Handicap Betting Guide

Article by Simon Young
Handicap Betting Guide
Last Updated: Apr 2nd, 2024 Share On Your Network:

Welcome to our handicap betting guide, where we explain everything you need to know about this form of betting. Our experts describe how handicap betting is a way of levelling the playing field and introduce you to different types, including football handicap betting and examples from rugby, AFL, and cricket. By the end of this piece, you will have all the information you need to place handicap bets with your chosen bookie, and we recommend three excellent betting sites to get started at right now.

Best Betting Sites for Handicap Sports Betting

We’ve tested countless bookies available to Aussies, considering their markets, betting options, banking methods, and promotions. Here are three sites that we recommend for handicap betting in Australia:

TonyBet Sportsbook – Best for Soccer Betting

Why we chose TonyBet Casino

TonyBet is a solid online book available to Aussies. Though the focus here is mainly on European sports, you will find a wide selection of soccer, cricket, and tennis markets. You can deposit instantly via multiple banking methods, and the site has mobile apps for iOS and Android. Overall, it’s a good sportsbook option.

Bonuses and Promotions

When you create an account at TonyBet you can unlock the first-deposit match, which offers 100% up to $100. You can also take advantage of the TonyBet casino promotions if you want to play slots and table games. 

Payment Methods

You can deposit and withdraw funds at TonyBet in multiple ways, choosing from Visa, Mastercard, Skrill, Neteller, payz, Jeton, AstroPay, and Bitcoin. All deposits are instant, while most withdrawals are processed in 1-3 days.

Mobile App in-depth review

TonyBet offers a native mobile app for Android and iOS, which you can download from the Google Play and Apple stores, respectively. We found the app to be intuitive and much easier to use than the computer version of TonyBet, so it’s a good idea to download the app to your smartphone for ease of use.

Sports Betting Markets

We found a host of European sports markets at TonyBet, with practically every soccer league available. You can also bet on basketball, tennis, golf, volleyball and other sports, though we would like to see more AFL markets.

Pros and Cons



  • Excellent live betting options.
  • Good selection of banking options. 
  • The app is available on iOS and Android.




  • Not the easiest site to navigate. 
  • Limited promotions for sportsbook customers. 
  • Focus mainly on European sporting markets.


William Hill – Best for Great Value Odds

Why we chose William Hill

William Hill is one of the oldest bookies in the business and has been going strong since 1934. The site is licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission and has an excellent industry reputation. We were extremely impressed by the value of the odds offered by William Hill, as well as the depth of the live betting opportunities. Ultimately, William Hill is a great choice for sports fans.

Bonuses and Promotions

William Hill’s offers change regularly, but you can access a welcome bonus when you create an account at the sportsbook, which offers $30 in free bets. You can also take advantage of daily promotions and offers to further boost your bankroll.

Payment Methods

You can deposit funds at William Hill via various methods, including Visa, Mastercard, Neteller, Skrill, ecoPayz, and bank transfer. We were slightly disappointed that some withdrawals took up to five days when we tested the William Hill sportsbook, so their payout processing could certainly be quicker.

Mobile App in-depth review

You can bet from your smartphone or tablet by downloading the William Hill mobile app, which is available on iOS and Android. We found the app to be glitch-free and easy to use, and it’s a good option if you’re planning to place sports bets on the go.

Sports Betting Markets

We were extremely impressed by the variety of sports betting markets offered at William Hill, and you can enjoy rugby, footy, soccer, golf, tennis, and practically every other sport that is popular in Australia. The live betting offering is equally as impressive, while William Hill’s odds are always among the best in the industry.

Pros and Cons



  • Wide offering of sports betting markets.
  • Regulated and licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. 
  • Long-established brand.




  • Not the fastest payouts.
  • Email support could be quicker. 
  • The bonuses and promotions aren’t the most generous. 


32Red – Best for Horse Racing Betting

Why we chose 32Red

We’re happy to recommend 32Red to Aussies mainly because of its brilliant coverage of horse racing markets. You can bet on a huge selection of races and take advantage of 32Red’s daily horse racing price boost promotions for better odds. You can also bet on a host of other sports that are popular with Aussies, making 32Red another good bookie option to consider.

Bonuses and Promotions

Although most 32Red promotions are geared towards the online casino, you can utilise the daily horse racing price boost promotion to get the very best odds when betting on the biggest races.

Bonuses and Promotions

Although most 32Red promotions are geared towards the online casino, you can utilise the daily horse racing price boost promotion to get the very best odds when betting on the biggest races.

Payment Methods

You can deposit and withdraw at 32Red via debit card and numerous e-wallets, but direct bank transfers aren’t currently supported. When we tested 32Red, most payouts were processed in 1-2 days. 

Mobile App in-depth review

32Red’s sports betting app is excellent and available on iOS and Android. The live betting options on the mobile app are impressive, making it easy to bet as you watch your favourite sports.

Sports Betting Markets

You won’t be disappointed by the offering of sports betting markets at 32Red, with practically every sport you can think of available. Though we would like to see more AFL markets, rugby and sports like soccer, tennis, and golf are well represented.

Pros and Cons



  • Brilliant range of betting markets, particularly horse racing.
  • Daily horse racing price boost promotions.
  • Excellent sports betting cash-out options.




  • Casino-focused betting offers and promotions.
  • No cryptocurrency deposits. 
  • Bank transfer deposits are not supported. 

What is Handicap Betting?

Handicap betting is where the bookie allocates a points margin (a handicap) to the favourite team to level the playing field when they compete against the underdog. Equally, the underdog in the fixture is given a points or goals head start, and as long as they don’t lose by more than the allocated head start, you can still win your bet. As a result, you can get better odds when you bet on the favourite, and you have a safety net when betting on the underdog. This is why handicap betting is so popular among sports bettors. Let’s take a closer look at how it works in practice. 

How does Handicap Betting Work?

The first step in handicap betting is the allocation of the favourite and the underdog. The favourite is the team or person the sportsbook believes will win, while the underdog is the team or person most likely to lose. Depending on how heavily favoured one team is, the sportsbook will then decide where to set the line. In other words, they will decide how many goals or points to handicap the favourites. This might be one or two goals in soccer, but it’s different in every sport, as we explain shortly. With the favourite, underdog, and margin set, the sportsbook will then apply the odds to each selection, and the handicap bet is ready for punters. 

How are Handicap Lines Calculated?

The bookie considers several factors when calculating the handicap line. Perhaps most importantly, the bookmaker will consider the gap in the odds on the moneyline bet, and the larger the gap, the bigger the spread is likely to be. The bookie will also consider home advantage, recent form and injuries, as well as past performance when setting the line for the handicap. Be mindful that the handicap won’t be the same for every fixture, so you should always research and determine whether the odds and line you’re offered represent good value for money.

How a Handicap Bet Works in Different Sports

Now that we’ve explained how handicap betting works let’s take a look at some specific examples from popular Aussie sports:

Handicap Betting Football

Football handicap betting (or soccer handicap betting) is extremely popular, particularly in Europe. Soccer is a low-scoring game compared to rugby and Aussie rules, so the handicap is usually much lower. Let’s take a look at an example from the EPL to see how this might work:

Manchester City (-2.5) vs. Bournemouth (+2.5)

In this example, EPL big guns Manchester City are the clear favourites. As such, the sportsbook has set the handicap at 2.5 goals. Therefore, if you think City will beat Bournemouth, they must win by at least three goals. However, if you want to bet on Bournemouth, you will still win your bet if they don’t lose by more than two goals.

Handicap Betting Rugby

Handicap betting in rugby is pretty much the same as in soccer, but the main difference is that the points margin is likely to be higher, given that more points are awarded in rugby than goals scored in soccer. Let’s take a look at an NRL example to see how this works: 

Panthers (-13.5) vs. Bulldogs (+13.5) 

As the Panthers are the obvious favourites to beat the Bulldogs in this NRL clash, the sportsbook has set the line at 13.5. Therefore, the Panthers will need to win by at least 14 points for your bet to win, while if the Bulldogs keep the margin of defeat to 13 points or less, you will win your bet.

Australian Rules Football Handicap

Again, there’s not a great deal of difference between football, rugby, and AFL handicap betting. However, be mindful that most sportsbooks set the handicap line for total points scored, not merely for goals or behinds. Here’s an AFL example to see how it works in practice: 

Brisbane Lions (-19.5) vs. Hawthorn (+19.5) 

Here, you can see that Hawthorn have a 19.5-point head start in their match against the Lions. If they manage to lose by 19 points or less, your bet on them will win. However, if you fancy the Lions, they will need to win by at least 20 points in this example.

Cricket Handicap Betting

Cricket handicap betting is a little more complex, as the format of the match depends on the handicap offered by the sportsbook. To make things easy, let’s use an example from the Big Bash League to show how cricket handicap betting works: 

Perth Scorchers (-10.5) vs. Hobart Hurricanes (+10.5)

Often, Big Bash League matches go down to the wire, which is why this format of cricket is so exciting. But in this example, the bookie thinks there are eleven runs between the Scorchers and the Hurricanes. So, assuming that the Scorchers set the Hurricanes a target of 174 and the Hurricanes post 159-8 in response, a bet on the Scorchers would win, as the margin of victory is more than eleven runs.

Different Handicap Betting Markets

As you now know, handicap betting is fairly easy to get your head around. However, there are a few different types of handicap bets that you need to be aware of, which we explain below.

Handicap Betting

Standard handicap betting is where the favourite is given a specific points or goals handicap that they need to overcome to win the game, while the underdog begins with a head start. Full points are used in standard handicap betting, and if the game ends in a tie, the stake is returned.

3-way Handicap Betting

In a 3-way handicap bet, you can bet on the win, loss, or tie. However, the key thing to remember is that you’re betting on the margin of victory and not a literal tie, which is where some bettors get confused. 3-way handicap bets are popular in soccer, where ties are much more common than in sports like rugby and footy.

No-draw Handicap Betting

No-draw handicap bets remove the possibility of a draw or tie by adding half points, as illustrated in the examples above. This is because you can’t score half points in these sports, and one of the teams will always win the handicap bet.

Asian Handicap Betting

Asian handicap betting is a variation of no-draw handicap betting. However, they also introduce the possibility of split handicaps, which can be made up of half or even quarter numbers. For instance, a split Asian handicap divides your initial stake across two handicaps. Assuming you pick Brentford to win at +1 and +1.5 against Tottenham Hotspur. If the game ends 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur, half your stake (+1) will be returned, as the game actually ended 2-2 with the handicap considered. The other half of your stake (+1.5) will be given as a win, as the game actually finished 2-2.5 in favour of Brentford. 

Final Thoughts: What is handicap betting?

Handicap betting is a great way to level the playing field when one team is the clear favourite over another. It’s extremely popular among Aussie bettors looking for the best value odds and is a fun way to mix things up on your betting slip. Now that you know how handicap betting works, sign up for one of our recommended bookies and place rugby, AFL, and football handicap bets throughout the season.

Recommended for you