Live sports betting, also referred to as in-play betting or in-game betting, is the act of wagering on a sporting event after it has already started.
For most of this industry's history, bets needed to be placed prior to a match or game beginning and the odds were locked after kickoff, first pitch, tip-off, puck drop, etc. That isn't the case anymore, however, and it's part of the reason why sports betting is exploding across the United States.
But you may be wondering: how does live betting work exactly?
For some bettors, especially casual ones that use gambling as a source of entertainment, it's difficult to catch every single event before it starts. For others, in-game sports betting is done strategically to hedge or double up on existing bets. No matter the reason for waiting until after the game begins, in-play sports betting allows players to place wagers at various points throughout the contest.
If you keep an eye on your mobile device throughout a game, you'll notice that online sports betting apps are constantly updating odds as the game progresses and the score changes. Moneylines, spreads, and totals are adjusted, sometimes every few seconds, along with prop markets to account for the events that have taken place so far in the game.
The convenience and growing options that come with live sports betting have made it increasingly popular and sportsbooks have responded in kind with more live markets than ever before.
One of the great things about live betting is that there's a version of it that can be applied to nearly all sports. Whether it's popular sports like basketball, football, baseball, hockey, and soccer, or less popular ones like golf and tennis, there are live lines available for nearly every game.
The above example is a look at the FanDuel live betting interface during an NFL game, complete with colorful indicators signaling an in-game odds change.
While the nature of each league and sport is unique, there are some factors such as injuries and the clock that have an effect on the ever-changing live betting odds. Below we'll get into a bit more detail about live betting on individual leagues.
Since pro football is the most popular sport in the United States, it's definitely one of the most common to live wager on as well. NFL live betting offers a wide range of markets in comparison to other sports such as props, complete with rapidly-changing lines.
Because lines move so quickly, accelerating the decision-making process is vital. This is more important than in-play wagering on other sports because making NFL betting picks is about being on the correct side of specific key numbers, so taking advantage of a live line before it disappears or changes again can mean the difference between winning and losing.
It isn't only touchdowns and field goals that alter the NFL live betting lines, either. Field position, changes of possession, and weather are all things that will sway odds in one direction or another.
When it comes to in-play NFL betting, one common strategy is to wager on large favorites that are facing an early deficit. This way you can take the ‘better' team at better odds than were available prior to the game, and there's still a ton of time on the clock.
Whether it's the college ranks or NBA live betting, it's a bit different than other sports. Basketball is a game of runs and momentum can quickly change from one side to the next. It's not uncommon for teams to face huge deficits early and come back at a later point in the game, which lends itself to becoming a prime option for bettors who enjoy live lines.
Because the nature of basketball allows for huge comebacks, NBA in-game betting on the losing side is pretty popular. These lines can provide tons of value, especially early in the game with time left on the clock to make up the difference.
Baseball is one of the more popular sports to bet live because it's unpredictable on a day-to-day basis, making pregame wagers a bit more of a crapshoot than some think. Because every game has the potential to be so different, it's possible for bettors to find great value while live MLB betting.
Most bets made before a game begins are based on the starting pitchers because that position generally has a huge impact on both the winner of the game and the total. The team with a superior starter on the mound is generally going to be favored and in some spots, it means an inflated cost. In-game betting on baseball brings along new factors to consider as the game progresses, such as how good or bad a team's bullpen might be.
Don't be afraid to place in-game wagers on teams trailing early in the game, especially if they possess a better pitching staff than their opponent. A reversal of fortunes can take place at any point and a comeback win could mean cashing a huge payout thanks to a strategically-place live bet.
Understanding NHL live betting is a bit easier when comparing it to other sports. This is another instance, like baseball, where in-play wagering on underdogs and teams that are trailing can be extremely lucrative.
Overcoming deficits in hockey tends to be a bit more difficult than other sports like basketball, so teams that are behind can come with pretty robust payouts, especially when a team is playing on the road.
Similar to football and basketball, however, odds are changing rapidly due to factors like one team being on the power play or the clock ticking away, so decisions need to be executed quickly.
Golf events are played over the course of several days, so the dynamic of in-play betting is unique when it comes to the PGA Tour. There are options to place live wagers while rounds are being played in real-time, but the nature of golf can also eliminate the time-sensitive decision-making process.
Bettors have a chance at the end of each round to wager on markets like the tournament winner, top five, top ten, and other various prop markets.
This means having hours in the evening until the next day's play to place what are still technically live bets since the event is in progress. Golf isn't a fast-paced game, and it so happens the way it's played and scored creates a massive opportunity for a multitude of live golf betting markets.
As legal sports gambling and in-play wagering continue to grow, so will the option for live betting, in golf and various other sports as well.
In-game wagering is a comparatively new addition to the industry but is flourishing due to the rapidly advancing technology that comes along with mobile sports betting.
Because live betting takes place on a line modified from the original odds, the information oddsmakers use to do update these lines is currently one of the hot-button topics around the industry. Though regulated markets have been able to operate with ‘unofficial data', more and more leagues want to be the source of the information used to set betting lines on the sport.
According to Law Insider, official league data refers to the “statistics, results, outcomes and other data relating to a sporting event, obtained from the relevant sports governing body...” Basically, this means the data used to set live betting odds comes directly from the league and its partners, rather than an unofficial source.
Various sports leagues in the United States are building partnerships with companies that analyze and distribute official sports data like Sportradar and Genius Sports, but some also have deals in place with operators to provide official league data directly to sportsbook betting apps. For example:
Official league data is said to do a few things including help ensure the integrity of the given sport and providing extra credibility to the operators and the lines they set. It also may increase speed in which lines are adjusted and/or posted.
While most online sports betting apps do offer some type of in-game wagering, getting in on the action is easier with some operators than others for a variety of reasons. Below we'll detail at least one sportsbook in several different states where we'd recommend placing these bets.
Some states have more options than others. Some sites are better suited for live betting than others for a variety of reasons.
Since NJ betting sites became legal, FanDuel Sportsbook has been the cream of the crop. It should come as no surprise that live betting on FanDuel is one of the more pleasant experiences available in the Garden State and other places where this site operates.
Fnaduel possesses an easy-to-use interface that changes colors depending on which way the line is moving. It also features a huge variety of markets for live betting, from traditional options to props that can't be found on all competitor sites. It also helps that FanDuel receives official league data from major partners such as the NBA, MLB, and NHL, which provides extra credibility to those sports' live betting lines.
This is one of the newer brands to arrive, but its impact is palpable and live sports betting on the Fox Bet app is as positive an experience as any, especially in Pennsylvania.
As the first major media company to enter the sports betting realm as an operator, the Fox Sports-owned site brings brand-name recognition. Its layout of the site allows for easy separation between lines and markets, with a huge variety of sports and categories to wager on. Fox Bet also has official data deals with the NBA and the NFL for its free-to-play Super 6 contest.
The Hoosier State is a new addition to the online sports betting scene but has some great sites to choose from including BetRivers Indiana. The layout of BetRivers mirrors its namesake in Pennsylvania along with the SugarHouse sites in PA and NJ, offering plenty of live betting markets, even more than some competitors.
Whether it's mainstream sports in the US like basketball or football, or niche events like tennis and cricket, cycling, and darts, BetRivers has you covered. It doesn't hurt that the site's design makes it easy to access and place in-game wagers.
Just like in other aspects of wagering, there isn't one overarching live sports betting strategy to employ. There are, however, some tactics that bettors can take in order to give themselves the best chance at coming out on top. Check out a few common live sports betting strategies to keep in mind before making any picks:
Hedging bets with live wagers is a common practice, as it can ensure you wind up with some type of profit. It works particularly well with parlays and futures bets, which tend to come with higher payouts and more lucrative hedging opportunities. Depending on the score of the game, you may even hedge a bet while giving yourself a sweet spot to win both wages with a ‘middle', as it's often called.
For example, if you have Team A on the moneyline and at some point, you take Team B against the spread, there's a way you can actually win both. That's if Team A wins by a small enough amount of points that Team B still covers the number.
It's not uncommon to be indecisive on which side to bet before a game begins. Watching the early part or even the first half can help provide the direction toward a live betting angle. Keeping track as a game progresses prepares you to take advantage instantly if any in-game lines you found value in were to come up.
There are plenty of occasions when bettors want to take a favorite, but the price on the pregame line or spread is a little too steep. One popular live betting strategy is to let the game begin and see if the favorite faces an early deficit, which would create more attractive odds on the live betting line. The bet may be down early, but there's plenty of game left and you've got the team you wanted.
Why in-play sports betting has become so popular? Partially because there are plenty of benefits to it from both a strategic and practical standpoint. First, here are the obvious advantages of live wagering on sports:
For whatever reason, bettors don't always place bets before a game begins. Sometimes it's not on purpose and other times it's a strategic ploy. Whatever the reason, live wagering on sports provides you with an additional form of betting by allowing you to enter the action while the game is going on.
Live wagering is closing the gap on placing pregame bets in terms of popularity and that's entirely because of mobile sports betting. It could not be any easier to open up an online sportsbook app and place in-game wagers, and it'll only lead to more and more markets opening up in the coming years.
A reason many people place in-game wagers is to hedge another bet they have going on. Maybe you're set to win a substantial amount on one side and willing to cut into your winnings by betting the other side as well. Or maybe you've run out of confidence in your original bet and want to cancel it altogether with a hedge.
Setting pregame odds is an in-depth process for oddsmakers. When it comes to in-game lines, there's no time to do the same research and meticulously set new odds and that's an advantage for the casual bettor. It opens up the chance to find lines with pretty strong value throughout the game as odds are set in reaction to the game unfolding before you and oddsmakers at the same time.
While most aspects of using the in-game route enhance the overall experience, there are some aspects of wagering on live sports betting odds that could be labeled as negatives. Consider the following list of cons when it comes to in-play betting:
Depending on which site is used, betting might be easier or more difficult. Live sports betting apps without a top-notch interface can actually impact the user experience because the app may slow down or continuously reload, making it tougher to place bets at the exact line you want. Especially if that operator doesn't have access to official data.
If you're not prepared beforehand, in-play betting applies the pressure and forces you to make decisions on the fly. These lines constantly adjust as the game progresses and a given spread, total or moneyline may only be available for a very short amount of time, even just a few seconds. For most sports, lines are constantly changing when there's a scoring play, penalty, change of possession, injury, among other common events in sports games.
Plenty of bettors chose to take advantage of time outs, the ends of quarters, halftime, intermission, etc. because there's usually a bit more time to place wagers than doing so between specific plays. Depending on how many markets are offered, the number of options can be overwhelming as well
Because there are lines available throughout the game, bettors who are currently losing will always have an outlet so long as there's a live game going on. This makes it easy to instantly chase money and perhaps wind up with an even larger deficit if you're not careful.
While most in-game sports betting action revolves around the moneyline, spread, and totals on most occasions, it's a constantly evolving part of the industry that gets more and more in-depth with each passing season.
Recently, operators are stepping up their game and opening up huge ranges of lie sports betting odds that cover additional markets such as props. Across a variety of sports, each game comes with anywhere from dozens to hundreds of options aside from the conventional lines you're used to betting on before the game.
Below are some of the more popular types of live bets available across various sports
Rather than just wagering on the winner of the game after nine innings, you can live bet on smaller ranges of time like just the first few innings. Some markets are even broken down by separating each inning and offer props yes/no props for whether a run will be scored or the result of an at-bat, which can be lucrative.
This is most popular with basketball and football, where it's easiest to give bettors the choice of breaking down the game into smaller segments. Once the game begins, future halves and quarters are still free to bet before that point in the contest arrives. This is somewhat equivalent to period-by-period betting in hockey as well.
This market offers bettors an opportunity to win a considerably higher payout by pinpointing the range of points a given team will win by. There's more risk in only having a smaller margin of victory to work with, but payouts are a healthy step up from conventional lines.
This can apply across basically all sports and leagues. Odds for team and player props update as the game progresses, just as traditional in-game betting lines do. By watching the game, you may be able to spot where the game previews were right or wrong, or perhaps see how a particular team/player is performing in comparison to the original line.