Spread betting used to be most commonly associated with financial markets, as stockbrokers would speculate on the future direction of currencies and commodities. However, the same principles can be applied to sports, and there are various online bookmakers which specialise in offering customers the chance to place wagers on how far results will veer from particular outcomes, rather than fixed-odds betting.
With spread betting, margins and trends are all-important and it is an exciting point of difference for many punters. The most traditional types of sports bets are those which concern predicting the outcome of an event, and success is determined in very simple terms by whether the bet wins or loses. If you back a team to win a football match, you get the same return whether your selected wager triumphs with a last-minute goal or turns on the style in a 6-0 victory. With spread betting, just how the team wins will be crucial to receiving a payout.
Before understanding the ins and outs of spread betting, it is worthwhile to think about handicaps, where the term spread can also be found. Handicaps are particularly popular in events where one player or team is heavily favoured to beat the other. Rather than simply betting on a strong favourite when the odds are not very attractive, such as 1/50, or backing an underdog who is very unlikely to win, a handicap is assigned to one competitor and a head start to the other. This is the prediction from the bookmaker of the margin of victory and has been set to draw in an equal number of bets on both possible outcomes, with punters rewarded for being more accurate than the bookie.
Whereas handicaps can be found on virtually every online sportsbook, spread betting is more intricate and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority rather than the Gambling Commission in the UK.
Instead of using fixed odds, which are typically represented as decimals or fractions, in spread betting there will be a quote from a bookmaker predicting what will happen on every market. It is up to bettors to consider whether they think the outcome will be different to the bookies’ prediction, in which case there is an option to either buy or sell.
Out of the two values offered, the sell price is always the lowest and the buy price is the highest. The difference between the two is known as the spread and it is within this range that the bookies predict the final outcome will fall. Punters who believe the prediction is too low would buy and those who think the quote is too high would sell. How much money is won and lost is then determined by the level of accuracy and how much was staked.
Here are some examples of successful and unsuccessful buy and sell bets:
Spread betting can be very lucrative for customers when they are right but, equally, it can be quite damaging when it goes wrong. It is a good idea to think about worst-case scenarios before placing a wager and make sure you fully understand specific markets before betting. Another tip might be to bet for fun at first without putting down any money, meaning that you would just look at a market and work out how much you would win or lose if you wagered a particular way.
The attraction of spread betting is that it really rewards accurate predictions and good sporting knowledge, providing an intriguing twist on fixed-odds betting. The possibilities are endless, as you can bet on the time when the first goal might be scored in a game of football or the distance by which a horse might triumph over its nearest competitor, and it is a form of betting which is likely to become more popular in the future.
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