If you’re new to sports betting, getting started can seem intimidating. It can feel as if you’re jumping into the deep end of the pool without a buoy. You either sink or swim – in this case, with your money. For that reason, it’s a good idea to start at books that cater to folks new to betting on sports. Some of the best sportsbooks for beginners offer useful how-to tips, detailed betting guides, and other resources to help make the experience enjoyable and profitable.
The challenge is finding them.
This page will give you the tools you need to find the top sportsbooks designed to help new bettors get started. You’ll learn what to look for, what to avoid, and how to tell if a book is worth getting involved with – ideally, before making your first deposit. Along the way, we’ll point you to a few sites we’ve used that are highly-rated by other sports bettors – beginners and veterans alike.
A Few Quick Notes For First-Time Sports Bettors
Let’s take a moment to clear up a few minor issues. First, a lot of folks would like to bet on their favorite sporting events, but fear that doing so is in violation of certain laws. In reality, betting on sports is not illegal. There are no laws that prohibit you from placing wagers. In the past, U.S. prosecutors have tried to use the Federal Wire Act of 1961 to outlaw the operation of a bookmaking business. But that has little to do with individual sports bettors. After all, it’s unlikely that you’re running your own bookmaking operation.
Another issue that concerns new bettors is security. They want to be sure that their credit card details won’t be stolen as a result of using their cards to fund their accounts.
To be fair, security is always a reasonable concern, whether you’re placing bets at Bookmaker and JustBet or buying something from Amazon. The best sportsbooks for beginners use encryption when storing sensitive financial information, and real-time monitoring and identity verification when processing transactions. Personally, we’ve never had a problem.
Most folks want to bet on the big professional sports: football (NFL), baseball (MLB), basketball (NBA), and so on. Others prefer to put action on college games or more obscure pro sports, such as water polo, cricket, and Ultimate Frisbee. Check out our directory to get more info on the sports you want to bet on.
First, all books offer odds on the most popular sporting events. That’s where a majority of the money gravitates. That being the case, sportsbooks would be crazy not to offer odds on them. However, many sites provide very few lines – and sometimes none at all – on less-popular events. The books we’ll mention below provide a reasonably long list of sports on which you can place wagers.
Another issue that concerns many beginning sports bettors is whether they need to report their winnings on their taxes. The short answer is yes. The government considers profits from sports betting as taxable income. Technically, that’s the case whether you win a bet at Bovada or with a friend. Having said that, we’re not accountants. So check with the person who does your taxes to make sure you’re doing things by the book (so to speak).
How To Choose The Best Sportsbooks For Beginners
There’s no shortage of sports betting sites. Even if you live in the U.S., where placing wagers online involves jumping through hoops, plenty of books want your business. Of course, that doesn’t mean every site is trustworthy or runs a quality operation. Frankly, some are downright shady.
You need a list of parameters to determine which sites are the best sportsbooks for beginners. Here are some of the things to look for (and things to avoid):
Customer support – If you bet online long enough, you’ll eventually run into minor issues that need to be resolved. Even if a problem is of your own making, it’s important to have access to support reps at the book you’re using who can help get things back on track. To that end, a sportsbook’s support staff should be responsive, professional, and knowledgeable.
Promotions and bonuses – The top sportsbooks for beginners go to great lengths to attract new bettors and encourage them to place bets. They do so by offering generous “new account” bonuses and holding routine promotions. For example, Betonline offers a $25 risk free bet for live in game betting. Similarly, Bovada gives you 50% deposit bonus match up to $250 when you make a first deposit (no promo code needed).
Banking options – One of the biggest hurdles you’ll run into is funding your accounts. The most convenient method is to use your credit card. But thanks to legislative roadblocks set up by US politicians, transactions often get declined. It’s helpful when sports betting sites offer several funding options, such as money transfers, bank wires, and deposits from eWallet services.
Good odds – It does little good for a sportsbook to provide great support, big bonuses, lots of banking options, but horrible odds. That’s a great recipe for losing money on your bets. Some books, like BetOnline and Bookmaker, are known for consistently offering attractive lines. That said, it’s useful to have options. We recommend registering accounts at a few books so you can compare and shop for the best odds.
Easy-to-use interface – The interface at any sportsbook should be easy to use. But this is doubly important if you’re just getting started. If the software is clunky or the site is hard to navigate, it can make the entire experience unpleasant. Sites like Bovada and Sportsbook have been catering to sports bettors for so long that both have a keen grasp on how to design a seamless betting environment.
Rollover requirement – A rollover reflects the amount of money you’re required to wager before you can make a withdrawal. It varies by site. Some of the best sportsbooks for beginners impose rollovers as low as 3X your deposit (Bovada is a great example). Others impose much higher rollovers, making it difficult to get your money out.
Track record – You want to work with books that have a history in the sport betting industry. If a site has been serving its customers for several years, there’s an excellent chance it has gained their loyalty by offering a high-quality, dependable service. That kind of reputation is hard to ignore, especially given the number of “here today, gone tomorrow” sites that populate the industry.
Casino? Poker? Racebook? – Many of the top sportsbooks for beginning sports bettors offer wagering opportunities that extend beyond sporting events – namely, a casino, poker room, and racebook. You might be completely uninterested in these features. But you might be surprised by how many people felt similarly and eventually wandered into a sportbook’s casino or poker room. It’s a great way to blow off steam and add variety to your betting activity. Bodog, TopBet, and SportsBetting (all are on our recommended list) host a casino. Bodog provides a casino, poker room, and racebook.
Our Favorite Online Sportsbooks For Beginners
Throughout this page, we’ve mentioned a number of sports betting sites that meet specific criteria we consider important for beginning bettors. From Sportsbook and Bovada to JustBet and Bodog, we’re confident that novice sports bettors will have a great experience.
We recommend visiting all of them. Check them out for yourself. Test drive them to become familiar with their interfaces, software, bonuses, and other features. Ultimately, you’re the best judge of what you prefer in a sportsbook. That said, use the sites on our “most trusted books” list as the springboard for your sports betting adventure.
Photo credits: Sink or swim?