What is the difference between sports spread betting and regular betting?

Paddy’s on hand to explain the difference between fixed odds betting and spread betting

sports spread betting vs regular betting


Betting on sport in the UK is primarily done through fixed odds wagers. These are the types that are found in the Paddy Power sportsbooks and others regulated by the UK Gambling Commission.

But what a lot of players don’t know is there’s another type of betting on sports that doesn’t often get talked about in this country.

This is spread betting, which derives from risk taking on financial markets and has evolved into placing wagers on sport.

We explained what is sports spread betting in our guide here at Paddy Power News – and now it’s time to detail the difference between spread betting and fixed odds betting.

So, let’s dive in!

Difference between spread betting and regular betting

sports spread betting vs regular betting

Spread betting and regular betting have a lot of similarities. They’re both a means of wagering on sports and risking a stake in order to win money as profit. They both carry risk and they can both make you a lot of cash if you strike lucky.

However, there are fundamental differences between spread betting and fixed odds betting that you need to know.

First, let’s define each type of bet:

Spread betting is when you wager for or against a defined margin within a sports event. Say this margin is between 3.1 and 3.2 goals in a game between Scotland and Brazil. It might be that you back over 3.2 goals. Or you might wager that the same game features under 3.1 goals. Depending on the outcome you could win big or lose heavily. Your risk can spiral unless you implement a ‘stop’.

Fixed odds betting cannot spiral. You place a bet on a sports event at a set price and your stake is final. Your potential profit is also final, so there’s no possibility of you winning more than expected. The risk parameters are therefore a lot shorter than spread betting.


Pros and cons of spread and fixed odds betting

If you’re wondering which type of betting is best for you then it’s worth looking at how spread vs fixed odds compares for various factors:


Spread betting is much riskier than fixed odds betting because there is no limit to how much you could lose, unless you place a ‘stop’ in the wager. Let’s use our Scotland vs Brazil example again.

Say you bet £15 on under 3.1 goals. You need three goals or fewer to be scored in order to win the bet. But the game finishes Scotland 4-5 Brazil. Nine goals means you have to pay out on almost six lots of £15. In fact, you’d lose £88.50.

Sticking a tenner on this game to produce -3.5 goals in the fixed football odds would have seen you lose, well, a tenner.


Conversely, you can win a lot more money betting on the spread if your luck’s in. Imagine the above example had finished 0-0. Your £15 sell on 3.1 goals would have resulted in you winning £46.50.

Now, you’d also have won on the fixed odds wager. But the odds may have been a lot smaller, at maybe 1.80. In this instance, you’d have risked £10 to win £8 profit.

Bet choice

Fixed odds provide bettors with more choice of what they can wager on. That’s because you can apply a fixed odds price to practically anything.

With spread betting, you need some sort of statistical figure within a sporting event to create your spread. This could be the number of goals or corners in a football game, the number of home runs in baseball, or even the leg that the first 180 will be thrown in a darts match.


Fixed odds betting sites, such as Paddy Power, are regulated through the UK Gambling Commission. In contrast, a sports spread betting site will be regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Can I spread bet at Paddy Power?

No. You can’t spread bet at Paddy Power because we only offer fixed odds betting under our UK Gambling Commission license. In order to offer spread betting we’d need a UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) license.


What do you think?