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Guide to
online betting

Our comprehensive guide to online betting covers everything from wagering basics to detailed winning strategies.

Our online betting guide provides all the advice you need to learn how to bet, improve your betting experience and gamble responsibly. We explain:

  • betting odds and probability
  • the different types of betting
  • the process of placing a bet
  • the different types of betting agencies
  • how to use tools to evaluate betting propositions
  • detailed betting strategies and staking plans

Before you start betting, there are some basic principles that will help you navigate the online betting landscape.

Responsible gambling

The fundamental principle to betting is to gamble responsibly. Whether you are a beginner seeking some fun, or a sports enthusiast hoping for additional income, or an advanced strategist seeking regular profits from online betting, you must be in control of your betting. There are several agencies that can assist you with responsible betting. But the best mode of preventing problem gambling is understanding how to bet sensibly, thinking rationally and recognising warning signs before problems arise.

Read more about responsible gambling.

Betting odds explained

Betting odds can be displayed in a number of different formats. In Australia, we are familiar with decimal odds. However, fractional odds and money line or American odds, are commonplace in other countries and may be used by international bookmakers. If this is too complex, an odds converter tool will display any odds in any format you desire.

Whatever format odds are displayed in, the key fundamental underpinning a bookmakers’ quote is implied probability. This is the conversion of betting odds into a percentage that indicates the likelihood of an outcome eventuating. It includes the bookmakers’ margin. Becoming familiar with implied probability will allow you to evaluate the chance of your bet succeeding in the eyes of the bookmaker.

Read on for a more detailed explanation of betting odds.

Fractional odds


Fractional odds are displayed in fractions and are commonly used throughout the United Kingdom. A price of $2.50 would be displayed as 3/2. The bet stake is not included in the fraction quote.

Money line odds


Moneyline odds are used throughout the Americas, hence they are often referred to as American odds. Odds are displayed with either a plus (+) or minus (-) sign before the number. A decimal quote of $2.50 would be displayed as +250.

A betting agency is an online betting company that fields wagering markets for consumers to place bets. You need to register with a betting agency before you can place a bet. In the United Kingdom, it is recommended to sign up with a betting site that is licensed and regulated to operate in the UK.

Types of betting agencies

Traditionally, consumers could only place bets with a bookmaker or pari-mutuel operator. These two types of agencies still dominate the online betting landscape, however, there is another type of online agency called a betting exchange.

Pari-mutuel operators

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A pari-mutuel operator doesn’t bet against a punter, rather they collate all bets from punters on the same event into a pool and divide up the winnings by the number of correct selections. Pari-mutuel operators also take a margin from each pool.

Betting exchanges


Betting exchanges allow users to bet against one another, as opposed to betting against the bookmaker. They also allow for the possibility of lay betting which is backing an outcome to lose. The largest betting exchange operator in Australia is Betfair.

How does Betfair work?

Betfair is not a bookmaker. Rather, it provides a platform for punters to bet against one another. This platform is called a betting exchange, where your bet is exchanged with other punters without the operator taking on any risk. Once you register an account and deposit funds, you can bet on the outcome of any event to win or lose.

Read on for a full explanation of how Betfair works.

It is important to understand that there are various forms of online betting, as some are based on different events and scenarios whilst others come with their own set of regulations.

Horse betting

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Sports betting is a major from of online betting that involves the creation of markets and placing of bets on sport events. There is so much to understand and so many different sports betting products that we have dedicated a whole section of our website to the subject.

Spread betting

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Spread betting originated in financial markets and involves the wagering on not just the outcome of an event, but the likely margin of that outcome. Margin betting is a simplified version of spread betting.

Fantasy betting

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Fantasy betting is a form of sports betting where users bet on the outcome of fantasy sports competitions. Fantasy competitions award points based on every statistic of a particular sporting event. To participate, you assemble and manage a team based on player rankings and sometimes using a salary cap. Fantasy betting is now offered by most online betting agencies.

This guide outlines many of the fundamentals to betting, but it is worth explaining how to get started and actually place a bet.

Placing a bet online is fairly straightforward. Doing it properly and responsibly is another matter. This graphic below provides a summary of the process involved in placing a bet.

See also our tutorial on placing a bet.

How to read a form guide

If you want to bet on the horses, and are not interested in purchasing tips from a professional punter, you need to know how to read a form guide and identify a selection.

More tips on reading a form guide.

We encourage you to take advantage of the many free tools we provide to help you track and evaluate each bet. Over time, this will hopefully help you improve your betting outcomes as you learn more about the potential risks and rewards of each bet.

Try our betting tools

Betting tracker spreadsheet

If you want to succeed at betting, you need to track what you’ve spent, won and lost. Tracking is the only way to understand if you are winning or losing, and by how much. This is vital to gambling responsibly and is often overlooked. A betting tracker spreadsheet helps you track and monitor your betting outcomes.

Bet calculators

We provide a bet calculator that calculates both the cost of bets, and also the winning returns of over 30 different bet types—every type of bet that is featured on this site. Getting into the habit of using calculators to evaluate wagers before you place bets will help you make better betting decisions.

Free bets and promotions now dominate the online betting industry. There are many types of free bets, but they broadly fit into two categories: sign up bonuses for new customers and bonus bet promotions for existing customers.

Bonus bet promotions are often conditional on wagering on a certain event or meeting set criteria. There are several regulations and restrictions on bonus bets that make the topic complex.

Read on for more explanation on free bets and how to claim them

If you want to profit from online betting long term, you need a strategic approach. A betting strategy is a formula or system that when used consistently, will provide winning outcomes. We explain the popular short and long-term strategies you can choose to follow.

Read more about betting strategies.

Staking plans

If you are planning on long term profits, you will need to come up with a staking plan. This is  a formula or system that provides guidance on how much you should wager on each bet. There are various types of staking plans including: the martingale system, fibonacci betting system, dutch staking, kelly staking, runescape staking and level staking.

Find out more about staking plans.

Kelly Criterion staking

The Kelly Criterion is a staking method that factors in the bookmakers’ odds and the probability of success.

Read on for more on the Kelly Criterion.

Martingale system

The Martingale system is a staking plan where you double your bet after each loss. There is no limit to your losses and is not a strategy that we recommend.

Read about the Martingale system in full.

Dutch staking

Dutch staking is the practice of betting on a number of selections in the same event for a fixed profit amount. The stake amounts differ according to the odds of each outcome.

Read more about dutch betting.

Arbitrage betting

Arbitrage betting involves backing every possible outcome of an event at prices that will guarantee a profit. Given that there are so many betting sites each fielding their own markets on sport events, it is possible to profit from the differences in prices between bookmakers. In most cases, arbitrage betting throws up returns of between 1% and 2%.

Read more: arbitrage betting explained.

Risks associated with arbitrage betting

There are also several risks associated with arbitrage betting. If a betting agency suspects you are a professional punter, it will closely monitor your bets and may limit or suspend your account. Time is also of the essence when it comes arbitrage betting. Prices can fluctuate, leaving you exposed.

Matched betting

Matched betting is similar to arbitrage betting, although it involves the use of bonus bets and promotions. It is possible to profit on the outcome of an event by using a bonus bet to back one team, whilst either laying that same team on a betting exchange for profit, or backing the opposing team with another betting agency. Either way, because a bonus bet is used, you are sure to come out in front on the event provided that you correctly stake the right amount on each outcome.

Read on, there’s a lot more to learn about matched betting.

Hedge betting

Hedge betting is also a derivative of arbitrage betting. It also involves backing all possible outcomes of an event to either guarantee a profit, or minimise a loss. The key difference is that arbitrage betting looks for discrepancies in bookmakers’ odds at any given time, whilst hedging normally involves backing the same or different outcomes at different times, once the odds on that event have changed. When used correctly, hedging is a great way to minimise risk and boost profits.

Read more on hedge betting.

Tips and advice

As stated in the first paragraph of this guide, the most important piece of advice we can provide is to bet responsibly and rationally. Use a betting tracker to monitor your performance and use tools to calculate your bet costs. Also, lookout for and take advantage of bookmaker bonuses and promotions. Use the internet: get data on an event, read a preview of an event, and scour betting sites for the best odds. Online betting offers great opportunities for the shrewd punter.

More tips and advice.

Australian online betting

The Australian online betting industry is distinct from the gambling industry. Online betting includes betting on sports and horse racing, whereas the gambling industry also includes casinos and poker machines (which our site does not cover).

Online betting industry

Online betting in Australia is fast moving, with new laws, market players and innovative products appearing constantly. The industry is made up of online betting agencies, including betting exchanges, and in more recent times, lotto operators, all competing to attract you as their betting customer.

The one constant in the Australian betting industry is change. In recent years, many players have come and gone, regulations have tightened and advertising restrictions are more stringent.

Gambling statistics

Australians like to bet. It has been part of our sporting landscape for a long time, in particular betting on horse racing. Recent statistics show that sports betting is one of the growth areas of the Australian gambling industry. This growth has attracted various international gaming companies to our shores in search of market share. This in turn has led to increased advertising and promotions from industry participants in order to stay competitive.

Read more about Australian gambling and sports betting statistics.

Australian laws

The online betting industry is governed by the Australian Government’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

However, much of the power and influence rests with the various state bodies. Betting operators and consumers are regulated by state legislation. Bookmakers must obtain a license from a state body in order to operate legally in Australia. Consumers are basically free to bet with any online operator, but are strongly advised to register with those licensed and regulated in Australia. Consumers face great complexity due to the various state regulatory bodies, as many have different laws for the advertising of various betting products.

Read more about Australian gambling laws.