There are hundreds of bookmakers out there who will happily take bets on football, and we’ve tried most of them.
We keep saying it, but we only feature bookmakers who we use ourselves and who we trust with our own money, so we have no hesitation recommending them to others.
The bookies on this site are all very tightly regulated, take their responsibilities to their customers extremely seriously, and have approachable and helpful customer service teams that are readily available.
Crucially, they all also offer some fantastic football betting offers, bonuses and free bets to help stack the odds in your favour when you are betting on the greatest sport on the planet. So take a look at some of the highlights of the bookmakers we feature and then take your pick of which you’d like to join.
Best Online Bookies
Betfair made betting exchanges mainstream but now offer the full array of betting options including a traditional sportsbook (effectively a "standard" bookie). Founded at the turn of the millennium, Betfair rapidly went from strength to strength and within a decade was handling more transactions than all European stock exchanges combined! Their innovation truly changed the betting landscape and since then they have continued to be pioneers in the betting world.
They have offices around the globe and are licensed and regulated in a huge number of countries too. A 2016 merger with Paddy Power created a true betting giant and although the two sites remain separate, the combined know-how and financial clout has helped make Betfair even stronger. The design of their site, range of markets, strong odds and brilliant offers mean they really are a must-have account for any regular punter.
888sport is the main sports betting arm of a site that also includes poker, bingo and casino suites. Whilst their roots were in online casinos there is no doubt that this polished betting site now offers a first class experience for those wanting to bet on sports, politics, TV and much more. They offer a huge range of markets from a wide range of countries so chances are, if you want to bet on it, 888sport will offer odds on it.
Whether you want to bet on the move or from a desktop, the design and functionality of the site are excellent, with the predominantly black colour scheme stylish and easy on the eye. 888sport offer a great sign up offer for new customers and plenty for existing players too so why not give them a try?
Coral are a household name when it comes to betting in the UK and have been established for almost 100 years. There have been more than a few changes of ownership in that time but the high class offering has remained a constant. Coral offer a wide range of sports betting options, including an excellent selection of football markets with above average odds, as well as poker, bingo and casino games.
Their polished site is quick and easy to use and with a generous sign up bonus on offer to new customers they are well worth giving a try. The free bet is great for betting on football, although it can be used on other sports too, and is supplemented by a solid range of offers and promotions for existing customers too. Why not check Coral out today?
With origins that reach back to 1886, Ladbrokes grew into one of the biggest gambling firms in the world, and they had fingers in plenty of other pies from casinos to hotels to homeware stores! Through their long and rich history they have had some scrapes, but have always been at the forefront of innovation and expansion in the betting world.
Now a modern bookie with a wide online presence, Ladbrokes have joined forces with Coral and are still one of the biggest and most popular gambling firms in the world. As they stride forth confidently in the current century Ladbrokes are showing no signs of slowing down as they look for more ways to impress their gambling customers with a wide range of betting offers, markets and tools for punters to use.
BetVictor is one of the best known UK bookies, despite the fact they stopped trading on the high street many moons ago, when they were still trading as Victor Chandler. Whilst their name and now also the ownership has changed, they have stayed true to the long-time ethos of the business, which is encapsulated by the nickname “the gentleman bookmaker”.
Their roots go back to beginning of the 20th century, but they were one of the first big UK bookies to embrace modern technology and the online world. They now operate in more than 150 countries around the world and offer the full suite of gambling facilities alongside their core sports betting offering – including poker, bingo, casino, live casino and much more.
With a polished site and regular great offers they are an excellent choice, especially for anyone who loves betting on football or horse racing as they boast some of the best prices in the business.
Betway may be considered something of a newcomer to the betting scene, at least in relative terms, but they are one of the first really successful online only brands and have made rapid strides to take their place in the front ranks of online operators.
The company only seems to grow in prominence with each passing year, thanks in no small part to their tactic of generously backing a range of sporting events, and one particularly fortuitous jackpot win. Betway have certainly been hard to avoid over the last decade.
A thoroughly modern company, it’s no surprise that Betway are up there with the best when it comes to the provision of a sleek and intuitive site. Backing this up with excellent customer service, quality promotions, and a full suite of gambling products from sports betting to bingo and beyond, they are likely to remain one of the first ports of call for online punters for some time to come.
From humble beginnings in 1960s Salford, brothers Fred and Peter Done have built Betfred into one of the major players on the British betting scene. Strongly represented on the high-street, and with a flourishing online business, the company continues to go from strength to strength. Recent moves into the Spanish and US markets certainly suggest they aren’t finished growing just yet.
The company undoubtedly has its roots in traditional bookmaking values, but also has a flair for innovation which other firms have struggled to match. The success of Betfred inventions such as the Lucky 15 and “Goals Galore” coupons, can be seen in just how widely imitated they have become. Betfred is now a thoroughly modern betting operator, offering a full gambling suite including sports betting, casino, bingo, poker and more. Whether you are betting in-shop or online, “The Bonus King” can be counted upon to provide one of the smoothest and best value betting experiences around.
Irish bookie Paddy Power are known for their, let's say imaginative, marketing ploys, but beneath the “cheeky chappy” image lies an innovative and well-run bookmaker that is often way ahead of its rivals.
Founded in 1988 in Dublin by a trio of astute time served bookmakers, Paddy Power were an unashamedly loud and proud high street bookie with distinctive branding and a penchant for garnering public attention - and they were good at it.
It paid off for them too. From their betting shop days through the advent of the internet and then their mobile gambling offerings, Paddy Power have shown over the years that their focus on giving customers what they want and running memorable marketing campaigns, has been key in attracting and retaining customers. With fingers now in the betting pies of the United States, Australia, and beyond, Paddy Power look more solid than ever.
William Hill is one of the biggest and best betting companies in the UK. Founded in 1934 by Mr William Hill, the company has expanded enormously over the years through innovation and acquisitions, proving themselves to be a popular choice with punters. They now employ over 12,000 people in 10 countries worldwide.
In an ever changing and highly competitive industry, William Hill can claim to be one of the most recognisable brands in the sports betting industry, and since the start of online betting they have been thriving, with more than two million people downloading their popular betting app in 2014.
The move into the US market two years prior was a milestone step for the company, opening the door to a whole continents worth of new customers, but for those in the UK wanting a bet on the high street or online, look no further than William Hill.
From their humble beginnings in a bedroom in Earl’s Court, Unibet grew into a major player in the world of gambling. Through initially diving headlong into offering telephone betting, then embracing the internet gaming innovations, Unibet was able to grow swiftly. Offering customers more stats and information than many of their rivals they became a trusted bookmaker with a reputation for putting customers first.
Unibet grew through the years in part through a series of shrewd acquisitions in the gambling world, eventually buying well-known brands such as Stan James and 32Red. The formation of an umbrella organisation, the Kindred Group, allowed the firm to retain brand diversity while pooling their knowledge and resources. Unibet are a great example of how solid business strategy and a customer-focussed approach can pay dividends in the world of gambling.
The Horserace Totalisator Board, now known as simply the Tote, was set up by the UK Government way back in the 1920s. From 1928 until it was sold to Betfred in 2011, the Tote was owned by the UK Government. After much disagreement, Betfred sold the Tote to the UK Tote Group (formerly Alizeti Capital) in 2019, with the company set to modernise and revitalised the organisation for several years to come.
Under the well-known brand name of Totesport, the Tote had over 500 high street betting shops, plus betting outlets on most of the UK’s racecourses, while also doing good business on the internet and even operating tele-betting too. The company is known mainly for its pool bets, which certainly makes it stand out from the crowd. The Tote is steeped in history and remains one of the biggest betting organisations in the UK.
Founded in 1989 in County Armagh in Northern Ireland by John Boyle, Irish-focussed bookie BoyleSports have grown steadily over the years. With more of a focus on the bricks and mortar premises than many of their rivals, the bookie opened their 100th betting shop in 2006 and by 2018 they had 250 retail betting stores.
As with all the bigger bookies these days, the internet has played a significant role in the success of BoyleSports, but so has brand recognition. This has been helped over the years by some high profile sponsorship deals with the likes of the big Irish racing festival, the Punchestown Festival, as well as various football teams and other sporting events. Brand ambassadors such as Kevin Kilbane have also helped the company gain more custom and prestige.
John Boyle stepped down as CEO in 2017 but he kept it in the family by handing the reins to his son-in-law, Conor Gray, since when the tried and tested method of high street expansion and shrewd sporting sponsorship deals has continued. At the time of writing, they are the largest independent bookmaker in Ireland.
Gone But Not Forgotten
In this next section we pay homage to the sites that are no longer with us, with a focus on those that were of significant importance in the development of the online betting world and/or that made a lot of noise whilst they were around.
Stan James started off as a single betting shop in Compton, Berkshire in 1973, founded by Steve Fisher and James Holder. That's right, there is no Stan James, the brand name came about in rather a fun way as you will read.
The bookie had a very fruitful spell as one of the UK’s biggest and best betting services for decades, really making an impact in the telephone betting era and then taking full advantage when the birth of the internet and Sky Sports came about.
Unibet bought Stan James’s online presence in 2015, with the Stan James website eventually being shut down three years later, and the Stan James shops were then re branded as Megabet. Nevertheless, Stan James remains a name that older bettors will recognise, and maybe even smile when they remember. Gone, but not forgotten.
BetBright had so much going for them, not least the fact that they were headlined by a technology platform which was the envy of many “bigger” companies in the business – to the extent that one of those bigger companies came and purchased the technology in the end.
They also went pretty big on the advertising front, with football shirt sponsorship and a high profile presence at the biggest race meetings. For the time that they were in operation, BetBright did offer a high quality product and service.
In spite of all that though, they were simply unable to achieve their lofty ambitions of gaining consistent success on a grander scale – perhaps illustrating just how tough it is to unseat the established big guns in the betting game from their thrones.
The pools product with which Vernons made its name isn’t quite dead yet, with a reported 300,000 people spending an average of £3 per week in the hopes of hitting that big win. That would represent a successful business in most people's eyes, but represents only a shadow of the craze which swept the nation for decades.
There are always likely to be victims when an industry sees such a huge decline in popularity, and in the end Vernons did bite the dust. A temporary rebranding as BetVernon didn’t work, and nor did a remodelling as a sports betting operator.
Vernons certainly enjoyed the good times, but just as the pools are but a fading memory for many, so too are the company which helped make the product the biggest bet in the land. Type “www.vernons.com” into your address bar these days and you will be redirected to “www.jackpot247.com”, which in a strange way is just what all those pools players were looking for in years gone by.
They may have only been in business for around 15 years in the end, but the fall of Blue Square was nevertheless one of the more surprising bookmaker disappearing acts since the launch of the internet age.
Highly visible across a range of sports through their sponsorship agreements, and boasting well-respected software and good value odds, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where it all went wrong for the company. It seems as though their demise was most likely a combination of the highly competitive nature of the online sports betting environment and a refocus away from sports betting by their (then) parent company, The Rank Group.
Blue Square did at least look after their customers until the very end, with the transfer of accounts to Betfair being a model of how all such deals should be conducted.
Picking a Good Betting Site for Football
When it comes to deciding which bookie to place your football bets with, there are a number of factors to consider. What you deem to be most important depends on your attitude to risk, as well as how, why, and when you bet, not to mention what type of punter you are.
We only work with a relatively small number of bookies that we use personally because that way we can keep a proper eye on them and keep all of our information current. We only like to bet with big names that we know can be trusted 100%.
As such, all the betting sites we feature score very highly in all of the following areas:
- Trust, honesty, and fairness
- Odds and range of markets
- Ongoing offers for existing customers
- Site design and usability
- Mobile site/app
- Free bet or welcome offer/bonus
- Extra features such as streaming and in-play options