For beginners and experts alike, some topics can seem confusing when it comes to the betting world. No need to fear, we’re going to cover everything you need to know in this extensive betting FAQs page. Whether you have questions about responsible gambling, the legal aspect of betting, joining a platform, promotions and bonuses, or the features you’ll find on a betting platform, you’ll find an answer below. We’ve even separated the questions into topics so you can jump to the section you need (unless you want to read it all, of course!).
If you find this detailed betting FAQs page helpful, feel free to share it with other players.
1. Regulations and Legal Matters
Is betting legal in the UK and how is it regulated?
Yes, betting is legal in the UK and we have the Gambling Act of 2005 to protect players. Although this area of the law initially covered physical bookmakers, it was eventually expanded to include the online world. Now, this act covers online betting, apps, and all sorts of other technology.
In addition to the Gambling Act, we also have the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). For a bookmaker to operate in the UK, they need a license from the UKGC. Not only does the UKGC have a list of all licensed services, but all bookmakers should also carry a link back to this regulatory body at the bottom of their website.
The UKGC will provide licenses and stay on top of such issues as responsible advertising, age restrictions, underage gambling, and gambling addiction. If you feel as though you have had an unfair or illegal experience, contact the UKGC and they will investigate.
We should also note eCOGRA because this is an independent organisation that is respected within this niche. Companies don’t need to adhere to any regulations from eCOGRA but having this seal of approval suggests a trustworthy and credible platform.
Is it safe to bet online?
As long as you stick with the platforms that have the appropriate licenses, online betting is absolutely safe. With the very best services, they will use encryption technology and have security measures in place to protect all information they receive. For example, this includes your personal details as well as banking information. When you deposit money into an account, nobody can access this except for yourself.
How does a service obtain a gambling license?
Don’t worry, not everybody can apply for a gambling license and receive it without extensive testing and strict requirements. Essentially, a license says that a company is credible and legally allowed to operate. If a service tries to operate without a license, this is illegal, and we advise reporting any such services immediately.
As we’ve already seen, the UK Gambling Commission issues licenses and they will also give fines if the regulations have been broken. As a player, it’s important to look for a license because this tells you that a safe betting experience awaits.
Do I pay tax on winnings?
For the longest time, players have been confused over the tax laws that govern gambling winnings. Allow us to clear the confusion; betting duty was abolished which means that the taxman cannot take from your betting winnings. If you want to know who to thank for the removal of this law, it was actually Gordon Brown in 2001.
If you’re reading this from outside the UK, know that tax laws vary from one country to another; be sure to seek advice for laws in your location.
Can I share my account with a friend?
Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to share a betting account with a friend…but there’s a very important reason why. In recent years, the industry has been attempting to deal with gambling addiction and underage gambling. With this, we’ve seen the introduction of verification systems. Here, the bookmaker needs to prove the identity of every new user. By allowing somebody else to use your account, this is a breach of the terms and conditions. If this other person is a minor, you’re also in breach of the law.
Are there restrictions with an account?
There might be restrictions to what you can bet and win, and you’ll find these restrictions on the platform you choose. For example, they will have both minimum and maximum deposits. At all times, betting platforms will keep an eye out for money laundering and arbitrage. With most websites, there will be a limit to the amount you can win on a given day.
Do all services have verification?
In short, yes. As noted, underage gambling is a growing problem which means that all services now have age verification processes. If there’s a platform you find with no age verification system, this is actually illegal so avoid it. If you’re underage yourself, you could have your account removed without getting any money back.
Can I make a complaint against a bookmaker?
If you want to make a complaint against a bookmaker, the first step we recommend is reaching out to the bookmaker. They might be able to resolve the problem, apologise for any errors, and prevent you from having to go further. If not, the next step would be the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS). Since they’re trained to help with disputes in this area, you can explain the problem and take the next steps when dissatisfied with a bookmaker.
Please don’t go to the UKGC since they don’t deal with customer complaints; the only time you should consider contacting the UKGC is if you feel a company has gone against license conditions.
Alternatively, you might think a service has misadvertised or missold and these types of complaints should go directly to the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency).
Why can I only make bets of £2?
If you cannot place bets larger than £2, it means that your account has been limited, and this could be for several reasons. For example, one reason is that you have been winning too much money. We know what some of you are thinking, ‘if only’. If winnings aren’t the problem, it could be that the service suspects you’ve been abusing bonuses and promotions. Ultimately, the service feels as though you’ve been misusing the account in some way.
If they think you’re partaking in illegal activity, they can even close your account. Both limiting and closing accounts are allowed if the platform has proof of wrongdoing.
2. Promotions and Bonuses
What are ‘wagering requirements’?
Although betting websites like to give bonuses, they don’t want to give away free money. For this reason, they place wagering requirements on free bets and other promotions. For instance, you might need to turn a free bet over a certain number of times before withdrawing. Depending on the bonus, you might need to choose selections that meet certain odds.
How do different types of promotion compare?
As any betting FAQs page will tell you, promotions are subjective. While one promotion works well for some players, it might not help others; the promotions you utilise depends on the way you bet, the sports you enjoy, and other factors. When it comes to welcome bonuses, there are three common choices from bookmakers:
- Free Bet – With this option, you’ll need to deposit and then place a qualifying offer to get a free bet of a certain value. If you win with the free bet, and you might be restricted with odds here, you will only get the winnings back.
- Matched Deposit – Here, the bookmaker will match your very first deposit (up to a certain value). For example, a 100% matched deposit up to £50 means that you could have £100 in your account by depositing £50.
- Bet and Get – Perhaps less common than the other two, you will bet an amount and get something in return. For instance, it could be a ‘Bet £5 Get £25’ in return.
As a regular player, you should get access to all sorts of bonuses and promotions over time. This can include:
- Extended Placing – If your horse doesn’t win in a bet, there’s normally a placing system where bettors are rewarded for strong positions regardless. With extended placing, the promotion could mean you win if the horse finishes 5th rather than in the top four.
- Best Odds Guaranteed – Sticking with racing, this one is normally for horses and greyhounds. Let’s say you place a bet a week in advance; best odds guaranteed means that you will get the best odds that appear between the time you place the bet and the starting odds. If the starting odds are better than the odds when you placed the bet, you’ll enjoy these odds instead.
- Acca Boost or Insurance – While an acca boost will increase the winnings of a successful accumulator, acca insurance gives your stake back if only one selection fails.
- Enhanced Odds – As simple as it sounds, this promotion will see specific selections or markets boosted. With some bookmakers, you can even choose when to boost a market.
- Free Bet Club – To generate business during quiet periods, some websites will reward players with a free bet at the weekend if they place a qualifying bet during the week.
- Money Back as Free Bet – Lastly, you might get a percentage of all losses back. For example, lose £30 in a week and they might send back 10% (£3) as a free bet.
After this, you might find promotions specific to sports, the bookmaker, or yourself (if you’re in a VIP club with the website).
How does a free bet work?
Often, when people see the words free bet, they think that it’s cash in the hand…it’s not (sorry!). Instead, free bets normally come with all sorts of stipulations and rules; very rarely does a free bet pay back the stake, for example. If you win the bet, only the winnings enter your account, so bear this in mind when using it. Free bets also come with expiry dates, conditions for the bet, and excluded markets.
The best advice we can provide is to read the small print and understand the conditions of the bet. If you do this, it’s easier to enjoy spending the bookmaker’s money.
What’s a ‘risk-free bet’?
If you see this term used, it actually differs to what we’ve just discussed with free bets. With a risk-free bet, the bookie will normally refund your deposit as a free bet if it fails. With a free bet, you don’t get anything in return if the bet loses. If you’re a first-time bettor, a risk-free bet is an ideal way to get started because either way you get something back (either winnings or a free bet).
Can I use different banking methods?
Yes, and we actively encourage it. Rather than being restricted to a specific depositing or withdrawal method, you can use the various banking methods on offer. Fortunately, betting websites these days offer plenty of methods whether it’s a debit card, PayPal, bank transfer, or one of the many eWallets (including Neteller and Skrill).
How long do deposits and withdrawals take?
With depositing, the betting websites want you to get bets on quickly and they want to accommodate your last-minute bets at 2:59 on a Saturday afternoon. With all methods, you should notice funds entering your account almost immediately. With withdrawals, it’s a slightly different story. Ultimately, it depends on the method you choose (and even then, the withdrawal times can vary from one betting website to the next!).
In our experience, processing times take between one and three days. After this, funds go to eWallets faster than any other method; it can be as little as two days. If you withdraw to a card, this can take between three and five business days. If you rely on bank transfers, be aware that this can take up to ten business days.
Which is the best method for depositing and withdrawing?
In truth, this is a difficult question to answer because all methods have their merits. With depositing, all methods will have your money in the account almost immediately. On the other hand, withdrawal times are more sporadic. If you want money quickly, eWallets will be the best option; these days, they’re also just as safe as any other method. As we saw in the previous question, cards are next quickest followed by a bank transfer.
Can I use a card belonging to somebody else?
Although using another card or payment source would likely work, we advise bettors to steer clear of doing it (and most betting FAQs pages will tell you the same). With the card in another name, it looks suspicious and could lead to the platform closing your account for fraud concerns. If you want to use another card, get the owner of the card to write a short letter of permission. If any questions are raised, you can show this letter to whoever needs it.
How do I deposit and withdraw?
To start either, the options should be available in your account. For depositing, you will have an option to choose your payment method and even save your favourite methods. After going through the verification process, choose your banking method and enter the details. Then, confirm the amount you wish to deposit and proceed. You will need to deposit at least the minimum required amount (this can range from £1 to £20, depending on the platform).
If you have winnings in your account and want to withdraw, you’ll need to use the same method as depositing. If you used a depositing method that doesn’t support withdrawals, you’ll need to do a bank transfer (bear this in mind when choosing a depositing method).
Head over to the banking section of the website or app again and this time choose to withdraw. Normally, you will need to select an amount and a method for the withdrawal. After the processing period, the money is released to the payment provider and will reach your account within a few days.
If ever you want to delete card details from the platform, this should be an option either in your account or in the settings.
4. Starting Your Betting Journey
How do I get started with betting online?
First things first, you need to choose a reliable platform that offers the markets you need. While nearly all platforms will offer the likes of football and cricket, only certain brands will go into gaming and niche sports. Once you have a platform in mind, go to the homepage and click the ‘Join Now’ button – every website will have a button to this effect.
Once you’re at this stage, you’ll be asked to enter some personal details. This includes:
- Date of birth
- Email address
- Phone number
Once you have an account, it’s a case of depositing for the first time. Before placing your first bet, we recommend choosing some betting limits in your settings. Also, you may be asked to provide documentation before withdrawing to confirm your identity and age (more on this in the next question).
Why do I need to send documentation?
When talking about legal matters in the first section, we mentioned the verification process, and this is why you may need to send documentation. We understand that it can be unnerving sending photo ID such as a driving license or passport to a betting website. Nowadays, this is a measure seen right across the industry. Every service will ask for identification and potentially other documents to confirm your identity. This is important to prevent money laundering and fraud, to protect underage people, and to stop gambling addicts from getting around self-exclusions.
Over the years, we’ve seen some misconceptions arise in this area, and some have even suggested credit checks. Don’t worry, this is all false. Any checks completed by a betting service will be ‘soft’; in other words, they will confirm your identity and nothing more (this doesn’t affect your credit score).
Can I take advantage of several welcome offers?
No, you can only utilise one welcome offer per website. It might seem like a good idea to create several accounts to enjoy all the welcome offers, but this will likely get your account closed (well, all of them!).
How do I choose between the many bookmakers?
Well, you’ve taken a great first step by visiting our website because we have many detailed guides and lists to help. We review bookmakers based on customer support, sports and markets, odds, banking methods, and various other factors. Since we also test each platform, you can be confident in the services we recommend.
However, even then, you might have difficulty in choosing between the names. Ultimately, it’s a decision that YOU have to make. When looking through our reviews and lists, think about the features of a betting website that are most important to you. Do you need specific sports? Do you need certain banking methods for depositing and withdrawing? Of course, you can also test platforms yourself and stick with the ones you enjoy most.
How do I place my first bet?
Once you have an account and have deposited, it’s time to place a bet. To get started, search through the many sports and markets to find something you like. As a basic example, let’s say Arsenal are playing Everton and you fancy them to win. Find the outright market and choose that you want Arsenal to win at 1/2 (don’t worry Tottenham fans, you can bet against Arsenal too!). Once added, this should move across to your betting slip.
Open the betting slip and add your stake; maybe you want to place £5 on Arsenal to win. From here, place the bet and await your winnings (hopefully!). At 1/2, you will receive £7.50 back if Arsenal were to win.
Of course, you’re welcome to make more extravagant bets by exploring different markets and adding multiple selections for an accumulator.
What sort of thing can I bet on?
In truth, it would be easier to ask what you can’t bet on these days. Firstly, we have the most common option which is sports. Whether you like football, darts, NFL, ice hockey, or snooker, there’s something for everyone in the sports market. Depending on the platform you choose, you will also find niche sports like Gaelic football, futsal, chess, and water polo.
Recently, the gaming market has exploded and is now available on more than a couple of betting website. This will allow you to bet on Dota 2, StarCraft 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and more.
Finally, there are a variety of niche markets including politics, TV, and global events. Maybe you want to bet on the next Prime Minister, the next I’m a Celebrity winner, or when companies will become energy efficient? Will they ever go fully green? As an example, one of the strangest markets we found while researching for this question was whether nurses would get a pay rise in 2020 after the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Should I choose to bet online or through a physical bookmaker?
No one solution is better than the other here, it all depends on the experience you want from betting. With the online world growing, the sad news is that physical bookies are struggling. Although some will question why you would visit a high street when everything you need is at your fingertips with a mobile, there are benefits to choosing a physical bookie.
- Anonymity (no account or personal details required!)
- Social experience
- Cash payments
- Live sport on the many screens
- Receive winnings instantly
On the other hand, those who choose to bet online will enjoy stronger odds, a simpler experience, the comfort of betting from the sofa, the use of eWallets, more betting features, better management of responsible gambling, and quicker bets. Let’s say you’re watching a fixture on the TV, it’s easier to open an app and bet than leave the house to place your bet.
Do I need to know everything about sports?
Nope, somebody with absolutely no sporting knowledge can win a bet, and it’s this uncertainty and risk that keeps betting exciting. Of course, we don’t recommend taking huge risks if your sporting knowledge is limited. But you don’t need to have your sport as a specialist subject for a Mastermind-like quiz. You don’t need to know the history of teams to predict the outcome of a game of football, rugby, or cricket.
If you’re just introducing yourself to the world of sport, take your time and bet low stakes until you feel more comfortable. Eventually, you might find that betting on goal scorers or corners is more successful than choosing an outright winner for a fixture.
What’s a ‘market’?
When you choose a sporting event, you’ll notice that there are lots of different options to bet on, and these are called ‘markets’. Though an overall winner is the most common, you might also have options to choose whether there will be over or under 2.5 goals (using football as an example). Furthermore, you bet on a player to score a goal, get sent off, the number of corners in a game, and plenty of others. As the event gets underway, more markets will open as it unfolds. For example, England take a wicket in the cricket; the markets will update, and you can place a bet on the player to take the next wicket.
Are there maximum pay-outs or minimum stakes?
Yes, and the amount for both will depend on the betting platform you choose. While some services allow bets of a few pennies, others will set a minimum of 20p. In other words, you cannot place a stake of smaller than this amount. In terms of pay-outs, some platforms allow you to earn millions while others will only ever pay out thousands. Before choosing a platform, consider its minimum stakes and maximum pay-outs if this is important to you.
5. Betting Features
What does ‘cash out’ mean?
At first, the platforms that offered cash out features were seen as innovators and leaders. Now, it’s abnormal for a service not to include this feature. Essentially, it allows you to withdraw money from your bet before the event finishes. For example, you might have the Wasps to beat Northampton in rugby union. They’re winning but it’s close and you’re nervous about the last ten minutes; the cash out option allows you to take reduced winnings now rather than letting the bet run and risking a loss.
For example, we’ll say the Wasps were at 2/1 and you placed £10. If you let the bet run and they win, you get £30. If you cash out with ten minutes to go, you might get £22 and the peace of mind that anything can happen now, and it won’t affect your bet. In fact, you will probably celebrate if Northampton score a winning try.
Recently, more services have started to offer partial cash out too; this is where you withdraw some of the stake (in the shape of winnings) and leave some in the initial bet.
What are virtual sports?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual sports gained in popularity when all real-life sports came to an abrupt end. Whether you want horse racing or football, these are digital events that are computer-generated rather than real events. As the niche expands, we’re starting to see more sports including basketball, tennis, and boxing. What’s more, some virtual sports even have virtual leagues so you can follow the events over a period of time.
What does it mean to request odds?
As bookmakers have expanded their services to meet the needs of bettors, one new feature revolves around players requesting odds. If you want a specific bet, but don’t see it available in the list of markets, many services now allow you to contact them for tailored betting. Whether this is done on the website, app, or on social media, you simply ask for a specific bet and they will return odds for this bet. Not all requests will lead to unique bets, but it’s worth a try.
With many betting websites, there’s a ‘Your Odds’ or ‘Requested Bets’ section which lists all the markets that have been requested and added to the fixture.
What’s in-play betting and live streaming?
In-Play Betting – Traditionally, all bets would be placed before an event started. Now, we can place bets for fixtures that are underway. For example, we might pick a winner in a football game at half-time; this is called in-play betting or live betting. As the niche expands, the biggest sporting events tend to have dozens of markets available even once it has begun.
Live Streaming – To complement this and allow for more accurate in-play betting, many services now live stream certain events. While live betting is now available across all platforms, live streaming isn’t. For those who do offer it, there might be all sorts of stipulations. For instance, some require users to place a bet of a certain value on the event while others require money in the account.
How do I stream an event online?
When you find a bookmaker that allows you to stream events, first you’ll need to log into your account. From here, follow the instructions offered by the platform. As mentioned, some will require you to have funds in your account while others will only allow you to watch a stream if you place a bet on it. Either way, you should see an option to watch the event after meeting the requirements.
If there are no requirements and you can watch it simply after logging in, this is great news; get watching.
How does a betting exchange work?
Rather than betting on the outcome of an event against the bookmaker, a betting exchange is all about betting against other players. In a way, the player becomes the bookie as they bet for a certain outcome happening and against it happening. By both ‘backing’ and ‘laying’, the idea is to find somebody willing to match the bet. Let’s say you want £5 on Woods to win the next major, the exchange will search for somebody interested in the opposite. If nobody is found, the bet doesn’t happen.
There are two things to consider with a betting exchange:
- Your bet will only work if somebody is interested in the opposite side
- The exchange charges a small percentage for successful bets (keep this in mind when choosing amounts)
Why does every platform have different odds?
Since each betting website values outcomes and tabulates odds differently, you will see contrasting odds from one website to another. In such a competitive market, each service will also try to offer the best odds to encourage customers to visit the platform and stick around.
Where can I find the best odds?
Often, this decision is made right at the beginning when choosing a bookmaker. As you research, you’ll learn that each bookmaker tends to specialise in unique areas. While some have strong football odds, others might have strong odds in cricket, rugby union, basketball, or another sport.
Why should I pay attention to odds?
Above all else, odds will tell you how much money is to be won from a single bet. If you choose a selection with odds of 1/7, you’ll need to place £7 just to get £1 in profit. On the other hand, a selection of 7/1 will bring £7 of profit for every £1 placed. Of course, the second bet is a riskier selection because everything is priced for a reason. Therefore, it’s a balance between finding good odds and something that could feasibly happen.
Which sports have the best odds overall?
If you’re looking for the best odds, they tend to improve with fewer selections. While horse racing has many different outcomes, rugby and boxing only have a couple of outcomes. While events with lots of outcomes offer a bigger risk and bigger reward, those with fewer outcomes have better odds.
6. Responsible Gambling
Can I limit my betting experience?
Yes, and it starts with the responsible gambling measures on the website. For example, betting websites all offer deposit limits where you choose a maximum amount you’re willing to deposit per day, week, or month. As soon as you reach this limit, you will no longer be able to deposit until the period resets.
Other responsible gambling measures include loss limits (similar to deposit limits), time outs, time limits per session, and reality checks. If you feel as though you’re losing control of the experience, choose the self-exclusion option. If you self-exclude from a company that runs several betting websites, you will be excluded from all of these services.
Why is gambling addiction growing?
With gambling possible at all hours of the day, gambling addiction is certainly growing. Some people chase losses, try to pay off their debt by gambling, and lie about the extent of the problem to loved ones. We’ve seen gambling addiction get in the way of relationships and even end marriages. While some use gambling to relieve boredom, others use it as a way to relieve stress and anxiety (or just to get a buzz).
How do I get help with a gambling problem?
First and foremost, well done for recognising the problem. Head over to the responsible gambling section of your chosen bookmaker and they will explain how to get help with advice and links to important organisations. We recommend getting help from one or several of the following:
- Gamblers Anonymous
- Gamble Aware
Also, some don’t realise that a conversation with friends and family can really help. Opening up to others allows them to understand the problem. From here, you can get onto the right path to a happier future.
Carl Hughes - Editor
Carl Hughes is a leading expert on sports and casino betting. Carl began his career with a BSc in Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences from the University of Birmingham before working within the industry for some of the bigger names (GVC and Bet365) and has been praised as being "a leading sports betting commentator".