What Is Live Betting?

In-play and live betting is gaining popularity at a soaring rate and has unquestionably become the future of sports betting. At the East Coast Gaming Congress held in Atlantic City this past June, many industry experts noted the absolute necessity of developing and making available in-play betting, which is sometimes called real-time or live betting, options to the consumer on the legal sports betting market. Traditional wagering options previously limited a bettor to choosing from standard pregame point spreads, moneylines, totals, and prop bets, but recent technological advancements in betting platforms are providing players with an entirely new wagering experience that is sure to intrigue players from professional gamblers to average fans.

It’s easy to see why the popularity of live betting has grown so rapidly. Why limit your wagers to a pre-game evaluation and a three-hour roll of the dice when you can place multiple wagers throughout the course of a contest? Don’t want to wait the full length of a contest, or a string of teaser bets, to get the outcome of your play? Now you can make several plays on short-term outcomes (quarter, half, period, inning, etc.) and submit bets as the action unfolds. This is an entertaining alternative to traditional pre-game betting because it continuously allows the bettor to react, evaluate, and predict what will happen next as the game unfolds, thus creating the potential for a steady stream of action and an enhanced viewing experience.

Currently, most apps will allow players to make in-play wagers on updated point spreads, totals, and moneylines. These odds fluctuate after every single play. For instance, let’s say the Eagles are a five-point favorite prior to kickoff in the season opener against the Falcons. On the first play from scrimmage, Matt Ryan finds Julio Jones for a 30 yard hookup out to midfield. Even though Atlanta hasn’t scored, the live point-spread is going to adjust, probably making the Eagles a 4 or 4.5-point favorite. If on the next play Ryan takes a 12-yard loss on a sack, the line will almost certainly go back up in the Eagles’ favor. The same principle applies in other major sports as well. In hockey, a score, or a power play opportunity will shift live lines. In baseball, the outcome of an at-bat, or even a ball or strike can move live odds. In basketball, score changes and changes of possession generate continuous line movement. As I mentioned above, these types of odds are also available for more immediate outcomes like quarters, periods, innings, halves, and so on.

While more traditional sports betting sites might limit live betting options to point spreads, adjusted point spreads, and totals with the aforementioned more immediate outcomes, some applications are offering more unique and diversified wagers with an almost immediate outcomes.

A 61-60 basketball game might allow for a bettor to wager on which team will reach 70 points first. Say you’re watching the game and think you have a feel for its flow. You just know the trailing team is about to go on a big run. You’ve watched sports your entire life, you know the game, and you can feel that shit is about to go down, so you HAMMER it. Maybe you’re watching a baseball game and you know that a team is absolutely going to score at the start of an inning—you can bet on it. In football, you can bet on outcomes such as the next type of score, or which team will score next. However, more advanced and ambitious platforms are offering bettors the ability to wager on the immediate outcomes of individual plays. Will this next play result in a run or pass? Will it result in a first down? Will this drive result in points? Similarly, these types of bets are available in other major sports, depending upon the application. It is unknown at this point which of these options will be available in the initial roll out of live betting apps by local casinos, something that will kickoff when New Jersey sports betting sites go live this summer.

So how much can you wager on in-play bets? On the offshore market, betting limits are determined by individual bookies. I’ve seen in-play players capped at $50 bets simply because the bookie wants to limit his risk/exposure. I’ve also seen some at $300 per play, but never more than that. How the legal market handles this is yet to be determined. In general, I would be stunned if local casinos allowed for greater than $500 per play on live bets, but that remains to be seen.

There is one potential concern when it comes to live betting: Just as it’s easy to lose your shit over a bad break or play turning your standard wager would be winner into a dud that can get you off course and into chase mode, there’s great potential to get yourself into trouble with live betting. A bad fumble spoils your “team to score next” bet, so you come back with the very next option available on your screen. Whereas before you may have had a gut feeling or solid rationale driving your wager, now you’re simply chasing. Imagine having a few beers and unsuccessfully wagering on five or six in-play bets over a 20 minute stretch. You can find yourself down big time money betting on specific plays and outcomes that might not have any impact on the game. Therefore, like you should in any betting situation, wager amounts shouldn’t have wild deviations, and a player should know going in what they can/are willing to risk on a given in-play venture so you don’t walk away down a grand because you just REALLY thought someone was going to kick a field goal at some point.

The other issue is that it is easy to panic and overreact to what you see when making live bets just as it’s easy to overreact as a fan following his/her favorite team. Think about the type of money you would have put on the Eagles after the Duce Staley touchdown against the Bucs in the 2002 NFC Championship Game.


It’s easy to overreact to momentum in a contest, and while momentum matters at times, it can be easily broken. Let’s say midway through the first quarter of a football game that you place a bet for the game total to be over 38.5. Early in the second quarter, an untimely turnover kills a drive and the game remains scoreless. The betting lines update the game total to 35.5, you emotionally react off the play, and now try to protect yourself by taking the under. Two plays later a running back breaks through the whole and 70 yards later he’s into the end zone and the ensuing kickoff is returned for a touchdown. Just like that, the bet looks better. Two hours later, the final score is 23-20 and you cost yourself a win because you overreacted, or worse, the final score is 20-17, and now you’ve lost both bets. This is can happen. Let me assure you.

Here are several of the most popular live betting options of the four major American sports:


Live football betting

Full-game point spreads

First and second half point spreads

Point spreads by quarter

Full-game totals

Game totals by half

Totals by quarter

Team totals for quarter, half, game

Full-game moneyline bets

Moneyline by half

Moneyline by quarter

Which team will score next?

What type of score will happen next?

Will this play be a run or pass?

Will there be a first down on this drive?

Will this play result in X amount of yards?

Will there be overtime?


Live baseball betting

Game totals

Inning totals

Will there a run scored in X inning?

Which team will win X inning?

Team to score next?

Game moneylines

Team totals

Alternative run lines

What will be the result of this at-bat?

Will there be extra innings?

Will there be an odd/even amount of runs scored?


Live basketball betting

Game point spread

Half point spread

Quarter point spread

Game moneyline

Half moneyline

Quarter moneyline

Game totals

Half totals

Quarter totals

Individual team totals by quarter, half, game

Which team will win the race to X points?

Will there be an odd/even amount of points scored (quarter, half, game?)

Will the game go to overtime?


Live hockey betting

Game moneyline

Period moneyline

Game totals

Period totals

Alternative puck-line bets

Which team will score next?

Which team will commit the next penalty?

Team totals

Will there be overtime?


It’s also worth noting that while this is a fairly comprehensive list of the standard live betting options, some books may not offer all of these specific options. Additionally, while others will undoubtedly offer new and other intriguing options for players in their initial app rollouts, new and creative ways to bet live will be made available as technology evolves. Sportsbooks will partner with leagues to get access to unique data, which, of course, can be wagered upon. The possibilities are limitless, and so long as there’s a market, there’s a bet to be made. So you can, ahem, bet that live betting will change the way you watch sports.

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