Introduction to Sports Betting

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What is Sports Betting?

Sports betting is a form of gambling that involves placing a wager on the outcome of a sporting event with the main aim of winning money.

With the exception of draw on bet wagers, spread betting and some other examples, sports betting has two possible outcomes: either you win some money based on the bookmaker odds or you lose your wager. Apart from incorporating wagers on sports like tennis, rugby, football, hockey, and baseball, sports betting also includes wagering on entertainment such as major dancing competitions.

Sporting wagers can be on the results of a fixture or on events that occur during a game. For example, if Arsenal and Manchester United are playing against each other, possible bets include Arsenal beating Manchester United, Manchester beating Arsenal, the game ending up in a draw, a particular player scoring a certain number of goals, and so on.

A company that is in charge of providing sports betting services is known as a betting agency, bookie, sportsbook, or bookmaker and the service that provides a marketplace in which odds are set is known as a betting exchange. A customer or person who participates in sports betting is called a bettor or a punter.

When a bettor places a bet on an outcome, he is said to be backing that outcome. For example, if you are betting on Manchester to beat Arsenal, you are backing Manchester United. A bet against an outcome is known as lay. For example, if you could lay a bet against Adam Scott to win a golf tournament, your lay bet can only win if any golfer except Adam Scott wins, and loses if Adam Scott wins the tournament. Bookmakers only allow you to back an outcome while betting exchanges can allow you to bet both for and against an outcome.

What’s the Difference Between Sports Betting and Casino Gambling?

The main difference between sports betting and casino gambling is that the probabilities of winning are not known with sports betting. Unlike casino games, sports betting rewards research and patience because bookmakers only guess the true probability of each possible outcome. Although bookmakers offer accurate odds on average, experienced bettors stand a high chance of finding good value.

Is online Sports Betting legal in Australia

Online sports betting is legal in Australia, explaining why there are numerous state licensed bookmakers operating freely in the country. Although licensing laws vary from one state to the other, there are two laws that apply to all states: one must be 18 and over to gamble and betting operators must obtain their customer’s reasonable proof of identity.

In June 2001, the government of Australia passed the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA), which makes it an offense to advertise or offer ‘real-money’ online interactive gambling services such as online casino and poker to the citizens of Australia. The law applies to all interactive gambling operators, whether they are Australians or foreigners or whether they are operating in Australia or offshore. Interestingly, adherence to the IGA is the responsibility of bookmakers and not individuals, meaning that regular Australian citizens cannot be charged for signing up and gambling online.

Under the IGA, not all online gambling is prohibited. For example, sports betting through a licensed gambling operator is legal provided that the betting takes place before the game starts. Hence, the act is against the offering of live ‘in-play’ betting, which is considered interactive.

Because sports betting is very popular in Australia and Europe, bookmakers are against the ban on in-play betting. For several years, many Australian agencies have been looking for ways to change the law on live online betting. A good number of offshore betting providers continue to offer live betting to Australians due to ignorance or being unaware of the IGA.

The Basic Terminology of Sports Betting

Odds Formats

Although many bookmakers offer numerous odds formats on their websites, most Australian bookmakers offer only use the decimal odds system to display betting odds. Due to their popularity, decimal odds are referred to as European odds and International odds in the UK and US respectively.

To know how Fractional odds (UK), Hong Kong odds (Hong Kong), Malay odds (Malaysia) Indonesian odds (Indonesia), and American odds (US) compare to Australian decimal odds, you can do calculations on any reputable Australian online odds calculator.

Betting Frameworks

The two frameworks that are used by bookmakers to set odds are the tote (parimutuel), which is commonly used for horse racing, and fixed odds betting, which is commonly used for other types of sports such as football and baseball.

Tote Betting

In tote, particular types of bets are placed together in a pool. The ‘house-take’ is removed and the calculation of payoff odds is done by sharing the pool amongst the winning bets. As people continue to place their bets, the bookmaker displays the approximate odds you are expected to receive. This approximation is based on each outcome, meaning that it is hard to know the actual odds you will receive until bets are no longer accepted and the event has kicked off.

Tote betting is not risky to bookmakers because they know the exact margin they will receive early enough.

Fixed Odds Betting

In fixed odds betting, the bettor knows the exact odds he will get when placing a bet. Unlike tote betting, bettors who bet on the same outcome are not guaranteed of getting the same odds. This is because odds keep on shifting as time goes by based on quantities wagered on each outcome.

Bookmakers actively set prices and adjust the odds in a way that they are able to make a profit regardless of outcome. They do this by calibrating the odds so that the sum of their implied probabilities exceeds 100 percent. In a two-outcome bet, if bettors bet heavily on outcome X than outcome Y, a bookmaker will do the trick of reducing the odds on outcome X and increasing the odds on outcome Y without interfering with the margin. This shift in odds induces more betting on outcome Y, which enables the bookmaker to balance the book.

Fixed odds betting is risky to bookmakers because they don’t know the exact margin they will get and their profit will not be the same for every outcome.

How to evaluate Bookmaker Odds

When viewing the odds of a bookmaker, you should have a means of determining which betting options are worth it and which ones aren’t. Your methodology has to compare the odds of the bookmaker to your perceived probability of each outcome. There two main methods by which you can evaluate bookmaker odds are:

1. Implied Probability
This is the probability of an outcome that occurs as implied or suggested by the bookmaker odds. If you think that the chance of winning a bet is higher than its suggested probability, then the bet is good value. On the other hand, if you think that the chance of winning is less than the suggested probability, you should stop betting. This means that if you think that your team of choice is more likely to win than the bookmaker does, then the best thing to do is back it.

2. Expected Return
Expected return yields the same results as implied probabilities only that it uses a different angle to generate the same comparisons. It shows how much you can expect to win (on average) per bet, explaining why it is the most valuable calculation you can make when comparing bookmaker odds.

Popular Sports Betting Markets

1. Half Ball
In half ball, a draw is a definite possibility like in soccer. Your bet wins if your selected team draws or wins the game.

2. Draw no Bet
Draw no bet is similar to half ball only that if the fixture ends in a draw, your bet is refunded.

3. Futures Bet (Ante Post)
This is where you bet on the winner of a tournament or league that will take place in the near future. For example, you can bet on the winner of a premier league, FIFA World Cup, or National Rugby League (NRL).

4. Margin Bet
Here, you bet on the number of goals or points you expect your selected team to have in front of its competitor by the end of a match. For example, if there is a rugby game between the Melbourne Rebels and the Western Force, your margin bet could be on the Melbourne Rebels winning by between two and nine points. This can apply to the first half of the game or the full-time result.

5. Spread Betting
This is a type of high risk betting where the loss/payoff is based on the accuracy of the bet rather than a simple win/draw/lose outcome. A spread is a range of outcomes and the bet is whether the perceived outcome will go below or above the spread.

6. Over/Under Bet
This is a bet on how many points, tries, or goals there will be by the end of a game. If a soccer game ends 4-2, the total is number of goals is six. If the under/over bet was 5.5, then the “over” wagers are the winners and the “under” wagers are losers.

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