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Free Bets, Matched Bets, No-Risk Bets, Enhanced Odds and Welcome Bonuses

Such is the competition for your custom at online sports books that both new and established online bookmakers are willing to offer new punters special deals. There are five typical kinds of welcome offers, and each of these is explained briefly below:

FREE BET This is exactly what it says on the tin. If you sign up with an online sports book they will hand you some free bet money. You can only wager with the money and your free bet stake is not returned if your bet is successful – only any winnings. 

MATCHED BET This a very similar to a free bet, except that the online sports book will only give you free bet money up to a certain limit if you deposit and wager the same amount of cash yourself. So, to receive a '£10 matched bet' you must deposit and wager £10. Just like a free bet, your stake money is not returned when your matched bet is settle.

NO RISK BET Again, this welcome offer is very similar to a free or matched bet. For a no-risk bet, you have to deposit and wager your own cash, up to the no risk bet offer. If your bet wins, then you are not eligible for the offer. If, however, your first bet is a losing one, then the online sports book will refund you your lost bet up to a pre-determined limit. Before you get too excited, your refunded bet is paid as a 'free bet', so when you get around to using it the free bet money will not be returned if you win.

ENHANCED ODDS This type of offer is becoming increasingly popular with newly-established online sports books. Say, for example, a sports book was offering 2/1 on Arsenal to beat Liverpool, but as part of a special deal for new players enhanced odds of 8/1 were offered on the same result. If – as a newbie – you take advantage of this deal, then an Arsenal win would net you £80 as opposed to £20. The bad news? Any money you win above the standard price is paid out as free or bonus bet money, with the usual T&Cs as mentioned previously. 

WELCOME BONUS Very few online sports books offer welcome bonuses as they are more associated with online casinos instead. Similar to a matched bet, an online sport book will match (or sometimes double or even triple) the amount you deposit as your first deposit at the site. This cash is paid as bonus money and is subject to wagering requirements. Wagering requirements are where you have to place an expected amount of wagers before you can turn your awarded bonus cash into money you can cash out.

Still unsure about the different types of welcome bonuses? We go into more detail on the offers, and the terminology surrounding them, in our article on understanding welcome offers

Online Sports Betting

New betting sites open up the world of sports betting like never before. Typically, the general consensus of the public is that bricks-and-mortar betting shops were always full of dodgy folk who really should have found better ways to fill their time. This unfair categorisation of sports bettors is no longer an issue as newly created online betting sites allow you to indulge in sports betting from the comfort of your own sofa!

All you need to bet on any sporting event is a laptop or desktop. Thanks to special, mobile-optimised sites you can even now bet 'on the go' using your smartphone or tablet.

New betting sites also offer you deals that real-world bookies do not. To encourage you to sign up to use their services, they usually have some kind of special deal for you to take advantage of, such as a free bet, matched bet or enhanced odds offer.

The larger online bookmakers – such as Bet365 and William Hill – will even offer you deals on a continual basis as long as you remain a member of their betting site. This allows you to make your wagering wonga last longer!

Promotions for Existing Players

Online sports books that seek only to attract new customers while ignoring their existing ones do not tend to last long. Indeed, the biggest sports books keep their regulars happy with welcome deals and bonuses on a frequent basis.

As well as free bet promotions, top online sports books will offer enhanced odds deals on all the big games in the sporting calendar, and in particular all the top matches during the football season both home and abroad.

The more enterprising online sports books will also offer its regular paying customers prize draws, betting incentives and VIP or loyalty point schemes.

Bookmaker Reviews

Our online sports book reviews are the best way of working out where you are likely to get the most bang for your betting buck. We critique each online bookmakers that we come across via the following criteria:

PROMOTIONS How good is a site's welcome bonus offer, or do they even have one? How are regular customers treated? Are there any on-going promos, or is it a case of once-reeled in, the bonuses dry up?

MARKETS COVERED Sure, every online sports book covers football and horse racing (well, nearly all of them do) but some people are into sports with different shaped balls, and others into competitions that don't involve a ball whatsoever. The more markets a site covers, the better!

SITE DESIGN Is the site we are reviewing easy to use, or do you end up lost in cyberspace once you've clicked on a few links? We believe the easier a site is to use (including on mobile), the better.

CASHIER OPTIONS You ain't wagering without money. The best betting sites offer plenty of ways to get cash into your account, from credit and debit cards, to eWallets such as PayPal, Skrill and Neteller and eVouchers like Paysafecard.

Different Types of Online Sports Books

There are really on two kinds of online sports books – dedicated sports books and sports books that are part of a company's array of wagering options. Many of the bigger sports books such as the afore-mentioned Bet365 and William Hill will have online casinos, live casinos, poker rooms and even virtual bingo halls tagged on to their sports betting offerings. Others - such as Black Type - are sports betting only.

Which approach you prefer is of course entirely up to you. To see our favourite bookies check out our guide on the UK's best betting sites

Finding Trusted Bookmakers

Naturally, you need to be one hundred percent certain that all information you send to a sports betting site will be kept secure, and in particular any financial information you send such as credit card numbers and bank account details.

The best way to be assured of this is to only use a sports book that has a valid UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) licence. All UK-facing gambling operations must legally obtain a licence. You can usually tell if a sports book has one by their terms and conditions, or by looking at the bottom of the site's landing page for a UKGC logo. You can even check with the UKGC themselves at their website.

Every site listed on LatestBettingSites will be 100% safe and licensed and regulated by the UKGC, so you can bet in confidence through us. 

All licensed casinos are likely to use 128-Bit SSL Encryption by which they encrypt all the information you provide to them. This means that the information is never stored in an unencrypted form (where it may be vulnerable to attacked from hackers), and is only temporarily decrypted when the information is needed, such as when you make a transaction.

In-Play, Cash Out and Live Streaming

One bonus with some online sports books – think Bet365 and Bwin – is that you can watch live streams of top sporting events. The only usual caveats are that you must be a member of the sports book you are viewing from, and you must have a wager placed on the event in question.

Nearly all online sports books now offer in-play betting, whether they offer live streaming or not. This gives you the opportunity to bet on events as they are in progress – for example the next team to score or the next player to get a yellow card in a football match, or the next competitor to sink a birdie in the US Open.

Cash-out is a relatively new phenomenon with online bookmakers. This feature allows you to cash-out a winning bet before the event you've wagered on has finished. So, if you've bet on Milan to beat Internazionale and Milan go a goal up, you can cash out your bet in case Internazionale equalise. The downside – your payout is reduced, and how much it is reduced by depends upon how long your specified event has to run.

Looking for specific information on football options? Our in-depth football live streaming guide will answer your questions.

Mobile Betting

The mobile betting revolution is well and truly here, and we seldom go anywhere these days without our trusty smart phone in our pockets. Online bookmakers understand this completely and virtually every online sports book has a mobile-optimised version of their site that is designed specifically to work on mobile devices.

To use such an app all you need to do is head to the sports book on your device using a suitable browser, such as Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari.

Payment Methods

We think that the more payment methods an online sports book provides, the better. The vast majority of bookmakers online accept debit cards and credit cards, and the most popular eWallets such as PayPal, Skrill and Neteller, but we like to see other payment methods offered too. Some of the most common and convenient are Paysafecard, Euteller, instaDebit, Sofort, eKonto, GiroPay and Trustly, depending on your jurisdiction.

We also like to see mobile sites that allow you to pay via your mobile phone bill. Note that typically you are restricted to depositing £30 per day if you use a popular pay-by-mobile method, such as Boku.

Latest Betting Offers

We comb the world of online bookmakers daily to bring you the latest offers from the UK's leading operators. To keep up to date with all the latest bonuses, deals and promotions check out our betting offers section.