Spread Betting


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Spread betting, also known as index betting, is a form of betting that pays a variable amount depending on the accuracy of your prediction compared to the bookmaker’s spread. This in contrast to a fixed odds bet that pays a set amount if a certain criterion is met.

Spread betting is popular in Europe but it hasn’t really taken off in Australia. Sports Alive is Australia’s leading spread betting agency. Due to the risks involved, to open a spread betting account with Sports Alive you must fill in a Spread Betting Application Form and sign the enclosed Terms of Business and Risk Warning Notice. Given the unique nature of spread betting, in the UK, it is regulated by the Financial Services Authority rather than the Gambling Commission.

To participate in spread betting, you first evaluate the spread. The spread is a scoring range set by the bookmaker on a specific sporting event. If you believe this spread is too high or too low you buy or sell accordingly.

Buying: If you believe the spread is too low then you "buy." For every point over the spread the result is, you win (or lose) by multiplying your stake by the difference between the top of the spread and the final result.

Selling: If you believe the spread is too high then you "sell." For every point under the spread the final result is, you win (or lose) by multiplying your stake by the difference between the bottom of the spread and the final result.

With spread betting, every point matters. As each goal is kicked or run scored your position shifts. Even one sided contests become interesting, because you’re betting against the spread, not just the result.

Bet types

There are three common spread bet types:

  • Totals: back the spread on a variety of match and series totals such as points scored, corners awarded and games won.
  • Supremacy betting: pits the superiority of one team, person or horse over another in categories including margins and possessions.
  • Performance bets: an artificial points scale designed to measure the outcome of an event or contest. Can include finishing positions, 100 Indices and Jockey Performance.

Stop losses

The more accurate your prediction, the more you win, but it goes both ways. Spread betting is risky because the worse your prediction, the more you lose. To limit losses and winnings, bookmakers place predetermined stop loss and win limits for all spread betting markets. Below are selected Sports Alive stop loss/win limits.

Sport Bet Bet size per full point Stop loss/win full points
Football Individual Matches – total goals  $10 – $500  4
Football Individual Matches – superiority  $10 – $500  4
Football Number of corners in a game  $5 – $200  20
Football Total points in a season  $10 – $500  50
Football Individual player’s goals in a season  $1 – $100  30
Rugby league Individual matches -total points $1 – $100  40
Rugby league Individual matches – superiority $1 – $100  40
Rugby league Total points in season $1 – $100  100
Rugby league Individual player’s points in a season $1 – $100  100
AFL Individual matches – total points  $1 – $100  100
AFL Individual matches – superiority  $1 – $100  75
AFL Individual player total goals in match  $1 – $100  10
AFL Individual player goals in season  $1 – $100  50
AFL Individual player – Brownlow Medal Votes  $1 – $100  20
AFL Team total goals in a season  $1 – $100  100


Betting in the run

For many fixtures you can bet in the run, meaning that you can place spread bet wagers while the match is in progress. This enables you to move in and out of the markets during the match or simply close out an existing bet to lock in a win or limit any further loss.

Locking in a win (or limiting a loss) means that after you have taken a certain bet and the spread moves for (or against) your initial position, you can close out the bet and collect the difference between your original quote and the current spread price.

In the run spread betting is not technically available to Australian residents. The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 makes the offer of live sports betting to Australians prohibited. However, most international bookmakers ignore this law, and this Act makes it an offence for operators to offer live betting to Australians, but it does not prohibit Australians from participating in live betting.

Notes and Sources

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