4 Quick Tips on How to Pick a Sportsbook

Hannah walks you through the process of picking the best sportsbook, and yes, it's kind of like dating with no rules
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This is a column in our ongoing series “On Her Line,” exploring the ups and downs in the life of a sports bettor. Catch up here!

For years, the problem with sports betting was that you couldn’t do it (legally). Even after 2018, when a Supreme Court ruling overturned the law against it, a lot of us were still waiting for our state’s turn to officially make it legal. (And hey, some of you are still waiting, very sorry to you!)

That said, the United States is one of the most gambling-friendly countries in the world, with a population of over 57 million active gamblers (source: USA-Casino.com).

Living in New York City before the state legalized sports betting, I had friends who would drive over the George Washington Bridge or through Lincoln Tunnel to place bets in New Jersey, where it was legal. Or, you know, we all had that friend who said they “have a guy” – as in a guy placing bets for them somewhere out in the gray space between totally legal and definitely criminal. 

But now we’re basically in a sports betting gold rush. States are legalizing left and right, with well over half the US population living in a state where mobile sports betting is officially launched.

Now the biggest hurdle is just picking one of the dozens of sportsbooks out there and taking the plunge with that first wager.

How Do I Pick a Sportsbook?

When sports betting finally launched in New York in 2022, I saw this question in various group chats a lot: Which one do I pick?

The best advice: Just pick one! It doesn’t matter! Date around! You can pick SEVERAL – they’re all free, and each of them has different welcome offers, so why not play around? This isn’t about monogamy; it’s about freedom of choice

But if you want somewhere specific to start, I have just the thing for you.

I made a video explainer showing how to sign up for a sportsbook, use the welcome code, what information is safe to share, etc., etc., etc. 

For the video, I chose BetRivers. Why? Well, we have a welcome code with BetRivers, plus it’s one of the more user-friendly apps out there. You can also get up to $100 back if you lose your first bet. I lost my first bet (of $5) and got it back as a bet credit!

Others I’d recommend are the usual suspects: DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars. But DraftKings and FanDuel can both be a little overwhelming if you’re just starting out. I like how simple the BetRivers user interface is – and how easy it is to scan for sports, bets, etc. As “not a big numbers gal,” I find BetRivers appealing in the sense it’s clear and the numbers are laid out well. 

Steps to Getting Started

The video walks you through exactly how to get started, with a little bit of rambling commentary from Yours Truly. 

But if you prefer to read through some steps, here’s your textbook answer:

1. Research and select a sportsbook

Before placing a bet, you need to choose a reputable online sportsbook that suits your needs. Research various options and consider factors such as the sports offered, deposit and withdrawal options, customer service, and bonuses. 

Again, I’ve picked BetRivers because it’s simple to navigate, has competitive odds, and has a wide range of sports (including women’s sports!) available. 

Btw, if you want to sign up with BetRivers, click here >> and don’t forget to use our code: BETLADY

2. Create an account and verify your identity

Once you’ve selected a sportsbook, create an account and verify your identity. Most sportsbooks require verification to prevent fraud and ensure a safe betting experience.

3. Understand bonuses and promotions

Learn about the various bonuses and promotions offered by your sportsbook, such as welcome bonuses, bet credits, and loyalty programs. These can help you maximize your winnings and reduce your risks.

No matter what a sportsbook tells you, there is no such thing as a “free bet.” (In fact, sportsbooks got in regulatory trouble with some states by advertising promotions that way.) The only way you’re going to get cash is by winning bets. However, sportsbooks will give you bonus bet credits that you can use to make more bets, just not cash out. 

4. Place your first bet!

After setting up your account and verifying your identity, you’re ready to place your first bet. Start with a small amount (I started with $5!) and gradually increase your bets as you gain more experience.

Paid in bonus bets if your bet wins.

21+ and present in select states. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as nonwithdrawable bonus bets that expire 7 days after receipt. See terms at sportsbook.fanduel.com. FanDuel is offering online sports wagering in Kansas under an agreement with Kansas Star Casino, LLC. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER or visit FanDuel.com/RG (CO, IA, KY, MI, NJ, OH, PA, IL, TN, VA, VT), 1-800-NEXT-STEP or text NEXTSTEP to 53342 (AZ), 1-888-789-7777 or visit ccpg.org/chat (CT), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 or visit ksgamblinghelp.com (KS), 1-877-770-STOP (LA), visit www.mdgamblinghelp.org (MD), 1-800-522-4700 (WY), or visit www.1800gambler.net (WV).

Betting Ladies members get a bonus! Available in all states but NY, DC, MS, PR and NV.

Use our code BETLADY when you sign up!

Must be 21+ and present in CO, IA, IL, IN, LA, MI, OH, NJ, NY, or VA. Void where prohibited. T&C Apply. If you or someone you know in CO, IL, LA, OH, or NJ has a gambling problem, Call or TEXT 1-800-GAMBLER. In IA, call 1-800-BETS-OFF. IN call 1-800-9-WITH-IT. In MI, call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Gambling Disorder Help-line at: 800-270-7117. In NY, Call (877-8-HOPENY) or text HOPENY (467369). In VA, call 1-888-532-3500.

Receive $150 as bonus bets. Deposit required. Paid in bonus bets. New customers only. Other Ts&Cs apply.

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