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The Beginner’s Guide to Spread Betting

Over the past few years, spread betting has emerged from the shadows, and there are now a number of online wagering firms that specifically target spread betting punters.

To avoid confusion, it’s important to note that spread betting is not the same as a North American “spread”. If you’re making a bet on an American football team to “beat the spread”, you’re simply making a standard wager with a +/- handicap.

This form of betting is in no way related to genuine spread betting.

Before going into how spread betting works, you need to understand the basic types of odds and betting. If you’re not familiar with these, take a read of the following articles before continuing:

  • Betting Odds Explained
  • How to Bet on Football

The biggest difference between spread betting and regular punting, is the amount of risk taken on by the bettor. Any punter engaging in spread betting must be willing to put up significantly more risk than a punter making the same bet at a regular bookmaker.

The risk comes from how spread bets are won and lost. Unlike a standard 1X2 bet (where you either win, or lose), you are rewarded or penalized based on the accuracy of the bet itself.

The spread is basically the entire range of outcomes, and though it is used on familiar markets, such as over/unders and point spreads, you have no set total stake amount. The amount you win or lose is based entirely on the amount of your stake and the accuracy of your prediction.


Let’s make a hypothetical wager of €30 on 13 corners or more in a football match.

If the match winds up having 17 corners, it was a successful bet where we won by a total of four corners. As a result the bet is rewarded with 4X the original stake, for a total of €120.

If the match wound up having only eight corners then the punter has lost by five corners, and now owes a total of €150. 

As you can see, spread betting can be extremely risky, making this form of betting ill-suited to the majority of casual punters.

If you are playing with large bankrolls, you can get yourself into real trouble if you make a dodgy wager. However, the potential for profit is exceptional, and you can see why its popularity has boomed over the past few years. 

Financial spread betting is also available and growing in popularity. Rather than buying and stocks on the market, it’s possible to place bets on the daily closing figures of the major exchanges.

The rapid growth of this betting niche is mostly attributed to capital gains tax not being applied to spread bets wagered on stocks or indexes.

If spread betting doesn’t seem to suit you, take a look at our Beginner’s Guide to Betting Exchanges for a betting market which offers high-value, without the significant risk.

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