Like all American sports, the popularity of ice hockey in the UK has risen substantially in recent years. While the UK does have its own professional ice hockey league (the EIHL – Elite Ice Hockey League), the number one ice hockey league in the world is the North America-based National Hockey League, or NHL for short.
Unlike the MLB, NBA or NFL, the NHL is a true North American league, rather than a United States competition. The league predominately began as a Canadian league, but now encompasses seven Canadian teams and twenty-four teams from the USA.
As the popularity of the NHL is the UK has risen, so has the interest in betting on the outcome of games, championships and tournaments. Here we can bring you all the best sites for NHL betting, as listed in the comparison table below:
Betting on the NHL is not simply a case of knowing which teams are the likeliest to win the Stanley Cup, which is the trophy awarded to the winners of the NHL each year. It's also important to know at which sites you're likely to get the best deals and promotions as you bet on your favourite sport.
The easiest way of selecting a decent sports-betting site – aside from consulting the table above – is to take advantage of the special welcome deals and bonuses most of the leading sports betting sites will offer you as a new customer. You need to be careful and perform your due diligence though – all that glitters is not gold when it comes to welcome deals you can use with NHL betting.
Many sites offer free bets or matched bonuses when it comes to reigning in new clients, but some deals are much better than others. For example, some welcome bonuses require you to make an awful amount of bets using your own money before you can touch any free bet cash, or make a withdrawal from your winnings.
If there is one criticism of many online sports books, it's the fact that once you've registered with a site and taken your welcome bonus, that's as far as it goes with promotions. If you go shopping you expect a contrast stream of special deals (and not just when you walk through the door of a store for the first time) and offers, so why should online sports books be any different?
Thankfully, when it comes to NHL betting, there are a few online sports books that really cherish their existing customers, and keep them cheerful with repeated offers and promos. One site that definitely fits that criteria is Ladbrokes, one of the most famous names in sports-betting, both online and off. As well as a lucrative new customer deal (bet £5 to get £20 in free bets) Ladbrokes continuously comes up trumps with inventive offers that should really get you excited. Sadly, as NHL betting is not the most lucrative market open to this UK-based bookmaker you may struggle to find any NHL-related bonus deals, but the most popular wagering markets such as football and horse racing are always well-covered.
William Hill are another bookmakers that always have lots of regular promotions for their existing customers, but again you might be a little hard-pressed to find regular deals and promotions for NHL betting, the site being (like Ladbrokes) UK-based.
You just might have more luck at Red Zone Sports. This UK-based sports book has to be considered number one for US-based sports such as baseball, basketball, American football and NHL betting. These sports also receive excellent news coverage at the site, although (as yet) the NHL is the least-covered pastime of the 'big four' US sports. You can still bet on the NHL here though, and other ice hockey leagues throughout the world. Watch out for specials too – promotions are admittedly rare, but when Red Zone Sports do offer you something, it's usually worth having!
If you're new to NHL betting, then you may think you're limited to half-a-dozen or so online sports books at which you can wager upon the biggest NHL matches. In fact, the number of online sports books that offer NHL betting probably stretches into three figures – the exact number is hard to define as sports betting punters lost count ages ago!
You might be one of those people who spend ages gazing at a menu when it comes to eating out. There's so much choice, how do you make the right decision? You may encounter the same issue when it comes to NHL betting – with so many sites, how do you choose which one is worthy of your wagering cash?
Well, a decent sign-up bonus is always a good start! As we warned you above, some sign-up bonuses that look great on the surface have fiendish terms and conditions that practically render them worthless. Look for bonuses where you do actually have a genuine chance of making a profit, and do your research as to what is expected of you in order for you to be able to withdraw any winnings you might make.
Of course coverage of the NHL is a given when you are selecting the best site at which to indulge your passion for NHL betting, but make sure your chosen site gives you more markets than simple outrights or win/lose wagers. The best sites will have more inventive markets so that if you really know your NHL betting, you'll have an excellent chance of making some money, thanks to your knowledge. Naturally, if you are an NHL fan you are more than likely a general ice hockey fan, so sites that give betting access to other pro hockey leagues are a better bet for you. While ice hockey does not have quite the global penetration of, say, football, there are plenty of pro hockey leagues across the globe, including plenty in Europe and some in Asia.
The other things you need to consider are the ease at which you can withdraw money from your chosen sports book site (while all sites are eager to get their hands on your cash, not all are so keen to pay out promptly when you want to make a withdrawal), the number of promotions and bonuses they have for existing players, and independent customer appraisals you may uncover from other places on the web.
When it comes to wagering on sports there are two basic ways it is done – either via a traditional bookmaker or a betting exchange. With a bookmaker, you bet against the person 'making the book' (i.e. in 'olde worlde' terms maintaining a ledger of bets taken). If you win, it is the bookmaker whom pays out. If you lose, the bookmaker gets to keep your money.
With a betting exchange, you are betting against people who expect the opposite eventuality of a specific event. Say you think the Washington Capitals are going to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins. If you go to a betting exchange, you will find people who think that the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to beat the Washington Capitals. All money from either side is pooled and then divided between those who predicted the correct outcome (so those whom predicted the less favoured outcome and were successful will receive more cash back in the final reckoning). Betting exchanges make their money by charging a small commission for the services that they provide.
The main benefit of a betting exchange is that a bookmaker is not fixing the prices. The exchange you get as a win-lose ratio grows organically, so many people feel the 'prices' offered by a betting exchange are fairer and more realistic than those offered by bookmakers. You do often get better prices at a betting exchange, but don't forget to factor in the commission. Usually the commission charged is less than five percent.
The 'original' internet betting exchange is Betfair. This site has been in operation since 2000, and remains the leading online betting exchange available today. The site has excellent coverage of the NHL as well as all the leading European Leagues, so you'll never be short of an ice hockey event to wager upon. The site offers a traditional sports book too, but NHL coverage is less extensive on that side of the fence.
If the idea of a betting exchange appeals to you, then a couple more sites you might be interested in are Betdaq, MatchBook and Smarkets.
In-play betting is a relatively new phenomenon that's really only possible because of the 'right here, right now' attribute of internet betting. In-play betting is where you can bet on certain elements of an NHL game after the game has faced-off. Cash-out is where you can take a reduced amount of money for a winning bet before the event has concluded. Not all sites offer in-play and cash-out facilities for NHL betting, so if you think this is important to you make sure you pick an online sports book that offers either or both.
All major sports books offer a mobile betting platform now. This means you can effortlessly make bets on the NHL using your smart phone or internet-enabled tablet – ideal if you are watching a game on TV and you can't be bothered to get up and flick your laptop or PC on.
Some mobile sites are better than others, but when it comes to the best NHL coverage, we are going to light a candle for Bet365. The best mobile sports books should purely be about the wagering – you are not going to want a mobile site that goes overboard on graphics, ads and animations. Bet365 is truly a serious NHL bettors paradise, and the mobile version of their site echoes this. To use their mobile site, just type 'Bet365' into a search engine and let the software do the rest.
That's the easiest question to answer of the lot. We only list sites that can be trusted on our website. If we think a sports book is not being fair to its customers, then we strike them from our consideration. In short, if you want to be sure of using a trusted NHL betting site, then only use the sites that we list on our pages.
We're all about getting the best deals for the people who use our site, and you can take advantage of our diligence by repeatedly visiting us and keeping abreast of any NHL betting offers we might find. If you are really into your NHL betting, then we'll go the extra distance to know sure you remain in the wagering 'know' !