A beginner’s guide to online sports betting

14 December 2020 |

South African bettors have the choice between a great variety of sportsbooks and more bookies are launching on a regular basis. If you are new to the online betting world this can be quite overwhelming and possibly a bit daunting. But it does not have to be! The Bet& Win team has put together a complete beginner’s guide on how to start betting online so you can make the best decision for yourself.

Step 1: Do your research

There is no one size fits all when it comes to sportsbooks. The best betting site for another punter might not be the best option for you.

A good starting point to discover the currently best betting sites are our bookie listings, categorised by favourite sports, and our comprehensive reviews.

We consider some key criteria for reviewing betting sites and you need to assess these for yourself as well to find the sportsbook that suits your personal requirements:

1. Safe and fair gambling

Online betting requires a high level of trust. One of the most frequent questions we receive is if a sports betting site is legit and operates under fair terms. You find all license information usually in the footer of each betting site. We have already covered this part for you as all betting sites we list are licensed as per SA law. Therefore, when choosing a sportsbook listed on betandwin.co.za you can be sure you play with a trustworthy, reliable operator that also values your safety and privacy. Licensed bookmakers need to comply with very strict procedures and ensure state-of-the-art security encryption and data protection software as well as fair gambling.

Tip: Always play with a licensed operator!

2. Bonus offers and promotions

All sports betting sites offer new players some sort of welcome offer. This ranges from free sign-up bonuses and/or a deposit match bonus on your 1st deposit to welcome bonus bundles. Sportsbook welcome offers are a good way to test a site and its functionality. Plus, you can boost your balance. But make sure you always read the available bonus T&Cs so you know what you are signing up for.

Some bonuses are valid on sportbets while others are valid only on Betgames or live games. The right bonus and hence sportsbook therefore also depends on what you want to bet on.

Additionally, also have a look at operators’ promotions pages to see their regular bonuses and promotions. While it is nice to be welcomed with a good offer a great betting site aims to reward loyal players continuously.

Tip: Be clear on what you want to bet on. Risk-free sign-up bonuses are great to test a sportsbook before depositing. Always read the terms and conditions.

3. Range of sports, markets and games

Modern sportsbooks feature a huge range of sports with a variety of markets. You get access to hundreds of sport events every day. Not all bookmakers have the same sports available. Therefore, if you e.g. want to bet on horse racing make sure that you check that betting on horses is actually on offer. The same apply for esports or virtuals. On Bet & Win we have recommendations for bookmakers especially for rugby, cricket, soccer, horse racing, esports and lotto.

Aside from standard betting options some bookies have special features such as Cash Out of Bet Builder which are great enhancements.

In addition, many betting sites boost their betting offer with online lotto betting and instant live games. Especially through the a good avriety of additional games sportsbooks can differentiate themselves nicely. Betgames, Evolution live casino games, lucky numbers, and virtual games… with more and more game providers being integrated the entertainment increases.

Tip: If you are looking for a particular sport or game to bet on check that your choice is available on a betting site before signing up.

4. Mobile optimisation

Most SA sportsbooks are using responsive platforms. Some even have a native app in the app stores. Hence, you can expect a seamless gaming experience across all devices and all games will fit and run perfectly across most smartphone and tablet screen sizes. Whether you play on Android, iOS, or Windows devices you will always have the same experience.

But some bookies are more mobile-friendly than others. Easy navigation and layout, mobile payment methods and the option to bet data free are just a few additional points to consider. If you already know you are playing mainly on your mobile have a look at our best mobile betting sites.

Tip: test various bookmakers directly from your mobile device!

5. Customer support

There is always a time when you have questions or issues and therefore need to get in touch with support. These days the support teams are usually on hand via various methods including live chat, email, WhatsApp, or phone -ideally 24/7. This ensures you get answers fast and do not waste any time.

Tip: have a look at the available support channels and possible even test the customer service before signing up to see if they value your custom.

6. Variety of payment methods

Sportsbooks offer a wide selection of payment methods to cater for varied punters preferences. For deposits and withdrawals alike, we appreciate fast transactions with low costs.

The most popular payment methods for South African betting sites are:

  • Debit & Credit Cards (VISA/MasterCard)
  • EFT
  • Vouchers, including OTT Voucher, 1 Voucher or Blu Voucher
  • Direct Bank Transfers

For details about these payment methods have a look at our detailed banking guide. It is important that you know which payment option you would like to use as it makes selecting the right sportsbook easier.

Please be aware that not all payment options will be available for payouts. While depositing is usually done very quickly, payouts might take longer. Sportsbooks have to follow strict procedures before paying out winnings. Your account needs to be FICA verified as the betting operator needs to ensure they are paying the right person. Some withdrawal methods have also a longer processing time than others.

Tip: Decide which payment method you want to use and look for bookies that process withdrawals quickly.

At the end of step 1 you should have researched and evaluated your options and found a sports betting site that offers what you are looking for.

There might also be more than one sportsbook you would like to try out. It often makes sense to test a few sportsbooks at once and decide later on which one is your preferred one.

Step 2: Open your online sports betting account

Signing up for a free online betting account is the next step before you can start placing your bets on sports, lotto and games.

1. Sign up your sportsbook account

The first step to start playing with your selected online sportsbook is to register. Registration forms are usually very easy and straightforward. Enter your personal details, pick your username and a secure password. To use your account fully you will need to confirm the registration. This sometimes includes to verify your email address so make sure you check that you have entered your email address correctly and then your email inbox and spam folder. In addition, you will need to submit your FICA documents.

Tip: If you need more information about FICA check out our special FICA article.

2. Enjoy available freebies

Many betting operators reward new players with a free bonus or free bet after registration without any deposit needed. This is a great way to get started before you deposit your own money. Ensure you read and understand the T&Cs of sign up bonuses. If in doubt, clarify possible questions with the support team before opting in.

Tip: Sportsbooks with a free signup bonus are labelled with ‘Free Bonus’ in our listings.

3. Deposit and claim your welcome offer

As a new player you can usually take advantage of a variety of welcome bonuses on top of a sign-up freebie. The most common welcome offers are:

  • Fist deposit bonus: your first deposit amount will be matched up to a certain amount. For example, bet.co.za and Gbets offer you a 100% first deposit match bonus up to R1000.
  • Welcome bonus package: you will receive a bonus your initial deposits. For example, with Millionaires Gaming Sports Betting has an up to R3000 welcome bonus bundle on your first two deposits.
  • High roller bonus: if you want to play with higher amounts ask for a special high roller bonus. These can be available on request but might require additional verification checks.

Tip: For the latest overview of the best betting bonus offers look at our list of best betting sites.

Step 3: Start to bet & win online

You have tried your chosen sportsbook by using a free sign-up bonus and have deposited money in your account? Then it is time to have fun and bet to win.

2 additional points we wanted to touch on are the betting range as well as how to withdraw your winnings.

Betting range

The range of betting options online is very versatile. Online sportsbooks try to make it easy for you to find your way around and usually group the offering nicely into categories. Below are the most common ones:

  • Sports: some bookmakers concentrate on a limited number of sports which usually includes the most favourite sports in SA (rugby, cricket, soccer and horse racing). But these days you can bet on so much more and therefore the lists can be quite extensive. MMA, handball, basketball, darts or golf are just a few more sports you place bets on across many bookmakers.
  • Live Betting: if the sportsbook offers live in-play betting the related events are usually available via a special tab. Alternatively, games you can bet after they have started are featured with a ‘Live’ label.
  • Lotto & Lucky Numbers: here you will find all national and international lotteries you can bet on.
  • Betgames: the simple, live instant wins and very popular across SA bettors .
  • Live Games: The closest you will come online to a brick-and-mortar casino experience! Choose your table and challenge the live dealers in Live Blackjack, Live Roulette or Live Baccarat. Or participate in game show live games such as Crazy Times or Dreamcatcher.
  • Virtual Games (such as Jika): these games have seen an increased demand during the COVID pandemic and are here to stay. Try pre-recorded greyhound racing or participate in the virtual football league.

At the moment a lot of sportsbooks integrate more live instant win games onto their sites due to punters’ demand for a more varied and fun offering. There is usually a search functionality available for easy access which is especially helpful on mobile devices.

Tip: Many betting sites allow you to access Betgames and Live Games without participating. Just by watching the live stream you will already see if you like a certain game and can familiarise yourself with the betting options.

Quick, easy withdrawals

Let’s be honest! While we all play for fun and entertainment, we also want to have the feeling of success and want to win money while betting online. Hence, at one point we would like to withdraw our winnings from our betting account. In step 1 you already evaluated payment options and know which ones are available. Please note that there might be special security checks at this point as the operator needs to ensure it pays winnings to the right person.

Online sports betting for beginners – top tips

We hope the above helps you on your journey to find the best online betting site for yourself.

Lastly, here are our top tips for betting newbies in a nutshell:

  1. Do your research: our detailed reviews together with your individual preferences are a good starting point for finding the best betting site for you. Remember, we only list bookmakers that are licensed, safe and reliable.
  2. Explore the sports and game selection in advance to ensure what you want to bet on is available
  3. Always read the terms and conditions so you know what you are opting in for
  4. Consider the whole promotional offering: while new player offers are great it says a lot about an online bookmaker how they treat regular customers. Therefore, check the promotions pages and possible VIP and loyalty programs.
  5. Review payment methods and processing times
  6. Set your betting budget and stay within your limits: betting should be fun and entertaining. Therefore, only bet what you could afford to lose and stick to your set budget.

Now, over to you! Sign up with the online betting site of your choice. We hope you have a fun and entertaining time while betting & winning.

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