The following five football betting sites have been hand selected as the best places to bet on football (soccer). The bookmakers have been chosen based on the free bets and football related promotions they offer, odds, features and usability.
Football Betting Guide
It only takes a few clicks onto some of the largest betting sites in the UK to see how popular football betting has become. Many bookmakers rank it as their highest grossing betting outlay, and with such esteem comes a comprehensive range of markets, offers and betting specials primarily set up for football and football alone.
One of the driving forces behind the popularity in football betting is the worldwide coverage the sport gets. It’s quoted that the English Premier League alone is shown in over 200 countries, with leagues in Spain, Italy, Germany and Holland all providing adequate alternatives. With this sort of coverage comes a wealth of money thrown at the clubs in these leagues. This money is then reinvested into the best players in the world just strengthening their monopoly on the sport.
The football betting industry now boats a multi-billion pound turnover and each year these numbers continue to rise. Betting sites are keen to plug football betting as much as possible and will do so as long as the continued global appeal of the sport continues to grow.
Most Popular Football Bets / How To Bet On Football
It’s easy to get lost in the sheer volume of bets you can place for any one match. In-play betting allows punters to choose from hundreds of markets on any game. Let’s take a look at the rundown of some of the most popular.
- Match Betting – Match betting is without doubt the most popular bet when it comes to football. It’s simple really; predict the outcome of the game – home win, away win or draw – and place your bet.
- Outright Betting – Outright betting comes into play when selecting the winner of either a league or tournament. The market can be played anytime throughout said competition and the odds will fluctuate accordingly. For tournaments especially, outright betting will give you the best odds prior to the start of that tournament.
- Correct Score – Another popular market is the correct score market which requires you to choose the exact score at the full time whistle of that game. Goals can be scored in any order, only the final result matters.
- Goalscorer – The goalscorer markets allow you to choose from a number of different variables. You have first goalscorer, last goalscorer and next goalscorer. There are other variations which include a player to score two or more goals, a hat trick or even over 3 goals.
- Goals in a Game – This market is generally an over/under market, meaning the bookmaker sets a line at a certain number of goals for you to then decide whether you want to choose more or less goals then their line. A quick example would be the over 2.5 goals or under 2.5 goals in the match. In addition to these there will also be the option to take the over or under on an array of lines set, of which the odds for each will vary.
- Total Corners – Again another pretty self-explanatory market is betting on the number of corners in the match. It’s not uncommon to find three betting variables of under a certain amount, an exact amount and over an exact amount.
- Bookings – You can bet on markets that include the total amount of bookings in a match and also first or last bookings in a game. This market is really good fun in fierce local derby’s where tempers are usually high and as a result bookings are often inflated.
- Asian Handicap – Many people are often put off by the ‘complexity’ of Asian handicap betting but it’s actually very simple. It basically just gives one team a head start over the other. So let’s say Team A was +1 goal and Team B was -1 it just means that the score would, hypothetically speaking, start 1-0 to Team A and then the match progresses from there.
Football Betting Rules
Before we dive into some of the more common football betting rules, it’s worth noting that with each bookmaker rules may differ slightly. It’s for this reason that if you are unsure on a certain event you should check with your bookmakers individual betting rules.
- Pay-out Limits – You may be unaware that many bookmakers actually have limits on how much they will pay out for certain events or sports. It’s likely that these limits won’t affect you, but massive pay-outs can be capped.
- 90 Minutes Play – Bets paid out for markets that are for the 90 minute game include injury time and stoppage time. They do not include Extra time or penalties.
- Postponed Games – If a game is postponed for whatever reason the market will be refunded. This is unless the game is rearranged within a week of the original date, when bets originally placed will stand.
- Abandoned Matches – If the game is abandoned mid match then bets placed will become void. This is unless the bet has previously been settled prior to the completion of said match.
Handicap betting is one of the most underrated markets when it comes to football betting. A lot of people who aren’t all that familiar with it are often put off by what they perceive to be complexity. The reality of it is that it’s very simple once you know.
The basic concept for this bet type is that one team has a theoretical head start or handicap over another team. This number is represented in goals and then a plus or minus figure will determine if the team is at an advantage (plus) or a disadvantage (minus).
One of the reasons why so few people use handicap betting (when they really should), is that they struggle to grasp why it’s important from a betting perspective. The main point for this is value.
Value is something that is often overlooked in football betting, and what I may call a value bet you may not. It’s subjective and there is no real right or wrong answer, only an opinion. However, if you work hard enough at your bets and put in enough time and research, you should be able to dig out what you think is a value bet in time.
So, how does this relate to handicap betting?
For one, handicap betting is great for use with short priced favourites. A bet priced at 1.20 for an outright win isn’t going to offer many punters much value. Risking £10 to gain £2 just doesn’t offer much value, in our opinion at least.
There is something that we can take from these odds tough. First up, the bookmaker thinks the team priced at 1.20 are going to win the match, and likely going to win the match well. They are strong favourites and let’s face it, the bookies are rarely wrong. As my old man always says, “You never see a poor bookmaker”. They have hordes of people crunching numbers and setting odds, so they won’t go too far wrong.
Next up, at such a short-priced favourite it’s likely the bookies think this team in particular are going to win well. 2+ goal winning margin has to be expected at this price. This should immediately trigger alarm bells and make you start to look at possible handicap bets.
Without taking this too much into betting strategy, let’s look at a quick real-world betting example of how the handicap market can improve those poor valued bets.
We’ve an upcoming Premier League fixture between Bournemouth and Arsenal. Arsenal are strong favourites priced at 1.57 and, if we are being honest, don’t offer much value. Their previous 5 meeting have seen 4 Arsenal wins and 1 draw, with the wins being 3-0, 3-1, 2-0 and 2-0, respectively. From this, we see Arsenal generally win and win well against Bournemouth.
By adding a 1 goal disadvantage to Arsenal (-1) the odds jump from 1.57 to 2.10 for a game that they are likely going to win by 2 or more goals.
Again, this is a rough example but you see how adding a handicap to one team and taking into account the current price, past results and other factors as well, all combines to make what was previously a poor looking bet into a much more enticing one.
Ante post betting is often something that is associated with horse racing, but it is widely used in football betting as well. The process is pretty simple in that you are essentially betting on markets or events that are going to happen in the future. This could include winners of the league cup, top goalscorer and so on.
Ante post has a number of conditions attached to it that you need to be aware of. The first one is that any bets placed on these types of markets will at no point become void, and there is no chance of getting your money should a selection not be included in the run up to your bet being concluded.
For example, let’s say that you bet on a player to be the top scorer in the upcoming World Cup. You place your bet on the ante post market in January, several months before the tournament kicks off in June.
Disappointingly, your selection breaks their leg just weeks before the start of the tournament and is ruled out of playing. If this happened, then your ante post bet wouldn’t be voided and your bet would be a loss. If you placed this bet on the day of the start of the tournament or a specific ‘non-ante post’ market, then your bet would be refunded as technically it would be a non-runner.
So, why bet on the ante post market at all?
The main reason people utilise these betting markets is that more often than not the odds are higher than they might be nearer the time of the start of the event.
Let’s say you stick a bet on Brazil to win the same World Cup. Several months prior to the World Cup, the bookies are still guessing about which team they might set up, which players will travel, where they are staying, who they are playing etc. They are also similarly guessing about their opponents as well.
Basically, there’s still a lot of guess work to be undertaken, so they leave a little leeway as to the price that is set. As the tournament grows closer and even up to the day of the first game, these questions can be ticked off and the bookies price will likely be a much closer reflection on Brazil’s chances of winning.
There can be quite a few pros and cons for these types of bets, but it’s often the place where you are going to find the most value for any type of football bet. We’ve seen odds reduce (and increase) by as much as 50% from initial ante post markets right up to kick off, so they can be a real asset if used correctly.
Jackpot bets aren’t particularly new to football betting; the Pools has been around for decades and that’s essentially what these jackpot bets are based on.
However, it’s definitely fair to say that they are making a return. In fact, their popularity now is probably about as big as it’s ever been, with the likes of Coral, Betfair and Colossus Bet all offering up a load of different jackpot bets.
The process is pretty simple. You get a long list of games to pick from each week and you simply need to choose home win, away win or draw. If you manage to get all selections right then you scoop the jackpot. There are often prizes for 1 wrong and 2 wrong answers as well, but these will vary depending on what type of jackpot it is and who are you are betting with.
The appeal of the jackpots has to be the massive sums of money that build up. The prize pools are often based on a collective amount that is taken each week and then that money is distributed to the winners. If there are no winners – which there often aren’t – then the money rolls over. It’s a bit like the lottery in that it keeps going until it’s won, hence why the sums of money can often get up to six or even seven figure territories.
Aside from the fact that you are looking to spend a few quid each week on these types of bets, there isn’t an awful lot more to the jackpot bets. They are massive long shots, but it’s a small outlay and they generally offer pretty good value should you manage to secure a pay-out.
The Increase of Betting Sponsorship Within Football
You only need to watch one of the live games on Sky Sports to see just how much weight the betting industry has within the football sector these days. Our screens are flooded with adverts for some of the bigger bookies, and they even take short 30 second breaks just to show a single betting advert.
It’s actually quite a contentious subject at the minute, especially with the recent investigations by the likes of the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) making sure that potential gamblers aren’t being misled with betting offers and promotions. Either way, they are part of the game now and these deals look set to increase.
One of the ways that the football clubs have been able to cash in on this is by appointing official betting partners. These are basically the bookmaker that they are jumping into bed with for that season, allowing them exclusive access to betting stalls within the stadium and, of course, advertising opportunities.
However, whilst the ‘official betting partner’ often plays a bit of a back seat role, in that you don’t see an awful lot of adverts with the club linked to them; the increase in betting companies that are now on the front of football shirts has grown exponentially. The first shirt deal didn’t take place until 2002 (Fulham’s sponsorship deal with Betfair), but now 45% of Premier League clubs have a betting company as their main sponsor.
In the 2017/18 season alone, over £43million has been invested by bookmakers looking to cash in on the popularity of the Premier League. What’s really interesting about who is doing the sponsoring though, is that the companies aren’t necessarily targeting the UK betting market.
Only Bet365 and Betway, who sponsor West Ham and Stoke respectively, have a customer majority based within the UK. The other companies, such as ManBetX, OPE Sports, LeTou and Dafabet, have very little if any interest in the UK market.
So, why do they sponsor these teams then?
The reason is that the Premier League has a massive global audience these days. At its peak in 2014-15 season, the Premier League was broadcast to over 730 million homes, with a global TV audience of 3 billion. Numbers for the 2017/18 season are slightly shy of this, but not by much.
What it shows is that whilst the Premier League might be played out in the UK, the scope for sponsorship potential, and in turn exposure to a huge global market, is too tempting for these bookmakers to resist, regardless of whether or not they are targeting UK punters.
What is clear is that the rate of spending by these bookmakers doesn’t look set to end any time soon. The money they spend, whilst in footballing terms is fairly small, is still extremely significant for the clubs, especially for the lower league teams.
Below is a list of all the betting deals completed with Premier League teams for the 2017/18 season:
- West Ham – Betway – £10 million
- Everton – SportsPea – £9.6 million
- Crystal Palace – ManBetX – £6.5million
- Newcastle United – Fun88 – £6 million
- Swansea City – LeTou – £4.5million
- Bournemouth – M88 – £3.5 million
- Stoke City – Bet365 – £3.2 million
- Burnley – Dafabet – £2.5 million
- Huddersfield Town – Ope Sports – £1.5 million
Whilst the good times are certainly currently rolling for the betting companies and their sponsorship deals, you only need to look at the likes of the tobacco industry to see how things can change. The likes of Marlboro Embassy, Benson & Hedges and many more were synonymous with sponsored events around the world, until they were banned from sponsoring sporting events in the UK in 2005.
It’s unlikely that a fall out of this proportion will happen with gambling, but it does highlight the possibility.
One of the reasons we mention this is that in 2017 the FA famously pulled out of a deal endorsing Ladbrokes as their official betting partner. The deal was thought to be worth around £4million a year, but due to a number of high profile incidents and pressure from anti-gambling groups, the FA ended the affiliation.
They also added that they would be ending affiliation with all betting companies and wouldn’t be appointing an official betting partner of any sort in the future. The issue now for football clubs is that the FA are missing out on a lot of money, and whilst we don’t want to be so crude as to say that if the FA aren’t making money from it, then they won’t want others making money from it….no, wait, that’s exactly what we are saying.
In the coming years the FA will likely start to put increasing pressure on football clubs to tackle problematic gambling within the game. As we stated earlier, a mass fallout is unlikely, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see stricter laws introduced over the next 5 years, potentially banning betting sites from becoming main sponsors.
Bookies at the Grounds
Following on from our point above, the increase of bookmakers at football grounds over the past few years has been staggering. As a Newcastle United fan, often sulking in the Gallowgate End of St James’ Park, I counted 5 betting stalls that I had to walk past to get to my seat.
All stands were that of Fun88, who are the main sponsors of the club. Now, betting with this company actually holds no interest for me as I place most of my bets via phone these days and with reputable accounts.
However, a friend enquired about increased odds for the Newcastle game that day as part of a promotion. He placed his bet, with cash, got his bet slip and took his seat. He actually won, correctly predicting a 3-0 win over West Ham. Later, he went back to the counter, asked for his winnings, only to be told that his winnings would be paid into his online account with the bookmaker.
Confused, he stated that he didn’t have an account, before being told that this was fine and as long as he signed up today the money would be sent across. We were both pretty shocked, but he signed up and got his money.
After conducting more research into this, it seems it is common practice for in-stadium bookmakers. They allow you to bet in cash and then they deposit the funds online. It allows the bookies to get hold of your details and also gets another registered account with them.
From our research, we’ve noticed a huge increase in bookmakers that have been able to sign up new customers this way. Ladbrokes have been known to do similar at other sporting events such as rugby and horse racing, and this is why they operate so many stalls within such a small space, to make sure that people are able to sign up on the day.