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Peter Addison
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Sports spread betting is increasing in popularity in the UK. You may then ask what is sports spread betting? How does it differ from fixed odds betting? Is it another name for exchange betting? Is it the same as spread betting in the US?

All these questions, we will attempt to answer with the following, ‘no stone left unturned’ guide to sports spread betting UK style.

What is Sports Spread Betting and How Does it Work in the UK?

One important aspect of sports spread betting in the UK we need to get out of the way is it is not the same as spread betting in the US. Spread betting in the US is a kind of handicap betting where teams are given an artificial handicap in order to level the playing field a little. You have to ‘beat the spread’ in order to win.

Spread betting in the UK is not handicap betting. Spread betting in the UK is derived from the kind of spread betting speculators undertake on financial markets. Each event (or outcome) will have a ‘sell’ and ‘buy’ range. If you think the outcome will happen, then you buy. If you think the outcome will not happen, then you sell. You are then rewarded or punished depending on your choices and the results.

Buy Example

Let’s say Leeds United are playing West Ham in the EPL. Both teams are struggling to keep the ball out of the net at the moment, so the price range for ‘goals scored’ is 2.8 to 3. You actually think there will be more goals scored than 3 (the buy price), so you ‘buy £10 at 3’.

Now let’s say Leeds and West Ham go mad and it ends up a 4-4 draw, meaning that eight goals are scored. As you bought at 3, the actual price (so you are now ‘selling’ what you bought) is 8, as there were eight goals. Your profit is therefore 5. As you bought at £10, your total profit is five times that, so you get £50.

On the other hand, lets say both defences were on top and the game petered out into a 0-0 draw. You bought at 3, but your actual price was 0, as no goals were scored. Now when it comes to selling, you have made a £30 loss. You are therefore liable to the spread betting on sports bookie for £30.

Sell Example

Let’s now look at it the other way. You think that Leeds v West Ham will have less than 2.8 goals, which is the sell price. You therefore ‘sell £10 at 2.8’.

If the goal ends goalless, then the actual price is 0. As you sold at 2.8, you now buy at zero, making a £28 profit (2.8 multiplied by £10). If the goal ends up with eight goals, then the actual price is 8. As you sold at 2.8, you now buy at 8, making a £52 loss (8 – 2.8 multiplied by £10). You are liable for £52.

Spread Betting in a Nutshell

If you are struggling to get your head around this, simply remember this:

  • When the event ends, if you bought, you have to sell, and if you sold, you have to buy.
  • The price you bought or sold at is the price when you placed the spread bet.
  • The price you must buy or sell at is the price when the events ends.

In this definition, ‘price’ could mean any measurable aspect of a sporting contest. In football it could be goals scored, betting on the number of corners or how many throw ins there are. This also applies to discipline as well as other stats.

So, in other words, betting on the number of yellow cards and anything else that can be measured come under consideration. With tennis it could the number of points a player wins, or the total number of games player. In darts, the number of treble 20s hit … the list goes on!

The Most Important Aspect of Spread Betting

When asking “what is sports spread betting?”, the golden rule to remember with spread betting on sports is this:

If your bet goes badly wrong, your liability (the amount of money you owe the bookmaker once the event concludes) will be much bigger than your stake

Lets get back to Elland Road. Let’s say you sold £5 at 2.8, but the game goes crazy and Leeds win 8-5. That means 13 goals were scored, leaving you a liability of (13 – 2.8 = 10.2 multiplied by £5) £51! This means that in order to place a spread bet, you must have decent amount of funding in your account, not just your stake. The online bookie will decide how much funding you need to have based on your proposed trade.

Understanding the Differences Between Sports Spread Betting and Traditional Betting

Traditional betting is easy to understand. You place your stake on a bet at a set price. If you’re right, your stake is multiplied by the odds to calculate your winnings, and you get your stake back. If you’re wrong, you lose your stake.

With spread betting, it’s not your stake that you could lose, it’s your liability. You are, in effect, gambling that the price of something you buy will rise. If it does rise, then you make a profit. If it falls, then you make a loss, and your losses could be much greater than the buying price.

Look at it this way. A friend asks you to go and buy him ten bottles of wine. You go the offie and buy ten bottles at £5 per bottle (he didn’t say good wine), costing you £50. When you get them to your friend, the price of wine has dropped to £2 per bottle. He therefore gives you £20, meaning you’ve lost £30 and have no wine (boo!).

The better scenario is that when you hand your friend the wine the price has risen to £8 per bottle. He gives you £80, meaning you’ve made a £30 profit. You still have no wine, but now at least you have £30 to go and buy some!

In our examples so far, it’s not wine you’re buying, its goals. If you buy ten £1 units (£10) at 3 goals, but the price (the number of goals scored in the game when it’s concluded) drops to one goal, you’re liable for £20.

Pros and Cons of Sports Spread Betting: Is it Right for You?

Sports spread betting in the UK is not for everyone, and getting into it is not to be taken lightly. The key factor always to remember is that you could end up losing far more than your stake if things go badly wrong. The other side of the coin is that you could end up significantly in the money if things go better than you expected them to do.

Here are the main pros and coins of sports spread betting. As long as you have understood what is sports spread betting completely, you can then work out whether spread betting on sports is right for you.


  • You will be rewarded for your expertise
  • Significantly more markets than fixed odds betting
  • Tools in place to prevent heavy losses
  • Can make the events you’ve wagered upon more thrilling
  • Spread betting sites often have excellent betting offers


  • You could lose much more than your stake
  • Difficult for newbies
  • Not many sites for spread betting available
  • Some aspects are confusing, even for the experienced

How to Place a Sports Spread Bet: A Step-by-Step Guide for UK Bettors

Let’s get into it and actually place a sports spread bet. For this example, we are going to use Spreadex, who we regard as the number one choice for spread betting in the UK.

After signing in to our account (or signing up, if hadn’t had an account already), we have a look around the site and the buy/sell options available. We choose to wager upon the West Ham v AZ Alkmaar match in the UEFA Conference League Semi Final First Leg, and we review all our options:

sports spread betting

We quite like the prices of the first match goals, which has a sell price of 36, and a buy price of 39. These prices reflect that Spreadex feel that the first goal is most likely to be scored between the 36th and the 39th minute. We think that someone will find the net well before the 36th minute, so we are going to sell at that price.

sports spread betting sell

We decide to buy at £0.10 per minute. You may think that’s a low stake, but there are 90 minutes in a game of football, so are range of profits and liabilities is as follows:

  • Best outcome: Goal in first minute = (36 – 1) = 35 x £0.10 = £3.50 profit
  • Worst outcome: No goals = (90 – 36) = 54 x £0.10 = £5.40 loss

So, we could win up to £3.50 if we are right, and we could lose up to £5.40 if we are wrong. This is why we are keeping our stake low. We click on the ‘Sell’ button to confirm our selection.

sports spread betting submit

You will be shown the details of our proposed trade. Our current net position is sell at £0.10, but that will change as soon as the match commences. To confirm the proposed trade, click ‘Submit Request’.

Before your bet is accepted, the spread betting bookie will check to see if the maximum liability (here £5.40, even though our stake is only £0.10) is available in our bookie account. If it is not, then our bet will not be accepted.

All proposed trades are at the behest of the spread betting site you are placing a bet at. If the trade is considered too risky for either you or them, it will not be accepted. As it turned out, the first goal of the game was scored in the 41st minute, so we would have made a £0.50 loss.

Top Tips and Strategies for Sports Spread Betting

Here are now a few sports spread betting tips and strategies aimed to aid you in your quest to understand what is sports spread betting, as gathered from our site betting experts.

  • Play with fake money before you get started. Due to UKGC rules, you cannot use ‘pretend’ money at online bookies, but there’s nothing to stop you placing a few ‘pretend’ sports spread betting bets before you use real money. Use the prices offered by a sports spread betting site such as Spreadex and keep a paper record of your ‘bets’. We’d recommend doing this for at least one month. If you make significantly losses ‘on paper’ then obviously spread betting on sports is not for you! You can also, of course, use free bets to test out a sports spread betting site.
  • Keep your stakes low if you are a newb. If you come from fixed odds betting, you might think that sports spread betting is practically the same. It is not, with the key factor being your losses per event potentially being much greater than your stake. Mistakes are common before you grow accustomed to spread betting (such as selling when you actually ought to be buying), so keep your stakes low until you really know what you are doing.
  • Stick to what you know. Probably the best thing about sports spread betting is that no matter your favoured sports betting discipline, you’ll have more than enough to wager on. Typically a football match will have a potential 300 to 400 separate metrics on which to bet. Some are very inventive too, such as a team win score over 4.5 goals and there be exactly seven goals in the match. If you are an expert on a specific sports, then spread betting could see you make significant profits.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Sports Spread Betting

We’ve given you some tips, and now it’s time to give you some more, in the form of common mistakes that people make when they starts sports spread betting. Avoid these if you want your sports spread betting experience to go smoothly.

  • Don’t forget your stake is not what you owe. People accustomed to fixed odds betting will assume that spread betting is the same – your stake is the most you can lose. That’s not the case with spread betting, as your stake is just your initial position. When the market closes (when the event you are betting on is over) you will be charged your overall liability, not just your initial stake.
  • Try not to bet on outcomes that are completely random. There are a lot of options that seem random when it comes to spread betting, such as guessing the total of the shirt numbers of one side for a football game. If you just ‘take a punt’ at bets such as this, you are not going to be a success. If, however, you take time to predict the team’s line up, then add up the numbers, and compare them to the prices offered, you’ve more chance of being right.
  • Don’t get UK spread betting mixed up with US spread betting. You may have heard of spread betting in the states or from an American friend, and you decide you want to try it in the UK. Please be aware the US spread betting is actually a form of handicap betting, and is not the same at all as UK spread betting. If you want to try ‘US style’ spread betting in the UK, you need to take a look at handicap betting.

Which UK Bookies Offer Sports Spread Betting in the UK?

There are only two UK bookies in the UK that offer sports spread betting, and this has been the case now since 2006. These two sites are Spreadex and Sporting Index, and we take a look at both of them below.

Spreadex – Get £50 in Bet Bonuses

Spreadex Premier League

Spreadex are regarded as the top dog in terms of spread betting in the UK, and rightly so. They are so confident that you will adore their site that they are willing to offer you £50 in bet bonuses when you complete your sign up.

The Spreadex site can seem a little overwhelming when you take a first look around, but that’s only because there is so much to it. The spreading betting site has a huge amount of infamous, and an incredible array of options with amazing coverage all the top sports, plus eSports too.

Unsure of what to bet on when it comes to football? Well each match will have an incredible 400+ betting options, so you’ll eventually find something!

Two other amazing aspects of Spreadex – the site can offer live streaming of many sports, including football, tennis, horse racing, greyhounds and eSports, plus if spread betting still bamboozles you, the site doubles as a traditional fixed odds betting site too!

What we like:

  • The best spread betting site in the UK
  • Customer care is very important to them
  • Fixed odds betting too
  • Live streaming of some events
  • So, so, so many options!

What we don’t:

  • Might be bewildering to a newb, but worth the work!

Sporting Index – 50% Cashback on All Losses up to £500

sporting index

After the busy-ness of the Spreadex site, you may take one look at the Sporting Index site and be impressed by how much tidier it seems. While it is true that the Sporting Index site is much neater than Spreadex, that neatness comes with a cost – Sporting Index just does not have the same level of market coverage as Spreadex.

Like Spreadex though, Sporting Index has a fixed odds side, so if you try spread betting here and decide it’s not for you but you do like the site, just switch to the traditional way of betting.

Back to spread betting though, your options are presented nicely at Sporting Index, with each buy price in red, and each sell price in blue. Just click on the price and it will be added to your be slip.

The site has countless helpful options and you can always get help with your account by telephoning them. Help is also available via email and live chat (from 8am to 11pm). There’s one thing that Sporting Index doesn’t have that Spreadex does, and that’s live streaming.

What we like:

  • Neat and tidy site
  • Fixed odds betting available
  • Decent number of support channels
  • Training centre – learn all about spread betting

What we don’t:

  • No live streaming
Peter Addison profile-image
Peter Addison
Pete's top spread betting tip

Your liability > your stake for a losing bet

You’re probably tired of hearing this by now, but the key aspect of sports spread betting is your liability (the amount of money you pay once your bet has settled) for a losing bet could be much greater than your original stake. This is what confuses most people when they move from fixed odds betting to sports spread betting, and we feel we cannot repeat it enough. The other, more appealing, aspect of  sports spread betting UK is that your winnings could far exceed the value of your stake, and much more if you’d placed a fixed odds bet on the same outcome.

A Word on ‘Betting on the Spread’

We’ve said that UK spread betting is different to US spread betting (or points spread betting) more than once now, so let’s now answer the question ‘what does point spread mean in sports betting?’

sports points spread

Above is how odds are commonly represented at US sportsbooks. The Broncos are at the Cowboys and bettors have three main betting options – betting on the points spread, betting on the moneyline and betting on over/under. Here we are just going to look at betting on the points spread, which is commonly called ‘betting on the spread’ or ‘spread betting’ in the US.

  • If you bet on Dallas, then when the game finishes, they will have an artificial handicap of 2.5 taken from their total.
  • If you bet on Denver, then when the game finished, they will have an artificial handicap of 2.5 added to the their total.

The odds are the same for each (as is common with spread betting) at -110. This means you’d have to bet $110 to win $100. If you need a more detailed explanation of how American betting odds work, then we have one elsewhere onsite.

The idea of the spread is to even out the playing field. If you bet on Dallas and they win 26-24, then your bet will lose as once the handicap is considered, the score becomes 23.5-24.

As you can see, spread betting in the US is nothing like spread betting in the UK.

The Future of Sports Spread Betting in the UK

Despite the continual government crackdowns on online sports betting in the UK, the future does look rosy for UK-based bookmakers, and they may have the UKGC to thank for that. Bookmakers who are awarded and maintain a licence from the UKGC are very attractive to punters from all over the world, mainly because the UKGC are so strict. Comparing the UKGC’s attitude to online gambling regulation to, say Curaçao eGaming is like comparing a pound coin in your pocket to the latest trending cryptocurrency – while one seems real and tangible, the other seems fanciful and might even be completely made up. Having a UKGC licence is seen, globally, as something of a gold standard.

Despite this, spread betting remains a niche pastime. There are only two spread betting sites or betting apps in the UK, while a quick peek at the UKGC business register reveals almost 1,000 businesses operating as betting companies in some form with UKGC licences. This has been the case since Sporting Index first appeared online in 2001, and Spreadex in 2006 (their financial trading arm had been online since 1999). Some sites claim that spread betting is growing in popularity in the UK, but the truth that no new online spreading betting company has appeared online and survived since 2006 paints a very different picture.

Not that that’s bad news to either Spreadex (£27 million in pre-tax profit in 2022) or Sporting Index (£12 million in gross profit in 2021)!


While most punters in the UK appear to prefer fixed odds betting, if you really know your sporting stuff, then you may wish to think about giving spread betting a go, if you don’t already of course. The two sites listed here, Spreadex and Sporting Index, are betting all-rounders anyway, with both spread betting and fixed odds betting offered.

The key thing to remember at all times about sports spread betting is that your liability (the amount you pay for a losing bet) may be much greater then your stake, but conversely, your winnings could far eclipse the money you risked for your bet!

As always, remember to gamble responsibly, and always bet with your head, and never your heart.


What is a sports spread betting?

What is a spread in sports betting?

Can you offer any sports spread betting tips?

What does point spread mean in sports betting?

I placed a £2 spread bet on my team to score two goals in a match. They didn’t score yet I was charged £4. How come?

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.