Football, by far, is the most popular sport to bet on. From College to the National Football League, the sport's truncated schedule contributes to creating an air of perpetual desire in interest. Can other competitions beat it out? Yes, sometimes. Soccer has its moments, and though its biggest tournaments—the FIFA World Cup, held on a quadrennial basis—do not ever overlap with the football season, their interest-level peaks can, indeed, rival those from college football and the NFL.
But one-off explosions do not adequately measure up. The NFL and college football seasons draw in billions of dollars every year. That's massive. This popularity ensures sportsbooks traffic in plenty of gambling options around the sport. More importantly, they build entire programs and incentives around it. Football isn't just supposed to help with curb appeal. It drives revenue in both ways—for the both the sportsbooks and the bettors themselves, given all the options from which they get to choose.
Translation: If you're going to journey into the sportsbetting scene, or even if you're already there, you need to familiarize yourself with the football gambling experience. And part and parcel of that includes finding the right sportsbooks in which you should invest your time and money. That can be difficult. After all, there are more than plenty of options are your disposal.
Enter us. We're here to help you spot and identify the sportsbooks that will be right for you and your football-betting interests. This, for the record, will go beyond the typical, also-ran listing of the best promotions and focus more on the nitty gritty—tricks, tips, insights and in-depth explanations.
Betting On American Football Online
- 150% bonus up to $250
- 250% bonus up to $1000
- 3100% up to $500
- 450% bonus up to $1000
- 550% up to $1000
- 6Up to $500 bonus
- 7$300 Sign-up Bonus
- 850% up to $520
- 9100% up to $1,000
- 1050% up to $1000
Prior to showing you the five sports books we've found best for betting on football, let us first touch upon the premise of their selection. This is an incentives-driven list, one that takes stock of the best promotions from around the web and allows you to capitalize on both being a new user and a returning customer.
Most of these bonuses will always come in the form of free money or bets. They'll be predominantly offered to you when making your initial deposit with a new sportsbook and usually amount to a percentage of what you're putting down.
Additional specifics on this will come later. For now, the term you need to care about is "rollover," which is basically just a condition attached the the freebie your receiving.
For argument's sake, let's say you're getting a $1,000 bonus at the time of your first deposit, with a 10-time rollover. This means you'll need to bet that sign-up money an extra 10 times, for a total of $10,000, before you will be able to withdraw it.
This doesn't have an impact on the money you're depositing out of pocket. You should be able to do what you want with that (for the most part), but the bonus cash will be off limits until it has been cycled entirely through the rollover terms.
Current Top Offers From US Friendly Sportsbooks
- Current Top Offers From US Friendly Sportsbooks
- Bovada: $250 welcome bonus, plus 50 percent tacked onto your first deposit (up to $250)
- BetOnline: 50 percent bonus on first deposit (up to $1,000)
- SportsBetting: 50 percent bonus on first deposit (up to $1,000)
- 5Dimes: 50 percent bonus on first deposit (up to $520)
- Bookmaker: 15 percent bonus on first deposit (up to $600)
Don't be confused. This lack of variance is common. Though many websites will run periodical specials in which they reimburse your account with a higher percentage of your initial deposit, many of the more reputable companies, as you can see, like to settle in at around 50 percent.
Choosing The Right Sportsbooks Bonuses for You
- Bonus Amounts
Although this topic can come across as overtly obvious and little mundane, it's really not. On the contrary, it's important to maximizing your football-betting experience—particularly if you're getting involved for the first time.
Pretty much every site will offer a registration bonus for new users. If they don't, well, you're probably better off steering clear of their services. Remember: The goal through and through is to stick with the sites that do the most for you.
In the event that extracting as much promotional money as possible is your primary goal, you'll want to pay special attention to two things. First, we have the percentage itself. As previously noted, most online bookies like to come in right around 50 percent. Some will go higher, including many of the ones we suggest. Bovada has a reputation for frequent seasonable specials that give you up to 100 percent of your first deposit.
After that, you'll want to look at where that bonus tops out. Bovada, for instance, will give you a 50 percent kicker at registration worth up to $250 while BetOnline will go as high as $1,000.
So if you put in an initial $2,000 at BetOnline, you're getting $1,000 in additional play money. If you put that same amount into Bovada's account, though, you're only being given $250. That difference is substantial, and if you're more concerned about stockpiling money at the onset of your account, it's reason enough to roll with BetOnline over Bovada.
- More About Rollovers
Talking about rollover terms is once more a necessity. It has the potential to make or break the bonus amount that you're being gifted.
Longer rollovers make it harder to gain full ownership of your promotional funds—especially if you're only betting on football, which is a sport that squeezes its entire docket of games into both Saturday and Sunday. (In the NFL specifically, they'll have some Monday night and Thursday night matchups as well). The more you have to bet your bonus money, the less likely you are to make it your own.
This can tilt the terms of sign-up promos to one site over another. Consider BetOnline and SportsBetting, both of which offer 50 percent deposit bonuses worth up to $1,000. It's impossible to distinguish between the two given that information. Look at the terms of their rollover, though, and a clear difference emerges.
BetOnline subjects its users to a 15-time rollover. If you're receiving $1,000 in bonus money, you'll have to place $15,000 worth of bets with it before it's officially yours. SportsBetting, however, only requires an eight-time rollover, which in this case is akin to $8,000 in wagers with the sign-up boom. That $7,000 difference isn't everything; you might like BetOnline's seasonal programs, which are robust for football and soccer especially. That's fine. But in terms of purely keeping the promotional cash you're awarded at sign up, SportsBetting offers the more likely path to success.
Some advice that applies to every sportsbook, no matter their rollover requirements: Come up with a strategy if you're super concerned with holding onto your promotional funds. Some of the most seasoned wagers will invest that cash exclusively in heavy-favorite outcomes—bets that have a lower point of return but higher likelihood of panning out.
For example, let's assume the New England Patriots are -950 moneyline favorites over the Buffalo Bills this coming Sunday. Let's also assume you've just received $1,000 in bonus money from your new sportsbook. Putting all of that money into the Patriots won't make you rich if they win; you'll earn a little more than $100 for your troubles. So, yes, the risk is there. But the odds overwhelmingly favor the Patriots. If you're right, you've completed a successful bet that counts toward one of your whatever-amount-of rollovers.
- More Extensive Bonuses
First-time users shouldn't get to have all the fun, right? Of course not!
While the bonus-amount levels clearly favor new customers, any sportsbook worth a darn will offer similar rewards to returning bettors. These come in all shapes and sizes. They could be deposit-type bonuses that incentivize you to use one method of payment. They could be seasonal programs that run every so often and allow returning customers to get the same bonus money as first-time bettors. They could also be sports-specific.
Sportsbetting has a 50 percent deposit bonus for anyone who uses an accepted method of crypto-currency (i.e. Bitcoin). Bovada will semi-frequently open its sign-up bonus to incumbent players by way of a promo code. 5Dimes is known for its sporing event variations. They'll give you special bonus amounts, via a promo code, at the start of the NFL and college football seasons and then again as both leagues inch toward the playoffs. Just about every site will run specials in the lead-up to the NFL's Super Bowl—bonuses like "Earn an extra 50 percent on top of your deposit by using the promo code 'Packers'" or something related to a participating team.
Keep your eyes peeled for special offers once you become comfortable at a certain website. It's definitely not a bad idea to bookmark their promotions page. And it's a flat-out must to scroll through it before picking a sportsbook altogether. You want to get a feel for what repeat bettors are getting for staying put.
Other Factors to Consider
- Accepted Forms of Payment
Versatility is the hallmark of every good sportsbook. And the flexibility of most sites can be adequately measured by looking at the number of payment methods they accept when you're making a deposit.
Typically, the more ways you're able to bankroll your betting stash, the better it is. Even if you're married to one form of payment—say, a third-party intermediary like PayPal—there's always the chance that could change down the line. It's never a bad idea to at least have the supplementary options at your disposal.
Bettors nowadays have access to all different types of payment methods. Money orders, wire transfers, direct bank deposits, credit cards, debit cards, pre-paid cards, PayPal and other online wallets, crypto-currency and more.
Although not all sportsbooks are the same, using credit cards and debit cards as a blanketed barometer is fairly good practice. Many sites still don't accept them. The transactions can take a while to process and can sometimes be rejected by the bank carrying the card if it's deemed a foreign charge. The United States' previously strong stance against betting also made it difficult; some card-carriers have transaction governors that reject charge requests from online sportsbooks.
This will remain a hurdle you'll sometimes need to work around, even with the US warming up to sportsbetting in general. But the best sportsbooks won't have a problem processing cards. They may not accept certain companies—like, say, Discover—but they'll be accommodating enough and allow for the use of other brands like American Express, Visa, MasterCard, etc. And since credit—and debit—cards remain something of a special circumstance, it's almost always a good harbinger of reliability and flexibility when a sportsbook accepts them.
However you are depositing, just make sure you know how long it'll take before you have access to your funds. Some methods, such as PayPal and any cards, will take effect immediately. Others, like wire transfers and mailed money orders, won't show up in your account for a predetermined window of time.
- Deposit and Betting Limits
The limits placed on your deposit amount can be tricky. They don't just vary by sportsbook; they vary within singular websites themselves. There may be a general maximum, but that ceiling could be moved depending on your method of payment. Certain sportsbooks won't accept more than $500 at a time from a credit card.
Other than that, though, this factor is pretty straightforward. If you're more of a casual bettor or someone who only plans on placing smaller-scale football bets and reloading whenever you need to, it doesn't matter how low of a maximum your site of choice adheres to. If you envision placing larger-scale wagers—bets that top out at $500 or more at a time—you'll want to make sure your sportsbook doesn't have a preset limit.
Wager anything at $500 or below, and you're more often than not in the clear. Bet more than that, and you'll absolutely need to check out the fine print online to make sure your sportsbook will process that much.
- Withdrawal Process
This should be at the top of your list. You want to know that you'll have access to your own money and winnings as quickly and efficiently as possible while incurring minimal fees.
The ease with which the withdrawal process unfolds rests more on you than the sportsbook, though. Many will tout lightning fast withdrawals. And when you're talking about wire transfers, direct bank transactions and online wallets, that may be true. Withdrawing by that method, or something similar, should result in a waiting period that spans no longer than 72 hours.
If you're requesting a check or money or anything that needs to be mailed, it will take longer. Sportsbooks won't have control over that. Getting a money order could take a few weeks, depending on where you live and where the sportsbook is based.
Keep all of that in mind when figuring out your preferred withdrawal. The wait time should factor into your decision-making. So, too, should any fees attached to the withdrawal process. These are most common when being issued money orders, checks and even pre-paid cards, but they can apply to online transfers. Try finding a sportsbook that doesn't charge a significant fee—or even one at all. Each of the five sport books listed at the top of this page are sound options on this front.
Another mark of a great sportsbook is whether or not it has a mobile application.
Not everyone is sitting by their desktop or laptop computers all day. We're constantly moving. We don't have time to sit down and take stock of single-game odds at every turn. Mobile apps making betting on the go so much easier. They're essentially full-service mini versions of the sportsbooks themselves. You can make deposits, request withdrawals, review odds and place bets.
The top sportbsooks will go beyond even that. They'll set alerts so that you know when a line has moved or when news pertaining to a team or sport you're following breaks. The best of the best will take it one step further still, supplying you with articles from experts and analysts that help you understand certain competitions and even in certain cases offer you advice.
That being said, do not take the mere presence of an app at face value. Do your research. It won't take long. Their should be a rating for a sportsbook's app in whatever store you're downloading it from. Look at how many stars (usually out of five) it has received. After that, if you're still curious, read the reviews.
As an aside, plenty of good things tend to be said about Bovada's app. They've really helped take mobile sportsbetting not just to a whole new level, but a normalized one. Apps were once considered specialties. To some extent they still are. But now, in large part thanks to Bovada's accessibility and user-friendly on-the-go services, they're becoming more and more commonplace.
- Betting Type: Props
Sticking soley to straight-outcome bets, both for single events and big-picture futures such as championship races, can get boring. Variety keeps things fresh. And prop bets are this industry's way making sure you have scores of different options at your fingertips.
Prop options for football are an especially lucrative venture. The NCAA and NFL are so popular that sportsbooks are basically required to carry vast amounts of options. Props tend to be available in peak volume for special competitions. Think along the lines of college bowl games and the Super Bowl.
That's great! But it's also not everything. You want a sportsbook that allows you to journey beyond the most basic props on a regular basis, not just during certain times of the year. There are only so many times you can bet the over/under on the number of yards a quarterback will throw for before it becomes just as stale as moneyline, spread and whole-game over/under wagers.
To understand what we're talking about, here are some prop bets from a previous NFL year that were available to bet on almost every week of the regular season at a combination of Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline and 5Dimes (the language has been edited for clarity):
- Will there be a field goal kicked in the third quarter?
- What's the over/under on the longest punt return there will be?
- What's the over/under on touchdowns that will be scored on plays totaling more than 25 yards?
- Which quarterback will throw more interceptions, Player A or Player B?
- Who will receive more carries for Team X, Running Back A or Running Back B?
- Will there be more than one successful challenge flag thrown?
- Will the final play of the game end in a turnover by way of a fumble, interception or downs?
All of these examples are more creative than you're typical run-of-the-mill props. And the sportsbooks we mentioned do an exceptional job at offering new ones each and every season for the duration of the year. TopBet is another site to consider on this front, as is BetDSI. They both specialize in extensive NFL options.
- Betting Type: Live Betting
Quality live betting options can be difficult for other sports. Baseball specifically is a headache. But football doesn't pose similar issues. In fact, it will be harder to find a site that isn't offering a cornucopia of live betting possibilities.
These wagers are best used as a way of adjusting to a development you didn't see coming or as a means to an opportunistic end.
Perhaps the New Orleans Saints are -6.5 favorites against the Seattle Seahawks entering a Sunday afternoon matchup. And yet, you get to halftime, and they're trailing the Seahawks 21-10. If you still think they'll cover the spread—or just outright win—it's not a bad idea to toss some money on their side of the spectrum.
It's highly recommended you avoid investing in favorite outcomes when the game is underway. You won't get something like -160 on clear-cut winners. It's best to just use live betting to take stabs in the dark on more unlikely outcomes.
Mid-game props are also quickly becoming a thing. The pool of options is more finite; you won't get an expansive list like the one laid out above. But you will be able to bet on things like the over/under of yards racked up by a team's offense; over/under of points scored in a certain quarter or half; which receiver will make the first catch of a specific quarter or half; the over/under on the number of times Quarterback A attempts a pass by quarter and half; and all that good stuff.
Bovada, TopBet, BetOnline and SportsBetting all do a great job of sprinkling in good live betting opportunities. Bovada's mid-game props are plentiful compared to many others as well. Really, though, you cannot go wrong. Most sportsbooks are going to offer enough live betting for all major football contests.
And for the record: If you have the money to spare, we endorse mid-game bets. They're a great way to keep you engaged so that you learn a thing or two about the participating teams in advance of future wagers you might place.
- Betting-Type: Straight-Outcome Bets
One common misconception about the sportsbetting industry is that all sportsbooks offer the same odds. This is most definitely not true.
Lines for single-event outcomes and future odds are often similar, but they do vary from site to site. Some sportsbooks update their big-picture odds more frequently. Some even pull futures for a sport off the table while games are in progress. This, ironically, is most common for college football and the NFL. There are so few games, taking place across only a couple of days at week, that the outcome to each and every tilt has a gigantic impact on the long-haul odds.
Finding the right sportsbook to bet on football is more about timing. The most convenient sites will let you place wagers right up until kick-off, which is great for last-minute procrastinators or people who are strictly just trying to take some extra time to figure things out.
SportsBetting, BetOnline, Bovada and TopBet are all sites we've found to be extremely accommodating here. They don't pull the lines too long before kick-off, which gives you some additional flexiblity.
Bovada and TopBet specifically also do a good job of keeping wagers available as long as possible. Certain sites, for example, will prevent you from betting on a Jacksonville Jaguars moneyline if the odds tilt too far over toward their opponent or they've fielded too many wagers on said moneyline. The aforementioned two are not above the rule, but they tend to adjust their odds—including futures—rather than entirely remove bets from the table.
Last, but certainly not least, try finding a sportsbook that tinkers with its future lines on a daily basis. That allows you to take advantage of what we call "reverse momentum."
As the season wears on, the odds for favorites are only going to get worse in terms of the possible return. Using the NFL as a baseline, the New England Patriots won't see their Super Bowl odds improve in the bettor's favor unless they're slogging through a losing streak. Some sportsbooks react to that momentum by making the team a slightly longer-shot option.
To be certain, this isn't an overreaction. Rather, it's an in-the-moment response. Most of the big sportsbooks, like the ones we've talked about here, will tweak their future lines at least every week, which is basically every game. Make sure you're trying to find the right opportunity, heretoforth defined as a team you believe in seeing its big-picture odds yield more lucrative returns in the face of a slump.