Did you know an estimated 45.2 million Americans bet on NFL games during the 2021 season? It’s a number most sports betting industry experts expect will grow in the coming years as more states legalize sports gambling.
You’ve no doubt seen the sportsbooks ads on television. Are you ready for some action? Before you jump into online sports betting or any form of sports betting in general, you need to know the best sports betting apps.
There are so many to choose from, and they’re all vying for your gambling dollar. Yet, apps for sports betting are not one size fits all. Read on for an in-depth look at all the leading sports betting sites.
Understanding the Sports Betting Industry
The sports betting industry will grow to $106.25 billion by 2025.
Since the landmark 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Murphy v. NCAA case allowing states to legalize sports betting, 30 states and Washington D.C. legalized sports betting.
More states should follow suit in the coming years.
As the industry grows, these sports betting apps will continue to up their arms race to attract players.
Expect more television commercials, athlete endorsements, online advertisements, and content. You can also expect these companies to offer more and better sign-up bonuses.
Eventually, the large companies will buy the less successful, increasing their market share. Consolidation is already underway. In 2021 Caesars Entertainment bought legendary sportsbook William Hill for $4 billion.
Why Does This Matter?
The sports betting industry grows on the backs of new players. The more players an online sportsbook attracts, the more bets they write. The more tickets they write, the more money they make.
These sportsbooks aren’t interested in winning gamblers or professionals. Their goal is to attract recreational players likely to bet small to moderate sums of money and lose.
How does this benefit you, the new gambler?
One word: Competition.
If you live in a state with legal online sports betting, you’re likely to have multiple online sports betting sites operating. For example, New York sports betting offers eight sportsbooks with more coming.
Each of these books competes for your dollar, and they invest a lot of money to get it. They compete with ads and content but also with bonuses, ease of use, and other differentiating features.
Understanding how these sportsbooks compete and their ultimate goal (profit) are crucial for finding the best sports betting app.
Don’t Settle On Only One
Sports betting is a great way to make a game more fun. A Sunday afternoon slate of NFL games with action will put you on the edge of your seat.
The high intensity and drama of a game increase when you have money on the line.
Winning the bet is even more fun.
Sports betting is a lot more complicated than simple prognostication. If sports betting were easy, you can be sure the sportsbooks wouldn’t make so much money if it were.
Sportsbooks do not offer the same lines. While you may see the same betting lines across multiple sportsbooks, they won’t always be the same. Lines change based on betting action in the market.
Sportsbooks also set lines at different prices.
Finding the best line for a game is what experienced sports gamblers call line shopping. Line shopping is where gamblers search multiple sportsbooks for betting odds they believe will win them more money.
For example, say you want to bet on the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Baltimore Ravens. You believe the Ravens should win by at least a touchdown and extra point (7 points).
You look at the various Maryland sports betting sites and see a lot of Ravens -7. You see one offering Ravens -6.5, so that’s the sportsbook you use for that bet.
The Ravens won 21-14, a seven-point margin. That half-point was the difference between a winning bet and a push. Finding those winning numbers is why line shopping is so important.
You find those lines by using multiple sportsbooks.
How We Judge the Best Apps
The best sports betting app for you may be different than another gambler. If you enjoy betting on horses, jai alai, or another less popular sport, a sportsbook with a wide variety of markets is the one for you.
You shouldn’t judge a sportsbook by one metric (and neither do we).
Here’s how we judge the best sportsbooks on this list.
Wide Selection of Betting Markets
Every sportsbook under the sun offers lines on major sports. NFL football remains the undisputed favorite of American bettors, so you can expect every sportsbook to have NFL betting lines and bonuses.
While not as popular, you are sure to find betting lines for MLB, NBA, and NHL games on every app.
What if you enjoy KHL hockey or La Liga soccer? You have to find sports betting apps taking bets on those games.
Easy to Use
Legal online sports betting changed the industry in multiple ways, and one of the most significant changes is live betting.
Live betting allows you to bet on a game or a match while it’s in progress. The sportsbooks adjust their betting odds in real-time during the game.
Some players believe live betting gives them an edge, but it won’t if the sportsbook is cluttered and slow.
The best sports betting apps are easy to navigate. Odds change from second to second during a game, and you can’t waste any time trying to find a bet.
You want your money fast. Who wants to wait six days for a winning bet to deposit in their bank account?
Great sportsbooks pay quickly, and they also accept multiple forms of payment. A site should accept credit cards, debit cards, and various online wallets like PayPal.
When you sign up for a sportsbook, you give the company your personal financial information. Doing so is how you deposit and withdraw cash.
The last thing you need is for a hacker to get all of your financial information, and the best books protect their players.
As we said before, the online sports betting industry is an arms race. The companies behind these apps want your business and try to win it through new player bonuses.
Who doesn’t like free money? And if the sportsbooks are offering it, why not take it?
Not all bonuses are the same, so you’ll have to research which ones are best.
We love BetMGM, and it’s because they offer some of the most player-friendly odds in the industry. Those “player-friendly” odds do not guarantee wins, however.
But on the whole, especially on NBA games, BetMGM makes a great first or second sportsbook app.
What also makes BetMGM a titan is its bonuses. When you sign up, you receive a risk-free initial bet worth $1,000.
That means you can deposit up to $1,000 for your first bet. If you win, you get to keep whatever money you win. If you lose, you receive $1,000 in sportsbook site credits.
BetMGM also uses data from Sportradar, a sports statistic firm, to provide bettors with real-time stats during gameplay.
FanDuel started as a Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) site but expanded to sports betting soon after the Murphy v. NCAA decision in 2018.
It’s an industry leader across multiple states and was the first to launch Louisiana sports betting.
What sets FanDuel apart is its easy use. The app’s interface is smooth, intuitive, and crash-resistant.
Before its initial 2018 launch, FanDuel teamed up with Paddy Power Betfair, making it America’s largest sportsbook.
Because FanDuel is such a betting power, it offers lines on the widest variety of sports, including Chinese Super League soccer and Indian Premier League cricket.
Are you interested in playing the ponies? FanDuel also features a separate, top-of-the-line horseracing app.
DraftKings, like FanDuel, started as a DFS site but expanded rapidly into the sports betting market so fast that it became the first legal online sportsbook outside of Nevada.
We love it because it’s so easy to use and available in almost every state. Both the desktop version and the smartphone app are smooth and intuitive. You won’t spend a lot of time scrolling and clicking.
DraftKings also offers one of the best sign-up bonuses. You receive a bonus worth 20% of your initial deposit up to $1,000. If your first deposit is $1,000, you get a free $200.
As the official betting partner of Major League Baseball, DraftKings gives baseball fans a unique platform.
Bettors with an MLB.tv subscription can stream games through the DraftKings app, streamlining the live-betting experience.
Once known as Sugar House Gaming, BetRivers is making inroads as a national sports betting player. They were the first online sportsbook to launch in Pennsylvania.
BetRivers is easy to download and easy to play, and they compete with the “big boys” by offering betting lines on a wide variety of events. They also have one of the best sign-up bonuses in the business.
All new players receive a deposit match up to $250. In other words, BetRivers doubles your initial deposit.
Caesars bought the legendary Nevada sportsbook William Hill in 2021. This merger provided Caesers market name recognition and increased its reach in the online betting market.
Caesars has lines in all the major and minor American sports leagues. Caesars is, however, the undisputed leader for NFL same-game parlays—up to ten legs for each parlay bet.
If expanded parlays aren’t enough, Caesars offers new players a risk-free first bet worth $1,500.
6. Barstool Sportsbook
Barstool Sportsbook launched in 2020 as a joint venture between the popular sports media company and Penn National. In January of that year, Penn National purchased 36% of Barstool for $163 million.
By 2023, Penn National should own 50% of Barstool Sports.
What makes Barstool Sportsbook special? The branding. CEO Dave Portnoy created a media empire out of a local, satirical Boston area newspaper starting in 2003.
Barstool has incredible reach with its massive amounts of content, including online articles and podcasts. Users of the Barstool Sportsbook feel as though they are part of the “Stoolie” community.
The bonuses are what make Barstool Sportsbook shine. New players receive a risk-free bet worth up to $1,000.
Most sportsbook apps refund an initial bet with site credits, but Barstool credits you with a free bet worth the amount of the initial wager, so you have two chances to win big.
PointsBet started in Australia but is now a significant player in the American online gaming industry. They currently operate in ten states and should expand in the coming years.
The initial sign-up bonus is a $500 risk-free first bet, less than the industry average.
PointsBet makes up for a low initial bonus with exciting features not offered by any other sportsbook like live-betting same game parlays and “Pointsbetting.”
Pointsbetting is available on fixed odds and allows you to increase your winnings.
For example, say you bet Aaron Rodgers to throw over 250 yards in a game, and he passes for 300. Using Pointsbetting, if you bet $10, you win $500 because Rodgers passed 50 yards more than the betting line.
Wynn Resorts is a well-known Las Vegas powerhouse, and it shook the gaming world when the company bought United Kingdom company BetBull in 2020.
Soon after that purchase, WynnBet launched a “mobile-only” sports betting app. Players cannot access WynnBET via desktop computer.
What WynnBET offers is an industry-standard risk-free initial bet worth $1,000. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give much more.
It has betting lines for professional and collegiate sports (and many not-so-popular). It isn’t, however, easy to use.
The app favors iOS users, and you may have trouble without an iPhone.
The Best Sports Betting Apps
The best sports betting apps are the ones that work for you. Don’t sign up and start using any of them without doing research.
These companies want your money, so you better believe you have great options. Look for an online app that’s easy to use and offers bets on the sports you want.
Make sure the company respects you as a player, and don’t forget to find that free bonus money.
Are you interested in learning more about sports and sports betting? Make sure to check out the rest of our articles.