16 Mar

How to Bet on Soccer (European Football)

The Beginner’s Directive to Betting on Soccer Games & European Football

The Beginner's Directive to Betting on Soccer Games & European Football

With the recent legalization of spots betting in Indiana, residents of the state are now welcome to wager on their favorite pro and college level sporting events. One of the most wagered-upon sports the whole world over is football – or as we Americans call it, soccer. It is the most widely played sport on the planet, with 226 countries hosting teams. Among all of them, only 35 countries (including the U.S.A.) don’t rank soccer as their #1 fan-favorite sport. While it may not match the popularity of American football, baseball, or basketball, soccer is still in the top 5 in the United States, and one of the absolute easiest sports to win bets on.

I’m beyond confident that there are thousands of fans right here who are ecstatic that they can now legally bet on soccer in Indiana. This guide was specifically created to address the needs of those fans. The following directive will teach you everything you need to know about soccer betting, from single-game and multi-game wagers, to MLS and Premier League futures (bets on future championship cup winners). 

Before we go any further, I ask all first-time sports bettors who are reading this to please take a moment to review the following linked materials. They’ll help you learn to read US moneyline odds, and become familiar with some of the associated sportsbook lingo found in this document.

What Indiana Law Says About  Betting on Soccer Games

While it’s true that Indiana has passed laws legalizing sports wagering in The Hoosier State, there are certain restrictions you need to be aware of. For starters, only sportsbooks authorized and licensed by the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) to facilitate sports wagers are legal. These include both land-based and online sportsbooks of Indiana. Of course, you must be of legal age to gamble, and physically located within the state to use these facilities, websites, and mobile apps. Furthermore, the Criminal Code addresses restrictions within the legalities of different classifications in sporting events, including professional, collegiate, and youth sports.

Is it legal in Indiana to bet on…?
Professional Soccer (EPL, MLS, La Liga, etc.)
College Soccer (NCAA)
Yes, with limitations…
Youth Soccer (under 18)

Professional Soccer: Indiana state law permits wagering on all professional grade soccer leagues, and there are plenty of them to choose from. As previously stated, more than 220 countries host their own league, on top of the world’s largest Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, EFL, UEFA, Champions League, MSL and more.

College Soccer: Hoosiers are also welcome to bet on collegiate soccer games. The NCAA men’s soccer tournament is a major nationwide event, and one the IUMS Hoosiers are particularly well versed in. However, college sports betting has some restrictions. Wagering is only permitted on NCAA Division I athletics. Anything less (NCAA Division II and III, NAIA, NJCAA, etc.) is prohibited. Also, live betting on individual college player props is outlawed. [Learn more about the legal limitations of betting on college sports in Indiana.]

Youth Soccer: Indiana defines youth sports as any athletic competition in which some or all participants are minors (under the age of 18). Betting on youth sports is strictly prohibited.

Single Game Soccer Betting

As the name implies, single-game betting refers to placing one bet on the outcome of one game. These bets are settled, win or lose, the moment the final buzzer sounds. They are very straight forward, with strict rules in place to prevent any discrepancies.

There are various ways to place a single-game soccer bet. To give you a clear view of all your options, we’ve designed this sample line chart. It shows the same odds info you would expect to find at an online sportsbook. To the left are the names of the competing teams. To the right are your single-game wagering options and corresponding odds.

EPL Match Up
Goal Line
Leeds United
2.5 (-104) O
2.5 (-121) U

Looking at the lines above, we see the betting options on an English Premier League match-up between Leeds United and Fulham. The three columns on the right depict all the possible ways to place a bet on this game.

  1. Moneyline (Bet to Win)
  2. Tie
  3. Goal Line (Totals O/U)

Moneyline – Straight Bet to Win

Moneyline is the name given to ‘straight bets’, or ‘win bets’, by American sports bettors and bookies. To bet the moneyline is to pick the team you think will win, and place a wager on it. If you’re right, you win the bet. If not, you lose.

The problem with these types of soccer bets is that there is a third option – the Tie bet. You can read more about ties bets below. The point is, based on the moneyline odds, inexperienced bettors might think this an opportunity for arbitrage betting, or at least an accidental listing on the bookmaker’s part. In most sports, one team is listed with positive odds (the underdog), and the other with negative odds (the favorite). Because soccer games can (and often do) end in ties, bookies are able to post positive odds on both ends of what they predict to be a close match.

EPL Match Up
Leeds United

In our example, we see Leeds United is being given odds of +188, meaning a $100 bet will pay out $188 if Leeds wins. Despite also having a positive line, Fulham is the favorite here, given odds of +148, wherein a winning bet of $100 pays $148. Again, do not make the mistake of betting both sides of this match, thinking you’re guaranteed a profit. If it ends in a tie, you lose both bets. Which brings us to…

Tie Betting in Soccer

Beginner sports bettors who aren’t fans of soccer tend to have the worst time betting soccer lines because they don’t understand how different the rules are from more popular American sports, like football, baseball, and basketball. In those sports, when a game ends in a tie, it moves into overtime, or extra innings. A tie is only accepted in certain situations, and only after the tie continues following extended play. In soccer, all regular season games end after regulation (90 minutes), no matter what the final score is. This is because postseason eligibility isn’t decided by the number of wins and losses a team has, but rather the number of playoff points they earn throughout the regular season. A win is worth 3 points, a tie is worth 1, and a loss is 0. Thus, ties are perfectly acceptable outcomes. Statistically speaking, a tie occurs 14-20% of the time, depending on the league.

EPL Match Up
Leeds United

In this example, we see the bookie has set the lines for a tie between Leeds U and Fulham at +240.  Thus, it’s not considered a likely outcomecertainly less likely then Leeds or Fulham winning—paying out a generous $240 for a $100 bet if it happens.

Goal Line – Over/Under Totals

The goal line differs in soccer when compared to most other sports. It’s not like a puck line in hockey, or run line in baseball, both of which revolve around specialized spread betting. In soccer, the final score in a typical game is so low that there are no point spreads. Instead, a goal line bet refers to the total combined score of both teams at the end of regulation. The sportsbook predicts the final score, usually with a half-point tacked on to prevent tie wagers. Punters are given the option to bet on whether the actual total score will be “Over” or “Under” the predicted goal line total.

Match Up
Goal Line
Leeds United
2.5 (-104) O
2.5 (-121) U

Our example shows a goal line of 2.5 total points. If you believe the total combined score will be 2 points or less, you would bet the Under (U). Because the negative line on this bet is lower (-121), we can safely assume the oddsmakers also believe this is the more probable outcome. Betting $121 on the Under Goal Line only pays out $100. If, on the other hand, you believe the game will end with a total of 3 or more points, a $104 bet on the Over Goal Line is worth $100 payout.

It’s worth noting that sportsbooks don’t always post lines based on the probability of one outcome or another. Oddsmakers set the opening lines based on this data, but if the lines begin shifting, it’s rarely because the bookie had a change of heart. There are a couple of reasons the lines might shift. The most common is when the majority of bettors are putting their money on one side. When this happens, bookies shift the lines to encourage betting in the other direction. It can also occur when sharps are betting more to one side. You can learn more about both of these situations, and why they matter, here:

Multi-Game Soccer Bets

A multi-game bet is a single wager on the outcomes of multiple games. Maybe there are half a dozen games playing today, and you’re sure you know who will win three of them. You could place individual bets on all of these games, or you could place a single, multi-game wager, known as a Parlay, on all three outcomes. There are pros and cons to this form of betting. On the pro side, you can strike a very large payout if you’re right. The con is that every pick you make has to be correct in order to win anything, making these are far riskier bets.

In soccer, due to the low-scoring nature of the games, parlay teasers and pleasers are not an option. Only standard parlays are available. You can also place parlay-style combination bets called Round Robins, which are a systematic style of betting. We cover this more below.

Parlay Betting / Accumulators

To make a parlay bet, you’ll start by going through the same motions as you would to place individual game bets. For example, at an online sportsbooks, you can browse all the available lines, clicking the ones you’re interested in. Each line you choose is added to your bet slip. When you’re done making selections, look to the top of the bet slip where you should see a choice between Single or Parlay betting. Tap on the Parlay option, and all the odds for each pick are combined into one. Next, enter the amount you wish to wager on your picks. The bottom of the slip will now tell you how much you stand to win if all of your picks are correct. This amount is based on two factors – the original lines posted for each selection, and the number of total selections made.

For example, let’s say you’ve chosen a 3-leg parlay with odds of -121, +100, and +143. When you choose the Parlay bet option, the odds are recalculated to +789. You choose to wager $100, which will deliver a potential profit of $789 for a win. The mathematics behind it can get pretty complicated, which is why it’s always a good idea to test out different parlay combinations on a bet slip. Just don’t get caught up in the high payouts, and lose sight of what’s most important – making smart decisions.

It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to place all of your bets on the same type of sports. You can combine all different types on a single parlay bet – soccer, baseball, basketball, whatever is available at the time. Just be careful to bet what you know. The sports you follow the closest are the ones you’ll be able to make the smartest decisions with, and when it comes to parlays, believe me, guessing is a terrible idea!

In the same token, there are certain restrictions to parlay betting. Most notably, you cannot make two picks within the same game. For example, you can bet on Fulham to beat Leeds U, or you can bet the Goal Line will be over 2.5 in the Fulham/Leeds U match, but you cannot bet on the winner and the goal line in this match.

Round Robin Parlays

Round Robin is a term that refers to a systematic way of placing parlay bets with reduced risk, and as a direct consequence, reduced payouts. They are popular options for those who aren’t as confident as they’d like to be in all of their selections. While we strongly discourage any parlay bet without extreme confidence, you’ll find the Round Robin option on your bet slip next to Single and Parlay, so it is, at the least, something you should understand.

A round robin creates multiple, smaller parlay bets, based on all of your combined picks. For example, if you’ve picked three outcomes – we’ll call them Pick 1, Pick 2, and Pick 3 – the Round Robin would group these into three 2-leg parlay wagers; one on Picks 1 and 2, another on Picks 2 and 3, and one more on Picks 1 and 3. The idea is that, so long as two of your picks are correct, you will win 1 of these parlays. And so long as the payout is 3x or bettor the total bet, it’s a bet worth making because the odds of winning are increased. But at the same time, the profit is substantially reduced.

The above information is only a basic introduction to parlays, round robins and system betting in general. The following links cover these topics in much greater detail. 

European Football / Soccer Futures Betting

The future of soccer can be hard to predict, but awfully fun (and potentially lucrative) to try. Betting on soccer futures means just that – choosing the team, or an individual athlete, you believe will go on to achieve great things in the upcoming season. It could be anything form the winner of the World Cup, to the season-long scoring leader for Manchester City. Every team, from every major country, is represented.

The thing you need to realize about soccer futures betting is that these wagers are only available for a limited time, and can take months to settle. If you’re looking to predict the winner of the World Cup, you must place this bet prior to the start of the regular season. The same goes for all season-long futures bets. Be careful not to be drawn in by the wildly high payouts of longshots, either. Remember, they’re called longshots for a reason.

There are many different leagues and championships to bet soccer futures on. I won’t bother listing them all here. If you’re familiar with the game, you’ll recognize them for what they are when perusing the lines on your favorite sportsbook. Below is a description of EPL and MLS future betting lines, just to give you a better idea of what you’ll be looking at.

FA Premier League Futures

The English Premier League is, quite literally, the world’s premier football league. No other league is attended en masse, or viewed on television, as much as the EPL. Unlike most American sports, all EPL teams are eligible to compete for the EFL Championship, but the annual line-up changes every year. It consists of the previous year’s top 17 teams, plus three teams promoted from The Championship.

There are four season finishing positions to bet on in the EPL futures. They include Top 10, Top 6, Top 4, and Winner. The following is a sample line, taken from BetRivers Indiana at time of writing. It is only for informational purposes, and may no longer be current.

Teams Winner Top 4 Top 6 Top 10
Manchester United +10000 -2000
Leicester City +25000 -305 -2500
Chelsea +50000 -305 -2000
Liverpool +100000 +250 -335
Tottenham +100000 +650 +125 -10000
West Ham +100000 +500 +100
Everton +250000 +2200 +300 -2500
Arsenal +400000 +2200 +300 -1430
Aston Villa +400000 +6600 +1200 -335
Wolves +650
Crystal Palace +2000
Southampton +2000
Brighton +5000
Burnley +6600
Leeds United +20000 +300

There are two things you may have noticed on this list. First, all the teams given lines in the “Winners” column are listed with what appears to be fantastic odds of +10,000 or better. Second, Manchester City does not appear anywhere on the list. It’s not by coincidence, I assure you. Manchester City is so heavily favored to win the FA Cup, most sportsbooks won’t even offer odds on them. Instead, they offer fantastic payouts to anyone willing to risk their bets on any other team. Anyone who follows soccer closely shouldn’t be surprised by this. For the record, Vegas sportsbooks that do accept Winner bets on Manchester City have their lines set at -20000, at time of writing.

MLS Futures – Supporter’s Shield & MLS Cup

Major League Soccer is a North American professional football league, consisting of 26 teams; 23 from the U.S. and 3 from Canada. On a global scale, MLS is far from the top-tier leagues, but many American soccer fans follow it.

The league is divided into two conferences, Eastern and Western. Each season, every team competes twice against every other team in its own conference – once at home and once away. Each team is randomly drawn to compete twice (home and away) against 5 teams from the opposing conference, as well (similar to the NFL). When each team has played its 17 games, the one with the best winning record is awarded the Supporter’s Shield, thus ending the regular season. From there, the playoffs ensue with the best 7 teams from each conference competing for the coveted MLS Cup.

MLS futures bettors can wager on who will win the Supporter’s Shield, which two teams will make it to the final game, and who will raise the MLS Cup.

Below is a list of all MLS teams, segmented by conferences. 

Eastern Conference
Western Conference
  • Atlanta United
  • CF Montreal
  • Chicago Fire FC
  • Columbus Crew SC
  • D.C. United
  • FC Cincinnati
  • Inter Miami CF
  • Nashville SC
  • New England Revolution
  • New York City FC
  • New York Red Bulls
  • Orlando City SC
  • Philadelphia Union
  • Toronto FC
  • Austin FC
  • Colorado Raptors
  • FC Dallas
  • Houston Dynamo FC
  • LA Galaxy
  • Los Angeles Football Club
  • Minnesota United FC
  • Portland Timbers
  • Real Salt Lake
  • San Jose Earthquakes
  • Seattle Sounders SC
  • Sporting Kansas City
  • Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Additional Sports Betting Tutorials

Interested in learning more? Check out our additional targeted sports wagering pages.

Learn How to Bet on…

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