How We Evaluate Sports Betting Sites
There are literally hundreds of places to bet online these days. The number of sports betting sites has grown significantly over the years, and new ones are being launched all the time. Sites can drastically vary in quality. Some sites are excellent, some are terrible, but most of them are somewhere in between.
We want to make sure you only use the highest quality sites. That was our primary goal when we launched GamblingSites.com so many years ago, and it’s still our goal today. We rank and review sports betting sites so we can help you find THE best places to bet.
You might have read something similar on other websites. We’re not the only ones to provide this kind of service, as there are lots of other places that rank and review betting sites too. We believe we do it better than most though, and here’s why.
- We’ve been doing this for a very long time.
- We rank the top sports betting sites in several different categories.
- Our rankings are regularly checked and updated as necessary.
- We actually care about YOUR experience.
We’re experienced enough to know what our readers are looking for, and we know what attributes constitute a good betting site. Our rankings are accurate and honest, and based on what REALLY matters. They’re not just chosen randomly, or based on which sites are prepared to pay us the most.
Does this mean you should automatically trust our rankings, and go with the sites we recommend? Well, that’s ultimately up to you. We’re confident that our recommendations are genuinely the best sites around, but you don’t HAVE to take our word for it. There are other ways to choose a betting site too.
Before you make your mind up, we’d like to tell you more about the way we compile our rankings. We’ve detailed the whole process for you, so that you can see exactly how we evaluate sports betting sites.
Step 1 – Our Seal of Approval
There’s one thing that matters more than anything else when you’re gambling online: YOUR SAFETY. No one wants to risk being ripped off and losing money. That’s why it’s vital to avoid the sites where that’s a possibility.
For that reason, we exclude those sites from our rankings and we NEVER recommend a site unless we’re absolutely certain that it can be trusted. Even if we just have mild doubts about a site, we won’t feel comfortable recommending it.
That’s why the first step in our ranking process is by far the most important one. This is when we discover whether or not a site can DEFINITELY be trusted. For every site we look at, we answer one simple question.
If the answer is no, how can we possibly justify recommending the site to our readers? We can’t, obviously. Any place that we wouldn’t trust with our own money is automatically disregarded, and gets nowhere near the rankings we publish.
We’re probably even more cautious than we need to be here, but we’re comfortable with that. If it means we exclude the occasional worthy site, then so be it. We’d rather risk that than risk including one that’s not entirely legitimate.
You’re probably wondering how we determine whether a site is legitimate or not. This is actually relatively straightforward. We just have to do some research, and check a few things out. Here’s what we look at.
- Licensing and regulation
- Age and reputation
- Safety and security measures
Licensing and Regulation
Holding a proper online betting license is an absolute must. First, it indicates that a site is operating legally in the jurisdiction where it’s based. It also shows that it’s subject to some kind of regulation, and must adhere to the relevant code of conduct set by the licensing authority.
We have to be careful when looking at a site’s license though, as simply holding a license isn’t necessarily a sign that a site can be trusted. It depends on where that license comes from.
In some jurisdictions, the licensing authorities issue licenses to anyone who pays a fee. There are no real requirements. In other jurisdictions, the licensing authorities are very strict about who they issue licenses to. For obvious reasons, we prefer sites that are licensed by the stricter authorities.
Most betting sites publish details of the relevant license(s) they hold. If they don’t, we usually just assume that they’re unlicensed or that they have one of the worthless licenses. Either way, they’re not making it onto any of our recommended lists.
It’s not always easy to find out who owns and/or operates a betting site. We do our best to find out though, as this can be useful information. If the people behind a site appear a bit shady, or have previously been involved with rogue sites, that’s obviously a BIG red flag for us.
Age and Reputation
We don’t immediately rule out new sites, or those that haven’t been around for very long. There needs to be a very good reason to consider them for our rankings though. We’re usually hesitant to recommend sites that haven’t had a chance to prove themselves.
Of course, simply being well-established doesn’t automatically mean that a site is legit. It needs to have a solid reputation too. Sites with a track record of treating customers well have obviously demonstrated that they can be trusted. Sites with a history of treating customers badly have demonstrated the opposite as far as we’re concerned, so they’re not even considered for our rankings.
Safety and Security Measures
The final thing we look at during this stage is the measures a site takes to protect you and your personal information. They should use advanced security technology to ensure your details are kept safe, and all financial transactions should by digitally encrypted. These are pretty basic requirements really, so if a site can’t get these right then we have to question how reliable they are.
All these checks allow us to eliminate any questionable sites. They also allow us to establish which sites have PROVEN to be reliable and trustworthy. If they meet our (very high) standards, they’re awarded the “GamblingSites.com Seal of Approval.”
Any site that is awarded this seal is considered worthy of our recommendation. It doesn’t GUARANTEE inclusion in our rankings though. There are another couple of stages to go through before we decide whether or not a site can genuinely be considered the best around.
Step 2 – What’s on Offer?
Do you remember what we wrote in the very first paragraph on this page? We told you that most betting sites are average at best. We estimate that around 80-90% of sites fall into this category. You probably won’t have any serious problems if you choose to use one of these sites, but you probably won’t have a GREAT experience either.
As we’ve explained, we actually care about your experience. We don’t want to recommend any sites that are merely average. We want to recommend the ones that WILL give you that memorable experience: the sites that you’ll want to keep coming back to time and time again.
This means we have to check out exactly what a site has to offer, which is the purpose of this second stage. Again, this is all about research really. Here are some details on a few of the most important factors we look at.
A good betting site should offer betting markets on a variety of different sports. Both major sports and less mainstream sports should be covered. We also like to see an extensive selection of relevant tournaments. We don’t completely dismiss places that focus heavily on a small range of sports, but we definitely give preference to the sites with wider coverage.
This is a key consideration for our rankings. You don’t want to be limited to just the basic wagers, as this may restrict your opportunities for making money. We prefer sites that offer a wide selection of betting options, with plenty of different wagers to choose from.
This may surprise you, but the odds and lines offered by online betting sites can significantly vary. Although we don’t expect a site to offer the best odds and lines EVERY single time, they need to be consistently competitive if they’re to be considered a top site.
Depositing and withdrawing are essential parts of online betting. We appreciate when sites make it as easy as possible for you to get your money in, and your winnings out. This means having different banking options to choose from, to suit your own preferences and requirements.
It’s not unreasonable for a site to charge a small fee for depositing and/or withdrawing. Nor is it unreasonable for a site to limit the amount that can be withdrawn at any one time. Fees should be kept to a minimum though, and withdrawal limits should not be too restrictive.
We know just how much online bettors appreciate the bonuses and rewards that are available at betting sites. So this a big factor for us when compiling our rankings, and we like to see plenty of extra value available. We’re not just concerned with the SIZE of the bonuses and rewards though. The relevant terms and conditions are important too, as these need to be fair.
There are countless additional features that betting sites offer these days. Live betting is probably the most important one we want to see sites offering. Then there are things like early cash-out, streaming of events and dedicated mobile apps. We don’t expect a site to offer EVERY possible feature, but we do like to see a good selection.
Step 3 – Testing
All the research we do is very meaningful. The first two steps in our evaluation process tell us almost everything we need to know to start forming clear opinions about just how good sites really are.
Research does have its limitations though. It doesn’t tell us what it’s like to actually use a site, and we can’t accurately rank sites unless we know this. That’s why we also test each site for ourselves.
This is the most time-consuming part of the process. We have to test a lot of sites, and we like to test them all extensively. We don’t just open an account and click around for five minutes. We deposit our money and use a site for an extended period. This is the only way to properly gauge the true quality of a site.
There are several questions we try to answer during the testing stage. Here are some examples.
- How easy is it to sign up?
- How easy is it to deposit funds?
- How easy it is find and place wagers?
- What’s the customer support like?
- How quickly are winning wagers settled?
- How quickly are withdrawals paid out?
This list isn’t complete by any means, but it will hopefully give you some insight into what we’re trying to achieve during the test stage. Ultimately, it’s all about assessing the user experience. Then, and only then, can we decide how highly to rate a site.
Step 4 – Our Ratings
This is the most complex step in our ranking process. We go over all the research and testing done in the previous steps, and then apply our ratings.
We won’t bore you with all the finer details about exactly how our rating system works. It’s a pretty complicated system, and to be honest it’s not that interesting. There are a couple of points you should know though.
First, we don’t just apply a single rating to each site. That would be FAR too simple! Instead, each site is assigned multiple ratings according to how it performs in different areas. So there’ll be one rating for its odds and lines, one rating for its bonuses and rewards, and so on.
These ratings are then weighted based on their importance. This is because not all factors have the same influence on the overall experience of using a site. Having done the weighting, we can then calculate a final rating for a site.
The sites that rate the highest overall are the ones we recommend as the best “all-round” sports betting sites. As we’ve mentioned, we also rank the best sites in a variety of different categories. For these rankings, we consider how well sites perform in specific areas.
You should now have a better idea of just how much time and effort goes into compiling our betting site rankings. Hopefully you understand just why we’re so confident that they’re accurate.
Still not ready to trust us? That’s fine, we’re not offended. Maybe you should check out our reviews instead. We’ve written comprehensive reviews of many different betting sites, so you can see for yourself exactly what each one has to offer.
If you ARE ready to trust our rankings, keep on reading!
Step 5 – Publishing Our Rankings
This is the easy part. Once we’ve compiled our rankings, we then publish them to the relevant page on our website. The following page lists our recommendations for the best sites overall.
As recommended by GamblingSites.com
The various different categories we cover are all listed on this page too. Here’s a selection of some of the most popular.
Before we finish, there’s one more important thing to tell you. Our rankings are not set in stone, and we update them as and when required. Just because we don’t rate a site highly right now doesn’t means it’s ratings won’t improve if it makes adjustments. Similarly, a site can be removed from our list if it stops performing to our high standards.
If you’re committed to using the best sports betting sites at all times (and you should be), then check our rankings regularly. Today’s top site may not be tomorrow’s top site.