The Ultimate Guide to Live Betting – What you need to know about In-Play Betting

In-play betting has grown and grown in popularity over the last few years. This is partly due to the ingenuity of the online betting sites and their desire to offer as many betting options as possible to loyal punters. On the other hand, in-play betting is in some ways a natural evolution that has been facilitated by the wide availability of super-fast internet, that has enabled punters to place bets in a matter of seconds. This has really revolutionised the world of online sports betting. New bet types, new markets and new possibilities have now opened up, which have brought with them even more excitement and chances of profits for sports betting fans worldwide. Advancements in smartphone and mobile technology have also spurred live betting on. Punters can now bet on the go, since almost everyone has access to a mobile or tablet device with internet access, and the online sportsbooks have been quick to take full advantage of this.

Bookmaker Sports Betting Options Odds level Live-streams Live Score Rating Review
25 135+ 91.5 – 94.1% over 70,000 yearly 9/10 Bet365
24 90+ 91.6 – 94.9% over 75,000 yearly 9/10 Coral
12 90+ 90.4 – 92.4% selected sports only 8/10 Betway
14 75+ 92.3 – 94.0% selected sports only 8/10 Ladbrokes
24 120+ 91.6 – 94.2% over 5000 yearly 8/10 William Hill
13 75+ 91.3 – 94.1% over 3,500 yearly n/a 8/10 Betfair
10 90+ 91.6 – 93.5% over 50,000 yearly 8/10 Betfred
18 100+ 91.5 – 93.8% horse racing only 7/10 BetVictor
10 75+ 91.4 – 93.8% selected sports only 7/10 888 Sport
10 120+ 91.0 – 92.8% over 10,000 yearly 7/10 Paddy Power

The function has been almost universally embraced by the bookies; market leader Bet365’s motto is that it’s “all about the in-play” and you’d be hard pressed to find an online bookmaker that doesn’t offer live betting options. As you can see from the table above, Bet365 aren’t kidding with their motto. With 25 sports and over 135 betting options available in-play, along with over 70,000 events per year that can be live-streamed, the bookmaker offers the most comprehensive live betting service around. It is closely followed by Coral, who offer even more live-streams, along with some of the best odds on in-play fixtures you’ll find. The live platforms and service at Betfair and William Hill also come highly recommended. Both offer competitive odds, sufficient sport and betting markets, along with a good range of events available to be live-streamed. The remaining bookies all offer good live betting action that will fit the needs of most, but lose points against the better operators due to lacking in one or more areas.

How Does In-Play Betting Work?

The clue to what in-play betting (also known as live betting) is, is really in the name. In-play betting simply refers to betting on an event or fixture that is currently ‘in-play’ or live. In-play bets can be made on most of the typical sports betting markets, such as win markets. But the function has also opened a whole new world of betting options that can be repeatedly used to maximise profits. For example, most bookmakers now offer in-play bets such as who will get the next yellow card in football, or who will win the next point in tennis. These options allow punters to place multiple bets throughout a single fixture and to maximise profits. In-play bets can pay off in literally a matter of minutes and can be immediately followed by another bet on the same fixture.

In this way, the world of live betting is fast moving and exciting. One distinct advantage a punter has when live betting compared with pre-match bets are that one can view an event and make bets accordingly. So, if you’re watching a football match and it looks extremely likely a team will shortly score a goal, then you can simply place a bet for this to happen. The odds on in-play betting markets constantly change on all bet types, reflecting what’s happening on the pitch and how many people are betting on something. When betting in-play, it’s common for the odds to change after you’ve selected your bet, but before you’ve had time to enter the stake or confirm the bet. When this happens, you’ll be notified of the change in the odds and asked to accept the changes, before being allowed to continue and confirm the selection. This is completely normal when live betting and shows just how quick you need to be to pounce on opportunities.

How Have We Rated the Betting Sites?

When contrasting and evaluating each operator’s performance, we’ve considered three main aspects that we believe are the most important to a successful in-play betting arena. These are the range of sport and betting markets on offer, the odds levels and the mobile and tablet compatibility and support. We also paid close consideration to other important factors that contributed to the overall ratings. The functionality of the in-play platform itself, as well as the range and quality of the live-streams available are just two other factors that are also very important when assessing an online sportsbook’s live betting arena. Below we’ll outline exactly how we tested these areas and elaborate on how each operator fared in each department when put to the test.

Live Betting Options

Just like with our pre-match tests, the logical starting point is with the number of sports and betting markets that are accessible in-play at each bookmaker. This varies surprisingly widely between the operators reviewed here. All have the major sports, such as football and tennis available in-play, but some operators, namely Betfred and 888, fall really short when it comes to the number of sports available. Complementing the number of sports available is the variety and amount of bets that can be made upon them. The beauty of in-play betting sites is the new types of bets it has brought to the fore; quick-fire bets, like next goal or points scorers, along with a whole host of original in-play exclusive bets can be found alongside the typical bet types, at most modern online sportsbooks.

The In-Play Arenas of Each Operator
  • The in-play interface at Bet3651/10Bet365Excellent in-play interface, with all sports and betting options in drop-down menus, live-streams on the top right and quick link tabs to other areas
  • The in-play interface at Coral2/10Coral The selection of in-play markets here is always pretty impressive, and the live infographic comes equipped with a detailed list of stats and scores and some occasional live commentary. In addition, the multi view tool allows you to keep tabs on up to 7 in-play fixtures at the same time.
  • The in-play interface at Betfair3/10Betfair A minimal interface, with sports and fixtures listed vertically. Bets are sorted by bet type with the infographic and stats displayed on the left hand side
  • The in-play interface at William Hill4/10William Hill Nicely designed in-play section, with quick links to sports and popular bets. The action infographic is prominent in the middle of the screen, with all the bets listed below.
  • The in-play interface at Betfred5/10Betfred The Betfred live platform comes with a large live infographic and an extensive selection of different stats. Players can make use of the arrows on the left and right of the infographic to see the full range of stats and the drop-down arrows in the section below to reveal the different in-play markets on offer.
  • The in-play interface at BetVictor6/10BetVictor Stylish black, white and yellow colour scheme, with sports in a small, vertical, ever-present menu on the left and fixture info in the centre. The infographic is in the centre with limited statistical info.
  • The in-play interface at 888 Sport7/10888 Sport The list of in-play markets isn’t as extensive here as with bet365 and the live infographic isn’t as detailed as with Ladbrokes. However the live odds updates are normally quick to refresh and the in-play diary makes keeping track of your favourite fixtures simple and stress free.
  • The in-play interface at Ladbrokes8/10Ladbrokes With Ladbrokes, there’s normally a good selection of markets for the top fixtures. The “Popular Markets” tab allows for quick and easy access to the most common bets and the use of drop-down arrows makes browsing through the full list of markets seem effortless.
  • The in-play interface at Betway9/10Betway The arrangement here doesn’t quite allow for as many stats and scores to be displayed as with Betfred, however the large infographic allows you to easily keep tabs on all the action as the fixture unfolds, and the availability of the cash out feature is always in full view.
  • The in-play interface at Paddy Power10/10Paddy Power Paddy Power uses a small drop down menu for in-play sports which keeps things tidy. Event info is displayed in the centre with quick links to different sports, with live-streams and stats displayed at the top of the page.

While I think it’s fair to say Bet365 leads the charge here, it’s definitely a close call, with William Hill and Coral both only just bringing up the rear. There’s really not too much to choose between these three. Coral offers the best odds and the most live streams, while Bet365 and William Hill both have more betting options. If you’re a serious in-play bettor then ultimately you can’t go wrong with either of these three. Betfair and BetVictor should also be strongly considered. Betfair is extremely consistent across all of the criteria, while BetVictor performs very well, especially when it comes to odds and betting options, but is unfortunately let down by its lack of live-streams for all sports except for horse racing.

How Are the In-Play Odds?

We can evaluate the odds levels for in-play fixtures at the bookies using exactly the same mathematical formula as we used for pre-match fixtures to calculate the bookmaker’s margin. Generally, the odds for in-play fixtures are lower than pre-match, making the bookmaker’s margin slightly larger. It’s still possible to find high odds at a number of the operators reviewed here however.

Operator Football Tennis Basketball Snooker
88.6 93.3% 92.7 95.6% 91.5 95.3 93.6 95.1%
89.4 – 93.3% 92.8 – 97.7% 91.4 91.5% 92.2 – 94.0%
88.0 92.8% 92.0 – 95.2% 92.3 – 93.3% 92.8 95.2%
90.4 – 94.6% 92.4 – 95.3% 91.1 92.5% 92.5 94.5%
90.8 93.8% 92.8 94.9% 92.8 93.6% 92.9 93.9%
89.0 – 95.0% 91.5 – 93.7% 92.4 92.9% 92.9 93.8%
91.7 92.9% 90.5 93.3% 91.2 94.0% 92.1 95.0%
91.1 – 93.4% 90.6 93.3% 92.8  93.9% 91.9 93.3%
89.4 – 91.1% 90.9 – 93.4% 92.1  93.7% 91.8 92.8%
90.4 – 91.3% 90.8 93.5% 88.2 90.5% 92.1 94.1%

In line with its promise of offering the best football odds around, our tests revealed that BetVictor keeps his word, with the strongest odds for in-play football. The range of the odds was surprisingly large however, with the lowest football odds encountered here ranking amongst the lowest found anywhere in our tests. All sports considered, BetVictor falls roughly in the middle in terms of the quality of its odds. Coral is our overall winner, though its football odds at their highest point are a little behind a number of the other sportsbooks. Ladbrokes also offers a high standard overall. Aside from the two lowest ranked operators here, there’s only a small difference in the profits that can be made when it comes to odds. As the table shows, they differ between operators and sports, but shopping around is not really possible due to the fast pace at live betting sites. But since all of the bookmakers offer acceptable margins, this is not so much of an issue.

Live Betting Using a Mobile or Tablet

Mobile and tablet technology has been key to the development and the success of live betting. The rise of both has really paralleled each other and today they seem to go hand in hand. With an ever increasing number of sports betting fans using mobile devices to place their bets, a great mobile app is very relevant to having a complete in-play facility. Not only this, but the in-play arenas at each operator are not necessarily replicated completely from the online platform to the app. Things like statistics given, the number of betting options and the amount of sports available can vary between a bookie’s online platform and mobile app. There’s also the mobile app’s in-play interface to consider. The interface must be user-friendly and run smoothly and quickly if it is to properly facilitate live betting.

We won’t evaluate each operator’s mobile app here – you can head to the mobile section for that – but it’s important to mention the quality of the mobile apps here in relation to the in-play features. In terms of completeness, Bet365 and William Hill come closest to matching the selections available on their online platforms. The fixtures and betting options from these two bookies‘ mobile apps are almost as comprehensive as their platform, while both interfaces are sleek and simple to use. Bet365 especially gives a good amount of statistics, while the live match information interface is large and can therefore be closely followed. It also offers live-streams for many sports, rather than just horse racing, which is extremely rare among online sports betting sites. Betway also has a great app geared towards in-play betting. The cash out and quick bet functions work seamlessly to make live betting here stress free. Unfortunately however, Betway offers among the lowest odds of all the reviewed operators, which dampens its appeal somewhat.

Where are the Best Live-Streams?

Another great feature that goes hand in hand with live betting sites is live-streaming. Most reputable online bookies offer a number of sports to be live-streamed, with multiple events shown each day. This can help dramatically when it comes to successfully betting in-play, as punters can watch a fixture to help decide what their next in-play bet should be, although the live-streams are normally delayed a few seconds from real time. Across the operators reviewed here, all offer at least some live-streams. Ladbrokes, Betway and 888 Sport offer a small range of sports to be streamed, while BetVictor limits itself to horse racing only.

Preview Live-streaming at Bet365 Live-streaming at Coral
Live-streams over 70,000 per year over 75,000 per year
Optimal Resolution 1024 x 768 n/a
Sports Football, Ice Hockey, Tennis, Cricket, Badminton, Basketball, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Snooker, Squash, Handball, Darts, Rugby, Hockey, Horse racing, Greyhound racing Football, Tennis, Snooker, Rugby, Darts, Basketball, Badminton, Handball, Ice Hockey, Volleyball, Horse racing, Greyhound racing
Mobile App iOS ver. 4+ and Android ver. 3+ iOS ver.6+
Requirements Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Mac OS X, IE ver.6+/Firefox/Safari, 512kbps+, positive account balance Windows 2000/XP/Vista, IE ver. 9+/Firefox/Safari. 500kbps+, positive account balance
Best live-streams at Bet365
  • Best live-streams
  • High in-play odds
  • Great app for live betting
ThawteESSALicensed by:Govt. of Gibraltar

It really was a two horse-race when deciding which bookmaker offers the best live-streams. The amount of live-streams offered each year by Coral and Bet365 – over 75,000 and over 70,000 a year respectively – dwarfs the competition. They also offer far more sports for live-stream than the other operators. The decision was a very tough one, but at the end of the day, there could be only one winner. While it offers slightly less streams than Coral, Bet365 wins here due to the quality of its streams, and most importantly, as it has numerous sports available for live-streaming from mobile devices. Most other operators, including Coral, will only stream horse racing to mobile or tablet devices. Of course, you won’t be able to stream any Premier League fixtures at either operator, due to licensing and publisher rights. However, Bet365 does offer a good range of high level fixtures, especially from Spain. So while a lot of the live-streams for football are lower league European fixtures, there are plenty of opportunities to see some good fixtures from the continent, as well as big tournament fixtures in tennis.

Live Scores and Results

It’s essential for online sportsbooks to have up to the second live scores to accommodate fair and transparent live betting. Most online sportsbooks employ a third party provider to configure all the live score updates and other relevant data. Betradar is a market leader of sports betting related data services and supplies more than 450 bookmakers with the sports data they need. Betfred is the odd bookie out in this instance, choosing the services of betstream instead.

Operator Score Provider Results Extras
Last Year Statistics
Last 6 months Statistics
Last 2 weeks Statistics
Last 6 years (Horse racing only) Statistics
One week Statistics
Last 3 years Statistics
One month Statistics
Last 3 years Statistics
Last year (Horse racing only) Statistics
Last 6 years (Horse racing only) Statistics

A handy feature that most online sportsbooks offer is a results service that punters can use to check previous results and form. As you can see, the length of time the results services go back at each operator differs greatly. Coral and BetVictor are both the surprising losers of this test. Both bookies have performed well in almost all the tests so far, with Coral especially coming top for many in-play betting aspects. BetVictor’s results service goes back just one week, while Coral’s only does slightly better with results for the last two weeks. Other operators have results that go back a long, long way, but are restricted to horse racing results only. These help serve as form guides, which are arguably more important in horse racing than any other sport, so the services of Betfred and 888 sports – which display horse racing results for the last six years – should not be overlooked. All things considered though, our winner for the best live score operator is William Hill. This operator offers scores and stats across many different sports that go back three years on an easy to navigate platform.

Bet365 Really Is All About the In-play

Deciding which of these live betting sites was the best overall was no easy task. Coral put in a fantastic showing, with the best odds and the largest number of live-streams. However, it was just pipped to the post by our winner, Bet365. The bookmaker was one of the first to fully recognise the potential of in-play betting and has been honing its craft ever since. Examining the in-play offering of each bookmaker as a whole, it was hard to look past Bet365. It has the most sports and in-play betting options, while its odds are among the best and only Coral has more live-streams each year. Its in-play platform is also perhaps the most user friendly and well designed, making it quick to navigate and place in-play bets. The clincher was the mobile in-play service Bet365 offers that no one else can. Bet365 allows a number of sports to be live-streamed from a mobile device, while others offer horse racing at the most.

Watch while you bet with the best live-streams around – bet in-play now at Bet365

Along with Coral, there are honourable mentions also for William Hill and Betfair. The William Hill sportsbook is extremely consistent with its in-play offering. Solid odds, among the most betting options and sports markets, along with a great live score and fixtures service, mean it ticked all the right boxes. Betfair’s mobile app especially is a great place for betting live, due to its quick bet function and one of the smoothest in-play mobile cash out functions we’ve seen. Good odds and a number of live-streams make this another excellent destination to bet in-play.