In-Play betting was first introduced in 2002. At that time the average internet connection was slow and unstable and In-Play was considered a waste of time. Fast forward 20 years and everyone now has super-powerful mobile devices, wireless broadband is the order of the day and betting sites are able to offer Live Streaming to complement their In-Play betting offerings.
As a result, In-Play wagering has gone from quirky curiosity to one of the most popular features offered by online bookmakers. In this guide, we're going to look at the best sites for live betting, discuss some of the different aspects of this type of betting and answer some FAQs.
Best In-Play Betting Sites
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bet365 leads the way when it comes to Live Streaming, In-Play betting, and partial Cash Outs. Put all three of those things together and you have one of the best In-Play betting sites. bet365 makes it easy to find their In-Play selections, offer an impressive variety of standard and off-beat In-Play betting markets and provide pages of stats related to each event so you can make smart In-Play bets. If you take advantage of their Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets Welcome Offer you can earn site credits that will help you get your In-Play efforts off the ground. There is also a generous bet365 bonus code available.
William Hill hasn’t managed to stay at the top of the UK betting world by being out-of-step. They are always among the first to adopt new ideas and technologies and that was certainly the case with In-Play betting. Their selection of In-Play opportunities is always abundant and their Live Streaming is among the best in the business. Ditto on their Bet £10 Get £30 in bet credits Welcome Offer.
Betfred do not have the widest selection of live betting options, nor do they offer Live Streaming on the greatest variety of sporting events. But their In-Play options are above average, the quality of their Live Streams is always high and they offer both full and partial Cash Out on In-Play bets. And when you also consider their Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets Welcome Offer it all adds up to one of the best In-Play betting sites.
BetVictor were pretty slow out of the gate with In-Play wagering compared to most of their competitors. It seemed like they weren’t sold on its viability and were hesitant to invest heavily in something they felt may not last. But last it did and BetVictor did come around to it. Today they are one of the best live betting sites with lots of standard and offbeat markets along with a - you guessed it - Bet £10 Get £30 Welcome Offer.
Betway’s In-Play offerings on most sports are pretty good. But where they really shine is in their coverage of esports. If you love live betting on World of Warcraft, League of Legends or other popular esports you’re going to love Betway. Live Streams are reliable, odds are competitive, they provide full and partial Cash Out and they set you up for success with their Bet £10 Get £40 Free Bet Welcome Offer.
Although they’re one of the new UK betting sites, BetUK understands which way the online betting wind is blowing these days. As such they’re all-in on Live Streaming, Cash Out and In-Play betting. They also do a great job providing support for In-Play bettors and provide lots of info on the combatants. They are also among the best when it comes to live In-Play betting of esports. Their Welcome Offer of £20 in Free Bets for a £10 initial wager is uninspired, but they are new.
On any given day you are likely to find dozens of In-Play betting opportunities on Virgin Bet. That includes football, golf, tennis, table tennis, volleyball, basketball and more. They also offer state-of-the-art Live Streaming along with partial and full Cash Out on your live betting. So why aren't they our top-rated site? Because of their uninspiring Bet £10 Get £20 in Free Bets Welcome Offer. From such a big name brand we want more.
LiveScore Bet is one of the UK’s newest online betting sites. And while they don’t have the world’s most extensive sportsbook they do provide outstanding Live In-Play betting opportunities. Bet live on football, golf, tennis, NFL football, baseball and more and if things get a little nerve-wracking you can always use their quick and efficient Cash Out feature. Their Bet £10 Get £20 Welcome Offer isn't so great, but like BetUK they’re new.
The last of our best In-Play betting sites is Mr. Play. They’re another brand new site but, like LiveScore Bet, they’ve done their homework and hit the ground running. You can bet live on football, tennis, rugby and horse racing. And they promise more sports will be added to their In-Play offerings soon. Their Welcome Offer of £15 in Free Bets for a £10 qualifying bet is pretty lame, but otherwise, this is one of those live betting sites worth keeping an eye on.
How to Join In-Play Betting Sites
All of the major online UK bookmakers have adopted a similar process for opening a new account. And that goes for the best In-Play betting sites as well. That process is simple and straightforward and generally involves the following steps:
- Choose one of the best In-Play live betting sites to join.
- Navigate to their website homepage or download, install and open their mobile app.
- On the website or app homepage tap the “Join” button at the top of the page.
- An application form will open: Fill in all required fields.
- Choose a username and password or select biometric login (if available).
- Accept the bookmaker’s T&Cs.
- Tap the “Join Now” or equivalent button.
Congratulations! You now have an account and can begin to bet In-Play. But first, you will need to fund your account using one of the bookmaker’s approved payment methods. Be aware though that if you want to cash in on their Welcome Offer you will probably need to make your first deposit using a debit card.
What is In-Play Betting?
Traditionally, punters would place bets on sporting events in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the event. The internet, wireless broadband and mobile devices have changed all that. Sure, most bets are still placed prior to a given event, but this type of live betting has become incredibly popular because punters can now login to their favourite In-Play betting site from their phone, open the Live Stream of an event and then wait until they get a feel for how things are unfolding before placing a bet In-Play.
In-Play betting gives the punter the feeling that they’re participating in the event as it unfolds, instead of being a passive witness. It should also lead to more informed wagers which should, in theory, increase your chances of hitting pay dirt.
In-Play Betting Strategy
At the centre of any In-Play betting strategy should be a commitment on the part of the punter to concentrate on the action as it unfolds. Missing a red card, not noticing sluggish play from one side, or being unaware of changing odds could negatively affect your live betting experience. It’s imperative that you follow the match, race or other event from the very start.
Some punters also select a few bets to circle before the event begins. This allows them to narrow their focus while watching the event unfold. That way, their attention isn’t all over the place.
Another sound piece of advice when it comes to your in-play betting strategy is to stick with what you know. If you’re a football expert don’t waste your time live betting on cricket or tennis. By sticking with a sport you know well you’ll be able to relax and trust your instincts, rather than second-guessing yourself all the time.
Best Live Betting Site Bonuses
Online bookmakers in the UK figured out long ago that if they wanted to attract new customers and keep the customers they already had they could do that more effectively by sweetening the pot a bit. Enter the betting bonus.
Every In-Play betting site on our list for instance, provides a Welcome Offer or Sign-Up bonus along with loyalty rewards, odds boosts and more. Let’s take a look at those various betting site bonuses now.
The Welcome Bonus is designed to gently prod those who are not quite sure about opening an account with an online bookmaker into tapping that “Join” button. These days the most popular type of Welcome Bonus is the Bet X Get Y bonus, whereby if the punter places a first bet worth X amount they will receive Y amount in bet credits once that initial bet has been settled. Other types of Welcome Bonuses offered by In-Play betting sites include the Deposit Match and first bet guarantees where the bookmaker will cover your first bet up to a certain point if it should fail.
Free Bets have become the bonus of choice for most live betting sites. Why? Because they’re easy to understand, easy to cash in and they don’t require the punter to put up hundreds of pounds in order to obtain a bonus of useful size. Free Bets are most often associated these days with Bet X Get Y Welcome Offers, where the “Y” is typically £10, £20, £30 or more in Free Bets. Just keep in mind that Free Bets are not the same as cash. That is, if you use a £20 Free Bet to place a wager and that wager pays off you will not be able to withdraw the £20 stake as part of the winnings.
The Deposit Bonus is not as popular as it once was but can still be found on some of the best In-Play betting sites from time to time. With a Deposit Bonus, the bookmaker agrees to match a percentage of the new customer's first deposit up to a predetermined amount. So, for instance, they may agree to match 50% of that first deposit with a cap of £100. In that case, if you wanted to obtain the full £100 bonus you would need to deposit £200. There are betting multiples involved with most deposit bonuses, so make certain you read the fine print.
All online betting sites need to generate a steady flow of new customers to grow their base and to compensate for existing customers that move on for whatever reason. The trick for them is to try and prevent as many customers as possible from moving on, and to do that they utilize various loyalty rewards programmes and promotions.
Loyalty rewards often take the form of points earned for every pound in real money wagered (not Free Bets or other bonuses). In most cases, once the customer reaches a certain number of loyalty points they can be converted to real money and credited to the user’s account. It’s also common that when a punter reaches a certain loyalty points level that they’ll trigger VIP status. Typically VIP status earns the customer larger bonuses, access to VIP-only promotions, expedited withdrawals and more.
Online bookmakers make money by adding a premium to every bet customers place. In some cases, they'll take a reduced premium in order to boost the odds on a particular market for their customers. Boosted Odds are a staple of In-Play betting sites and are typically associated with existing customer promotions.
No Deposit Bonus
A No Deposit Bonus is exactly what it says it is. The customer receives a set amount of bonus funds from the bookmaker without having to make a deposit. In real terms, No Deposit Bonuses are generally pretty modest (somewhere in the vicinity of £5 - £10), but hey, free money is free money. There are several ways you can claim a No Deposit Bonus.
In some cases, all you have to do is register a new account. In that case, the No Deposit Bonus will be a form of Welcome Bonus. In other cases you may be issued a No Deposit Bonus for signing up for the bookmaker's newsletter, adding a mobile number to your account or surpassing a certain betting threshold.
Why Bet In-Play?
In-Play betting has exploded in popularity mostly because it has some very real advantages over pre-event betting.
For one thing, punters have access to more information than they otherwise would. They can get a feel for who’s come to play and who’s just collecting a paycheck.
In-Play wagering also offers better odds than you will get with pre-game betting. Why? Because as the event unfolds odds are adjusted by the bookmaker on the fly. By waiting to bet In-Play you may enjoy a bigger payout.
Punters also tend to have greater control over their situation with live betting. They can make adjustments to their bets as the event plays out and either optimize their winnings or minimize their losses.
And finally, In-Play betting adds a whole new level of excitement to the proceedings. As we mentioned earlier you get a real feeling of being involved in the event, instead of just waiting to hear what happened.
What Sports Can You Bet On In-Play?
Not all online bookmakers in the UK offer In-Play betting, and of the ones that do, some provide In-Play options on more sports than others. But as a general rule, the best live betting sites will offer In-Play action on:
- Horse racing
- NFL football
Some In-Play betting sites may also offer live betting on sports like baseball, ice hockey, snooker, table tennis and greyhound racing. Tennis betting sites, cricket betting sites and esports betting sites have made great use of in-play betting and the markets that can be created off the back of them.
Live Football Betting
Horse racing and tennis attract a lot of In-Play action but not as much as football. Being the football-crazed nation we are, it's only natural that punters would embrace just about anything that ramps up their engagement with the game, and live football betting does exactly that. Industry statistics indicate that with some Premier League fixtures, In-Play wagers nearly equal that of pre-match betting. That's pretty remarkable when you consider In-Play betting was only introduced 20 years ago, and didn’t really find its footing until about 5 years ago. UK football betting sites have really embraced in-play betting over the years.
In-Play Betting Apps
These days only a relative handful of punters use desktop computers to place online bets. The overwhelming majority use their mobile phone or tablet. Some are satisfied with using the bookmaker’s mobile website but an increasing number opt for the bookmaker’s mobile app. Virtually every licensed UK online bookmaker provides a mobile app that can be downloaded from the Google Play store, the App Store or their website and the best betting apps provide the premium mobile experience. If that bookmaker provides live In-Play betting then their mobile app will provide it as well.
Live Streaming Bookmakers
In-Play sports wagering and Live Streaming of sporting events are inextricably linked these days. That’s because Live Streaming allows a punter to assess the ebb and flow of an event before placing their live bet. But Live Streaming technology is expensive to implement and maintain so not all online UK bookmakers offer it. In most cases, the ones that do not offer Live Streaming also do not offer In-Play betting. However, all of the in-play betting sites listed above are also live streaming bookmakers, with the option to
In-Play Betting FAQs
Is there a time delay on in-play bets?
There is. Normally it’s anywhere from 5-10 seconds. This delay was implemented on purpose to give the sportsbook time to react to sudden changes that could affect the odds on various live betting markets. With the delay in place, they have the ability to suspend betting and adjust the odds before punters become aware of the changed conditions and modify their wagers.
To get around this delay some enterprising gamblers employ people called “courtsiders" who attend an event for the sole purpose of sending information about the event back to their employer in real-time so that the employer can beat the time delay and place a wager based on information no one else has access to. Most organized sports today go to great efforts to weed out courtsiders but they cannot catch them all.
What are the best sports to bet on in-play?
That’s a matter of opinion. There are legions of football fans who will tell you that football and In-Play betting were made for each other. Nearly as many people will tell you tennis is the perfect sport for In-Play wagering because of its stop-and-go nature. The same can be said for baseball, NFL football and cricket. Incremental sports such as these provide time during resets for punters to assess the flow of the match and make adjustments. Also, every time there is a stoppage in play a whole new set of fresh markets becomes available.
Can you Cash Out in-play bets?
Yes, you can Cash Out In-Play bets at the best In-Play betting sites. bet365 for example, allows both full and partial Cash Out on In-Play bets, as do William Hill, Betfred and other top sites. Cashing out is a smart way to lock in profits and minimise losses. And by cashing out early you also have a chance to bet on the opposing outcome which may help make up for your losses. Cash out betting sites are extremely popular in the UK.
Why are in-play markets suspended?
In-Play betting is an expensive undertaking, requiring state-of-the-art technology and a coordinated effort across multiple departments of the bookmaker who offers it. As such, it’s in the bookmaker’s interest to stay on top of things during events where In-Play is, well, in play. Sometimes that means suspending betting while they assess the situation and make adjustments.
For instance, if a key player suddenly sustains a serious injury and is taken off the field, this will potentially have a significant impact on the outcome. As such, the bookmaker will suspend betting while they calculate new odds and then resume betting once the new odds are in place.