Sports spread betting offers a completely different and fascinating alternative to regular fixed-odds wagering. Its popularity has been growing in the UK for some time now, and – as such – more and more betting sites are starting to offer it. We’ve tested those platforms extensively, and identified your very best options.
In this article, we’ll identify the UK’s best sports spread betting sites, and what specifically makes them so good. We’ll also give you a comprehensive overview of spread betting, including how it works, the markets it’s available on, and how it differs from the regular fixed-odds variety.
Spread betting in the UK is a major alternative to regular gambling, and we’ll explain the main differences in detail shortly. For now, let’s stick to the basics.
In spread betting, you’ll choose a market with a range of different outcomes, such as Total Goals in a football match. The betting platform will make their prediction for what the final outcome will be, which is presented as a small range. This is the ‘spread’. You then predict whether the outcome will be higher or lower than this range.
As an example of online sports spread betting explained, let’s use the aforementioned Total Goals market. The betting platform sets the spread at 2.3-2.5. If you think there will be more than 2.5 goals (e.g. at least three), you bet that side of the market. If you think there will be two or fewer goals, you take that side instead.
Spread betting might be growing in popularity, but it’s still far behind regular fixed-odds wagering in this respect. Accordingly, you don’t have as many choices regarding sites on which to bet. With that said, there are still a few excellent contenders for ‘best sports spread betting site’, with these being your top options right now.
SpreadEx do provide fixed odds markets, but – as the name suggests – spread betting is definitely their priority. They’re one of the most experienced sites around in this area, having operated since 1999, and are still based in the UK to this day. SpreadEx’s founder is a former City trader, so it’s no surprise that they offer financial spread betting alongside their sports betting section.
The latter is absolutely packed out with gambling opportunities. Football has the most individual SpreadEx spread betting markets, but you can also wager on horse racing, greyhound racing, tennis, golf, eSports, and much more.
Newcomers are particularly well-served at SpreadEx. For starters, they have an absolutely fantastic help section, which explains both basic and advanced spread betting with incredible clarity. There’s also an enormous sign up offer, which offers up to £300 in cashback on spread betting within your first 28 days. Read the SpreadEx Review >>
Along with SpreadEx, Sporting Index are the most famous spread betting specialists around right now. They have an even more impressive track record, stretching back all the way to 1992, and claim a hefty 70% market share for spread betting in their native UK. While you can’t wager on financials here, they provide an excellent selection of sports spread betting markets alongside a solid fixed-odds section.
The range of football markets is extensive, in both competitions covered and bet types available. You’ll also find Sporting Index spread betting opportunities on horse racing, cricket, snooker, tennis, and more, and this site is strong on both pre-match and in-play wagering.
The New Account Offer here isn’t quite as impressive, offering only £25 to spread bet with, but you can get another £75 via a referral deal. There’s also a fantastic Training Centre, containing detailed tutorials for newbies via both text and video. Read the Sporting Index Review >>
In UK sports spread betting, you are simply deciding whether you think the outcome will be lower or higher than the site’s prediction. If you think it’ll be lower, you ‘sell’ the market. If you want to go higher instead, you ‘buy’ it.
A key point with online spread betting is that neither the size of your profits or losses are defined beforehand. Instead, they depend on how correct or incorrect you are. To calculate this, you multiply your stake size by the difference between the spread and the final outcome.
To get a better idea of what we’re talking about, let’s run through some examples of both selling and buying markets.
If you’ve got any significant experience of sports betting, you’ll probably have encountered Over/Under markets. Sports spread betting works in a very similar way, and taking the under is known as ‘selling’ a market.
Here’s an example of a successful sell bet:
Mechanically, buying in spread betting works in the same way as selling. Using our previous analogy, it is the equivalent of taking the over in a traditional Over/Under market.
Here’s an example of a losing buy bet:
Sports spread betting is more complex for bookmakers to implement than fixed odds, so you’ll usually find fewer sports covered. That said, it’s usually the more niche markets which are omitted, with all the biggest sports still usually being covered. Below, you’ll find a few of the most popular spread betting sports which are widely-available.
As with fixed-odds bookmakers, football dominates spread betting sites. It will not only be covered on every platform, but will invariably have the most individual markets too.
The best football betting sites will offer pre-match and in-play spreads on Total Goals, Bookings, Corners and more. You can also wager on the main fixed odds market – Match Result – although things work differently here. The most common way to do so is via a handicap, in which the favourite might start with 0.05 fake goals, while the underdog begins with 0.25.
American sports have become increasingly popular to wager on in the UK, and the NFL is the biggest of the bunch. During both the regular season and playoffs, you’ll usually find plenty of NFL spreads available to wager on.
Taking a simple Match Winner wager is pretty rare here, even via handicap. The most common bet type is actually Over/Under Points, with this market providing nice, simple spreads. Total Touchdowns is the main alternative, but sites like SpreadEx will also provide markets on Field Goal Yardage… and even Touchdown Scorers’ Shirt Number!
The nature of golf scoring is absolutely perfect for spread betting. Heading into a major tournament, you’ll be given a spread for each golfer’s final score (under or over par). This spread will typically only cover two or three shots, leaving you plenty of room to make a big profit either selling or buying.
The coverage of golf also tends to be excellent on spread betting sites. You’ll usually find not only the majors in place, but also all major tour events. Like football, both pre-match and in-play betting is typically available here.
Horse racing is widely available for spread betting, with courses all around the world being represented. Not only that, but platforms like Sporting Index even provide live streaming of races each day.
Spread betting on horse racing usually works on a points-based system. With 10 runners, for example, a horse might be given 50pts for winning, 25 for coming second, or 10 for finishing third. Each runner will get a predicted points spread before the race, so – if you buy one at 20 – you’ll win if it finishes second or first.
Like the NFL, the NBA’s popularity has grown significantly in the UK over the past decade or so. Nowadays, it’s an integral part of the spread betting section on most sportsbooks.
Betting on a team to win is simple enough in basketball spread betting, with each side being given spreads between 0-100 based on their chances (they finish with 0 ‘points’ in this market if they lose, and 100 if they win). You can also wager on the Winning Margin, Total Points, Team Points, or 1st Quarter Points.
In terms of number of markets, tennis is easily one of the most popular sports on which to spread bet. Even between the four slams, you’ll find betting opportunities on men’s and women’s tour events almost every day. On SpreadEx, users can also live stream the action for free.
Similar to horse racing, Match Winner bets here are based on a points system, with players getting points for winning individual sets and the overall match. You can also get spreads on the number of games, or even points which each player will win.
While the way sports spread betting works is slightly more complicated than with fixed odds, the actual mechanics are still extremely straightforward. It involves the same basic steps, namely finding the market you want, adding it to your betslip, setting a stake, and placing your wager.
To help provide additional clarity though, here’s a step-by-step example of how to place a spread bet on football using Sporting Index.
These are the three main distinctions between the two forms of gambling.
In general, you’ll find fewer spread betting options compared to fixed odds. The biggest bet types should still be available, but they will be adjusted to become compatible with spreads, often using either a handicapping or points-based system.
In fixed odds betting, you know exactly how much you’ll win or lose when you place your bet. In spread betting, the size of your profits or losses is determined by how right or wrong you are.
You’ll find fewer special offers on spread betting websites, with promotions generally limited to ‘Cash Back’ or ‘Money Back’ deals. For many punters though, the additional control and potential for higher profits in spread betting outweighs this drawback.
As with fixed odds, there’s no clear and defined way to make a profit from your spread betting on sports. With that said, there are definitely certain steps you can take to dramatically improve your chances, with these being five of the most important online spread betting tips.
Betting on spreads is a completely different ballgame to wagering using fixed odds. Don’t dive in at the deep end. Instead, experiment with the minimal possible stakes to begin with (usually £0.05), and build up from there as your confidence grows.
Just because you can bet on something, doesn’t mean you should. If you’re far more knowledgeable about football than any other sport, focus on it for your spread betting too. Likewise, concentrate on teams – or even players – with whom you’re well-acquainted.
There’s a huge amount of statistical information and analysis out there, most of which can be used – for free – to inform your spread betting. Many expert tipsters also give advice for free, which – even if it’s not specifically about spread betting – can help tremendously in this area.
When you’re starting off, stick exclusively to low volatility markets. Examples in football include Winning Margin and Total Goals. Even if you take the wrong side of these spreads, you won’t incur big losses. Later on, you can then mix in more volatile markets with lower stakes.
Betting in-play on spreads can be lucrative, allowing you to exploit opportunities which simply aren’t available pre-match. Even more important, though, is knowing when to cash out. If a spread bet is going the wrong way, it’s often better to cut your losses before they get out of control.
When you’re just starting out in spread betting, the language involved can seem pretty confusing. To help clarify matters, here are explanations of the most common terms you’re likely to hear.
The chances are that – like most punters – you’ve stuck exclusively to fixed odds betting up until now. If you’re looking to experiment with something, then spread betting is an extremely enticing alternative.
Spread betting on sports offers you far more control than fixed odds. It can be more satisfying too, as the size of your profits grows depending on how ‘right’ you are. Spread betting is also more volatile though, and the fact that you don’t know how much you stand to win or lose means it’s not for the faint-hearted.
If you’re interested in giving it a shot, we’d highly recommend doing so on one of the UK’s best sports spread betting sites – either SpreadEx or Sporting Index. Follow the tips in this article, wager smartly and responsibly, and you should be in for an enjoyable and exciting betting experience.
Yes – spread betting is completely legal for British bettors. All legitimate spread betting sites are licensed and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Absolutely. The NFL is one of the most popular sports on which to spread bet. While you can place simple Match Winner wagers here, it’s more common to take Over/Unders on Total Points.
It can be. As with regular sports betting, there is no guarantee that you’ll make a profit. Bet smartly, however, and you’ve actually got the potential to make bigger profits from spreads than fixed odds.
From all the outcomes of a particular market, the ‘point spread’ is the specific range reserved by the sportsbook. You cannot bet within this range, only above it by ‘buying’ the market, or below by ‘selling’ it.
Like all gambling, sports spread betting is inherently risky, as you could end up losing all the money you deposit into your account. In spread betting, your losses on a wager can also grow depending on how ‘wrong’ you are. Moderate your stakes though, and bet responsibly, and you can certainly manage this risk.