Is there anything more satisfying than seeing your favourite team win the Cup? Yes, the chance to make some money in the process.
Almost as old as sports itself, betting is an exciting (and often quite profitable) activity enjoyed by sports fans everywhere.
Though learning how to bet on sports might seem as hard as winning the Australian Open, we’re here to prove you wrong. Our sports betting guide covers everything you need to know about wagering.
Let’s get straight into it!
What is Sports Betting?
Sports betting is one of the most popular gambling activities globally.
Even though no one is sure of its exact origins, it’s speculated that wagering on sports was a thing way back in the City of Rome, where bets were often placed on the outcome of chariot races and gladiator fights.
Nowadays, people all over are betting on anything from football to golf tournaments. Whether they do it for the extra profit or as a way to enjoy a sports event, even more, the bottom line is that betting on sports is fun, safe and secure.
In the UK, betting is legal, both land-based and online. In fact, legal sports betting on horse races has been around since the Gaming Act 1845, while In 1960, land-based UK sports betting operations were legalised through the Betting and Gaming Act. Later in 2005, the Gambling Act brought new sports betting regulations, authorising the UK Gambling Commission to manage all forms of gambling in the United Kingdom.
Today, the UK sports betting industry is one of the biggest in Europe, raking in billions of pounds in gross gambling yield every year.
Sports Betting Industry in the UK
Betting is not just an integral part of the nation’s culture, it is also a highly lucrative business that has generated a yield of around £3 billion annually over the last decade. As a matter of fact, the latest data on the betting industry in the UK show that non-remote betting alone generated £2.4 million between April 2019 and March 2020, while the remote betting sector brought in a total of £2.3 million.
But how many Brits actually bet on sports?
Well, according to a survey by Statista conducted in 2020, 5.8% of respondents participated in sports betting in the UK in the last month. This percentage reflects a mild decrease from the 7% recorded in 2019, which is when sports betting participation peaked in Great Britain.
Football is the most popular sport to bet on—almost half of punters placed a bet on the game in 2019. Additionally, Brits enjoy betting on horse races which makes up 23.7% of all money spent by bettors.
Football is also the sport of choice for online bettors.
As per data from the UK’s online sports betting industry, remote football generated a GGY of £1,128.14 million between April 2019 and March 2020. This sector was followed by horse betting, bringing in a gross gambling yield of £625.85 million. Furthermore, tennis represents 5% of the total online betting GGY, closely followed by dog race betting with 3.1%. Lastly, cricket takes up 1.86%, and golf only accounts for 0.7%.
What does the future hold for the sports betting industry in the UK?
Micro betting is a developing concept in the world of sports betting. It involves wagering on short-term events like whether or not LeBron James makes his next 3PT shot instead of betting on the Lakers to win the game.
Making fast decisions during live matches—micro betting is as exciting as it sounds, and it’s sure to tickle the fancy of many experienced gamblers.
Sports Betting Online
Online gambling is taking over the sports betting industry in the UK.
There were 6,735 gambling shops functioning in Great Britain in September 2020, down by a whopping 12.3% compared to March the same year. Even William Hill, the most popular betting operator in the country, had to shut down many of their land-based shops. Luckily, net revenue from online gambling in the UK grew by 5% in 2020, resulting in William Hill reporting a profit in the final quarter of 2020 despite facing “a year like no other”.
Mobile Betting and Live Streaming
Unsurprisingly, smartphones are one of the most popular devices for online betting. Half of Uk adults used their mobile to gamble in 2019, according to the UK Gambling Commission. Additionally, as a result of Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns, many bettors resorted to remote betting and live streaming of sporting events, recognising mobile betting as much less complicated and much more convenient than using laptops or desktops.
Virtual Sports Betting
Virtual sports use computer software to play out various sporting events, while the outcome is determined by algorithms that take into consideration the skills of the players as well as other elements, such as luck and weather conditions.
One of the biggest deviations in betting on virtual vs real-life sports is that in the former, it’s the sportsbook that decides the who and when of the competition. Other than that, there is not much difference between virtual sports betting and putting wagers on real-life football or horse racing.
Betting on virtual sports has blown up in 2020. With most sports cancelled due to Covid-19, the sports betting industry was sure to find something that would allow punters to live the sporting event, in addition to placing a wager. And now, with new restrictions being implemented, there is no doubt that virtual sports betting will continue to develop further.
Betting on eSports
eSports are making it big on the market. With the rapid growth of people’s interest in gaming, professional tournaments in games like Dota or Counter-Strike are attracting a wider audience, as well as more people willing to bet. In 2020, the number of Brits wagering on eSports grew from 3 to 9 per cent, especially among younger male players, so incorporating eSports betting could prove itself very lucrative for online casinos.
Betting On Less Popular Sports
With Covid-19 shutting down almost all sports from the 2020 Euro and Wimbledon to cricket matches and the Tokyo Olympics, bettors turned to other sports. Namely, betting on sports that one would not normally associate with high-stakes games, like Taiwanese basketball, Ukrainian table tennis or darts, came to be very popular and not just during the pandemic. It seems the interest these games generated in punters worldwide is here to stay even after the more popular sports are back in business.
How to Place a Sports Bet
Sports betting in the UK is pretty straightforward. After you decide what you want to bet on and how much you are willing to stake, it’s time to choose the best way to place a wager.
What are your options?
Let’s take a look.
Telephone Betting Services
Plenty of sportsbooks offer telephone betting services, and using them is surprisingly simple. All you have to do is make a call and share the details of your wager with an employee, who will then confirm the current odds and tell you how much you stand to gain. Debit or credit cards are usually accepted, but some bookmakers offer alternative payment methods, such as credit.
With the speedy expansion of remote betting, online sportsbooks have become a huge hit among bettors. And there is a reason behind the popularity of online betting.
First of all, online bookmakers are really simple to use. After registering for an account and adding a certain amount of money, you’re just a few clicks away from placing any type of bet.
Secondly, online sportsbooks cover a large variety of events one can bet on—from the extremely popular Premier League matches to darts tournaments and volleyball games.
Besides that, a lot of betting sites offer exclusive sports betting promotions and rewards just for using their services, so you can get even more worth for your money.
There is nothing wrong with going old-school and placing a bet with a bookmaker.
Since gambling is legal in the UK, you won’t have to go far to find a betting shop—there is usually more than one in every high street. Simply walk into one, complete your betting slip and hand it over to the cashier, who will tell you how much you can win. If you are one of the lucky ones, just take your slip and claim your winnings. It’s as easy as that!
Sports Betting Mechanics
It might be confusing for a newbie to get the hang of sports betting games right away, but there is no need to get discouraged. Sports wagering can be as easy as predicting the outcome of a match, or you could go for a more advanced option like sports handicapping. Either way, there are three basic elements to every sports bet.
As the name suggests, this is the part where you select the outcome you think will happen or choose the event or team you want to bet on.
Put simply, the stake represents the amount of money you want to bet. Of course, the size of the stake is entirely up to you—you can go for the minimum bet or try your luck at a high-stake wager.
Sports Betting Odds
Finally, the most complicated, and the most crucial, part—the odds. Odds are used to determine the probability of a sports event outcome and help you decide if placing a wager would be a good idea.
The payout for a placed bet is calculated as a combination of your stake and the odds. The higher the odds, the more you can win. On the other hand, the more likely the outcome, the lower the odds.
Although the basic concept of odds is pretty simple, they can be presented in three different formats making things a bit more complicated.
The three main formats are:
- Moneyline (American Odds)
- Decimal Odds
- Fractional Odds
To find out more about how to read betting odds, check out this helpful guide.
Popular Sports Betting Games
Now that you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to look into the various bets that your local or online sportsbook would typically offer.
Moneyline or Win Bet
The win or the Moneyline bet is the simplest of all as players only need to select the team they believe will win the match. Although it’s quite straightforward, a good understanding of sports betting odds is needed in order to make the most out of the money you wager.
In sports spread betting, the bookmaker is basically evening out the odds between the favourite and the underdog. The bookie creates a spread by deducting points from the favourite and awarding points to the underdog. So you will get a payout only if the team wins by a margin bigger or lower than the size of the spread, depending on whether you are betting on the favourite or the underdog.
Handicap betting is similar to points spread wager. The main difference here is that the sportsbook does not make the competitors equal but rather presents punters with more options. Players can up their chances of winning but reduce the odds or improve the odds, but lower their chances of getting paid.
Also referred to as totals bet, this is the second simplest wager to make. Similarly to sports spread betting, the sportsbook sets the total number of points and players bet if the result of the match will be higher or lower than that number.
Also known as props or specials, this bet allows players to wager on almost anything, like which football player will score first or when the first goal in a soccer match will be scored. Although tagged as a bet for amateur bettors on account of the guesswork it involves, a prop bet is so fun that even serious gamblers try it once in a while.
Accumulators, parlays or multiples are on the riskier side of the sports betting games and are not recommended for beginners. These wagers involve placing several selections from the same competition on one slip. In order to win, though, all the selections have to be correct. Miss one, and the whole bet is lost.
Live Sports Betting
As implied by the name, a live or in-play bet takes place while the game is happening. When you bet live, the odds will continuously vary based on the flow of the game. While live betting is an exciting experience for all bettors, it requires flawless software to function seamlessly, which is why a lot of casinos don’t offer it yet.
The Pros and Cons of Online Sports Betting
With the rise of the internet and smartphone usage, it was only a matter of time before online and live betting would move from the realms of fantasy to reality. Today making bets over the internet has become even more popular than visiting a sportsbook to place a wager. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of sports betting sites, with some just emerging on the market and others, like Bet365, already catering to over 15 million players.
But is online sports betting all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons that should be taken into consideration before you try out your luck with online bets.
Advantages of Online Sports Betting
- It’s comfortable
Online betting is much more convenient and practical as it allows you to bet (and enjoy other activities) from the comfort of your own couch. In addition, gambling websites never close, so you can bet at any time you want and from any device.
- It’s budget-friendly
No matter if you are a high roller or want to wager less, most gambling and betting sites offer a wide range of stakes. Usually, players can start off with as little as £10 and go up to several thousand, which is not the case in most non-remote casinos or sportsbooks.
- You can get plenty of special offers and bonuses
Typically, online betting sites provide bonuses for joining and additional rewards, points, and sports betting promotions to keep their players satisfied. These deals are not only a great way to win over customers’ loyalty, but also help you make substantial savings.
- It’s private and secure
This is particularly important for people who don’t like exposing their gambling activity. While online, your privacy is ensured, and you can enjoy betting away from the public eye. If you are using reputable and reliable sports betting sites, security won’t be an issue either.
Disadvantages of Sports Betting Online
- There is always the risk of scam operators
Even though the majority of betting sites are trustworthy, cases of rogue operators have unfortunately been recorded. This is one of the most common reasons people turn away from online sports betting.
- You’d miss out on personal interaction
The lack of personal interaction may not be a disadvantage for everyone, yet a lot of people still prefer the social aspect of going into a land-based sportsbook and discussing the match. Some also would rather have a cashier explain the procedure and odds to them in person than logging into a phone or computer and depositing money.
Betting on sports online has also given rise to live or in-play betting, which, albeit risky, is one of the most thrilling gambling experiences.
Live sports betting usually provides higher odds since these change constantly as the game unfolds. It also allows punters to make quick decisions and change their minds depending on how the action is developing in real-time. Finally, live betting on sports ups the excitement, especially when it comes to dynamic sports like hockey or basketball.
There are downsides, though. There is no time for well-thought-of strategies when it comes to in-play betting. Here it’s all about making decisions under pressure, which might be too stressful for some. Another disadvantage is the smaller selection of games available. After all, live betting is a relative new-comer on the market and is not yet offered by all betting operators. However, given its increasing popularity, it’s sure to become everyone’s favourite method of gambling soon.
Benefits of Legal Sports Betting
The importance of safety and security while betting on sports should not be underestimated.
Many players are concerned about their safety, especially while betting online and depositing real money into their accounts. However, if you are betting on a legal online sportsbook, you have nothing to worry about.
A wide variety of online betting sites hold licenses from the UK Gambling Commission and are perfectly safe. In addition, all reputable sports betting sites have 128-bit or 256-bit encryptions to keep the customers’ personal information private and secure. Finally, all betting games are checked to ensure fairness.
Sports betting is a prosperous industry in the UK with plenty of gaming options catering to all types of players. In today’s age, bettors have endless possibilities of betting online and even making wagers live during a match. Whichever way you decide to hit the sportsbooks, we bet our helpful guide will help you beat the odds and win big.
What is the best sport to bet on?
Football is, without a doubt, the most popular and profitable sport to bet on globally. The reason behind football’s high profitability is because the favourites lose less often than in other sports.
How big is the sports betting industry?
The sports betting industry in the UK has been maintaining a gross gambling yield of approximately £3 billion during the last decade. Furthermore, the betting sector reached a solid gross gambling yield of £2.4 billion up to March 2020.
How do odds work in sports betting?
How much you will get from a placed wager is calculated with a combination of your stake and the odds. The current odds will be displayed when you bet in a sportsbook. The higher they are, the more you can win. Remember, odds determine the probability of the outcome of a match, so if a result is more likely to happen, the odds will be lower.
How does sports betting work?
Sports betting is a type of gambling where players place bets on sporting or other events and win a certain amount if their team or player wins a match. It may sound simple, but as we explained in our sports betting guide, there are a lot of factors in play that both newbies and experienced gamblers should take into account before they wager their hard-earned money.