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Choosing an Online Sportsbook in 5 Easy Steps

Aug 17, 2007
Recently, a number of friends contacted me to find out more about how I chose my online sportsbook, after I mentioned in a that I had placed my very first online sports bet.

In particular, several people wanted to find out if I considered the different odds and wager types available across the various internet sportsbooks.

I can say quite clearly that, no, I didn't take all those factors into consideration.

In reality, I am pretty inexperienced when I comes to sports wagering of any kind. The reason I took the time to tell everyone I know about my online betting experience is that I had such a great time placing my first bet. Not too surprising, placing a wager on a basketball game noticeably increased my excitement, particularly when I won my bet.

Nevertheless, the questions did lead me to consider what factors should go into choosing an online sportsbook, so I've done a bit of research and consolidated a number of the key considerations into a single article.

First off, almost all online sports betting sites promise "low juice" sports betting on all your favorite sports. Usually, offerings will go beyond football, basketball, hockey, and baseball, to include most other sports such as soccer, horse racing, and rugby.
But it's not enough for a site to simply offer betting odds and betting lines, or even live betting. Those are just base-line requirements.

I have compiled the following list to ensure that you have a positive experience when placing sports bets on the internet:

1) The most important question to answer when placing an online sports bet is: "How do I pick an online sportsbook that I can trust?" While this is probably an obvious consideration, it's very important that every internet user keep in mind how easy it is for unsavory people and organizations to put up a website and start taking your money.

An online sportsbook is like a bank: you are depositing your money, with the expectation that you will be able to get in out at a later time. Look for a reputable and financially solid online sportsbook who will pay you when you win.

The fundamental question is whether your money is safe, and whether you'll actually receive a payout for any winnings. My suggestion is to find an online sportsbook that has a strong, and long, track record. That means looking for sites that have been around for at least three years. Imagine how terrible it would feel to win and not be paid.

Keep in mind that length of time in business is not going to give you a concrete answer on a company's stability. But it will contribute to making an educated guess. All in all, look for a company with a reputation for being honest, fair, and for making payouts promptly.

2) Where do they get their lines? Take your time to shop around and compare how each online sportsbook stacks up. The lines can make a difference on whether or not you win, and by how much.

3) Customer service. If you are placing online sports bets, your online sportsbook should be accessible by e-mail, telephone or live chat. Why is customer service important for online sportbetting? Because, how a company treats their customers goes a long way in determining whether or not they are a safe place to deposit money.

Online sportsbooks are a proper business, operating every day of the year, and every hour of the day. Their customer service departments should operate similarly. Your online sportsbook should treat their customers in a courteous and professional way, and offer 24-hour service. If your sportsbook can't reply to an email in a timely manner, how can you trust them with your money?

Finally, customer service departments should be knowledgeable about sports in general, and sports betting specifically.

If possible, research online forums and posts to determine what kind of service you can expect. While even reputable companies will sometimes receive negative reviews, you can quickly get a sense of the quality of a company buy considering the various and varied opinions from their customers.

Further, I would consider at each sportsbook it from each different sport. While the core activity is the same, betting on American football can be different from European football. Remember: you want an online sportsbook that is familiar with the sports they are featuring.

4) Payment options. Payment options are different for every single online sportsbook. These will differ by jurisdiction, sport, and service provider, and you'll likely notice that the policies and fee for these vary widely.

For your own comfort, find an online sports betting site that allows you to pay however you feel most comfortable. Just make sure the process is as inexpensive and prompt as possible.

5) Diversity of sports and range of bet types. Don't assume that all online sportsbooks offer the same range of sports and bet types. Before you pick a sportsbook, make sure they feature the bet types you are familiar with. Take the time to research the betting section of their websites, to ensure you are fully versed on the available options.

All things considered, making the correct choice when you select an online sportsbook is an essential component in successful online betting. Good luck!
About the Author
Michael Lee-Smith enjoys watching football, hockey and basketball, and particularly enjoys online sports betting at sites such as the Bodog Sportsbook.
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