Live Sports Betting in Australia

A question I’m often asked by sports betters is whether any Australian bookmaker offers live online betting. I believe one of the smaller agencies currently does, but it’s not technically legal for Australian bookmakers to do so. Instead, Australian bookmakers can only offer live betting by phone or at retail outlets. This is obviously not ideal, because by the time you assess the situation, make a call, get through to an operator, and request the latest odds, the situation and odds could have changed substantially.

Australian bookmakers have been seeking a law change for some time, but for now, punters are limited to phone betting with Australian agencies.

So is there a way around this? Well, the answer is yes! Simply use an international bookmaker, preferably one that offers Australian dollar accounts. While most international bookmakers have live offerings, I will focus on bet365 simply because its the primary bookmaker I use for live betting.

The far left panel lists all live betting events, including live odds and up-to-date scores. When you select an event the corresponding score and betting options are displayed in the next panel. Where available, live video of the event, often with commentary, is also provided. The right panel displays your betting slip.

Live Betting Tips and Suggestions

For obvious reasons, live betting isn’t huge in Australia, but it’s massive in Europe. According to Betfair, live betting accounts for 90% of wagers on cricket, tennis and soccer.

At first glance, you may think live betting is easier than pre-game betting because you can make informed decisions. Based on my own experience, however, I feel that live betting is in fact harder than standard betting. There are two key reasons for this. First, due to the popularity of live betting, European bookmakers have gained a lot of experience, and have now become very canny with their live odds offerings. What may seem like a “can’t lose” 1.10 bet can quickly turn into a losing position. Second, bookmaker margins are typically higher for live betting. For example, line bets are expected to have a 50% chance of winning. At bet365, pre-game NBA line bets have odds of 1.90, while in-play NBA line bets typically have odds of 1.83. This translates into a bookmaker margin of 9.29% as opposed to 5.26%.

Live betting is exciting to participate in because you have to make quick decisions to perform well. Below are some tips for those who have yet to try live betting:

  • Start very small. Take time to assess your live betting performance and learn what your weaknesses are. Compare this performance to your historical pre-game betting results. Personally, my pre-game profit margin is twice that for live betting. This is primarily due to the higher bookmaker margins. If you get burned, then at least you’ve learned your lesson using a small amount of money. It will also enable you to make beginner errors without incurring too much stress.
  • Track your performance. This tip follows on from the prior tip. I recommend that every punter tracks his or her performance, because it’s very easy to misjudge your track record. You may feel you dominate tennis betting, only to find you have a losing record when looking at the data. I recommend the Australia Sports Betting Excel betting tracker worksheet. Versions 1.05 onwards enable you to track live betting separately from pre-game betting.
  • Make a pre-game bet if you have a strong opinion. Remember that pre-game margins are lower than in-play margins. In an NBA game you will get 1.90 odds prior to tip-off for a line bet, as opposed to 1.83 odds the second the event starts.
  • Act quickly. Odds can change incredibly quickly during live events. In a basketball game that is tied at 72-72, a sudden scoring streak can shift the odds for one team from 1.83 to 1.10 in less than a minute. Often the odds will change in two or three increments after a certain play as the bookmaker comes to terms with what’s happened. Taking advantage of the first as opposed to the second or third increment can have a huge impact on your betting performance.
  • Become a specialist. Because bookmaker margins are so high during live betting, you really need to become an expert on a few selected sports to have any chance of consistently beating the bookmaker. Don’t make a bet for the sake of it. Only participate if you feel you have a qualified opinion.
  • Determine your strategy in advance. Live betting involves making quick decisions. Prior to the start of an event, decide on your strategy for the game. At what score margin will you place a head-to-head bet? If you take a line bet and the odds shift in your favour, at what point will you make an opposing bet to hedge your bets? Or will you look away and see if you’ve won at the end of the event? What will you do if you make a bet, only to later believe the other team will win? Ask yourself these questions prior to making your first bet on the event.
  • Don’t hesitate to bail out by making an opposing bet. In finance terms this is equivalent to a stop-loss order. There are times where you’ll made a bet early in the game only to feel the other team is bound to win. In this case I recommend you make an opposing bet to cancel out the first one. Due to bookmaker margins this will result in a guaranteed loss, but this loss will be smaller than if you hadn’t acted and your hunch is correct. From my own experience, this strategy makes the difference between being a successful sports better and an unsuccessful one.

Hopefully Australian bookmakers will be entitled to offer live online betting sooner rather than later. In the meantime, for a list of international bookmakers that offer live online betting and Australian dollar accounts, check out our Betting Agencies section. For a list of other international bookmakers, check out our International Betting Agencies section.

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