Sports Spread Betting: The Basics, UK Betting Firms

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Each month we update average spreads data published by the brokers the retail brokers lose %

Fact Checked

Written by Justin Grossbard

Edited by Laura Wolfe

Fact Checked by Justin Hertzberg

Edited by Laura Wolfe

Fact Checked by Justin Hertzberg

We examine sports spread betting in the United Kingdom, delving into its principles, tax implications, and top firms to spread bet with. Additionally, we offer practical evaluations and discuss the advantages and risks of this gambling type.

CONTENTS

Sports spread betting works by allowing you to predict which side of the BUY-SELL spread range the result of a given sports event will fall. The more accurate you are with your prediction, the more you will make.

When making a sports spread bet, you will buy if you think the buy if you think the spread will rise or sell if you think it will fall based on the event’s result. To do this you place a stake that you want to risk per point the spread moves, and you will make (or lose) this stake every time it goes up or down.

If your prediction is accurate, you’ll make a profit, and for every point above the buy price, you will multiply your stake size by the number of points above your buy price.

What Is Sports Spread Betting?

Sports spread betting is a type of wagering on sports events where you can win (or lose) multiple times your stake based on the accuracy of your prediction.

You bet the event’s outcome will be above (buy) or below (sell) the spread odds set by the bookmaker, and for every point the market moves, you will make money.

1. Rules

Although sports spread betting is a gambling activity, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates the spread betting companies as you use margin to open your bets. Margin is a small deposit the bookie requires so you can open a spread bet; this is used as collateral if the bet loses.

To legally spread bets on sports, you must be over the age of 18 and complete a questionnaire before opening an account. You may find that spread betting companies also offer fixed odds betting, which the Gambling Commission regulates.

2. Types

Point Spread Betting

Points betting is when you bet on a team (or an event) to win, and it is usually based on an index of 100. If the team wins, the final result of the bet will be 100, and if it loses, the index will be zero.

Totals Betting

Totals betting is a more specific type of spread bet that you can use to predict the total number of points, goals, and corners in a game. If you buy this spread betting market, you’ll earn your stake size for every point/goal/corner above the spread in the event.

Supremacy Bets

With supremacy betting, you predict how much of a victory one team will have over another (hence the name); the larger the winning margin, the larger the profits.

3. Sports

Most spread betting bookies provide over 15 markets, with the following most popular markets:

  • Football: Covering most major leagues and betting events such as total goals, corners, and the number of booking points required during an event. You can bet on pre-event and live in-play spread betting.
  • Cricket: You can place spread bets on the total number of runs, wickets, and how each team performs.
  • Rugby: You’ll find that the events are similar to football, with spreads on the number of points, tries, and conversions scored.
  • Golf: Spread bet on the performance of an individual golfer and where they may place in the tournament overall.
  • Horse Racing: You can spread bet on the distance won between the horses.

different sports to spread bet on

What Are The Advantages Of Sports Spread Betting

There are many advantages to sports spread betting that are unavailable with traditional fixed odds betting; below, I’ve highlighted the pros and cons of spread betting:

Pros Cons
Spread betting has greater profit potential vs. fixed-odds betting Your losses can multiply if you are wrong
You can exit spread bets early at a loss to prevent larger losses Spread betting prices can be volatile, making sharp moves on the price leading to swings in profit or losses
Wide range of sports spread betting markets, including in-play betting Can be addictive due to the high-reward possibilities
You can bet against the favourite and profit if it loses  

What Are The Risks Of Sport Spread Betting

The main risk with spread betting on sports is losing money if an event doesn’t work in your favour, and it is possible to lose multiples of your stake in one go, making it high-risk. Below, I’ve included other spread betting risks you should be aware of before starting:

1. Potential For Large Losses

With standard fixed-odds betting, you simply stake how much you want to risk, which is your maximum loss. Sports spread betting varies greatly with your initial stake size and the spread the broker offers, so there is no standard amount you will risk per spread bet.

If the spread is 50 when you buy the market, it can drop 50 points, seriously impacting your spread betting account’s funds.

2. Sports Spread Betting Is Gambling

You are betting on a specific outcome within a set time frame with the possibility that anything can ruin your spread bet.

For example, if you spread bet on a football player to have two or more shots in a game, but he ends up being subbed early, you will lose your bet even if he has played for 1 minute or comes off injured.

These external factors make sports spread betting gambling, as they can end your bet immediately, which may have never been considered before the sporting event.

3. Emotional Betting

Emotional betting is another risk to consider, as you may suffer a series of losses gambling, which can trigger you to try and recover the losses.

Your emotions can get the better of you (especially if you risk money you cannot afford to lose), making poor decisions and betting on exotic events (without knowledge or experience). This can start a spiral of further losses, making emotional betting worse for you.

4. Betting On Too Many Markets

Hundreds of betting markets are available across many sporting events and leagues, and a risk is that you may end up betting on events you do not know.

For example, if you go from spread betting tennis and try to bet on 3rd division French football, which are worlds apart and could lose you money.

How Do You Spread Bet On Sports?

Learning how to spread bet on sports can be complicated initially, but once mastered it’s a breeze. Below, I’ll explain how to place your first sports spread bet:

Choose A Broker

The first step is choosing a sports spread betting firm. There are a few in the UK to choose from, and they offer similar services. If you wish to spread bet on sports and financial markets, then Spreadex is my top pick.

Select A Sports Event

Once you have opened your account and are on the spread betting platform, you’ll see various sports events available, and you can choose which one you want to bet on.

How To Spread Bet On Sports - Select Sports Event

 

Choose A Betting Market

After choosing your event, you’ll see different markets to bet on, including Total Points, Supremacy and Handicap bets. Select the betting market you wish to bet on, like Total Goals market for a football event or Total Points for an NBA game.

How To Spread Bet On Sports - Choose A Market

 

Select Buy or Sell

Finally, choose if you want to Buy or Sell the bet available. Buying the bet means you think the final result will be greater than what the bookmaker offers.

How To Spread Bet On Sports - Select Buy or Sell

For example, if the bookmaker thinks there will be 1 goal in the game, you think there will be more, so Buy the bet, expecting to see two or more goals during the game.

Selling the bet means that you do not believe the outcome will happen. For example, If you think there will be fewer goals than the bookmaker predicts, you sell the market and profit if the result is below the broker’s estimation.

Your bets will automatically close in a profit or loss when the sporting event has finished, and the money is then allocated to your spread betting account shortly after.

Example Of A Buy on Football

Let’s look at a spread betting buy example of a football match between Manchester United vs Bayern Munich. In this example, you want to bet on the result that Bayern Munich will beat Manchester United.

So if you believe Bayern Munich will beat Manchester United, you can “Buy” the Win result index for 66.7 at £1 per point. When you “Buy” this result, and Bayern Munich wins the game, the final index ends at 100, so your profit is 100-66.7 * £1 = £33.30 profit.

However, if the result is a draw or a Manchester United win, you will lose your stake x buy price (£1 x 66.7) = £66.70 loss.

Example Of A Sell On Football

The bookmaker offers you a spread bet on Aston Villa vs Arsenal to score more than 2.5 goals throughout the game. You believe there will be fewer goals than the bookies, so you sell the spread bet at 2.35 for £10 stake per point.

When you “sell” the spread bet, you are saying that the outcome will not happen. In this case, the game will have less than two goals.

Your wins are limited when you sell the bet, as you will only profit if there are no goals or 1 goal, and I’ll show you two scenarios.

Let’s say the game ends 0-0 as predicted, and you would win your stake times 2.35 (£23.50 profit). If the game ends with one goal scored, you would win your stake times 2.35-1 (£13.50).

Example Of A Winning Bet in NBA

The bookmaker offers you the Total Points market for Charlotte @ Indiana with a buy price of 249, which means you’ll profit if the overall score exceeds 249. You believe the total score will be higher than 249, so place a stake size of £10 per point.

The game ends with a total of 279 points, and your profit is the difference between 279 – 249, which is 30 points. Because you staked £10 per point, you made £10 x 30 points, giving you a total profit of £300.

Example Of A Losing Bet in NBA

Now let’s look at a losing bet in the NBA between New York Knicks @ Brooklyn Nets with a Total Points market priced at 234. You believe the total score will be higher than 234 points overall, so place a stake of £10 per point.

The game finishes lower than you expected with a total score of 200 points, meaning you lose on this spread bet. Your losses are the difference between the buy price (234) and the final result (200), giving you a 34-point difference. The overall loss is your stake size (£10) times 34 points, giving you a £340 loss on this spread bet.

Sports Spread Betting Vs Financial Spread Betting

There are similarities between sports spread betting and financial spread betting in the UK, allowing you to switch between the two markets. The only real difference is the markets you are betting on; they both share similar characteristics, as demonstrated below.

Feature Sports Spread Betting Financial Spread Betting
Can go long/short a market/ Yes Yes
Requires margin to bet? Yes Yes
Markets available Sports, including basketball, football, and golf Financial markets, including forex, stocks, indices, and commodities
Tax-free? Yes Yes
Trading Platforms Proprietary only Proprietary, MetaTrader 4, MT5, cTrader, TradingView
Profit/Loss Calculation Buy Bet: (Close Price – Open Price) x Stake Size

 

Sell Bet: (Open Price – Close Price) x Stake Size

Long: (Close Price – Open Price) x Stake Size

 

Short: (Open Price – Close Price) x Stake Size

Spread Bet Automation? No Yes, with MetaTrader 4, MT5, and cTrader platforms

FAQ

What Is A Stake In Spread Betting?

A stake in spread betting is how much money you want to risk per point of the bet moving in your favour. For example, you would enter a stake size of £5 on a spread bet, and for every point the bet price moves in your favour, you would make £5 profit. If it moves against you, you will lose £5 per point.

Can Spread Betting Be Profitable?

Spread betting can be profitable should you manage your risk and bet on the sports markets you understand. You must develop an edge with a strategy to become a professional spread bettor and stick to markets where you can find value.

What Is +7 Spread?

A +7 spread is a bet you can place on American Football events where the team has to win by more than 7 points for you to win the bet. If the team wins by 7 points exactly, you win your money back; if the team fails to win by less than 7 points, you lose the bet.

You can see how much profit a bet can make you with a spread betting calculator, which helps you know the underlying risk and profit potential.

Is Sports Spread Betting Different To Financial Spread Betting?

Yes, sports spread betting is different from financial spread betting because you have a longer time horizon to be accurate in the financial markets. With sports spread betting, the event expires after full-time (which could be 90 minutes for a football game), which makes sports betting riskier.

Is Sports Spread Betting Regulated?

Sports spread betting is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (just like the financial spread betting markets). The FCA regulates spread betting to ensure that bettors are protected and treated fairly and that the client’s funds are protected should the company go bankrupt.

Can You Use Leverage When Sports Spread Betting?

No, sports spread betting does not have leverage as you are betting on the outcome of an event. However, you will use the margin as collateral to open a spread bet, ensuring you have enough funds to cover any losses.

Does Taxes Apply For Sports Spread Betting?

Sports spread betting is exempt from capital gains tax as it is classified as a gambling product according to HMRC tax laws. This means you keep 100% of your winnings without filing a tax return at the end of the year.

About the author:

Justin Grossbard

Having traded since 1998, Justin is the CEO and Co-Founded CompareForexBrokers in 2004. Justin has published over 100 finance articles from Forbes, Kiplinger to Finance Magnates. He has a Masters and Commerce degree and has an active role in the fintech community. He has also published a book in 2023 on on investing and trading.

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