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What differences are there in UK vs US Sports Betting?

When it comes to sports betting, the two biggest betting markets are the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Both of these places are infamous for having the most gambling action, however there are quite a few key differences one should know, especially if you are an American about to sign up for a UK sportsbook, or vice versa.

Sports Popularity:

A big difference between the UK sports betters and the US punters has to do with the popularity of sports. In the United Kingdom, soccer or football is obviously the most dominant sport, and you will see a lot of special promotions ran by UK marketed sportsbooks directed towards the English Premier League, World Cup and any other soccer competition. Tennis, horse racing and even darts are also a lot bigger in the UK, with almost no market for the likes of darts in the US.

In the United States of America however, the most popular sports are baseball, basketball and football. These are obviously a lot different than the UK sports – for example the traditional soccer game has a set end time, while American sports usually feature the strong possibility of overtime periods, and you can often see American sports extend an hour past their usual end time.

Most US Sportsbooks will focus on special promotions for baseball, basketball, NFL football and NHL Hockey.


This is a major difference in the UK, compared to the US. In America you have the moneyline system where the favourite and underdog are given odds to win. The odds and favourites or underdogs are given via plus signs and negative signs. So for example, if the New England Patriots were playing the Indianapolis Colts, and the Patriots were slight favourites, their odds might be -130. This means that if you bet $130, you will win $100. If the Colts were +120, then that means that for a bet of $100, you would win $120.

In the UK, the most common betting odds system these days is the decimal. The decimal betting odds system is a lot easier to calculate your return, as it’s your winnings including your stake. All you have to do is multiple your stake by the decimal price given, for example $100 x 1.90 would see a return of $190, which includes your initial stake of $100 – so $90 winnings.

One major factor in American sports is handicaps, or point spreads. Along with the money lines, where you bet on who will win, the more popular form if betting is based on point spreads. Using the aforementioned Patriots vs Colts game where the Patriots were slight favourites, the sportsbook might then give the Colts a 2 point handicap. This would mean you are betting either the Patriots -2 or the Colts +2.

What that essentially means is that the Colts will start the game at 2-0. So if the final score in the actual game is 47-46 to the Patriots, and you bet the Colts +2, then with the handicap the score would actually be 48-47 to the Colts, so the Colts would win the game.

Point Spread Betting is the most popular form of sports betting in the US, and is starting to make it’s way into the UK, in the form of handicaps or asian handicaps. If Manchester United are playing West Ham United, and the odds of 1.10 for Man Utd to win don’t appeal to you($100 to win $10), then you could bet on a handicap. The handicap could be Manchester United -1.5. That means you are betting that Manchester United will win the game by at least two goals. Anything less and you lose the bet.

It’s pretty simple: if you bet a lot on American sports like NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB, then there are sportsbooks for you that are a LOT better than their UK counterparts. That’s because these sportsbooks offer a lot of different promotions, better lines and so forth than the UK sportsbooks which just use standardized lines. And vice versa for the UK.

If you are wanting to bet American sports, then the three best sportsbooks to bet at are

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, 5Dimes and

We recommend having money in all three, as all three sportsbooks will have different odds on most games, and you should always be taking the best lines or odds. It may not seem like a big deal, but sometimes betting Lakers +8.5 at

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compared to Lakers +7.5 at 5Dimes can be the difference between a winning night and a losing night.

For the UK punters, there is a big difference in the sportsbooks online compared to offline. Online some sportsbooks that don’t have a major presence in the UK will actually have a much larger presence online, and run a lot better promotions.

For UK sportsbooks, we highly recommend the following three: Paddy Power, Bet365 and Stan James.

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