As the birthplace of the game, the United Kingdom has long been known as one of the most football crazy countries in the world. English superstars such as Wayne Rooney and David Beckham are globally famous, and the top tier of English football is capable of producing moments of sporting drama and upset that other leagues struggle to match.
Against that background, it’s not surprising that live football betting in the UK is an enormously popular option worldwide. UK punters are some of the world’s most active and eager sports fans, and the league itself has followers from Bombay to Birmingham. Throw in the fact that many of the world’s largest sports bookmakers have roots in the UK and you’ve got a perfect environment for live football betting to flourish.
In this piece, we’ll step through every aspect of in-play betting for soccer in the UK, covering the history, options available to gamblers, some of the major betting providers you can do business with, and much more besides. Let’s set the scene with a little bit of background on the United Kingdom’s unique approach to live football betting.
The UK isn’t just the home of football, it’s also long been a powerhouse in traditional sports betting of all kinds – some of the major players in the UK bookmaking industry measure their history in centuries rather than years. The game has always been massively popular on the island itself and the exploits of the national team in the sixties and clubs such as Liverpool in the seventies and eighties made British football a force to be reckoned with globally.
The arrival of the English Premier League in 1992 was what really marked the emergence of the game as a wildly popular betting arena, however. With the establishment of the Premier League, huge sums of money flowed into the domestic game from advertisers and broadcasters such as Sky. Fuelled by the subsequent arrival of high-profile foreign talent from around the world, the Premier League quickly established itself as one of the most exciting sporting spectacles on earth.
The bookmaking industry generally was naturally quick to react to this explosion of interest and traditional matchplay betting took off. Around the same time, a new generation of betting exchanges were also coming into being in the United Kingdom with Betfair being the company leading the charge. The ability to bet real money in real-time via betting exchanges effectively opened the door to the type of live football betting we’re familiar with today and the rest, as they say, is history!
Before we get into more detail on live football betting below, it’s worth pointing out that (as with any type of betting) it’s always in your interests to understand the legality of the situation before plunging in further. Live football betting is entirely legal in the United Kingdom and the industry as a whole is heavily regulated.
If you’re not actually based in the UK, you’ll need to check the legality of online sports gambling in your own jurisdiction to make sure you’re staying on the right side of the law. The situation here varies wildly from territory to territory. As a general rule, live betting on UK football is legal across the European Union, but the situation is considerably more fluid in jurisdictions such as the United States and across Asia.
Let’s move on to some areas to bear in mind on the account level when you’re getting started with live football betting.
There’s a huge range of online outfits offering live football betting so you want to exercise some caution when making your selection. Generally speaking, you’re looking for a company with a clear track record, a flawlessly functioning website, and a full range of options for betting while you’re on the move. All of the major providers we’ll cover below match those criteria perfectly.
You’ll also want to make sure they enjoy a good online reputation and that the internet isn’t awash with angry stories about their operations. Bear in mind that it’s your responsibility as a player to fully check the site’s terms and conditions before signing up and make sure you really understand them. The vast majority of online complaints about bookmakers are a result of players not fully grasping the intricacies of areas such as payment options in advance.
You’ll also want to have a clear picture of the bonuses and promotions available to you when you sign up with a particular provider. All the major players offer attractive sign-up bonuses and ongoing incentives for regular players. A quick look around the blog and social media of a site you’re considering should also show you the type of special promotions they tend to run.
Let’s move on to looking at some specific providers.
Ladbrokes has long been a byword for betting in the UK with a proud track record that dates back to 1886. Their chain of betting shops are a fixture all across the UK, and the company has expanded on-the-ground operations into Spain and Australia in recent years.
The company has been no slouch when it comes to providing live football betting either. You’ll find a full range of in-play options available via both their site and well-produced iOS and Android apps. You’ll also find a variety of streaming options available via the site for selected matches.
Ladbrokes’ roots are in football and horse racing, but there’s no shortage of other options for punters to explore with them. They offer a full suite of casino options (including live play) and other popular UK gambling options such as bingo and lotto for smaller fun bets.
William Hill is another traditional bookmaker with deep roots in the UK market – they can trace their origins back as far as 1934 to a time when gambling in the UK was a long way from being the safe, regulated environment it is today!
You’ll find a solid range of in-play options on William Hill across most major soccer markets and a host of other sports, along with regular live streaming of selected events. As with the other major players, you’ll also find regularly updated apps for both iOS and Android available for use.
As one of the leading UK bookmakers, William Hill has deep pockets so stay tuned to their blog and social channels for details of regular bonuses and promotions on offer.
Ireland’s Paddy Power have come a long way from their betting shop roots in the last decade with an impressive explosion in online options and expansion into territories as far afield as Australia.
Their recent merger with Betfair has created one of the world’s most significant gambling providers and you’ll find a comprehensive range of live football betting options available on their site. Paddy Power also stand out for the quality of both their iOS and Android apps so if you’re a regular mobile gambler, there’s a lot to recommend them.
Paddy Power have made a name for themselves as “the punter’s friend” over the years so be sure to check their regular promotions across all markets for the chance to take advantage of one-time promotions and offers which often include the chance to hedge your bets in one way or another.
Bet365 hasn’t been in the business as long as our other providers, but they’ve covered a lot of ground in a very short time. Since being founded in 2000, the company has grown into an online gambling giant with over 19 million customers in nearly 200 countries.
The company was one of the first to embrace in-play betting as an option and you’ll see that reflected in the range and slickness of their in-play football betting markets. Bet365 have also built a reputation as one of the best providers of streaming services for following matches as you bet.
As you’d expect, the full range of live football betting options are available on the vast majority of games in the UK from Cowdenbeath to Chelsea. Here’s a quick break-down of some of the most popular bet types you can expect to enjoy:
- Next goal options: Goals are the currency of football and there’s no shortage of ways you can bet on them in a live betting context. You’ll be able to take a position on the next team to score and next scorer over the course of the game, as well as being able to take a punt on the eventual scoreline and result throughout.
- Corner kicks and throw-ins: Football is punctuated by regular corner kicks and throw-ins and their arrival and totals are both popular in-play markets in their own right. Having a flutter on these types of markets can bring a significant level of extra interest to otherwise dull games.
- Free kicks, penalties, red and yellow cards: Football is a highly physical game at the end of the day and sometimes that spills over into unwarranted aggression. If you have a feeling for how a particular match is going to pan out in that regard as you’re watching it, you’ll be able to back your intuition in these markets.
- Handicap betting: Handicap betting is an intriguing option that levels up matches in play and transforms your experience of the live event while giving you a way to bet on alternate scenarios in real time.
Gambling has been a popular pastime in the UK for centuries, but formalised sports betting has evolved at a rapid pace over the last century, with the emergence of always-available in-play options across a range of UK providers proof of how far the industry has come.
These days, the UK has truly emerged as one of the global homes of online sports betting. Traditionally major players in offline bookmaking such as William Hill and Ladbrokes have embraced the challenge of technology fully and now offer a complete range of sports markets to eager punters around the globe.
Ongoing innovations from companies such as Bet365 and Betfair have also consistently pushed the technological envelope in terms of what type of sports betting is available online, and the industry as a whole has developed into a smoothly run, tightly regulated linchpin of the British leisure industry.
Though it’s by far the most popular, football is a long way from being the only game where you can participate in in-play betting to add to the excitement. You’ll also find live betting options available for the following sports:
- Tennis: The structure of tennis as a game lends itself particularly well to in-play action and it’s long been one of the more popular sports in this regard. Whether on the regular ATP circuit or across the high profile majors such as Wimbledon and the US Open, you’ll be able to take part in the action on a point-by- point basis at the majority of major sites.
- Golf: Golf is another globally popular sport whose structure works excellently in the context of in-play action. You’ll find a full range of hole-by-hole options to explore that can considerably boost your excitement as a spectator and make you a tidy profit to boot.
- Cricket: Though cricket’s popularity is limited to a relatively small group of countries, the betting interest in some of those territories is immense – particularly in the Indian sub-continent. Regular high-profile encounters on a national level between giants of the game such as India and Australia also provide plenty of scope for exploring in-play options.
Thanks largely to the global explosion of broadband, it’s never been easier to catch UK football matches either live or on-demand. If you’re looking to really follow the game in detail, then a subscription to Sky Sports is the way to go. Billing themselves as the “home of live football”, they’ve more than lived up to that claim over the years, particularly when it comes to coverage of the game in the UK.
You’ll also find live streaming options on offer from many of the major live football betting providers. Make sure to check what sort of coverage they make available before you sign up to your account. Lastly, there’s also a range of specialist apps you can use to stay on top of things on a minute-by-minute level.
We hope our guide to live football betting in the UK has filled in some of the gaps in your knowledge and encouraged you to start exploring the available options in more detail.
The English Premier League is one of the most widely followed divisions in the world for a good reason – its combination of skill, power, and unpredictability is hard to beat and it makes for an amazing in-play betting experience. We wish you luck with your live action bets across its many teams!
Check Out Our List Of The Best Sites For Live Football Betting In The UK!