Online Sports Betting FAQ – Answers to Important Questions
It’s rare for a day to go by without us getting asked a question about online sports betting. Even more rare is being asked a question we have never been asked before. Most of the questions we receive are ones that we’ve answered time and time again.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re happy to answer questions whether we’ve been asked them once before or 100 times before. We’re here to help, and we’ll do that in any way that we can. But before you contact us with your question, take a look at our FAQ section. Chances are we might already have the answer you’re looking for.
We’ve divided these questions into a few different categories, so it’s easier for you to find what you’re looking for. If your question isn’t covered here, then we encourage you to get in touch with us.
There are no universal laws that apply to online betting on a global basis. So the answer to this question depends on where you live, and where the sites you use are based. The local laws in your country determine whether it’s legal for you bet online. The local laws where a site is based determine whether it’s legal for them to provide online betting services.
Here’s what we can tell you for sure.
Most laws relating to online betting apply to those that provide services rather than to those who use them.
It’s rare for a country to make it explicitly illegal for an individual to place an online wager. In fact, we’re not aware of ANY country that does this.
We haven’t heard of a SINGLE case of anyone being arrested for placing an online sports wager.
Legitimate betting sites are typically based in countries/regions where online gambling is legalized.
Basically, it’s VERY unlikely that you’ll personally be in breach of any law if you decide to wager online. Since we’re not lawyers and we haven’t studied every piece of relevant legislation in every single country, we can’t be 100% positive. We have done a lot of research though, and we’re confident that you have nothing to worry about.
Legitimate betting sites aren’t in breach of any laws either, as long as they’re abiding by the legislation in the jurisdiction where they are based.
We cover the subject of sports betting law in more detail in the following article.
Fundamentally, yes. Use trusted betting sites to ensure that your funds and personal information will be completely safe. They’re not going to disappear with your money, or sell your banking details. They have advanced security measures in place to prevent hackers from accessing your account too.
Are there ANY safety risks involved? To be honest, yes. There are a few rogue sites that can’t be trusted, and your own computer (or other device) might not be fully protected from hackers. There are some precautions you can take to minimize this risk. Check out the following article for some advice.
There are several good reasons for betting online. Here’s a list of our favorite ones.
It’s a fast, easy and convenient way to place wagers.
We can bet on pretty much any sport or event we want.
We have a wide variety of different wagers to choose from.
The odds and lines tend to be better.
We can earn bonuses and rewards just for depositing and placing wagers.
We could go on. Honestly, there are a ton of reasons why placing wagers online is better than the alternatives. We’re not the only ones who think so either. It’s the most popular way to bet in the world, and literally millions of people choose to place their wagers online.
Not convinced? Just give it a try. You’ll soon find out why it’s so popular.
Which betting site should I use?
There isn’t one single correct answer to this question, as it depends on several factors. In simple terms, however, any site that meets the following criteria should be fine.
Reliable and trustworthy.
Proven track record.
Licensed, regulated and operating legally.
Accepts customers from your region.
These are the minimum requirements. Ideally, you want to use one (or more) of the very best sites around. You should also try to use sites that suit any preferences or specific requirements you may have. Identifying the right ones requires more effort, but it’s worth it to ensure you get the best possible experience.
Want a quick solution? Then check out our recommendations. We’ve ranked the top sports betting sites in a variety of different categories, making it easy to find exactly what you need. Each and every site we recommend is thoroughly tested to make sure it’s genuinely high quality.
It would be quicker to list the sports that you CAN’T bet on, since this list wouldn’t be very long. These days pretty much every sport that’s played professionally is covered by online betting sites.
Not every site covers every single sport of course. There are some sites that focus primarily on just the major sports and big events. These are quite rare though, as most sites cover at least a few of the less mainstream sports and events too. Some sites offer truly amazing coverage of different sports and events.
So no matter what sport you want to wager on, and what event, you’re very likely to find at least one site that’s got it covered.
Will I get paid my winnings?
Yes. Assuming you only use the reputable and trustworthy sites that is. The top sports betting sites have absolutely no issue with paying out to their winning customers, which is exactly how it should be.
Unfortunately, there are a few sites that look for any excuse not to pay their customers. There are also some that don’t even bother to look for excuses, and just flat out refuse to pay. These are the exception rather than the rule though, and such sites are pretty easy to avoid.
There may be occasions when even reputable betting sites choose not to pay winnings for legitimate reasons. These reasons include breaches of terms of conditions, abuse of bonuses or promotions, and mistakes in the odds and lines.
How old do I have to be to bet online?
This depends on the terms of the site and your local laws. Typically, you have to be either 18 or 21.
Please note that it’s a VERY bad idea to lie about your age when signing up with a site. We can almost guarantee that you’ll get discovered eventually and often times this means you’ll be forced to forfeit any money you’ve deposited or won.
If you’re not old enough, you’re not old enough. Just be patient, and wait until you are.
Will I get addicted to online betting?
It’s possible, yes. There’s nothing to suggest that betting online is any more addictive than betting offline though. The fact that it’s so accessible might increase the risk a little, but this is offset by measures that are in place to help you control your online betting.
Most betting sites allow you to “self-exclude” on a temporary or permanent basis. This means you’ll be unable to log in and place any wagers. You can also set limits for how much you’re allowed to deposit on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
If you ever feel like your gambling is getting out of control, please stop immediately and seek help. Don’t let the problem get any worse.
Licensing & Regulation
Who regulates the online betting industry?
There’s no single organization that’s responsible for regulating the online betting industry on a global basis. Regulation takes place at a local level, in individual online gambling jurisdictions. Licensing authorities within these jurisdictions have the power to issue betting licenses and set the rules for how betting sites must operate.
Here’s a list of some of the most reputable online gambling licensing authorities around the world.
United Kingdom Gambling Commission
Alderney Gaming Control Commission
Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta
Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner
Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission
What is an online betting license?
Online betting licenses are issued to sites that meet the criteria of the relevant licensing authority. To operate legally, sites MUST hold a license in the jurisdiction they’re based in. The license basically gives them the right to offer their services to customers, and proves that they are subject to regulation.
The criteria for licenses varies from one licensing authority to another. The fundamental principle is always the same though. Licenses are issued only to sites that can demonstrate that they’re able to operate in a fair and ethical way. They can subsequently be suspended or revoked if a site fails to meet its obligations or stick to the regulatory requirements.
Does it matter whether a site is licensed and regulated?
Yes. A site that is unlicensed is almost certainly operating illegally. When a site isn’t being regulated, they are free to do whatever they want and are under no obligation to treat their customers fairly. For obvious reasons, these sites should be avoided at all costs.
There’s simply no good reason for a legitimate site NOT to be licensed and regulated. In our opinion, any site that doesn’t have a license probably has no intention of operating ethically.
How do I know if a site is licensed and regulated?
Most sites that are licensed and regulated display the relevant information for their customers to see. This information is usually found at the bottom of each page on the site. It will include details of any licenses they hold, and the authorities that issued them.
Here’s an example from one of our recommended sites, Betway.
It’s not unheard of for rogue sites to display false information that implies they’re licensed when they’re not. If you’re ever in doubt, you can always check with the relevant licensing authority. They’ll be able to confirm whether or not a site is licensed to operate.
Please note that every single one of our recommended sites is properly licensed and regulated. We carry out strict checks to ensure this.
How do I join a betting site?
Visit any online betting site and you’ll see a prominent link or button that says something like “join now” or “sign up.” Here’s an example from a site that actually features TWO buttons.
Click on one of these buttons and you’ll be presented with a form to fill out. You’ll have to enter a few personal details, and choose a username and password. Then you’ll be asked to accept the site’s terms and conditions. That’s it. Your account will then be open and ready to use.
What information do I need to provide?
You’ll typically have to provide the following information.
Date of birth
Some sites might request a little more information, but it’s usually just the basic details outlined above.
Please note that at some point you’ll be asked to provide identification documents. Possibly when you first join or make an initial deposit, but probably when you request a payout for the first time. This is standard, and nothing to worry about. Sites are required to ask for proof of identification to prevent fraud and money laundering.
How many betting sites should I join?
This is entirely up to you! Some people are happy to use just a single site, while others prefer to spread their action around. Either approach is fine.
With that being said, there are a couple of advantages to using multiple sites. The main one is that you can shop around and compare the odds and lines on offer. This will allow you get the best value for each wager placed, and can make a significant difference to your overall returns.
Depositing & Withdrawing
How do I deposit funds online?
Depositing funds to your account is easy. Here’s what you need to do.
Log in with your username and password.
Visit the “cashier” or “my account” page.
Pick a deposit method.
Enter the relevant payment details (such as a credit card number).
Enter the amount to deposit.
Hit “confirm” or “submit.”
Once you’ve done this, the funds will usually be added to your account instantly. For some methods though, there might be a slight delay.
What deposit methods are available?
This depends on the site. The following methods are the most widely available.
Bank wire (not instant)
Check (not instant)
Cash transfer (not instant)
Although most places will offer as many different options as they can, please note that some options aren’t available in certain regions. This is usually due to legal restrictions.
A lot of sites have to accept Bitcoin deposits in recent years. Especially those that accept US customers. Please see the following page for more information on this increasingly popular deposit method.
The minimum deposit varies depending on the site and the deposit method used. It’s rare for the minimum deposit by card or e-wallet to be more than $10 though. It’s sometimes even lower than that. Bank wires and checks, on the other hand, will typically attract higher minimums, perhaps as much as $100.
What’s the maximum amount I can deposit?
This also varies depending on the site and deposit method used. It’s usually pretty high though, so the average person will definitely be satisfied. Most sites will be flexible too. If you want to deposit more than the specified maximum, just get in touch with customer support and they might be able to help.
What should I do if my deposit isn’t accepted?
The first thing to do is check that you have the required funds/remaining credit. This might seem obvious, but people often overlook it. We all lose track of these things sometimes.
Assuming this is not an issue, the next step is to contact the site’s customer support. They can usually tell you what the problem is. It might be that the bank or card issuer has blocked the transaction for some reason. This can usually be resolved with a phone call, but be aware that some financial institutions refuse to allow gambling related transactions. This happens often in the United States, thanks to a piece of legislation called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
How do I withdraw my winnings?
The exact withdrawal process varies at different sites. However, it’s usually something like this.
Visit the cashier.
Choose a withdrawal method.
Enter the amount to withdraw.
The relevant amount will then be deducted from your account.
What withdrawal methods are available?
As with deposit methods, this depends on the site being used. It may also depend on where you live. Typically, the options for withdrawing are the same as the options for depositing. There may be some exceptions, and possibly one or two extra options.
Will I be charged a fee for withdrawals?
Maybe. It’s common for the first withdrawal each month to be free, and then all subsequent withdrawals to attract a fee. Some sites don’t charge fees at all though, while others charge you for each individual withdrawal. Some only charge for withdrawals using specific banking methods.
How long do withdrawals take?
Anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of weeks. It depends on the site and the banking method used. Here’s a rough guide to what you can typically expect.
Bitcoin and e-wallet withdrawals: 2 – 3 days
Debit cards/credit cards: 1 – 5 days
Cash transfer: 5 – 10 days
Bank wire: 7 – 14 days
Paper check: 5 days +
Stay informed about the top sites and their ability to process withdrawals. Our gambling blog features monthly payout reports detailing how quickly the top sites are processing withdrawals.
How do I place a wager online?
Placing wagers is a very simple process at virtually all betting sites. Once you’re logged in to your account, you must first select the sport you wish to bet on. This will bring up a list of upcoming events. Pick the event you’re interested in, and you’ll see all the available wagers. Make your selection, enter the amount you wish to stake, and click “confirm” or “place wager.”
That’s all there is to it. It really couldn’t be any easier.
What types of wager can I place online?
Your options are practically endless. There’re a wide range of different wagers to choose from, especially for the more popular sports. You’ll find all the traditional types of wager in addition to the more obscure ones.
It’s not uncommon for a site to offer 50 or more different wagers for a single event, so it’s fair to say that you’ll never be short of options when betting online.
Can I cancel an online wager?
Not usually. There’s no going back once a wager has been confirmed. It’s always worth contacting customer support and asking the question, but expect the answer to be no. If you make a mistake, you’ll probably just have to live with it. You may be able to simply bet the other side of course, depending on the nature of the wager. This will typically result in a small guaranteed loss though, because of the vig.
Can a betting site cancel my wagers?
Technically, yes. It’s rare though. There’d have to be a very good reason, such as an obvious mistake in the odds and lines.
What’s the minimum I can stake?
Usually as little as $1. Sometimes even lower, sometimes a little higher. It depends on the site, and the wager being placed. You definitely don’t have to be a high roller to place wagers online though.
What’s the maximum I can stake?
This also varies depending on the site and the wager being placed. Some sites have very high limits, while others are a little more restrictive. Either way, though, the limits at most sites are high enough for the vast majority of bettors. Unless you’re a serious high roller, you’ll probably never need to go over the maximum stakes.
If you ARE a high roller, consider using the sites listed on the following page.
A couple of other things to note here. First, the limits are usually higher for the more popular sports. This is because the sites take more wagers on these sports, so one or two high stake wagers won’t affect them too much. Obscure sports or minor events will typically have lower limits.
Second, beware of the PAYOUT limit at sites. Most sites have a maximum amount they’ll pay out for one single wager, but some of them are a bit sneaky about this. They don’t advertise it clearly, and they don’t necessarily refuse wagers where the potential payout is higher than the maximum.
For example, let’s say a site has a maximum payout per wager of $100,000. They might allow us to place a wager of $10,000 on a selection with decimal odds of 20.00, even though the potential payout of $200,000 goes over the maximum. If we did manage to win, they’d only pay us the $100,000. If we lost, however, we’d still lose the whole $10,000. So we’re effectively wagering $5,000 of our money for nothing.
Odds & Lines
Who sets the online odds and lines?
Most betting sites have a team of oddsmakers or odds compilers on staff. These people are usually extremely knowledgeable about the specific sports they cover, and it’s their job to make sure that the opening odds and lines are as accurate as they can be. They’re also responsible for adjusting the odds and lines based on various factors.
You can read more about how betting sites (and traditional bookmakers) set their odds and lines in the following article.
Odds and lines change for a variety of reasons. The two most significant are as follows.
Change in circumstances.
Volume of betting activity.
The initial odds and lines set by the odds compilers are based primarily on the probability of possible outcomes. So they have to take into account all the various factors that can affect what’s likely to happen. If any of those factors change for any reason, then the relevant odds need to change too.
Take a basketball game for example. When setting the odds for each team to win, the odds compilers are going to consider a range of different factors. The most significant is simply the overall quality of each team. If one team is clearly better than the other, the odds on them winning are going to be quite low.
But what if their three best players get injured the day before the game? They’re no longer quite so likely to win, and this will eventually be reflected in the odds. The odds on them winning will go up, while the odds on the other team will go down.
It’s pretty obvious why a change in circumstances can lead to a change in the odds. Why does the volume of betting activity matter though? Well, it’s because betting sites like to have what are known as “balanced books.” A balanced book is when they stand to pay out roughly the same amount on each possible outcome. This means that they’re going to make the same amount of profit regardless of what the outcome is.
If a site takes a lot of action on one particular outcome, they might end up with a book that is NOT balanced. They’ll usually reduce the odds on that outcome, so their customers stop betting on it. At the same time, they’ll increase the odds on the other outcome(s). Customers are now more likely to choose one of these alternative outcomes, which will help create a balanced book.
Why are odds and lines different at different sites?
Odds and lines ultimately reflect the odds compilers’ opinions on what’s likely to happen in a sports event. When the odds compilers at different sites have different opinions, that’s obviously going to lead to different odds and lines.
As we mentioned above, odds and lines are also affected by volume of betting activity. The distribution of action will always vary from one site to another, so this can lead to differences in the odds and lines too.
Where can I get the best odds and lines?
No betting site consistently has the best odds and lines for all markets. So it’s not like there’s one site you can use to ensure you ALWAYS get the best value. What you need to do instead is shop around. By comparing what’s available at different sites whenever you place a wager, you can make sure you get the best odds and lines every time.
What happens if there’s a mistake in the odds and lines?
Sites will inevitably make mistakes in the odds and lines they offer from time to time. Mistakes are usually the result of these two factors: an error of judgement by the odds compilers, or some kind of inputting error. Such mistakes are usually noticed and corrected pretty quickly, but not always before any customers get their money down.
When a mistake is down to an error in judgement, sites will usually honor any wagers placed. When a mistake is down to any other type of error, any wagers placed will usually be voided.
Bonuses & Rewards
What is a welcome bonus/sign up bonus?
Bonuses of this type are offered to new customers signing up at a betting site. They’re typically credited when the first deposit is made, and they come in a variety of different formats. Free bets and free-play betting credits are the most common.
What other types of bonus and rewards are there?
Betting sites give away all kinds of bonuses and rewards to their customers. Here are some examples of the types we see most often.
Cashback on losses
Refunds on losing parlays
We explain more about these bonuses and rewards, and others, in the following articles.
Because they want more customers. It’s that simple. They help betting sites attract new customers, as they’re a good incentive to sign up and deposit. They also help sites retain their existing customers too.
How do I claim my bonuses and rewards?
It varies. Some bonuses and rewards are automatic, so you don’t have to do anything at all. Sometimes you’ll have to enter a code when depositing, or send an email to customer support. Sometimes you’ll have to meet specific requirements, and will only be credited once you’ve met them.
We realize this isn’t an extremely helpful answer, but it’s the best we can do. Each site handles bonuses and rewards in their own way, and the process for claiming them will differ depending on the nature of the offer. So the best thing to do is read the terms and conditions carefully. These will usually explain exactly what you need to do. If you’re still not sure, just get in touch with customer support. They’ll definitely be able to help.
Which sites offer the best bonuses and rewards?
Most betting sites are pretty generous when it comes to bonuses and rewards. This is a result of the online betting industry being so competitive. We have so many sites to choose from, that they HAVE to offer us some extra value or we’ll simply go and bet somewhere else.
With that being said, some sites are known for their generosity. We’ve compiled a list of these on the following page.
In some countries, yes. In others, no. Every country has its own regulation relating to gambling taxation. Here’s a list of some of the countries where we know gambling winnings are NOT subject to tax.
Who do I contact when I have a question or problem?
Start with customer support. Most sites have a well-trained staff who can deal with any questions or problems you may have. You can usually get in touch via e-mail, phone or live chat.
If you have a problem that isn’t resolved, ask customer support what the complaints procedure is. They will generally help you go through this process. If you still don’t get a resolution, the next step is to contact the relevant licensing authority. You can always contact us too, and we’ll do our best to help if we can.
Can I bet online from a Mac?
Yes. The days of betting sites not being compatible with Macs are long gone. There MIGHT be a few that still aren’t compatible, but we haven’t encountered this problem for a long time. It’s simply not an issue these days. Check out our recommended betting sites for Mac users for a list of the best options.
Can I bet online with my phone or tablet?
Sure! Mobile betting is extremely popular these days, so most sites cater for those who wish to bet from their smartphone or tablet. They dedicate a great deal of time to making sure their websites are compatible for all mobile devices. Some sites have even released their own apps, which are often available for a variety of different devices.
We’ve recommended the best options for mobile betting on the following page.
A whole lot of fun, and one of the greatest developments in sports betting. Also known as in play betting, live betting allows you to place wagers on sports events AFTER they have started. You can bet while actually watching the action, making sports betting more exciting than ever.
Live betting was introduced early in the 21st century. It’s become one of the most popular ways to bet on sports, and opened up a huge range of additional wagering opportunities. Find out more in the following guide.
Exchange betting eliminates the need for bookmakers. It’s a form of betting where two individuals agree what the terms of a wager will be between themselves. One individual BACKS a selection, meaning they’re betting on it to win. The other individual LAYS the same selection, meaning they’re effectively betting on it to lose.
We provide a more detailed explanation of exchange betting in the following guide.
Can I really win money from online sports betting?
Can you? Yes. Will you? That depends. It’s time for YOU to answer some questions now.
Do you have a solid knowledge of at least one sport?
Do you have plenty of spare time?
Do you have a bankroll to bet with?
Are you disciplined?
Are you able to bet with your head and not your heart?
Are you prepared to learn all about sports betting strategy?
Are you prepared to invest a lot of time in research and analysis?
If you answered yes to all (or even most) of these questions, then you probably have what it takes to be a successful sports bettor. You’re going to have to work VERY hard though. The internet has made it a lot easier for us to bet on our favorite sports, but making money is still difficult. There are NO shortcuts to success unfortunately.
Up for the challenge? Then take the time to read through more of our sports betting guide. We can’t PROMISE to turn you into a successful sports bettor, but we’ll give you a fighting chance.