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Football, the world's most popular game, is now the most bet-on sport on the internet, accounting for 20 per cent of turnover.

In betting shops, it is still less popular than traditional gambling mediums like horse and greyhound racing - but it's catching up fast.

In 1990, just £20m was wagered on the World Cup. By 2006, this figure had jumped to a staggering £1 billion.

The day-to-day explosion in football betting was ignited by Sky Sports, who started the huge expansion of television coverage. Football bettors, like most others, prefer to bet on events they can watch.

The growth in football betting turnover was also boosted by the abolition of UK betting tax on winnings in 2001 and by a mind-boggling increase in the number of match-related incidents on which you can express an opinion. For a live televised game, there are now more than 40, from goals to corners, bookings and beyond.

Football Case Study

Ambiguous Instructions

Under the present system of customers writing out their own betting slips, disputes often occur, when slips are written in haste and create something that is subsequently open to the bookmaker's interpretation which differs from that the customer... more

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Watch your bets


Related Contingencies

Predictions that are related, that is to say where the outcome of one prediction has a bearing on the outcome of another, normally cannot be combined in a double or other accumulative bet.

Examples would be a double on Chelsea to win and Drogba to score first, Chelsea to beat Man United, and Chelseaa to beat Man United 2-0. These bets are not allowed. If accepted in error, the bet would be settled as two singles, the stake equally divided. Therefore in the first example one half of the stake would be invested in Chelsea to win and one half in Drogba to score first.

Football is well known for the number of related bets which may inadvertently be accepted at the counter or online, that's due to the many different betting opportunities on the same match.

Most bookmakers will make available special odds in which the relatedness has been taken into account. It follows that customers should not invent their own special multiple price doubles.


Wherever possible customers should obtain a copy of the bookmaker's pre-printed coupon(s) as errors are much more likely on plain slips.

If betting on a plain slip cannot be avoided punters must ensure that their instructions cannot be misinterpreted. Also when using a plain slip it is important that it must be a reflection of the corresponding class of bet specified on the bookmaker's dedicated football coupons (sometimes coupons do not correspond with the national press in relation to the home team).

Other pitfalls: Coupon prices can fluctuate for various reasons. The odds, due to printing requirements are of course compiled well in advance of matches - that means that any intervening form or team news is not taken into account in the prices. It is not surprising that bookmakers have provision in their rules to change prices after coupons have been printed and displayed. When using quickslip or marksense slips take particular care to check your receipt.

90 Minute Settlement/Outright Betting

In the case of basic match prediction, there are three prices: either of the teams to win and the draw. Like all football match bets, settlement is based on the outcome after 90 minutes' play, which means normal playing time as defined by the referee/officials that will include time added for stoppages, extra time does not count.

An outright bet on the other hand is a bet to go through to the next round or lift the trophy in a cup game, whatever it takes - in 90 minutes or extra time, penalty shoot-out.

Customers wanting to bet on an outright result should, to avoid disappointment, make it absolutely clear by including the words "To win outright" in the instructions or by ensuring that the appropriate identifying odds are on the slip by the cashier. Otherwise settlement is on the 90 minute result. This guidance will be relevant to the knock-out stages of any competition.

Late Bets

Punters should be sure to put on their bets before the kick-off. Some companies may allow a leeway of five minutes to 15 minutes provided that nothing significant has happened (no goals have been scored, players sent off, etc). A number of bookmakers now have rules that say late bets after kick-off, where in-running markets are in place, are valid at the in-running price.

Bookmakers have been known to invoke their 'late bets' rule (voiding) for wagers placed literally seconds after the leeway period. Any punter would feel particularly aggrieved that the bet he or she placed in good faith is voided due to some obscure rule so clearly the best policy is to be sure bets are placed in good time.

First Goalscorer & Match Statistics (corner count, bookings, etc)

First goalscorer betting has and always will be a contentious issue due to the fact that it is such a subjective matter.

It's always a good idea to check the bookmaker's rules because as a punter you are tacitly agreeing to be bound by the settlement criteria in place when placing bets in a shop or online. That criterion for settlement should always be provided in your bookmakers'/operators' rules.

For betting purposes (not historical records) the first goalscorer returned at the end of 90 minutes serves as the equivalent of a weigh-in and the outcome of any subsequent proceedings by any FIFA technical committee is not taken into account.