sports betting

A Beginners Guide to Sports Betting

Betting on sports is a hugely entertaining hobby, adding an extra dimension of investment and commitment to the sport. It can make it more interesting and exciting when betting on sports and teams that have a personal connection, and make sports overall more interesting when wagering purely based on statistics and probabilities.

Reputable and reliable sportsbook

The first thing to do when wanting to embark upon online betting journey in the world of sports is to find a reputable provider. Reputable providers will offer the best odds to their punters, and will ensure that all bet mechanics and (possible) returns to players are transparent and clearly laid out to punters. They will also offer a secure environment, ensuring that personal details and your financial information is secure, as well as allowing players to withdraw their winnings quickly and easily.

Sports gambling in the UK

It is estimated that every week hundreds of millions of pounds are wagered across different sports across the UK. Between October 2016 and September 2017, the Gross Gaming Yield (GGY) for sports betting was £2 billion; this is a fairly big chunk of the £14 billion generated by gambling in general, including casinos, lotteries, and bingo halls.

  • For beginners looking to get started in the market, the next thing to look at is what sport to bet on.

Football Betting

Of this amount, around £786 million can be attributed to football, meaning that football betting makes up around 40% of the total industry. This does of course fluctuate slightly depending on what competitions are on (for example the World Cup or the Euros), although there is always something happening in the Premiership, Championship, Europe, or the Americas.

There is a strong link between football and the betting industry that goes back to when the FA first came into being in the 1860s. In 1923, the first popular sports betting pools came into being, and in 1986 paid out its first million.

Other Sports

Tennis is the second most popular sport, with huge interest in the major championships such as Wimbledon, The French Open, The Australian Open, and The US Open. Top tennis players have become stars, and even non-tennis fans know who Nadal, Federer, and Venus and Serena are, not to mention Wimbledon and Olympic Champion Andy Murray.

Horse racing has also retained its popularity; it was the original sport for betting, way back in the 17th century, and was considered a gentleman’s sport, raking in the money for the 13 original colonies in the US and for the crown back in England.

More recently, interest in US sports has also increased, in particular there is a huge amount of interest in the Super Bowl, with many drawn to the elaborate half time shows featuring the best of the best in international entertainment. Other sports gaining traction in the market include rugby (both union and league), cricket, golf, and even WWE and UFC. There is even a section for Virtual Sport, bringing the industry into the 21st Century.

  • The next thing beginners should look at is what kind of bets to place.

Types of betting

  • Single Bet

This is probably the most common and simple bet to place. It can be as simple as £X for X Team to win. These bets may cost marginally more to place than other types of bets, but are a really good starting point for beginners, and often have the potential for some pretty good returns.

  • Win, Place and Each Way

The ‘win’ element of the bet pays out in the event of a win. The ‘place’ element of the bet will pay out if the team/individual finishes within a certain number of positions, for example, top three, or top five. An ‘each way’ bet doubles the stake and pays out in the event of a win or placing. It can be a good way of covering bets, but is unlikely to net huge rewards unless players are prepared to risk a lot, or if a team comes in from left field and upsets the major players (like Leicester did in 2016, with odds of 5000 to 1 at the start of the season).

  • Accumulator

Accumulators can pay out fairly sizeable amounts, and requires all the selections to win for there to be a pay-out. For example, punters may place a £1 bet on three events, with odds of 6/1, 9/1, and 16/1 giving cumulative odds of 1189/1.

  • £1 on 6/1 = £7
  • £7 on 9/1 = £63
  • £63 + £7 on 16/1 = £1120

The Accumulator is the most popular low stakes bet in the UK. Although they don’t succeed as often, it is fund and exciting, and there is potential for big returns from as little as £1 bets.

  • More Complex Betting

There are a range of other types of bets that are not as common, and for beginners perhaps ill-advised. Bets like conditional betting can greatly increase the amount won, but can also lead to bigger losses. In some sports, especially horseracing, there is forecast betting where punters predict the finishing order of the top three of a race. In NFL and the NBA spread betting is also popular, where players bet on a range, and the closer they are the bigger the pay-out.

Other Considerations

  • Learn the lingo

Newbies need to learn the key terminology to make sure they don’t get taken advantage of, or do the opposite of what they wanted to.

  • Use your head

It may be tempting to blindly bet on a favourite team, but realistically how likely are they to win? If the aim is to fritter away a few quid on a slim hope that’s one thing. Otherwise, probability and rational thought should prevail.

About the Author

Fernando James

James has offered expert financial insight at CouponAnnie since 2020. As a freelance writer, he has been published in a variety of prominent publications. He's been featured on the Washington Post and Financial Planning Magazine, and has been quoted by Money Magazine, Retailmenot, and more.