If you’re new to online sports betting, there’s one thing you should know from the outset: no two sportsbooks are the same.

The purpose of this guide is to help new bettors orient themselves in the world of online sportsbooks and give you the tools to select a trustworthy website that suits your betting needs. Here, you will learn about every step of the sign-up process, how to place your first bet, and most importantly, how to get paid when all is said and done.

We have over 50 years of combined sports-betting experience, and have placed bets at virtually every online gambling site available. We’ve used that knowledge and experience to compile a list of the top sportsbooks (hence the name).

We’ve compiled detailed reviews on the betting sites that you can trust, but they all have differences, some subtle and others not. They differ, for example, in the types of bonuses they offer, how they set their odds, and the ease of depositing and withdrawing money, to name a few areas. Only when you understand those differences will you be able to choose the book that best suits your needs

The differences between sportsbooks

Online sportsbooks must adhere to similar regulations, so in certain areas, they can’t differentiate from their competition. For instance, no matter what book you go to, you will have to provide similar personal information before you can sign up or make a withdrawal. However, when you are signing up, you’ll get your first glimpse of how sportsbooks can differ by looking at the type of sign-up bonuses (which we explain in more detail here) they offer. Almost every online sportsbook will offer some sort of promotion to attract new users to join, yet rarely will you see two sites offering the same sign-up promotion.

Other important aspects of sportsbooks that you will find change from site to site are:

  • the range of the daily betting menu (i.e. how many different sports and games you can wager on)
  • the odds for games
  • the speed at which odds are posted
  • the user-friendliness of the interface
  • the range of prop bets available
  • the speed at which deposits and payouts are processed
  • the methods available for depositing and withdrawing funds
  • the secondary betting options, like casino games and horse racing
  • the availability of mobile betting
  • the promotions and bonuses available after sign-up
  • the availability of customer service representatives

Which sportsbook is right for you depends on what you value. Some people prefer a straightforward place to bet without bells and whistles. Others are only worried about getting the very best odds. Some people want to make exotic bets, like 12-team parlays. Others are most concerned with getting their winnings as fast as possible.

It is vitally important when you chose a book to understand your own betting values and habits.

Are you the type of person who loves getting the VIP treatment at the club and wants to feel loved by your sportsbook with constant perks? Are you a volume bettor who wants to get cash back to make the process worthwhile? Or do you want a book that caters to those who bet on longshots and frequently offers an extra half point to underdogs? Once you identify which services you value and which you don’t, you can start to figure out which sportsbook is best for you.

How and why do we rate online sportsbooks?

Those of us who like to bet need straightforward advice on where to do so. As we just went over, no two sportsbooks are the same, and which one is best for you depends on what you want to get out of your online betting experience. One of the main reasons MTS rates online sportsbooks is to allow new bettors to get the lay of the land without having to use the guess-and-test or trial-and-error system. The fact that a sportsbook looks great on its homepage does not mean they have good customer service, or even can fulfill their promises. Our reviews set out how the various online sportsbooks approach things like bonuses and deposit methods, thereby detailing how they differ from one another and allowing new bettors to make an informed choice from the outset.

The other main reason we review sportsbooks is to separate the trustworthy from the untrustworthy.

By spending time using a wide variety of sites, we are able to weed through the ones that are unreliable or have lackluster offerings, and focus on those that meet our lofty expectations.

In order to establish itself as trustworthy, sites must:

  • honor wagers placed
  • provide payouts at a reasonable speed
  • handle bettors’ funds and personal information safely and securely
  • offer attainable bonuses and promotions
  • have prompt and knowledgeable customer service that can resolve all issues and complaints

If MTS didn’t exist, my co-founder and I would be on a group text or email, sharing information about what offers various sportsbooks have at the moment; which sites are providing the best promotions, lines, and service; the speed and ease of payouts and deposits; and generally finding the best books so that our online betting experience is first-rate.

In sum, we are online bettors who care about wagering safely and efficiently. There is no substitute for time and effort, and we pride ourselves on thoroughly vetting sportsbooks and finding the next big thing, both for us and for you.

How our sportsbook ratings work

Our detailed reviews rate sportsbooks on a 0-100 percentage-point system. However, we don’t just give you one single number to go on. We break down the nitty-gritty of each and every site. The overall percentage is based on how many stars (1 to 5) sites get in certain subcategories.

The subcategories we rate are:

  • bonuses and promotions
  • banking
  • customer service
  • sportsbook features
  • website UI and UX

By rating each of these integral components of a sportsbook, the final percentage has a solid foundation by which we are able to surface the truly exceptional sportsbooks from the average. Keep in mind that we actually use the web sites we rate and are confident that our highest rated sportsbooks, are generally the best choice overall. If you have specific needs, then dive deeper to find a site that better suits your needs.

Once you read through our reviews, you might feel ready to sign-up for an account at a certain site. What can you expect during the sign-up process, and how can you be sure to get the most out of it? Read on to the next chapter to find out.