Our betting experts have compared the best independent betting sites in the UK, based on odds offered, markets covered and welcome bonuses available.
Playbook Gaming Ltd
18+ New customers only. GB & ROI customers only. Promo code NEWWELCOME60 must be used. Certain bet types are excluded. 3 qualifying bets of £10 or more required within 3 calendar days of registration. Bets must be placed and settled on the same day as the event. 50% back based on net losses after 3 calendar days or if you reach £120 of net losses before 3 days is up, you will receive your Free Bet the following day. Your Free Bet will expire after 7 days. Free Bet is £1min, capped at £60. Restrictions + T&Cs apply.
18+ New customers only. GB & ROI customers only. Promo code NEWWELCOME60 must be used. Certain bet types are excluded. 3 qualifying bets of £10 or more required within 3 calendar days of registration. Bets must be placed and settled on the same day as the event. 50% back based on net losses after 3 calendar days or if you reach £120 of net losses before 3 days is up, you will receive your Free Bet the following day. Your Free Bet will expire after 7 days. Free Bet is £1min, capped at £60. Restrictions + T&Cs apply. | T&C apply
New Accounts Only. Min of 3 bets of £10 at odds of evens (2.0+), Valid for 7 days. UK only. Full T&C's apply. | T&C apply
Eaton Gate Gaming Limited
New customers & 18+ only. Min. deposit of £/€10. Qualifying real money bet of £/€10. Min odds greater than or equal to 1.5 required. E/W bets excluded. Offer credited within 48 hours. Additional T&Cs apply. Please gamble responsibly
New customers & 18+ only. Min. deposit of £/€10. Qualifying real money bet of £/€10. Min odds greater than or equal to 1.5 required. E/W bets excluded. Offer credited within 48 hours. Additional T&Cs apply. Please gamble responsibly | T&C apply
Star Racing Ltd
Star Sports are offering Best Odds Guaranteed on UK/Irish Horseracing & Greyhound racing – From 9am on the day of the race. Max £1000 enhancement per bet. Applies to singles & multiple bets. Further T&C’s apply.
Star Sports are offering Best Odds Guaranteed on UK/Irish Horseracing & Greyhound racing – From 9am on the day of the race. Max £1000 enhancement per bet. Applies to singles & multiple bets. Further T&C’s apply. | T&C apply
Petfre (Gibraltar) Limited
New 18+ UK customers only. Register using the promo code WELCOME40, deposit and place first bet of £10+ on Sports (cumulative Evens+) within 7 days of registration. First bet must be on Sports. £30 in Free Bets and £10 in Free Spins (50x20p) credited within 10 hours of bet settlement. Free Bet stakes are not included in any returns. Bonuses have a 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS verification and/or Proof of I.D and address may be required. Full T&Cs apply.
New 18+ UK customers only. Register using the promo code WELCOME40, deposit and place first bet of £10+ on Sports (cumulative Evens+) within 7 days of registration. First bet must be on Sports. £30 in Free Bets and £10 in Free Spins (50x20p) credited within 10 hours of bet settlement. Free Bet stakes are not included in any returns. Bonuses have a 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS verification and/or Proof of I.D and address may be required. Full T&Cs apply. | T&C apply
When people think of bookmakers they usually think of the huge corporate chains like William Hill or Coral, but what about some of the smaller and independently run bookies? We are going to discuss independently owned and operated bookies in the UK that are run by families. Sometimes they come from a local high street and are often competing against the huge industry players that you’re probably already familiar with.
Other than being independent, there are some other features to be aware of so I want to show you how to determine if you should start betting with an independent bookmaker or not.
Many of the nation’s favourite bookmaker brands were around before it was officially legal to be a bookmaker, some from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. A lot of the original betting was done physically at the racetracks with a person selling bet slips and to some extent the industry was underground. By switching from a turnover tax to a gross profits tax in 2001, the UK government eliminated betting taxes for customers and ushered in a new age of success for independent bookmakers in the country.
The abolition of the tax on turnover was to lead very quickly to the introduction of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (which are also known as FOBT’s) into UK betting shops which became extremely popular with the general public, and so a new generation of betting was beginning to grow.
Previously, horse racing was the one and only form of betting that was actually recognised but over time, and with the change in the way we could place bets, off course betting became possible. This brought with it the popularity of betting on other sports like football, basketball, cricket and so on.
|Why it’s better to use independents||Why it’s better to use chains|
|Usually have better odds||Usually a larger known brand|
|Better customer service support||Good reputation|
|Can sometimes be deemed safer||Sometimes a fee for not using account|
Each betting company must follow a set of rules in order to obtain a licence from the UK Gambling Commission, but this does not guarantee your money is completely safe. Plus, you might be shocked to learn that some of the larger bookmakers with the most client accounts offer less safety for your money than smaller brands.
Also, it’s no surprise that many of the larger chain bookmakers have something called a “dormant account fee”. This means, if you have money left sitting in your betting e-wallet and you don’t use your site for months or years, they will actually deduct some of the money from your funds to “pay” for holding your account dormant. Luckily for users of small independent bookies, this is not very common for the small brands so it is one more reason to bet with a small brand.
Great customer service
As with any great business, you always need great customer service to run successfully. This is because if your customers or visitors cannot get a problem solved, they will likely turnelsewere and you will lose your foot traffic. When you have a smaller independent bookmaker like the ones in the UK, the chances of having an empathetic customer service representative is more likely than when you call a huge chain’s support line and reach agents following a script in a call centre.
In many cases, these smaller independent bookmakers and betting sites have better odds than the large corporated bookies. When a bookmaker is family run, they have more flexibility to the odds value they offer and it is much easier to make changes. When you compare it to the huge chains, they have many more people who need to give approval and authority before changing an odd amount. It’s not to say the independents are always a better value, but in many cases they are.
Multiple payment methods
You’ll want to be on the lookout for bookies that allow multiple payment methods. These are the different ways that you can deposit and withdraw money into your betting account. When a bookmaker offers multiple methods it gives you more freedom and flexibility to access your money in various ways which means if you need to change your method down the line you can without any concerns.
Jennings Bet to be the largest independent bookmaker in the Uk and have been around since the 60s. They are generous as they make sure to offer both new users and existing punters fresh rewards. They are guaranteed to offer the best odds for sport racing in the country and have a modest and simple website. Their website is not the most exciting compared to some competitors with a sleeker website design, but it gets the job done as it is straightforward for even new users to navigate.
Pros of using:
Cons of using:
Toals Bet has 50 stores scattered around the island of Northern and the Republic of Ireland. Due to their heavy presence in Northern Ireland they have created a name for themselves in Great Britain too. They have a reputation of being a great bookmaker and have some brand loyalty amongst their users for their telephone betting, physical stores and website.
Pros of using Toals Bet:
Cons of using Toals Bet:
BresBet is one of the newest independent platforms available in the UK but they’ve still made their mark on the betting industry. They have a large range of sports as expected and they have paired with famous jockeys for their horse riding betting sponsorships. They have pretty average odds compared to their competitors but they definitely have one of the best websites of the smaller betting companies available.
Pros of using BresBet:
Cons of using BresBet:
This is one of the smallest brands on our independent betting list as Jem Racing only have 4 stores in the Dorset area. They have a website as pictured above which is simple to use and not too outdated. As well as their 4 stores they also operate a highly popular telephone betting line. They have both their old website and their newer one running at present but this just allows you two avenues to learn about this bookmaker before making all of your wagers.
Pros of using Jem Racing:
Cons of using Jem Racing:
Ostlers is a little different compared to the rest of our list because they only allow bets on horse racing and nothing else. This means if you are looking to bet on football or anything else for that matter you will be out of luck. You can place bets with them in a number of ways including through Whatsapp and texting so they are very flexible. They have been around a little over a decade and have gained a good reputation within the horse race betting industry.
Pros of using Ostlers Racing:
Cons of using Ostlers Racing:
Bet Zone is a little more known than some of the other independent brands we have spoken about. Having been founded in 1973 they have come a long way since then and have not only a good working betting website but they also have a mobile app for users on the go. They are known for having regular promotions and offers for their users but unfortunately they do not have live streaming abilities.
Pros of using Bet Zone:
Cons of using Bet Zone:
Joe Jennings is an independent bookmaker that is slightly different to the rest of our list on the basis that they have a website, but it is for informational use only. Unfortunately it is not a website that has the ability to make any bets online. They do however allow whatsapp and tele-betting so that punters can still get their bets in on the go which is very convenient.
Pros of using Joe Jennings:
Cons of using Joe Jennings:
For the last decade, the number of physical betting shops has been on the decline. Starting with 2012 when the UK had over 9,000 stores nationwide, they gradually started closing down as the typical high street started to disintegrate. The biggest decrease in the number of stores happened in 2021 which was largely related to the pandemic, but prior to that the numbers were already dropping.
|YEAR||Number of Betting shops in the UK|
The main reason betting shops seem to be closing down is because most of the independent bookmakers in the UK have moved online. Since betting sites first started allowing bets to be made through the web, it has allowed punters a lot more freedom of how and when they place wagers on their favourite events. With almost every person having access to the internet, computers and mobile phones, it has allowed people to place bets from home and on the go when they previously may not have had access. Over the next few decades it wouldn’t surprise many people if the number of independent bookmaker stores continued to drop even further as more and more focus solely on their online presence.
Why it’s so easy to bet with independent bookmakers now
Since bettors used to have to physically go into a store, they are now in a much better position as they are able to sign in from almost anywhere to make bets – as long as they have an internet connection. This has allowed punters to make bets from their computers, tablets and mobile phones and make more bets at that, purely due to the time they now have available when not travelling to a physical store.
The main downside with so many sites cropping up everywhere that allow betting, is that there are now so many that it can take a bit longer to go through the seemingly never ending list to determine which site is actually worth your effort. You need to consider the following things:
Generally speaking, these three questions above can be answered just by doing a little digging. One tell tale sign of an independent bookmaker being safe, is whether it is registered with the UK gambling commission. This is because it is a government body that regulates the gambling sites that are allowed to operate in the UK.
Pro Tip: If the site you are considering using does not show a gambling commission licence then you should look elsewhere. A site that is legally registered and licensed will be more than happy to show off their credentials.
When comparing bookmakers you will need to look at the odds value of each site so you can give yourself the best chance at betting on great odds. You also need to look at the available markets each site offers because there is no point in signing up to a website to make bets if they don’t have what you are looking for. Plus, if you are a new user it is always worth comparing welcome offers because you might be eligible for some free bets which lower your own risk!
Step #1: Log in or open an account as a new user
For our example we’ll be creating a betting account as a new user for the BresBet site. When you first reach the black and pink homepage you will need to click on the pink “Sign up” button in the top right hand corner. This will open a small pop up window asking you to choose a username and password.
Once you have started to fill out the form and submitted, you will be taken to the first of three pages asking you for personal information. The first page consists of your title, first and last name, date of birth, phone number, and address. You will need to input your postcode and then you can find the rest of your address in the dropdown menu. Then you will need to select how (if any) the site will contact you about promotions and offers before you move on to the next page.
Page 2 requires you to turn on your chosen deposit limit. This is one of the best ways for the site to help addictive gambling. This is where you decide how much money you are happy to deposit at a maximum per day, week or month. This limit will stop you going over these amounts.
Page 3 is the final form page and it asks you to deposit funds. You will need to select the value of your deposit at this stage and will then be asked to input your debit card details. Make sure that these are typed in accurately otherwise your deposit will fail.
Step #2: Finding your sport of choice in the Sportsbook
After you have registered your brand new account and deposited your money you will be taken back to the homepage while logged in. From here you will need to find the sport you wish to bet on and you can do this by accessing the sport menu on the left of your screen. When you click the arrow you will notice a blue menu appears from the side and all the sports listed in alphabetical order are there for you to choose from.
We will use horse racing for our example which is visible after scrolling down.
Once you reach horse racing and click it you will be taken to the screen that shows you the next races available to bet on. In the blue bar under the title you will see the different types of upcoming races available to bet on. The names in the white section are each of the horses taking part in the races and next to them are the pink odds.
Step #3: Placing your wagers on a horse race
So you’ve found the sport you want along with the sporting event (in this case horse race) and the horse you wish to bet on. All you need to do is click the fraction next to the horse’s name and this will automatically add this bet to the bet slip on the right side of the screen. As you can see, the bet slip starts off with 0 and shows that there are no potential returns. In the type box you will need to enter the value of the bet you wish to place. I am betting £10 for example.
As you can see in the image below, when I typed £10 into the box it automatically populated the potential returns. For this example and due to the 8/1 odds attached to the chosen outcome, betting £10 would give you £90 in returns – if your bet is successful and your prediction came true. If you have not deposited funds you will be prompted to do so before making your bet, but if you are already topped up then you can simply click the pink “place bet” button at the bottom of the bet slip.
After you have placed your bet, all you need to do is wait for the horse race (or other event) to finish so that a winner (or your outcome) is declared. After this point you will be able to see any winnings if you made them as they will be deposited into your betting ewallet automatically by the site. Of course, if you are unsuccessful you will not be eligible for any winnings. And there you have it, a step by step walkthrough on how to successfully make bets through an independent betting site online.
As with any bookmaker, you should always be careful of where you deposit your money. You should exercise greater caution if you’re thinking about placing a wager with one of these extremely small businesses. Because a number of these smaller betting sites have sadly come and gone over the past several years, you might want to think twice before leaving big funds in accounts or betting on events that will happen in the far future. However, with that being said, Customers have seen firsthand that great independents may offer better value and superior customer care. This is one thing that independent UK betting sites have proven to their clients compared to the multi chain bookies.