In-play is a betting service available after an event has already begun. There are a host of markets available across a wide range of sports and the markets are generally available until the final moments of an event.

Football offers a range of traditionally very popular in-play betting markets. The majority of markets available before kick-off stay open throughout a match, including first goalscorer, final score, number of corners, match handicaps, and full time result. The service has proved to be popular with people who hedge bets and spread bet. It can offer a chance to minimise losses or guarantee winnings before the bet has run its course.

In-play betting became prevalent towards the end of the 1990s and the majority of bookmakers started taking in-play bets over the phone before eventually evolving to online services.

Betfair popularised in-play betting with their exchange model. This allowed punters to back and lay bets themselves without the need for a bookmaker, giving them the option of trading throughout an event while being able to see how much their liability or windfall was.

Betfair make their profit by charging a commission. This can often reflect a lower percentage than a bookmaker’s, thus making it a more popular choice from a punting perspective. It is potentially why bookmakers offer greater incentives and bonuses than ever before as well as offering punters the chance to place a range of accumulators (something the exchange can’t offer).

In-play betting in horse racing is another popular model, with millions of pounds being traded in-play each day in the UK and Ireland alone.

In some sports, there is often a five or 10 second delay to ensure the odds haven’t significantly swung (a goal, red card etc) in the time you’ve put your bet on. This is not something offered in horse racing due to odds fluctuating so dramatically in such a short space of time. If the same rule applied in racing, it would prove near impossible to strike any sort of bet.

It’s always wise to act with caution if dabbling in the in-play racing markets but there are popular techniques such as “back to lay” which aren’t at all affected by time delays and are based more on how one thinks a race may develop.