Spread Betting is a form of betting that involves accurately predicting the outcome of an event. It’s a popular way of making what may be considered a one-sided affair a competitive match. It can be used in horse racing, football and many other sports. The idea is to handicap the stronger team and give the weaker team a chance (from a betting perspective).
From a bookmaker’s point of view, it gives them the opportunity to take an equal number of bets from either side while creating a small over-round (profit). From a punter’s point of view, it gives them the ability to enjoy a competitive affair in what may actually be a completely one-sided match-up.
Using a football match as an example, if Barcelona were to play Everton at the Nou Camp, Barcelona would be long odds-on (somewhere in the region of a 1-8 shot). However, when a spread is implemented, let’s suggest a -2.5 goal handicap on Barcelona, they would then become somewhere around a 5-6 shot. Barcelona would then need to win the match by three clear goals for the spread backers of Barcelona to win. The theory behind the idea is to get both teams on a level playing field.
In most sports, the spread usually ends in a ½ or a (.5) This is so the match-up isn’t tied. Depending on the rules of the spread, a tied spread will result in both parties receiving their money back and this works out to be the worst result for the bookmaker as they will be unable to make their over-round.
Spread betting is also popular in horse racing. If a horse has a considerable edge on the field, punters may want to bet on how far the horse may win by. Bets can also be placed on the collective winning distances of a racecard or even over an entire racing festival.
Spread betting is most commonly seen in America, where nearly every sports market revolves around spread betting and punters rarely bet on an outright result. The practise was invented by an American named Charles Kline McNeil who was a maths teacher in the 1930s. He went on to become a bookmaker several years later and completely changed the betting scene in America. Spread betting is now used in financial markets such as shares and currencies as well as sports.