Live Betting On Football

The profile of a traditional online sports bettor is changing from one that involves betting on a desktop in a good mix of pre-match and in-play markets. The latest trends suggest a more typical sports bettor makes spontaneous bets on a mobile device while watching a sporting event. In 2016 for the first time it has been projected that more bets will be placed on a mobile tool than a desktop computer. Sports bettors are now generally younger and more comfortable carrying out functions on smartphones.

Since the start of the online betting industry football has been the most popular betting sport, accounting for more than 50% of bets placed. As mobile technology improves and apps become more easy to use and navigate betting on football has grown at a faster rate than betting on any other sport, both in the main book and live environment. Mobile apps now offer a comprehensive live betting service with quick bet features. Matches and odds can be located effectively.

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Live TV and Streaming

Betting turnover for an event increases significantly when customers can watch that event live. Dedicated sports channels and live streaming on bookmaker websites means there are literally hundreds of live fixtures to bet on each day. Many pubs and social clubs subscribe to the sports channels or purchase equipment that allows them to stream live football matches. Television advertising before kick-off and at half time promotes live betting opportunities and bookmaker bonuses and free bets.  

In total Sky Sports and BT Sport show more than 60 live football matches each week, covering the main leagues in England, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Holland, Switzerland and Scotland. There is also blanket coverage of the Champions League and several matches in the Europa League. A sample Watch and Bet listing in the Racing Post featured matches from India, Greece, Turkey and Portugal. On other days the main South American leagues are covered across time zones in the Southern Hemisphere.

Betfair has the biggest range of leagues in the online betting industry. The exchange has markets for more than 40 countries from around the world, covering about 200 leagues. All the major domestic Cup competitions are covered and matches in the Champions League and Europa League in Europe. The major online bookmakers offer odds on matches from all the main leagues and competitions. Customers can bet in-play across the full range of exchange and fixed odds football markets.  

Popular Markets

There is a growing trend for sports bettors to want to bet quickly and often. Betting companies have procedures in place to settle bets and update customer accounts promptly. Football is a sport in which events happen repeatedly and to some respects randomly. There are links between possession, shots, corners and goals but throw-ins are more random.

  • A typical football match includes more than 40 throw-ins and they are usually evenly shared. When the ball goes out of play on the sidelines a new market can be immediately offered for the next throw-in. This market is an example of a popular way of betting often and after short lapses in time.
  • The three-way or Home-Draw-Away market is the most basic and still a very popular live betting market. The bet runs for 90 minutes and monitoring the score is easy and straightforward.
  • The match winner market is suited to in-play trading because each goal results in big price movements.
  • The next goal market is related to the match winner market and is also a popular option for live football bettors.   

Best Markets

The most popular markets are not necessarily the best from a trading point of view. Bookmakers use algorithms for related markets and statistics can help in-play bettors. The team with most possession will generally win more corners, create more chances and score most goals. Match betting is a three outcome market and across all leagues about 28% of fixtures are drawn. A much smaller share of bets are on the draw because bettors generally prefer to bet on a definite outcome.

  • Total goals markets are less random than throw-ins and statistics can be useful in identifying good in-play betting opportunities. The number of goals scored in a match can be influenced by the size of the pitch and weather conditions.
  • Corners follow trends and the following factors are relevant: attacking nature of teams, defensive tactics, clearing lines, size of pitch and weather. Team selection can also determine if a team is more or less likely to create corners and be awarded the next one in a match.
  • One of the most popular areas for in-play football betting is discipline and the number of red and yellow cards issued to each team. Statistics are particularly useful because they reveal players that have poor records and the mentality and approach of referees when dealing with fouls and bad behaviour. Team selection will influence the likelihood of bookings and allied to individual referee records provide a good basis for sound and logical betting on the number of red and yellow cards in a match.

Worst Markets

Some in-play football markets are more random than others. Clearly the amount of possession enjoyed by each team has a direct affect on the share of certain events in a match. The team with the ball is more likely to be moving towards the opposition goal and goal line which influences the awarding of corners, free kicks in attacking areas and off-sides. Conversely, the team doing most defending are more likely to have most goal kicks.

Handicap markets can be fraught with danger. A team might be winning 3-0 at half-time and with the match won may drop a level of intensity. Rarely do teams convert a 3-0 half-time lead into a 6-0 win. Bookmaker’s odds react as though they will disproportionally to the number of times it does happen. Even so, the potential scenarios with regards to margins of victory and defeat make betting on handicaps difficult. A late consolation goal can spoil many winning bets. 

Exchange Betting

The sports betting landscape has changed radically since 2000 when Betfair entered the market with a betting exchange. Betting on football had always been popular but Betfair partly led to the explosion of betting on many other sports. Football still accounts for the majority of sports bets but mainstream and minor sports were covered by betting companies in some depth for the first time.

Exchange betting which fundamentally means Betfair lends itself to in-play trading. Smaller exchanges are trying to establish market share by offering competitive commissions but the lack of liquidity in many markets negates the benefits of reduced commission. An effective exchange requires bettors with opposing views who arrive at a mutually beneficial price at which to match a bet.

An exchange bookmaker provides the infrastructure to bring together users who want to bet on something happening and users who have a different view and want to bet on that event not happening. The two sides of the transaction are a backer and a layer. The exchange provides the mechanism for bets to be matched, partly matched or not matched at all but remain in the market until the price is agreeable, the bet is cancelled or the relevant market is closed.

Exchange betting allows trading on a range of sports of which football is by far the most popular. Odds change significantly after a goal and a backer can then lay at more advantageous odds to guarantee a profit. A layer can close the bet before expiry to minimise losses. Exchange betting allows customers to benefit from getting something right or limiting the damage from getting something wrong. Goals lead to price fluctuations and trading opportunities. Other sports are suited to in-play trading but football has a simple scoring system and easy to follow developments in a match.    

Cash Out

Betting exchanges automatically calculate the price at which bets should be closed by placing counter bets. Traditional bookmakers did not formalise that process until relatively recently. If a bettor backed a team to win a match and they scored the other two potential options had to be backed but the customer had to do the calculations to ensure the same return whatever the outcome.

Cash Out changed the process because the lay price to counter a back bet is now calculated by the bookmaker. The back office does all the maths so the customer is presented with value of the cash out bet and makes a decision about letting the bet run accordingly. Cash Out as a concept enhances the live betting experience and adds elements of an exchange to the service offered by a fixed-odds online bookmaker.

Football was the first sport to involve the Cash Out option but the facility is now available for several other mainstream betting sports such as tennis and rugby. The process has been made available to mirror the closing of bets on an exchange. However, the odds are still in favour of the bookmaker and Cash Out would not be offered if it did not represent a good business strategy for operators. However, football bettors can now close a bet before expiry with a traditional online bookmaker.  

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