for over ten years and are generally trustworthy. I have previously bet with offshore sites and have only had one minor issue.

That said, it’s important to understand that sportsbooks regulated in the United States are legal and safer than offshore sportsbooks. Offshore sportsbooks don’t have to answer to anybody if they freeze an account or don’t honor a bet because their system glitched. U.S. regulated sportsbooks must adhere to state regulators, as well as social media backlash if they mess up.

Examples of offshore sportsbooks are Bovada, BetOnline, and 5Dimes. Offshore sportsbooks will have a country tag at the end of their website, such as .lv, .ag, .eu, etc. Offshore sportsbooks do not have mobile apps, where all U.S. sportsbooks do. For reference, the picture below shows some of the most popular offshore and US-based sportsbooks.

Conclusion: If you live in a state with legal sports betting, bet with a U.S. sportsbook. If you don’t live in a state with legal sports betting, scrutinize your offshore options before joining.

Tip #2: Compare Sports and Bets Offered

The next thing you’ll want to do is figure out what sports you want to bet on and what type of bets you want to make. Every sportsbook offers spread, moneyline, and total bets. Every sportsbook provides action on NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and Soccer games. Not every sportsbook offers betting options on obscure sports such as cricket or darts. Not every sportsbook offers prop bets, such as “Over/Under how many yards will Tom Brady throw?”

Look at a few different sportsbooks and think about what you want to bet on. The image below shows a props builder menu that allows you to bet on hits for each player in an MLB game. Below is an example of a sportsbook that offers unique prop bets.

Conclusion: All sportsbooks allow you to bet on who will win the game and by how many points. Not all sportsbooks offer team and player props. Look at sports and bets offered before joining a sportsbook.

Tip #3: Compare Live Betting Options

Live betting is when you bet on a game that is currently in progress. While every sportsbook offers live betting, to what degree is different. Test out a few different sports betting sites when games are taking place and look at their live betting menu. Are lines updating quickly, or do they appear to be continuously locked? It’s challenging for a sportsbook to get updated data and scores to update lines every couple of seconds. Some sportsbooks are better than others at posting lines, and these sportsbooks will give you the best chance to bet on a live game the moment you decide to.

Another factor to consider when selecting a sportsbook is the variety of live bets offered. Some sportsbooks can offer snap or instant bets. These bets allow you to bet on the outcome of the next play in a football game, or the next serve in a tennis match. Instant bets are a lot of fun, but harder to find.

Conclusion: Because different sportsbooks use different data providers, some sportsbooks can refresh lines quickly and offer “instant bets,” while others cannot.

Tip #4: Look at Odds. Then Look at Some More Odds.

The odds are essential when selecting a sportsbook because they affect your money. If you choose a sportsbook with poor odds, you will end up wasting money every time you place a bet. Let’s say you bet $200 on the Patriots moneyline at -150 at one sportsbook. If you win your bet, you pocket $133. If you went line-shopping and found the same bet for -140 at another sportsbook, you would pocket $143, $10
more.

To ensure you get the best odds, I recommend two things. 1) Have accounts at more than one sportsbook. Having multiple accounts will allow you to shop for the best odds. Having multiple accounts also means you can take advantage of numerous bonus offers for first-time bettors. 2) Compare odds. Look at odds for various games and sports. There are odds comparison sites that show you odds from multiple sportsbooks at once. You can view lines for a few sportsbooks here. It’s pretty easy to spot bad odds consistently at some books.

Below is a screenshot of different odds offered on the same games from multiple sportsbooks.

Conclusion: Odds offered can save or cost you money. I recommend having accounts at multiple sportsbooks, as well as line shopping before betting on a game.

Tip #5: Look at Banking Options and Payout Times

If you live in a state with legal sports betting, banking options are a less critical factor. Most U.S. sportsbooks will allow you to deposit money with a debit/credit card and withdraw money via check, e-check, or PayPal. Turnarounds on receiving payouts are only a few days, no fees are charged, and minimum withdrawal amounts are typically $10 or less.

Conversely, banking options with offshore sportsbooks are quite different. Minimum withdrawal amounts can be upwards of $100, with fees of $20 – $50 for check withdrawals. To get affordable deposit and withdrawal limits without fees, you might have to use cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin. While there is nothing wrong with using bitcoin, the process of buying and transferring it may be intimidating to bettors. Below is an example of the ridiculous fees some offshore sportsbooks charge to withdraw a check.

When betting with an offshore sportsbook, you need to compare banking fees, banking options, and withdrawal limits. Comparing options beforehand will ensure you are comfortable with whatever sportsbook you select.

Conclusion: Look for a sportsbook that allows you to deposit and withdraw money comfortably, without excess fees.

Tip #6: Understand Rollover Requirements Before Accepting A Bonus

Online sportsbooks often offer bonuses or promotions to new and recurring customers. Bonuses are a great way to get free bets and extra betting money. I recommend taking bonuses when given the opportunity, as long as you are aware of the rollover requirements.

Rollover requirements for sportsbooks often range between 3X-10X, with some extreme conditions going all the way up to 15X. Let’s say you deposit $100 and receive a $50 bonus with a 5X rollover. Before you can withdraw the $50 in bonus funds, you have to wager $750 (($100 + $50)x5). The $50 bonus is a lot harder to obtain if you don’t bet frequently.

Once you understand rollover requirements, you can maximize your sports betting experience by accepting the right bonus for you. For example, don’t accept a bonus with a 10X rollover if you only bet a couple of bucks once a week.

Conclusion: Once you understand rollover requirements, you can maximize your sports betting experience by accepting the right bonus for you.

Tip #7: Research A Sportsbook’s Reputation

Before investing money with a financial advisor or a bank, you typically do some research on the company or individual. Sports betting should be no different. Researching a sportsbook will help you gauge their trustworthiness. Take five to ten minutes and do a quick google search as well as Twitter search. Twitter will show if people are experiencing issues with the sportsbook, as well as how the sportsbook resolves those issues. When I write reviews for BettingBuck, I always include a paragraph on the sportsbook’s reputation and mention any potential issues.

Since sports betting was legalized in 2018, U.S. regulated sportsbooks haven’t had any significant trust issues. Aside from some sportsbooks banning sharp bettors (William Hill), U.S. companies have been trustworthy. There has yet to be a company that has frozen accounts for no reason or tried pulling a fast one on bettors. This is one of the primary reasons I recommend betting with a U.S. sportsbook if you live in a state with legal sports betting. Your money will be much safer than at an offshore sportsbook.

Betting with an offshore sportsbook can still be safe, but it is essential to know who you’re gambling with. If an offshore book has repeated instances of freezing player accounts, like BetDSI, stay away. It is not worth the risk.

Conclusion: Knowing the history of a sportsbook will ensure a trusted company is holding your money.

About the author

Joey Shadeck is a Research Analyst for BettingBuck.com, a website dedicated to online sportsbook reviews. Joey has been betting on sports for the last five years and writes all reviews, guides, and state-by-state legislative updates for BettingBuck. You can follow him on Twitter @JShadeck.

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