Earlier that day
Id put £5 to win on Gunner Welburn in the 4.40 at Haydock
Park, my first ever online bet all in the name of research, of
course. I watched the race live on Channel Four, cheering my horse on
as he cleared the last fence in style and raced into the lead, many
lengths clear of the chasing pack. But just when it all started to look
too easy, Gunner Welburn decided to trot for the remaining few yards.
Ardstown, an 8-1 outsider, sensing this act of complacency and with
an eye for an upset immediately bolted for the finish, closing the gap
agonisingly quickly. For one cruel second I thought that my victory
celebrations were to be proven premature and had the course been a fraction
longer, they would have been. But Gunner Welburn managed to hang on,
crossing the line at a pedestrian stroll as Ardstown came storming through
to take second. Thank God!
youre an inveterate gambler or someone who just fancies a
flutter on Grand National Day, then online gambling could be for
you. You can place a bet from the comfort of your own home, with
the option of choosing from a much wider range of sports and events
than would be available in your local betting shop. Youll
save money when you bet by not having to pay tax: most online bookies
either pay tax for you or are based offshore so they dont
have to charge it. For the infrequent punter a betting shop can
be an intimidating place. With online bookmakers you get loads of
help and advice which you can pore over at your leisure, so that
in no time at all youll be betting on a triple forecast and
know exactly what youre getting into.
First a note about
security, there are a few precautions worth taking. Use a credit card
rather than a debit card, this limits your liability in case of fraud.
If you are using Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator a small padlock
in the corner of the screen indicates a secure site. Make sure this
appears when you are entering your card details. Always check that the
online bookmaker has a physical address, not just a post box number.
In short - if you feel that a site doesnt look genuine then dont
run the risk of getting stung.
A good place to
start the search for an online bookmaker is
www.bookiesindex.com. This site contains vital facts on about thirty
bookies who are waiting to take your cash. Just scroll up and down the
list and highlight your selection. The notepad on the right of the screen
then immediately displays the following data on your chosen bookmaker:
the minimum amount of money you will need to deposit to open an account,
how much tax they charge and the minimum stake required per bet.
I ruled out those
that require a high initial deposit, for example www.eurobet.com,
which is run by Coral, demand £50. This seems excessive when most
require far less. Most bookies listed here dont charge tax, so
dont bother with the few that do. I expected to find that UK based
bookies who had to pay tax would therefore offer shorter odds than their
offshore competitors to recoup these costs, but that wasnt the
case. Odds can vary a lot from bookie to bookie and it is worth checking
around if you dont think youre being offered the best price.
For instance, if you think the LibDems will win the next general election
then William Hill will give you 80-1, while Littlewoods stretch to 150-1.
Whether the bookmaker is offshore or not seems to have no bearing on
this. Consider also how much you would want to stake per bet. Most accept
£1 bets but sites such as Victor Chandler and Sporting Bet must
be aiming for richer punters and regard £5 as the smallest bet
worth bothering with.
On the bookiesindex.com
notepad there is a link that will take you straight to the bookie of
your choice. Bookiesindex.com wont close, however, so its
easy to get back to their home page if you dont like the look
of where youve ended up.
I searched for a site that offered a straightforward layout, uncluttered
display and was easy to navigate around. Too many pretty pictures served
only to slow down the process. The big names were particularly bad for
this, such as www.ladbrokes.co.uk.
There is unnecessary text and pictures heading every section and only
one frame on view, so that you cant keep your place on the main
page while looking through other options in a separate site index. William
Hills site suffers from many of the same problems but is marginally
less infuriating to use.
After hours of
research I finally found a favourite. I would highly recommend www.ukbetting.com.
It is very clearly laid out, has no flashy graphics so everything is
quick to access. The home page provides a full list of all the sports
they cover, so in one click you can get directly to the race you want
to bet on. Minimum deposit is £10, there is no tax to pay and
the minimum stake is £1. All horses are listed with a standard
racecard type form-guide along with the type of odds available, fixed,
starting price or multi-bet odds. Once I had selected this site I wanted
to test how easy it would be to open an account and place a bet. The
response was superb, after I had submitted my details and been allocated
a user name and password I was told that I would receive an email when
my account had been approved. In the time it took me to open my hotmail
account the email conformation had arrived. Placing a bet is simple,
just click in the appropriate circle. But make sure you havent
made a mistake before submitting, as there is no way back! Winnings
are automatically credited to your account and you may withdraw your
funds whenever you wish.
If sport isnt really your thing but you think you know a lot
about showbiz and politics then www.paddypower.com
is the site for you. Paddy Power is Irelands largest bookmaker.
Aside from a comprehensive sports section it offers the widest variety
of novelty betting I could find on the web. For example
Angelo Sodana is the 4-1 favourite to be the next Pope, where as
Sinead OConner is a slightly longer shot at 1000-1. They are
offering odds of 6-1 on cannabis being legalised in the UK for non-medicinal
purposes before the end of the year. Or a mere 2-1 on Jennifer Anniston
and Brad Pitts marriage ending within the same time scale.
You can even bet on the lottery (UK or Irish), predicting 5 numbers
correctly with a £1 stake would win £111,110!
Open market or
This must be one of the most original and ingenious uses for the Internet
since its conception. Gamblers have always hated bookmakers, the irritating
middlemen who get rich by bankrupting punters and never offering a fair
price. Well www.flutter.com and
www.betfair.com are two sites who
aim to change all that. Indeed to highlight this intent, when betfair
opened in June last year they staged a mock funeral cortège for
bookmakers through Londons square mile. The idea is simple, punters
bet against each other, setting their own terms and odds. The sites
are giant notice boards for people to either take up bets or lay their
own odds. The companies function like bankers, holding stakes and guaranteeing
that winnings are paid out, something which can be problematic in the
real world. Betfair is a sport betting exchange, but flutter.com offers
a much wider scope. Both companies make their money from commission
on your winnings. As this is a new concept, there are a lot of unfamiliar
rules and regulations to be digested, but they are clearly explained
on both of these sites.
My one, and so far
only, online bet may have been successful, but I wont be retiring
just yet. The odds on Gunner Welburn shortened throughout the day before
reaching a starting price of 5-4, giving me a return on my investment
of £6.25. Hardly a phenomenal achievement but worth it for the
thrill of winning alone. Perhaps the key to riches lies elsewhere -
Ill have to try open market gambling instead. Ill offer
200-1 on Spurs winning the Premiership this year, any takers?
© Jim Johnson