Football Betting (AKA: Soccer Betting)
Soccer, known as football outside the US, is the most popular viewed and watched sport in the entire world. In the United States, however, our own professional league Major League Soccer (MLS) is nowhere near as popular as NFL football, NBA basketball, MLB baseball, or even college sports. As a result, not all Americans are even aware of the intricacies of soccer betting. In this article, I’ll cover some of these, but for the experienced bettor, I’ll start with discussing the best online sportsbooks for football betting.
Best Online Sportsbooks For Football (Soccer Betting)
Of the sportsbooks listed above, www.bovada.lv has the largest number of soccer markets. Their software host also runs a UK focused sportsbook as well as an Asian bookie which were both previously shirt sponsors for EPL soccer. This is one the few US sites that offer live in-play betting, mobile betting, and unique soccer propositions for MLS and all the major European and Asian Leagues.
www.5dimes.eu is another site decent for football betting from the US due to their low margin odds. If you’re betting over/under or betting on home, away, draw you’ll be hard-pressed to find better odds. They also cover betting not only on MLS but on the major soccer leagues around the world, including some smaller market competitions. Make sure when joining 5dimes you decline the bonus because asking for it results in giving up their reduced juice option which is a far better deal. From here under the soccer column of the ‘straight bets’ menu look for a tab that says ‘reduced’. Clicking this tab will get you the best soccer odds available at all US sportsbooks.
Betting on Football
The first thing to explain is the most popular bet in soccer is called 1X2. This is a 3-way market where you can bet either home, away or draw. It’s worth noting if you bet on a team (not the draw) and the match finishes regulation tied your bet is a loss. This confuses many Americans who are used to this situation resulting in a push in other sports. The other thing that confuses American bettors new to betting on football is that unless otherwise stated all soccer bets are for regulation time only. This means any matches that have extra halves or penalty shootouts involved due to a regulation draw were often already decided for betting purposes. So, for example, you bet United States -0.5 in a knockout round of the Olympics, and they win in extra-time or shootout – your bet is a loss. You needed them to win by at least -0.5 in regulation time. Outside of these small intricacies, soccer betting works much like other forms of betting such as football and basketball. You can bet who will win straight up, on the point spread, the over/under, correct scores and usually many additional propositions. Other markets offered by most sites include:
- Total Goals – This is a multi-way market where you can bet on how many goals will be scored in the match. For example choose from 0-1 goals, 2-3, 4-6, or 7+ goals. Each option has unique odds.
- Odds or Evens – This is a 2-way market on whether the number of goals scored in the match by both teams will total an odd number or an even number.
- Half Time / Full Time – Here you predict the result of both the first half and full game. For example, betting DH stands for Draw-Home, here you’re betting the first half will draw and the full-time results will be the home team winning. You can select any combination of H-Home, D-Draw, and A-Away. Each option has unique odds.
- Correct Score – This is bet on the exact final score. Most options have big odds and this a good way to have a chance at a large payout for a small stake.
- First Goal – this is a bet on which team will score the first goal in the match.
- Last Goal -this is a bet on which team will score the last goal in the match.
- Outright Markets – this is a bet on which team will win a specific league or tournament. For example, you can bet on which team will win English Premier League, or who will win World Cup 2018. There are odds for almost every league and competition that will have an eventual champion.
Many betting sites also set odds on ‘draw no bet’, which is a bet on the home or away side and will push if the match finishes a regulation tie. Popular European and UK bookies offer goalscorer bets including the first goalscorer, anytime goalscorer and last goalscorer. These sites also offer over/under on total corners and total bookings and even have a handicap that pits the two teams together in this category. Although I’ve covered a great deal of betting options, this is actually only a small sample of the various football bets online bookies offer. Editor’s note: The remainder of this article will refer to soccer as football for the benefit of our non-US readers.
Popular Football Betting Fixtures
In this section, I’ll cover the most popular football leagues but it’s worth noting that some online bookmakers offer odds on football matches of even the most remote leagues, tournaments, and competitions. An example is Estonia’s Meistriliiga football, which is the top level league in a country with a population of just 1.3 million. Several teams in this league are not even fully professional, yet around a dozen online bookmakers cover it for football betting. I mentioned this first to emphasize that what is covered in this article is only a small fraction of the many fixtures available for betting on football. If you are interested in reading weekly football tips, then I suggest you make a bookmark of this section.
European Football Leagues
The most popular leagues for betting on football are located in Europe and are governed by Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which is the largest of FIFA’s six confederations. This is home to the world’s largest and most heavily sponsored football league, the English Premier League (Barclays Premier League for sponsorship reasons).
The English Premier League (EPL) has worldwide media coverage and draws football betting action from more than 150 countries. In England, betting has long been legal. For this reason, many of the teams have an official online betting partner and also have shops set up inside their stadiums dedicated to betting on football. With a large international appeal, many betting sites are on-shirt sponsors of EPL teams. This includes BETEAST (Swansea City) and Betway (West Ham United).
There’s also much international on-shirt sponsorship, with two Dubai airlines, Emirates and Etihad, sponsoring Arsenal and Manchester City respectively. In many countries, especially Asia, fans follow EPL football more closely than their own domestic clubs, and teams such as Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United are household names.
While EPL is no doubt the most popular, there is still a debate which UEFA league has the best players and teams. La Liga from Spain gives the EPL much competition and has two of Europe’s top teams in Barcelona and Real Madrid. Not too far behind are Serie A from Italy and the German Bundesliga which is home to powerhouse clubs Bayern Munich and Leverkusen. Other UEFA leagues quite popular and followed are France’s Ligue 1, Holland’s Eredevisie, and Portugal’s Primeira Liga. This names only some of the many UEFA top-level leagues.
During the domestic season, teams compete for both the championship of their league and for a spot in the UEFA Champions League. The latter is the pinnacle competition of club football in which the best teams from all UEFA member countries competing to decide which is best. The UEFA Champions League draws as much viewership, international following and betting revenue as many of the top UEFA leagues. It is perhaps only out-notched by the EPL and La Liga, and only for the reason that the Champions League season is much shorter. The second tier European competition is called The UEFA Europa League which accommodates teams who either; finish outside the allocated Champions League qualification places in their domestic league, or who win their domestic cup. E.g F.A Cup winners in England. The Europa League is not as popular as the Champions League and is often seen as a second in priority by the competing teams. However, it is still very popular when it comes to betting on football.
International Football Betting
The major international football competitions take place every four years and draw the largest betting volume. Of these events, the World Cup is most prestigious. The 2018 renewal will be held in Russia. This will see 32 qualified nations compete for a true “world” championship. The next most popular are the regional competitions held every four years. These major competitions include the Copa America (CONMEBOL) and the European Championships (UEFA). The other four FIFA regions also have regional championships.
Next up is the AFC Asian Cup. This is contested by obvious Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, but also includes Middle East nationals Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar and even Israel and India, and since the 2007 version has included Australia. After that comes the OFC Nations Cup contested by New Zealand and many small Island Nations of the Asian Pacific (Oceania) region. The remaining two regionals are held every two years, as opposed to four years. Other huge regional tournaments include the CONCACAF Golf Cup contested by top North America, Central America, and the Caribbean national teams and the African Cup of Nations sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The Olympics is another tournament popular for betting on football. This event uses the under-23 teams of each nation plus a few professional players that are allowed on each. This can help some smaller nations that field football teams to be more competitive on the Olympic scale than they are in World Cup play. For example, South Korea defeated their rival Japan in the bronze medal match at the 2012 Olympics while neither is considered a powerhouse in terms of international football.
Other Football Competitions
There are many other popular football leagues and competitions in addition to the European Leagues and international competitions covered so far. One certainly worth a mention is Major League Soccer (MLS) from the United States. This league has attracted big names such as Thierry Henry, David Beckham, and Robbie Keane. The season runs from March to December, which is right through the break of major European leagues, so it does attract some wagers from European gamblers looking to fill the void and continue betting on football. In South America, football is governed by FIFA regional body Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL). Here the most popular leagues are Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and the Argentine Primera División.
The top teams from these leagues as well other South American leagues such as Uruguay’s Primera División and the Mexican Primera División compete in Champions League called Copa Libertadores which are also popular for football betting. A final region worth mentioning is the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Here the top leagues are Japan’s J-League, Korea’s K-League and Australia’s A-League through there are 31 popular AFC leagues for betting. There is also an AFC Champions League contested by the top teams of each division. You can learn about all these in our article on Asian football.