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Looking to test your luck? We ranked every legal sports betting app in Virginia
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Looking to test your luck? We ranked every legal sports betting app in Virginia

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Rubber Band Banks (copy)

The work was important. Vital, even.

As our first college football season with legal sports betting in Virginia approaches, somebody had to download all the apps, place a bunch of bets and ascertain which of the sportsbooks is the best.

So I did. You’re welcome.

OK, so maybe the process was about more than just altruistic research. Maybe it was a lot of fun, too, and even profitable in a few cases. Whatever the impetus, here’s a look at each of the eight apps currently live in Virginia, rated from worst to best:

No. 8: Unibet

Average Apple Store rating: 3.1

Signup bonus: $500 risk-free bet

Summary: From its unattractive logo to its bandit-like lines, this app just feels like it was rushed onto the market with little forethought. Unibet is clunky to navigate and offers little in the way of promotions that the other apps do to add enjoyment. If you have the means and the desire to make the $500 risk-free bet, do it. A loss gives you $500 in site credit with a generous one-time playthrough requirement — a nice opportunity. Beyond that, nothing to see here.

No. 7: Barstool

Average Apple Store rating: 4.7

Signup bonus: $1,000 risk-free bet

Summary: I appreciate Barstool personalities’ longtime willingness to talk about gambling on their platforms, and the hilarious “Barstool Sports Advisors” show is a must-watch weekly spoof of NFL touts in the fall. The app, though? It’s lacking. Much like Unibet, the lines aren’t competitive. The risk-free bet (refunded as site credit with one-time playthrough on a loss) is a great deal.

No. 6: BetRivers

Average Apple Store rating: 3.0

Signup bonus: 100% deposit match up to $250

Summary: There are some things to like about this app. The profit boosts are offered frequently and fun to take advantage of. The problem, though, is that the lines themselves aren’t great, meaning you’re not boosting what you should be to begin with. BetRivers also is a pain to navigate compared to the others.

No. 5: WynnBet

Average Apple Store rating: 4.0

Signup bonus: Risk-free bet up to $500

Summary: I love the simplicity of this app. It’s super easy to navigate and (along with Caesars) offers the best baseball lines of all the legal competitors. You won’t, however, get a lot of promotions and crazy stuff. That’s fine for more serious bettors, but novices might prefer to have those. Also, a warning: If you lose the risk-free bet, it’s returned as a free bet, not as a site credit. That makes it worth roughly half its stated value.

No. 4: FanDuel

Average Apple Store rating: 4.7

Signup bonus: $1,000 risk-free bet

Summary: Now we get to the wacky stuff. This app constantly entices with endless promotions and offers myriad props that appeal to many low rollers. The standard lines, though, are harsh. Consider a recent Braves-Nats game, where Atlanta was a -184 favorite and Washington was +154. That’s lousy. The risk-free bet is refunded in site credit if it loses, so fire away.

No. 3: DraftKings

Average Apple Store rating: 4.8

Signup bonus: (varies)

Summary: The ubiquitous TV ads for this app sound too good to be true — “Bet $1 and get $100 if either team gets a hit!” — but they’re legit. DraftKings essentially hands out free money on those sign-up offers as well as their occasional no-brainer bets that are almost impossible to lose. If you’re a moneyline bettor, you won’t always love the odds you get, which is a recurring theme with the majority of these apps. But player props are everywhere here, and this is a great book for somebody who just wants to toss a few bucks around.

No. 2: BetMGM

Average Apple Store rating: 4.8

Signup bonus: Risk-free bet up to $1,000

Summary: These guys (along with DraftKings) get the highest average rating from users, and it’s easy to see why. BetMGM has loads of fun promotions, including a weekly $10 free bet anytime you place at least $50 in wagers from Monday through Sunday. I also like that playing here gets you into the M life Rewards ecosystem, which can unlock discounts at brick-and-mortar casinos in the MGM family. Just two knocks here: The risk-free bet is returned as a free bet if it loses, and (more importantly) the everyday lines aren’t the best.

No. 1: Caesars (formerly William Hill)

Average Apple Store rating: 4.5

Signup bonus: $5,000 risk-free bet

Summary: This is my book of choice. It starts with terrific lines, which mirror those you’ll find on the Vegas strip. The best way to make (or save) money in sports gambling is to bet good lines, and Caesars has them. Navigation is easy. Promotions enhance many of the wagers I would make anyway (example: Bet $50 on the Phillies moneyline, get an extra $25 in free bets for every home run they hit in the game). Similar to BetMGM, playing here gets you into the Caesars Rewards program, which can benefit those who like casino gambling. Just be careful with that juicy risk-free bet; it’s refunded as a free bet if it loses.

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