It might seem hard to believe, but online bookmakers have now been around for almost 30 years. Sure, the “internet bookmaker websites” that first popped up in the mid-1990s might seem quite rudimentary compared to the betting platforms of today, but many of those websites provided the blueprint for the apps and services we use to bet today. 

Of course, while betting platforms have evolved, so too have the expectations of punters. Sportsbooks might, for example, market themselves on offering live betting markets, but, sure, don’t all sportsbooks offer that? In fact, imagine your disgust if you signed up to a platform only to find it did not have live football betting at 3pm on a Saturday? 

What, then, should punters be looking out for in a sportsbook as of 2023? What are the key features a platform should offer? Let’s dive in:

Bet Builder Capabilities 

There is no bigger trend in football betting than bet builders, which is the ability for the bettor to construct a bet with several legs on a single event. For example, you might bet on Manchester United to win against Chelsea, over 8 corners in the match, Bruno Fernandes to have a shot on tatget, and both teams to score, receiving the accumulative odds for those legs. If your bookmaker does not offer that, it’s clearly a sign they are out of touch with the betting public. 

Multiple Payment Methods

A wide variety of payment methods is an absolute must in modern sports betting. Most do, of course. Paypal for casinos and sportsbooks is the most popular method in the UK, but having the option to switch to another e-Wallet or Paysafecard or something else is desirable. Nonetheless, it boggles the mind when you learn that some platforms only facilitate debit card or bank transfers in 2023. Money moves around quickly these days, so if you are betting online, you expect your winnings – if you have hit a profit – to be with you without delay. 

No Blackouts for Live Betting

We mentioned previously that the idea of offering live betting as a selling point was old hat when it is a bare minimum expectation. However, we should qualify that by saying that the technology architecture for live betting must be on point. Most pressingly, there is the need for continuous coverage, i.e., live odds in real-time without any blackouts. A blackout is when the markets are suspended and you can’t bet despite watching the game live. It is understandable that this happens for short periods in a game – say when a VAR decision is pending – but some sportsbooks tend to block out large periods of a game. It’s unacceptable. Successful live betting depends on the ebb and flow of a game, and when that is removed, the experience is poor.

Strong Promotions 

Sure, we could have said that generous promotions are a requisite for a good sportsbook had this been written in 2003 or 2013, but the point still stands in 2023. The online betting sector is hugely competitive in the UK and beyond, and bookies must have a means to market themselves to punters. Promos – free bets, bet boosts, etc. – are the tried and tested way of achieving that. If your bookie isn’t offering you plenty of promos, particularly if you are a frequent depositor, then be aware that there are others that will. One of the pitfalls that can sometimes occur is that bettors are attracted to a decent sign-up offer, but then receive little else after that. Read reviews of sportsbooks before you commit, and then pick the ones that reward loyal punters. 

Competitive Odds 

Again, this is something that punters will always look for, but there is often not enough made of how important it is. One of the issues is that it is difficult to present the data, despite the fact that you might see an advert too from a bookmaker claiming to have the best odds. Bookies are competitive in this sense, of course, so sometimes it evens out. However, there are some platforms that frequently score below average in big events. Your best course of action would be to consult odds comparison sites, look at some big events like the Champions League or Grand National, then pick a bookmaker that consistently comes out on top, then avoid those who have a trend of giving worse odds. 


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