Bookmakers may use some terms with which you are not familiar on their sites, so make sure you take a few minutes to read through these Frequently Asked Questions in order to answer any nagging doubts that you may have.
Odds are displayed either as fractions or decimals, with fractional odds traditionally used in the UK and preferred by most sites. A bookmaker will offer odds of 4/1, for example, if they think that there is a 20 percent likelihood of the event occurring, the formula reading 1/(4+1)=0.20. For every £1 bet, you win £4, plus the return of your stake, giving you £5 back. Decimal odds always include the stake, so the equivalent to 4/1 would be 5.0 as you would win £4 for every £1 you bet, giving a return of £5 on a £1 stake.
Most bookmakers provide an option to switch between fractional and decimal odds, as well as American odds. US odds, also known as lines or money line odds, are shown with a plus sign to indicate how much you would win with a stake of 100. For example, fractional odds of 4/1 would be presented as +400. US odds shown with a minus sign indicate how much you need to stake to win 100. For example, fractional odds of 1/4 would be presented as -400.
Betting on an event as it happens live is commonly referred to as ‘in-play’. Instead of placing a bet before the action starts, you can assess the event as it is unfolding and decide which markets to pounce on. The odds change during the game as certain outcomes begin to look more likely, requiring a decision to be made on behalf of the bettor as to when is best to place their wager.
If the match has already started, just check on the in-play or live betting section. If you are planning ahead, many sites will provide a symbol next to the event which will go in-play. Live betting is such an important part of the industry nowadays that for most events it is safe to assume that if an event is listed before it starts, there will also be in-play markets.
Some sites will have a danger mode, period of danger or an equivalent, when bets placed in-play are neither accepted nor confirmed because a specific situation has occurred. For example, when a penalty is awarded in football, markets may be put in danger mode so that punters can’t bet on the next goalscorer, winning team, correct score or any other relevant market until the result of the penalty is known.
Many sportsbooks offer a cash out option which allows you to take a reduced payout before the bet has actually finished. If you’d bet £10 on a football team to win at 5/1 and they were 1-0 up after 75 minutes, you could wait until the final whistle to collect your £50 plus the initial £10 stake. However, rather than risk the opposition ruining your bet by equalising, you could accept a lower amount in order to secure the win there and then.
When two or more selections cannot be separated, it is known as a dead heat. This can happen at the end of a horse race or greyhound race, or in other sports where there is no market for a tie, such as two cricketers scoring the same number of runs.
A bookies’ policy on dead heats will be to divide the stake by the number of selections in the dead heat. For example, if you bet £1 on a horse at 10/1 and it finishes in joint first place with one other horse, you would receive £5.50 (the equivalent of a 50p stake at 10/1). A four-way tie would see you receive winnings on a quarter of the stake and so on.
In the UK, customers must be at least 18 years old and you may be asked to provide documents to verify your age. Gambling laws vary amongst countries so you must observe your own country’s laws to ensure you are not prohibited from opening an account.
All bookmakers have to issue guidance on responsible gambling and there will be ways to set your own restrictions on how much you can deposit, or even stop betting by self-exclusion. If you are worried about your gambling, bookmakers provide details of different organisations you can contact.
Coming soon, you can use the handy Gamble.co.uk bookmaker finder app to discover bookmakers in your area as well as find out what services are offered in-store.
Most bookmakers will screen live horse and greyhound racing, along with real-time statistics on sporting events that are happening across the world. Some bookmakers run their own TV channel, broadcast to their shops, which offer news and analysis of sporting issues.
Many bookmakers provide slots and casino games machines for you to play whilst you wait for the result of your chosen game or race. They are often referred to as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.
Some shops will serve drinks like tea and coffee, which are often complimentary for customers.
The betting shop will have screens displaying the latest odds on the most popular bets of the day. If you do not see your desired bet then you can ask the counter staff who will be able to advise you on the price.
To place a bet in a bookmaker’s shop, just fill in a slip with the outcome you are betting on, your stake, the date of the event and the odds. Take it to the counter, where it will be verified and you will pay for the bet. Keep the slip as you will need it to claim any winnings that you are due.
It is important that you note the current odds down, as otherwise you will receive the final odds before betting closes which could be much shorter than when you placed your wager.
Once a bet has been placed and acceptance has been confirmed, a bookmaker will not allow you to change it or cancel. Bets are logged and recorded by each company and it is your responsibility to make sure the details of your bet are correct. You will not be allowed to place a bet if you don’t have the funds in your balance to afford it.
A bet may be voided in many different circumstances, for instance if a selection fails to take part in an event and is classed as a non-runner. Situations may also arise for a bookie to decide to void a bet, for example, if the number of overs in a cricket match has to be reduced.
Most bookies will update your account very quickly after an event has been officially completed. It may be almost immediately or normally within a couple of hours, although processing times for certain events may be longer. You can then withdraw your money if you have enough in your account to make a minimum withdrawal, and funds are usually processed within two or three working days.
Standard policy will be for bets to be cancelled if the winning selection in a specific market has not yet come to fruition, but bets will stand if the outcome of a market has been established. For example, a bet on a 1-0 score in a football match would be void if it was 0-0 when the match was abandoned. If you had bet on the first goalscorer in a match and they do score first but then the match gets abandoned, it is likely the bet will stand.
Online bookies will have their own FAQs, with answers specifically tailored to their own customers and practices. Check out the full, independent sportsbook reviews to find out which company is best suited to your needs.
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