Home » how we rate bookmakers
Peter Addison

Here, we are going to explain to you how we rate the UK online bookmakers that appear on our pages. At SafestBettingSites, our aim is to review every bookmaker that is legally available to punters in the UK (that is, every site that has a current UKGC licence), and to score them appropriately. It is therefore important, in the name of honesty and transparency, for us to explain how we generate our ratings.

The sections that follow explain what we look for when we are evaluating bookmakers in the UK and how we produce ratings on what we find. We hope that discussing how we come up with our ratings will put you in a better place when deciding which of the safest UKGC-registered betting sites suit you best.

Our Methods – How We Come Up With Our Ratings

The whole purpose of our site is to point you in the direction of the best online bookmakers available to punters in the UK that are 100% safe. Take a quick look around our pages and you’ll see us discussing a huge number of UK online bookmakers. Each is given a rating between zero and ten, and that rating is also presented as a rating of up to five stars. The higher the rating, the better the bookie, of course.

We understand that while betting on football and horse racing are the mainstays of wagering in the UK, not everyone bets on the same markets or bets in the same manner. You might be the type of punter who sticks a pound or two on an EPL acca every Friday. Or you could be someone who scrutinises spreadsheets and databases in search of value bets from any market. We do our best to cater for all manner of punters when we come up with our ratings.

One thing you may notice once you have taken a look around our site is that all our ratings tend to be high. There is a simple explanation for this. If we evaluate a bookmaker and discover it to be worthy only of a low rating, then we simply do not mention it. We only want to send you to the best UK online bookmakers, so why mention those we have deemed unworthy?

Naturally, while we would love to do all this for kudos, we have to put bread on our tables. For that reason, we might receive compensation from some of the bookies we mention. However, that doesn’t mean that you should doubt our sincerity. We want you to use our site time and time again, and if we send you to a site that’s as useful as a handful of candy floss when you’re trying to break a window, then you’re unlikely to pay us a return visit. As we don’t want that to happen, we still only recommend sites that we think number among the best.

What We Look For When Rating Bookmakers

So, how do we come up with the final reckoning when we are evaluating an online bookie in the UK? Below you will find the six cornerstones that we consider when coming up with our evaluation.

  1. Markets

    We of course know that the mainstays of sports betting in the UK are football and horse racing, but that does not mean everyone just bets on those two sports. We look for a very good range of markets available at any online bookie, from the most popular to the obscure (including eSports betting markets). An excellent range of live betting markets (complete with cash out) is a ‘must have’ too.
  2. Safety

    We admit we are hammering this point home a little, but we only ever consider online betting sites that accept UK customers that have UKGC licences. We also check the encryption measures taken by the site we are looking at especially when it comes to financial matters, and any data leaks or breaches the site has been guilty of in the past.
  3. Responsible Gambling

    It’s a happy fact of life that most people gamble in a responsible manner, but there are always those few who succumb to problematic gambling. We always research a site’s responsible gambling measures, such as time outs and sanity reminders, to see if they measure up to what we expect. We also check out any past responsible gambling failings. We are aware that all UKGC sites are legally obliged to adhere to GAMSTOP registrations.
  4. Odds

    The prices of the events and outcomes you are betting on are key to your returns. No matter how successful a bettor you are, if you are placing your bets at underwhelming odds, you will get underwhelming returns. We only champion sites that have acceptable odds. We also look for sites that offer ‘best odds guaranteed’ which ensures you get paid at the most beneficial price.
  5. Customer Care

    Matters seldom become unhinged at sports betting sites in the UK, but if they do you are going to want to know that help is at hand, and by help we mean help from genuine, informed human beings and not AI bots. Telephone support is a bonus, but live chat manned by real people is a must. A site that only offers email support is unlikely to receive high grades.
  6. Bonuses and Promotions

    Everyone loves a bonus, but only if it is fair and square. When we come across a sports betting bonus, we take a thorough look at the terms and conditions to find out just how open and transparent they are. As well as welcome bonuses, we are pleased by sites that offer regular deals to their existing customers, such as enhanced odds as free bets.

Choosing A Bookmaker – Considering Payments and Logistics

If you are betting, then you are spending money – and hopefully winning plenty of it too. You are therefore going to need a way of getting money into your sports betting account. We carefully consider the payment options offered by any UK bookmaker, and their usefulness is a cornerstone of part of our overall ranking.

bet365 payment methods

Not only do we look at which payment methods are available, but we also look at the speed of payment processing. We all know that deposits can be completed in a matter of seconds, but that withdrawals oddly seem to take a lot longer. When it comes to our ratings for payment processing, we choose sites that honour your withdrawals within hours, not days.

What are the Payment Options Available at UK Bookmakers?

In an effort to promote responsible gambling, the UKGC has restricted the payment options available to punters at the online betting sites that are registered with them. Credit cards were banned in 2020, and while cryptocurrency payments aren’t banned, sites are strongly dissuaded from accepting them. Betting sites also are no longer as happy as they used to be to accept ‘pay by phone bill’ payments. ‘Stealth’ credit payments such as PayPal credit are banned too.

Happily, there are still plenty of valid payment options to choose from at the leading UK bookmakers. These include both Visa and MasterCard debit cards, eWallets such as PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, Payz and MuchBetter, and bank transfers, either direct or through a third-party provider such as Trustly. ApplePay is another good option to have, as is GooglePay or Google Wallet.

Withdrawal Problems? Then Keep Your Distance!

It would be nice if all online bookmakers gave out money as happily as they take it in. Fortunately, there are enough that do. When we look at an online bookmaker in the UK, we check back in history (which is easy to do over the internet) to see people have complained about withdrawal problems. Of course, you can only believe about ten percent of what you read on the internet when it comes to ‘user comments’, but if there is an undeniable trend of payment problems, then our rating of a site is bound to be negatively affected.

The Word Everyone Dreads When it Comes to Payouts… Fees!

There are always fees when it comes to payment processing. But that does not mean you should be the one that’s paying them! The best UK bookmakers online are those that absorb the fees themselves. This means that when you withdraw £40, you get £40 and not a penny less.

Some sites do charge fees for withdrawals, but they are usually minimal. However, a site that does not charge fees for withdrawals will always get better marks in this respect than any site that does.

Registration and KYC (Know Your Customer)

Registration is something of a double-edged sword at online betting sites. Sites want you to register with them as quickly and as conveniently as possible. However, they need to make sure you are who you say you are, or else they might fall foul of UKGC ‘KYC’ expectations. It is vitally important that anyone under the legal gambling age in the UK (18) is prevented from accessing UK betting sites, so such sites take steps to make sure that this does not happen.

For this reason, at most sites, the registration process is perhaps more involved than you’d want it to be. But at least you can now appreciate why that’s the case.

The Ease of Use of a Site and its App

Once you have completed your registration at a site, you will want to start betting. The usability of a site (or app) is key in this. We feel it should take you no more than three clicks of a mouse button or stabs of a finger for you to place a bet. Click one would be to find the event that you want to bet on. The second click would be to transfer the outcome of the event you want to wager upon to your betting slip. Click three to set the value of your wager and get your bet on.

man on phone betting app

Any site that makes it more difficult than it should be to place gets marks deducted from its overall rating. Also, sites and apps that bombard you with ads for their stuff that you have not expressed the slightest interest in, such as the latest, hottest slots, get similarly downvoted.

Customer Care and Communication

2023 was the year of the AI bot, and while we of course welcome our new artificially intelligent overlords, we frown upon the number of sports betting sites in the UK that have passed their customer channels over to bots.

We are ‘old fashioned’ enough to think that the human touch is required when it comes to communicating with your chosen betting site. Telephone support is ideal, but we appreciate that that’s a rarity. Effective live chat remains king though. And by live chat, we don’t mean a bot that passes you through to FAQs or stock answers that are not what you are looking for. We are talking about real humans who possess effective knowledge about the site you are using.

Additional support for non-crucial matters is important too. This can be an effective email address, or via other acceptable channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook or X (or whatever Elon Musk is calling it this week).

Responsible Gambling and GAMSTOP

A few online betting sites like to crow that they are members of GAMSTOP. This makes us chuckle a little as if a site has a UKGC licence, then legally they HAVE to be members of GAMSTOP. Just in case you didn’t know, GAMSTOP is a self-exclusion scheme for problem gamblers.


If you register with GAMSTOP, then your access to ALL gambling websites in the United Kingdom is instantly curtailed. You will still be able to access any accounts you have, but you will not be able to deposit or place bets. Your GAMSTOP exclusion period is entirely up to you.

Over and above GAMSTOP, we like to see sites that take their responsible gambling responsibilities seriously. All sites we recommend have responsible gambling sections, and the highest rated have effective tools such as sanity checks and timeouts, as well as advice on where you can get help with gambling issues if you need it.

Phone or Tablet Compatibility

There is now no excuse for any betting site not to offer downloadable and installable apps for both iOS and Android. Such apps are easy to create, with them being little more than mobile browsers in which navigation beyond the provider’s site has been disabled. We understand that all betting sites with UKGC licences are available within most compatible mobile browsers, but we prefer sites that at least give you the option of downloadable apps.

Of course, just having apps or mobile-optimised sites is not the be-all and end-all, especially when it comes to our ratings. When we come up with our marks, we check the apps (if available) on iPhones, iPads and Android tablets to make sure they do the business.

Our Ranking Methodology – The Final Word

We hope we have convinced you of our clarity, transparency, integrity and usefulness to you. There is no reason for us to hide the fact that we are an affiliate site, so we have not done so. We accept payment for the work we do in promoting the best UK betting sites the internet has to offer. But that does not mean we are as trustworthy as a used car salesman at a suspiciously temporary-looking location. If we find a site that accepts UK customers without having a UKGC licence, swathes its bonuses in unfathomable terms and conditions, or finds any excuse to delay withdrawals or not pay withdrawals at all, then you won’t find them mentioned here. It really is as simple as that!

Our reviews are aimed at helping you find the best and safest betting site that completely suits your needs, from footie fans to golf betting gurus. We never purposefully mislead you, such as by saying that a bonus is superb if you need to wager through it one hundred times before you can cash out. Or that a site has downloadable mobile apps when it doesn’t, or gets your withdrawals to you within minutes when in fact it takes days.

We are glad you have chosen to join us on our trek across the UK sports betting site landscape, and we hope we remain friends for a very long time.

Peter Addison
Peter Addison

Peter is one of the most well-known and well-respected names working in the field of online sports betting today. Having a Bachelor of Arts degree, Peter has worked for many high-profile publications in the industry, both online and in the real world. He joined the SafestBettingSites team in 2021 and has provided millions of words ever since. When not writing, Peter enjoys performing and writing music, gaming, reading and he is a massive movie buff, with a particular love of Japanese cinema and anime.