Sports Betting – Separating the Best Sportsbooks from the Rest

NCAA college football betting action has already begun, with an exciting opening day contested on September 3, 2009. Today, action was even better, with over 20 games kicking off at various times around the clock, giving football betting fans a much needed respite from a long, boring summer of baseball and golf (no offense MLB fans 😉 ). The first week of NCAA football ends on Monday evening. There are also a few smaller games in the afternoon on the Sunday.

Then, there’s the first week of the NFL regular season, slated to start September 10, 2009 with the Steelers taking on the Titans. Believe it or not, network TV already has the game promos out during commercial breaks, billing the game as a pseudo-Super Bowl event with the defending champion Steelers playing a more modest Tennessee Titans squad. All the same, it’s NFL betting for real, opposed to the pre-season which was for the most part, just a teaser and practice run. After kick-off on September 10, 2009, things get serious.

With the first NFL game just days away, we thought we’d briefly cover qualities of the best online sportsbooks, versus the ones that leave much to be desired. Sportsbook marketing is almost an art form, using a variety of sound bytes, catchy graphics, and mouth watering promos to get your money through the door. But players want to beat the books, not prop them up. To win at sports betting, ignore the hype. Use the methods discussed at JustGamble to hone your skill before this season’s NFL matchups beging.

Then ask yourself: does this sportsbook have what it takes to keep you, the valued client, coming back for more each week?

Here’s what we think the top sportsbooks for NFL betting all have in common:

  1. No “Bait and Switch Marketing Tactics” – It’s common for some offshore sportsbooks, especially the less reputable ones, to promise $X bonus or X privilege, but then only deliver $Y or Y privilege. For example, you might be enticed in the door with a 30% bonus, only to find that “30%” means 3 10% bonuses over the course of 3 weeks. The best sportsbooks don’t advertise this way, and tend to be more direct and simple. As a rule of thumb, if a sportsbook promotion sounds overly complicated, it’s not worth your time. Stay with the books that deliver what they promise, and don’t yank your chain around once you’ve signed up.
  2. Customer Service is Easily Accessed – Another hallmark of a great sportsbook is the availability of customer service. Plain and simple, not everyone is a seasoned online bettor, so approaching all the numbers, betting options, and rules might be confusing for a first time gambler. Sportsbooks with class will clearly advertise their support number, support email, or instant chat link. Such sportsbooks WANT to help their players, and treat their clients with the utmost of care. Meanwhile, more shady operations will hide their customer service information, expecting you to rely on yourself to navigate through all the complexities of sports betting once they have your money. Offshore sportsbooks that have stood the test of time take pride in helping out their customers.
  3. Follow up to the Above: Customer Service is Attentive – OK, so you’ve found the telephone number, live chat window, or email address: do the people at the other end actually respond? Sometimes under-financed sportsbooks are also short staffed, which means you’ll be stuck listening to elevator music for ten minutes on the phone; left checking your email for the next 3 hours; or wondering if there is anyone “alive” at all on the other end of your chat session. Your time, and your money, are important. Plus, right up until game time, when customer service is busiest, lines and odds will change and bets might be adjusted, both of which mean you’ve missed out on the opportunity to win money because the customer service is slower than sh*t. The sportsbooks featured at all have excellent custom service reputations, not to mention they also answer your questions promptly.
  4. Easy and Varied Deposit Options – You’ve just signed up at Sportsbook X and now have made your way to the cashier page. Suddenly, to your dismay, they don’t accept your favorite e-wallet; or worse, your attempts to use your credit card fail repeatedly. Sometimes, sportsbooks do experience legitimate banking issues, due in part to the UIGEA in the USA, which constrains banks from processing transactions to offshore gambling operations. Despite this fact, though, you know you’ve found a good sportsbook when the deposit process is effortless, and you’re offered a variety of different ways to get your money through the door. A sportsbook that can’t get money in probably won’t be around next month, so be weary of sites that can’t even get your deposit queued up.
  5. Wagering Menu is Easy to Navigate and Understand – Sometimes, you’ll land on a great looking sportsbook website with flashy graphics, amazing animations, and maybe even some great promotions. Then, after you’ve signed up and deposited money, you’re presented with a wagering menu that looks like the work of a drunk accountant. Nothing makes sense, the wagers aren’t clearly explained, and you have no idea what you’re betting on. Forget operations like this, they clearly don’t care about providing a helpful wagering experience. Instead, have a look at some of our top sportsbooks listed at this website, all of which have easy-to-understand wagering menus that offer a variety of different bets, sports leagues, and exotic wagering.
  6. You Get Paid out in a Timely Manner – This is the final component of any successful sportsbook operation: paying out players in a timely manner and with a financial instrument that is convenient. The operative words here are “timely manner”. Often, the sportsbook’s definition of “timely” may be much different than yours. The optimal wait time for a payout is a week at popular sportsbooks, and 10 days for operations that are just starting out. Many times, you’ll get paid out much sooner, but during the height of NFL betting season, the last thing most sportsbooks want to do is send money out of their coffers. Bearing this in mind, plus the fact that it is difficult to legally move money back into the USA from offshore sportsbook bank accounts, be prepared to wait a few days for your payout. If possible, join the sportsbook’s VIP program, or signup for an e-wallet service, both of which make paying you much easier. If not, you’ll be stuck waiting for a check in the mail or bank wire. Sportsbooks DO NOT put money back on your credit card.

We hope that we didn’t scare you off with the litany of issues that can arise when using an online sportsbook service. In reality, it boils down to this: the sportsbooks which remain open year after year, always treat you fairly, and can payout in a relatively quick manner are the websites you need to visit. This doesn’t mean that a new sportsbook is a scam, it just means that you have to keep your guard up and make sure you’re taken care of. When in doubt, always visit sportsbook players’ forums, where your fellow bettors will often post warnings about sloppy operations, or offer their help advocating for you should a dispute situation occur.

Visit our “Sportsbook Deposit Options” page to see how you can deposit for NFL Football Betting now!

Have fun and Good Luck!