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what does sp mean in betting

We independently review betting sites. Sign-ups through our links may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you, this never influences our listings’ order.

So, what does SP mean in betting, and why is it so important? This page will explain all you need to know about SP – what does SP mean in betting odds and other important aspects of SP in betting terms.

By the time you have completed this article you will have a firm grasp of what does SP mean in horse betting, and what is SP in betting in countless other sports, such as football, tennis and even eSports. Read on to become an SP exSPert!

Explaining SP in Betting

The price of any outcome in many sporting events will have a fluctuating history. Long before an event begins, potential outcomes will generate odds. For example, the odds of a team winning a football match. When you place a bet on the team, your bet is placed on the odds of that team winning when you placed your bet. The odds though will continue to fluctuate up to kick off and beyond, and right up until the final whistle.

start gate of horses

Some sports are different though. For these specific events, the odds do not fluctuate while the event is taking place. The final odds or price of an outcome are the odds when the event commences – which is known as the starting price, or SP for short.

The two leading sports where this is the norm are horse racing and greyhounds. During a race, the odds of the horses do not fluctuate – indeed it is not possible to place a bet on a horse race (under UK rules, that is) once it has begun, or indeed after all the horses are ‘under starters orders’. Likewise, it is not possible to bet on a greyhound once the dogs are out of their traps.

What Does SP Mean in Horse Betting?

As we have just established, SP in betting terms when it comes to horse racing betting refers to ‘starting price’. Horse odds fluctuate constantly, right up until the moment of the race. Once horses have been placed under starters orders, their current odds or price becomes fixed, and becomes known as their starting price, or SP.

When you place a bet on a horse you will usually get the odds of the horse when you placed your bet. However, there is the option to take the SP instead – the odds the horse was when they started the race. It is really up to you whether you like the odds of the horse when you placed your bet, or if you feel the price is likely to drift before the races starts.

You can cover most bases at a lot of UK betting sites by choosing one that offers ‘best odds guaranteed’ and we will touch on that subject later.

What Does SP Mean in Greyhound Betting?

Again, SP in greyhound betting means starting prices. Odds in greyhound betting tend to fluctuate right up to the start of the race, but not in the same manner that horse racing prices do. Nevertheless, the odds of any dog in a race at the point at which the race is declared ‘ready to go’ becomes their starting price.

Just like horse racing, you have the option to take the odds of when you placed your bet, or the starting price of your selection.

Some sites offer ‘best odds guaranteed’ for greyhound racing too, but not as many as for horse racing. We will get into best odds guaranteed or BOG a little further on in this article.

Why SP In Betting Is Important

While there are various types of odds available in betting, the SP holds a special significance for both bookmakers and bettors alike. Here are a few reasons why SP is important:

  1. Fairness and Transparency

    The SP ensures fairness and transparency in betting by providing a standard and objective measure of a horse’s or a greyhound’s chances of winning. It eliminates any manipulation or bias that can occur with fixed odds or manipulated odds.
  2. Accessibilit

    The SP is readily available to all bettors. It is determined by the market itself, reflecting the collective ‘wisdom’ and opinions of bookmakers and punters. This accessibility makes it easier for novice bettors to place bets and understand the odds.
  3. Comparison and Value

    SP allows bettors to compare the odds offered by different bookmakers. This helps in identifying the best value bets, where the odds offered by a bookmaker are higher than the selection’s true probability of winning.
  4. Consistency

    The SP remains consistent regardless of any last-minute changes, such as jockey changes, entrant withdrawals or track conditions. It provides a stable benchmark for evaluating a selection’s chances of success.
  5. Integrity of the Sport

    SP contributes to the integrity of the sport by discouraging unethical practices, such as race-fixing or collusion. Since the odds are determined independently and collectively, it minimises the potential for nefarious influences.

How is SP Calculated?

The starting price of any horse or greyhound is calculated using a specific formula that takes into account the odds offered by bookmakers at the time the race starts. The process involves compiling the odds provided by a panel of bookmakers, who determine the prices based on factors such as form, recent performances, and market demand. The bookmakers’ prices are then averaged, typically with the exclusion of the highest and lowest prices to reduce the impact of bookies that are offering too loose or too tight odds. The SP calculation ensures that it represents a fair reflection of the market’s opinion on the horse’s or greyhound’s chances of winning, providing a standardised measure for betting.

Common Misconceptions about SP

There are a few common misconceptions about’s SP in betting. We’re going to discuss some of them, so avoid these misunderstandings if you want to be a successful sports bettor:

  • Fixed Value: One misconception is that the SP represents a fixed value that remains constant throughout the betting process. In reality, the SP is determined at the start of the race based on the odds offered by bookmakers. These odds can fluctuate leading up to the race, reflecting changes in market demand and other factors.
  • Guarantee of Best Odds: Another misconception is that the SP always offers the best odds for a particular selection. While the SP can be a good indicator of a horse’s or a greyhound’s chances, it doesn’t necessarily mean it provides the highest value. Bettors should still compare the SP with the odds offered by different bookmakers to find the best value bets.
  • Accuracy of True Probability: Some people assume that the SP accurately reflects the true probability of a horse or a greyhound winning a race. However, the SP is influenced by factors such as bookmakers’ opinions, market demand and other subjective factors. It is an estimation based on the collective opinion of the market, but it doesn’t guarantee accuracy in predicting outcomes.
  • Unchangeable Calculation Method: There is a misconception that the calculation method for the SP is always the same. While the general principle remains consistent, specific variations may exist. These variations can include factors like the number of bookies involved, the exclusion of extreme odds, or the rounding rules applied.

Don’t forget to look at our range of bet calculators if calculating potential returns from your bets frequently leaves you bamboozled.

The Importance of SP in Betting Terms and BOG

One of the crucial factors in the use of SP in betting terms is sports betting sites in the UK that offer ‘best odds guaranteed’, or ‘BOG’ for short. Many sites will offer BOG on UK and Irish horse racing meetings, and a few will offer BOG on greyhound races too.

Normally, when wagering you have the option of placing your bet at the odds at which you placed your bet, and the SP. With BOG, you automatically get the best price, no matter what.

  • Say you placed a bet on a horse at 4/1 (5.00) but then the race began the SP of the horse had drifted to 5/1 (6.00). With BOG your winning bet will be settled at the better price, which in this case is 5/1, or 6.00.
  • Conversely, let’s say your bet was placed when the price was set at 7/2 (4.50), but due to a flurry of backers the price tightened to 5/2 (3.50) when the race began. With BOG, you would still get paid at 7/2 (4.50), as that is the more beneficial price.

If you are going to betting on horse racing on a regular basis, it is best that you use a site that offers BOG. That way you don’t have to worry about the price fluctuating between the time you put on your bet, and the start of the race as you will always get the best price.

Sadly, sites that offer BOG on greyhounds are much less frequent that those that offer BOG on horse racing but if you do your research on BOG, then you will be able to find a handful.

Which Bookmakers Offer SP in the UK?

The answer to that question is ‘all of them’ and ‘none of them’. Remember, the SP of a horse or greyhound is the average price across a selected number of bookmakers, and is simply an indication of how fancied the selection is. The price you are paid at is not the SP, but the odds offered by the betting site at which you placed your bet – either at the time of your bet, or the final odds offered by the site as the race commenced. If the site you are using has BOG, then you are paid at the most beneficial price.

We recommend you do your own research to find which UK bookies online offer the best experience for your specific type of sports betting. We can help a little with our list of the leading UK online betting sites.

Wrapping Up

So you should now know what does SP mean in betting – it simply means ‘starting price’, and is the average of the odds of a horse taken from a select group of UK bookmakers at the time the race in which it was running was started. Oh, and of course you now also know what does SP mean in greyhound betting – the same thing!

SP in betting terms is the way that the odds, and therefore probability of a horse or dog winning a race can easily be considered, but it is not necessarily the price you will get via a UK betting site, as that is up to them! Don’t forget to shop around for betting sites with consistently beneficial prices, and also of course make sure you always gamble responsibly.

FAQs

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Peter Addison
Peter Addison
Peter Addison

Peter joined the BettingSites.co.uk team in 2023, having previously worked for many high-profile gambling-related sites such as RightCasino, JustSlots, WhichBingo and Gambling.com. An experienced head when it comes to all aspects of iGaming, Peter is a fanatic fan of sport, including football and US sports such as baseball and American football. He is also a multi-published fiction writer, although sadly, not a wealthy one.