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Ian Bruce

What are the best sports to bet on in the UK? The statistics show that football is the most bet on sport in Britain closely followed by horse racing whilst golf and boxing are not far behind. Uncover what makes them the best to bet on and how to pick the right sport for you according to your own betting needs and preferences.

Britain’s Most Popular Sports for Betting

Sports betting has always been popular in Britain. Even today, when most people tend to bet online, government statistics tell us that there are still almost 6,000 betting shops doing business. The best sports to bet on are those that are most popular with the general betting public. We’ll explain why that is later on in this guide. Right now, however, let’s take you through what those sports are and why they get so much attention from bettors.

1 – Football

According to Britannica, the modern game of football has been around since the 19th century, and we’re the ones who came up with it. Today it’s one of the biggest spectator sports in the world, and that’s because almost every country on the planet plays it. Here in the UK, football is as popular a topic of conversation as the weather. And the only thing we enjoy as much as watching football matches is betting on them.


Because football is such a mainstream interest, it gets a colossal amount of coverage on TV, radio and in newspapers and magazines. That makes it easy to watch games at home, listen to live radio commentary in the car and keep up to date with the latest news and results. All of that can help us to stay fully informed and make better decisions when we come to place a bet.

The number of markets available for betting on football is enormous. As well as being able to bet on the result of a match, we can also predict the correct score, how many goals will be scored in total, which player will score first and how many corners will be taken. And those are just a few of the options available, which is why it’s our first choice as one of the best sports to bet on.

Why Bet on Football?

✅You can use widely available stats (such as results and league table data) to help you make informed betting decisions.

✅Because football is played around the world, there are always matches taking place somewhere. That means you can bet all year round, and not just during the domestic football season.

✅There are plenty of markets that will give you a chance of landing a winning bet even if you can’t pick the winning team. For example, you could simply bet on a goal being scored in the first half, or on both teams to score before full time.

2 – Horse Racing

Known as ‘the sport of kings’ because of its popularity with members of the British royal family, horse racing is also a big hit with the rest of us. Again, this is a sport that is enjoyed around the world. So as well as being able to bet on our own Grand National we can just as easily bet on the Kentucky Derby in the US or on the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France.

Horse Racing

Even if you were to restrict your interest to betting on horse racing in the UK, you’d still have plenty of action to enjoy throughout the year. There’s Flat racing from March to November, National Hunt racing from October to April, and All-Weather racing on top. The added good news for those who bet with online bookmakers is that most if not all of these races are streamed live.

There aren’t quite as many betting markets for horse racing as there are for football, but there are still plenty enough to keep you busy. As well as being able to bet on horses to win or get a place, you can predict which horses will fill the top two or three places, how many favourites will win at a certain meeting and even the distance by which a race will be won. 

Why Bet on Horse Racing?

✅The thrill of picking the winning horse from a field of eight, twelve or even more runners is hard to beat. Some enjoy the thrill of winning even more than the profits they make from the bookies.

✅Most of the betting sites will let you watch the races live as they are being run. This means you can spend a virtual day at the races without leaving your armchair.

✅Not all races are equally competitive. You can boost your chances of winning quite considerably by focusing on non-handicap races of twelve runners or less.

3 – Greyhound Racing

Many fans of horse racing also like to bet on greyhound racing because it provides a similar thrill when you pick a winner. The pace of greyhound racing is much faster, so a typical meeting will have around a dozen races for you to look at. And there aren’t any jockeys involved, so here you’re betting purely on the ability of each animal.

Greyhound Racing

There are 21 greyhound tracks in the UK. By comparison, horse racing has 59 racecourses. This gives greyhound bettors a bit of an advantage, as it’s easier to familiarise yourself with 21 venues than 59. The fact that a British greyhound race only has 6 dogs taking part also makes it easier to pick winners.

Live streaming of greyhound races is available at many online betting sites. As for markets, you can bet on a dog to win or place, on which dogs will occupy the first three positions, on which trap number will be most successful at a given meeting, and more.

Why Bet On Greyhound Racing?

✅Having just six dogs in each race makes it easier to pick winners than in horse racing.

✅Pick 3 and Pick 6 accumulator bets give you a chance to win big from a small stake. Simply select the dogs you think will win each of the first 3 or 6 races and if you’re right the bet will also win.

✅Many bookmakers will offer Best Odds Guaranteed on greyhound racing. That means you can take an early price and, if the Starting Price is bigger, your bet will be settled at the more generous odds.

4 – Tennis

Betting on tennis always spikes during the annual Wimbledon Championships. But there are many other tournaments and competitions to keep you entertained throughout the rest of the year. You’ve got the Australian Open, the French Open, the US Open, the ATP and WTA Finals and dozens more opportunities to turn your tennis knowledge into cash.


A singles tennis match has just two competitors. At the easiest end of the betting spectrum, you can simply bet on which one you think will win. If you prefer to get a bit more adventurous, you’ll find scores of other markets to explore. You can bet on how many games will be played in a match, how many aces will be scored, how many double faults will be committed, and so on.

Live streaming of tennis matches is more limited than horse racing and greyhound racing due to licensing restrictions. However, streaming is still available for quite a few matches, and there’s a decent amount of television coverage for the biggest events.

Why Bet on Tennis?

✅With just two players in a singles match, you have a great chance of picking the winner. Especially if you take past form and current rankings into consideration.

✅There are scores of tennis betting markets to explore. Some won’t even require you to predict which player will win. For example, you could bet on how many games will be played in a match.

✅Tennis form is generally very reliable, especially at the highest levels of the sport. Identifying the favourite to win a tennis tournament and then betting on them match by match can pay some impressive dividends.

5 – Cricket

Cricket is one of the best sports to bet on for anyone who loves to crunch numbers. As well as being able to bet on which team will win a particular match, you can also bet on which player or team will score the most runs, the total number of runs a team will score, how the first wicket will fall, and many other variables. Spread betting markets give you even more options.


The number of cricket competitions you can bet on is equally impressive. As well as the Ashes, you’ve got the T20 World Cup, the ICC World Cup, the Indian Premier League, our own County Championship, and the Hundred, to name just a few. Live streaming is also available for many matches, which is great news for fans of live betting.

Why Bet on Cricket?

✅This is the ideal sport for stats enthusiasts. With so many numbers in the game (runs, balls, overs, wickets, and so on) the betting options are fantastic.

✅A cricket match takes a long while to play, so there’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy live betting all day long. Fortunately, if you also have a life to live, you can bet on cricket on your mobile.

6 – Golf

Another sport that is played at a fairly leisurely pace is golf. It doesn’t get as much attention as the other sports we’ve already mentioned, so the number of golf betting markets available is a bit more limited. Betting on a player to win a tournament or a particular round of a tournament is something you can do with most bookmakers. But the best golf betting sites will also let you bet on a player to make the cut, on match-ups, and the winning margin.


Golf is played and enjoyed around the world, so you’ll never have to wait long for the next big tournament to come along. That said, the late spring and summer months tend to be the most exciting, with the Masters taking place in April, the PGA in May, the US Open in June and the Open in July.

Why Bet on Golf?

✅If betting on the winner of a tournament sounds too challenging, you can also bet on a player to make the Top 5, Top 10 or even the Top 20. This means your bet will win as long as your selected player is ranked high enough at the end of the competition.

✅Bookmakers will also let you bet on match-ups. These put just two or three players in competition with each other for betting purposes.

7 – American Football

You might be surprised to see American football on this list of the best sports to bet on in the UK, but it has a huge following here. Online betting has played a big role in this. US sportsbooks that have opened in the UK tend to offer the same American football markets as they do on their home turf. UK bookmakers quickly started giving the sort just as much coverage in an effort to remain competitive.

American Football

All of that means there’s plenty of American football betting available. The most popular league to bet on is the NFL, with the annual Superbowl being the biggest highlight. As well as predicting which team will win a conference or match, you can also bet in handicap markets and on particular elements of the game, such as which player will throw the most passing yards and which will catch the most receiving yards. These are just a couple of examples, so if you’re a stats fan you’ll be in your element with this sport.

Why Bet on American Football?

✅Every American football game has a sense of occasion about it. This makes it one of the most entertaining sports to enjoy as a spectator, and betting on it only adds to the excitement.

✅There are markets for everyone, from complete beginners (match result) to die-hard fans with plenty of knowledge (which player will score the first touchdown).

✅The high number of points that can be scored makes it ideal for those who like spread betting or over/under betting.

8 – Rugby

Rugby is yet another sport that is played worldwide, but a handful of countries take it more seriously than others. Those countries are England, Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and France.


Here in the UK, you can bet on both Rugby League and Rugby Union events. And while you won’t find too many promotions around that are specific to rugby, there are usually some good ones available for big events like the Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup.

Why Bet on Rugby?

✅There can be plenty of points scored in a top-flight rugby game, so as well as being able to bet on the winner of a match, you can also bet in various over/under markets. 

✅The biggest rugby matches are televised. That’s a good thing for those who enjoy live betting because streaming at betting sites is a little thin on the ground.

9 – Basketball

The second traditionally American sport to appear in this list of the best sports to bet on is basketball. There are basketball leagues all over the world, but the most popular for betting are the NBA and the Euroleague. The NBA alone gives us 82 games per team in the regular season, and that equates to more than 1,230 games in total. Throw in all the other leagues, as well as college basketball, and you’ll never face a shortage of betting opportunities.


This is another sport in which plenty of points are scored, and that gives us a wealth of markets to choose from. On the individual game level, those will include totals, spreads (handicaps), and player props. But you can also bet on a seasonal basis by predicting which team will win the Euroleague, for example, or which NBA star will receive the Most Valuable Player award.

Why Bet on Basketball?

✅There are thousands of games played every year, both at home and abroad, so there will always be something to bet on.

✅Basketball is a fast-paced sport with plenty of points being scored. That makes it ideal for anyone who likes to bet in over/under markets, as well as for those who would enjoy following the action while live betting at the same time.

 10 – Boxing

Boxing is a fairly unusual sport in that it isn’t seasonal and it doesn’t follow a fixed schedule. Fights take place on a regular basis, and bookies will offer markets for them, but only a handful will grab headlines and the attention of the general public. You’ll therefore need to check in with bookmakers to see what’s available each week.


The simplest sport bet for boxing involves picking one of the boxers to win the fight. If you want a bigger challenge in the hope of landing bigger returns, many other options are available. Some of the most popular ones require you to predict the method of victory (decision, knockout, disqualification and so on), how many rounds the fight will go to, how many punches will be thrown and how many will be landed.

Why Bet on Boxing?

✅There is a surprising number of boxing betting markets to choose from. This gives you plenty of room to create bet builder wagers.

✅Boxing isn’t seasonal, so you can bet all year round. However, you’ll need to keep an eye on the boxing section of your favourite betting sight because only the biggest fights make headlines.

11 – Darts

Darts has always been a popular spectator sport, but betting on it has also taken off in a big way. Part of that is thanks to darts events getting some great television coverage. And there are quite a few of them, with the PDC World Darts Championship, the UK Open, the World Grand Prix and the World Series of Darts being a few of the most notable.


The range of darts betting markets is also impressive. You can bet on everything from the tournament winner and match winner to the correct score, the number of 180s that will be scored in a match and which player will achieve the highest checkout. Handicap markets are also available for those times when you want to bet on the underdog or get a better price on the favourite.

Why Bet on Darts?

✅This sport gives you a great range of betting opportunities. Keep things simple by betting on the tournament or match winner, go to the opposite extreme and try to predict the correct leg score, or try one of the markets in between.

✅Darts enjoys lots of television coverage, and live streaming is also available at the best darts betting sites.

12 – Motorsports

The last entry on our list of the best sports to bet on is motorsports. Here we’re including everything from Formula 1 racing to NASCAR and MotoGP. The Formula 1 season alone will normally give you at least 20 Grand Prix races to bet on (there are 24 scheduled for the 2024 season). If you also bet on F1 qualifiers and other motorsports you’ll be even more active.


Sticking to Formula 1 to give you some examples of the betting markets available, you can bet on which driver will win the Driver’s Championship, which team will win the Constructor’s Championship, and which driver will win a particular Grand Prix. Other top sports betting markets in F1 include will let you make seasonal match bets, race match bets, and bet without the favourite, to name just a few. 

Why Bet on Motorsports?

✅Whether you prefer Formula 1, NASCAR or Moto GP, motorsports provide high-octane entertainment on a fixed schedule. That means you can plan your betting activity weeks or months in advance.

✅You can bet in a considerable number of markets that include head-to-heads, lap times, fastest pit stop and more.

Key Features of the Best Sports to Bet On

As you’ve read through our rundown of the best sports to bet on you might have noticed that they have more than a few things in common. That’s because we selected these sports on the basis of how they deliver in each of five key areas, as detailed below:

➡️Ease of Access

Our first consideration when assessing top sport betting opportunities is always how easy it is to access betting markets with online bookmakers. It’s no good telling you that chess boxing is a sport that’s grown steadily since the 1970s if betting sites don’t actually let you bet on it. All of the sports we’ve featured here are ones that you can bet on with almost any online betting site. That means they’re easily accessible for everyone in the UK, no matter who you bet with.

➡️Range of Markets

Next, we look at the range of betting markets that are available for a given sport. We obviously want to be able to bet on the outright winner of an event, but we’d also like additional markets to engage with. Being able to bet on the number of goals or points that will be scored in a game, the margin of victory and similar variables is what makes sports betting so interesting.

➡️Availability of Form / Stats

Regular readers among you will know that we always recommend taking past performance and results into consideration when making your sport bet selections. You can only do that if the required results and form summaries are made readily available. The best sports featured here are all ones that you can read about in any newspaper or keep up to date with via TV, radio and the internet.

➡️Competitive Odds

When you come to make a bet, you want to be sure you’re getting a fair deal. Fortunately, bookmakers are competitive, so they work hard to offer odds that both current and future customers will find attractive. This is particularly the case with sports that enjoy a high level of popularity, such as those we’ve featured above.

➡️Regular Promotions

Not all sports get an equal amount of attention from the promotions department, but we want to have at least a few regular promotions to look forward to. That might be Grand Slam specials in tennis, Best Odds Guaranteed in horse racing, acca boosts in football, and so on. This isn’t our top priority when we’re selecting the best sports to bet on, but it’s still a factor that we always aim to take into consideration.

What is the Best Sport to Bet On for You?

Now that you’ve seen our list of the best sports to bet on, you might well be wondering which one would be best for you personally. There’s no easy answer to that question because different bettors have different interests and preferences. It’s therefore worth thinking about what you actually want to get from your betting hobby so that you can choose a sport - or maybe a couple of sports - that are suitable. Here are a few questions worth pondering:

  1. What sports do you enjoy watching?

    If you enjoy watching some sports more than others then the chances are high that you’ve already got an affinity for it. By focusing on a sport that you’re already interested in, you’ll find it quite easy to keep yourself up to date with who’s playing well and who isn’t. You’ll also enjoy betting on a favourite sport a lot more than you would on one that you have less passion for.
  2. What sports would you be willing to follow closely?

    For those of you who don’t already watch a particular sport, ask yourself which one you could see yourself watching in the future. Equally useful is asking yourself which sport you tend to avoid watching. For example, if you hate football then you probably won’t enjoy keeping up to date with results and league table positions. But if you look forward to watching Wimbledon every year, you’re likely to enjoy tennis betting in general.
  3. What kind of bets would you like to make?

    Do you want to make straightforward bets on which player or team will win a tournament or match? In that case, you can pick any sport on our list and it would be perfectly suitable. However, if you’re a stats nerd and you want to bet on the numerical intricacies of a game, sports like cricket, American football and basketball would give you many more options than ones like boxing or horse racing.
  4. Do you want to bet all year round?

    The international nature of online betting means that you can bet on most sports all year round. However, there are some that are quite seasonal. National Hunt horse racing in the UK, for example. If you want to be able to get on the best sports bets from January to December then you’ll need to pick a sport that will give you plenty of action.
  5. Do you want live streaming?

    A final question you might want to ask yourself is whether or not you want your chosen sport to be available via live streaming. Some sports are better than others in this respect. Horse racing and greyhound racing are superb for live-streaming coverage. Boxing, on the other hand, generally isn’t very good at all. If you really aren’t bothered about live streaming then your options are wide open.

What are the Best Sports for Making Winning Predictions?

Something often asked by those new to betting is what are the best sports for making winning predictions. Our answer is that no sport makes it child’s play to land winning bets, but some are a lot less challenging than others. 

If you want to follow sports in which you’ll find it easier to pick winners, you need to focus on those where there are as few possible outcomes as possible. Tennis is probably the easiest, with just two possible outcomes. And the next up would the those sports that could also result in a draw, such as football or boxing.

Sports like greyhound racing and horse racing aren’t nearly so easy because they involve multiple runners, any one of which could potentially win. That said, if you were to blindly back the favourites in horse racing you’d still win around 30% of the time. Possibly more if you focus on non-handicap races.

Of course, when you have selected the sport you want to bet on, you’ll need to focus on the best sport betting markets if you want things to be as easy as possible. Picking the winner of a tennis match means choosing between just two players. But betting on how many sets will be played in a match is a lot more difficult because there are a lot more possibilities involved.

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Ian Bruce

What is the Most Profitable Sport to Bet On?

This is a question that most bettors ask at one point or another. Unfortunately, there isn’t any hard data in the public domain that gives us an answer. At least, not in the UK. In the USA it’s widely held that betting on college football and NFL games is most profitable. But even there, you need to be making straightforward bets, and not trying your luck on high-risk parlays.

Our advice if you want to maximise your chances of making profits long term is to focus on sports that give you a high chance of success in basic markets. That would mean picking the winner of a tennis match or predicting the outcome of a football match.

Simply the Best!

Having identified the best sports to bet on and how to choose the right one for you, all that remains is for you to pick a sport and start learning all you can about it. The more you know, the easier you will find it to make successful sport bet selections. Of course, you’ll also need your fair share of luck to land winning bets, just as competitors do to win the sport gaming events themselves. But that’s part of what makes sports betting so unpredictably entertaining. Good luck and enjoy the sport!


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Ian Bruce

Ian Bruce joined Safest Betting Sites in 2024 as Senior Sports Editor to oversee the quality and usefulness of its gambling content. He originally developed an interest in betting after landing a winning Yankee on his first attempt. He then spent years figuring out how to replicate that success. Along the way, he became one of the UK’s leading writers on the topic of betting and gaming. Ian’s career has now spanned more than three decades, and his enthusiasm for systematic and responsible betting hasn’t waned one bit. However, his preferred approach to winning these days is Dutching, for the simple reason that “It’s a lot easier than landing Yankees.”