There is a huge variety when it comes to real money sports betting sites. The biggest differences occur when comparing the (offshore) US facing books with the European /Worldwide ones – which have their own ways of handling bets and odds.
This page outlines the key factors in finding the right sports betting sites for your needs. First of all below you will find the background of the US sites, which operate legally from offshore locations. After that the regulated global sites are touched on. Next the major differences in the sports coverage and the lines and bets offered are discussed. Payment methods to online sports books are then covered – with links to our detailed online sportsbook reviews available after that.
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US Sports Betting Sites
Since online sportsbooks are not legally allowed to operate inside the US, the industry has based itself in neighboring countries such as Panama and Costa Rica. Many books have been allowing bets from US customers for more than a decade from these locations. While there are restrictions on making deposits from the US, there are now tried and tested methods of getting around this. No individual has been prosecuted for simply betting on an offshore site.
Since you do not have legal recourse in case of a dispute with any of the offshore sportsbooks, choosing one with a solid reputation is an important factor. Books like Bovada (formerly known as Bodog) and 5Dimes and BetOnline all have more than 10 years of experience and solid track records.
While all offshore sites cover the major sports leagues there are big differences in the depth of coverage outside of these. Sites such as Top Bet focus on recreational players with most of their lines involving the big 4 sports and other major events. Other books, notably 5Dimes, cover minor leagues, many college games and niche sports too. For the sharp bettors out there you’ll find sportsbooks like BetOnline and 5Dimes offer competitive lines and reduced juice offers. Recreational bettors might prefer the focus on prop bets and big events at books like Bovada.
Non-US Sports Betting Sites
Outside of the US, the sports betting industry is regulated in places like Malta, Gibraltar and Alderney. Many of the biggest books are part of large companies listed on regional stock exchanges and licensed by individual countries. These sportsbooks are able to accept payments just the same as any online merchant, meaning no transaction fees for bettors.
Odds are often displayed in fractional or decimal terms outside of the US, with many of the familiar bet types looking completely different too. These sites do offer the major US leagues.
Bet365 is a solid example of a non-US sportsbook. This site is famed for offering the biggest range of lines for sports large and small around the world – along with in-play betting and a mobile phone compatible site.
Deposits and Withdrawals at US Online Sportsbooks
For US based bettors, getting your money onto and safely off from online sportsbooks is a major consideration when making your choice of where to bet. There are two things to consider here. First the payment methods for getting your money on board which are available, and the ways in which you can retrieve money should be considered. Second, you should take a look at any fees and minimum withdrawal amounts in place – especially if you have a smaller betting bankroll. If the fees or minimums are too high, you might find your money trapped.
Our comprehensive sportsbook reviews have information on this important area for all of the books.
Deposit methods include credit cards like Visa, MasterCard and (less frequently) American Express. In order to use these they have to be able to make international purchases. If your card is blocked by your bank, then you might be able to use a pre-paid Visa card instead. Some sites accept money orders and gift vouchers, which can be purchased from convenience stores. Money transfer services (sometimes called ‘Person to Person’ transfers) using Western Union or MoneyGram can also be arranged by most sportsbooks. Finally, the digital currency Bitcoin can be used. These deposits are converted into dollars.
Withdrawing is more restrictive. The most popular method is a paper check, which US banks will honor. Some books allow one free check per month, with varying minimum withdrawal amounts. You can use regular post or courier to have these delivered. Money transfer services are also used for withdrawals, though these involve higher fees. Bank wires are the final option, though the fees and minimums for this method mean that they are best left for larger withdrawals.
The section below includes a summary of the unique selling point of the online sports betting sites covered here at CasinoGamblingStrategy.org – you’ll find a link to the detailed review for each one after that.
5Dimes: One of the oldest sportsbooks still welcoming US bettors, 5Dimes is a comprehensive site with more lines and markets than any other US book. Once you get behind the dated looking website interface you’ll find reduced juice lines and coverage of many college and minor leagues. Check out our 5Dimes Sportsbook Review for more.
BetOnline: Based in Panama, this is another book with a long history and solid reputation. In addition to competitive lines (particularly on MLB) and great promotions, you will find the live betting options are the best of any US sportsbook. Full details in our BetOnline Sportsbook Review.
Bovada: Formerly branded under the ‘Bodog’ name, this book comes into its own when big sporting events are taking place. You’ll find props, alternate lines and some of the best promotions anywhere that tie in with big finals, playoffs and events like college basketball’s March Madness. Bovada also has a great reputation for fast payments. See our Bovada Sportsbook Review for more.
GT Bets: This US-friendly sportsbook is a more recent addition, having started in 2011. Their focus is the recreational betting crowd and on the major leagues. With a sharp looking interface and reload bonus for every deposit made, this site is sure to grow in popularity. Check out our GT Bets Sportsbook Review for more.
TopBet: Another more recent US-friendly Sportsbook, TopBet started in 2011 and has already got a good reputation for their regular free bet promotions and for hassle-free cashouts. Bettors get a free withdrawal by couriered check every month. Another book with a smart and easy to use interface. See our TopBet Sportsbook Review for more.
Bet365: The giant of the online sports betting world outside of the US. Bet365 have more markets and lines than any other book. This book is regulated and licensed in the UK and elsewhere, meaning you can deposit with complete confidence. Also strong on in-play and mobile betting. See this Bet365 Sportsbook Review for more.
Betway: This non-US sportsbook has been in operation since 2006. Their website is among the best looking around, and is very fast too. Betway focus on soccer and other global sports, though you can also find markets for the big US leagues. Find out more in our detailed Beltway Sportsbook Review.