How to Bet on Bowls

Top Tips

What You Need to Know

  1. Away from the grassroots games, bowls is a thriving professional sport and perfect for having a bet on
  2. The best place to bet on bowls is online. 
  3. The World Indoor Bowls Championship and the BUPA Open are the best tournaments to be on as bookies offer more betting markets
  4. Outright Winner bets are easy to make, though relatively few punters like to bet on an overall winner before a tournament has even started
  5. Match Winner bets and Winning Margin bets usually offer the longest odds and many online bookmakers will even give you the chance to bet in-play
  6. Betting on individual players will almost always offer better odds that betting on international team matches as the latter are dominated by a few countries
  7. Be sure to bet responsibly at all times and never gamble with money you can't afford to lose

Betting on Bowls

Bowls may not seem the most obvious sports to bet on, but it's more than possible to have a flutter. Away from the strong grassroots level, bowls has a thriving professional level, with big-name stars battling it out for big money. Events such as the World Indoor Bowls Championship or BUPA Open are watched by large TV audiences and bookmakers have been steadily waking up to the sport's popularity, meaning more betting markets to choose from.

Where to Bet

If you are serious about betting on bowls, then you need to go online and open a sports betting account. A good number of online bookies now offer odds of most major bowls events, with betting markets particularly appealing before and during major tournaments. It's a good idea to open more than one account as this way you can shop around, compare the odds and hopefully win more money.

Understanding the Odds

Before you put down any money, it's a good idea to be sure that you know how the odds work. The odds (also known as the price) indicate how the bookmakers think an event will happen. They also determine how much you will win if your prediction is correct. Most UK sports betting sites show the odds expressed as fractions, though in some cases, they could be expressed as decimal points. Here's what each of these mean:

1) Fractional Odds

The default setting for displaying the odds on most UK betting sites will be as fractions. Here you will be shown you how much you will win on a bet compared to how much you put on. The first number of the fraction indicates how much you will win if you place the amount of money shown in the second number of the fraction.

So, if the odds for Player A winning a particular match are 5/1, this means if you bet £1, you will receive £5 in winnings (and you will get your original stake back on top of this). This works on a ratio basis. So, if you are extra confident and place £10 at the same odds, you will receive £50 in winnings. Or, if you place £100 at odds of 5/1, your winnings will be £500, plus your initial stake.

2) Decimal Odds

Since the majority of sports fans are used to seeing odds displayed as fractions, getting your head around decimal odds may seem daunting. But, don't worry!

This system is equally straightforward once you've got the hang of it.

The way it works is that you just need to multiply your stake by the decimal shown and this is how much you will receive in winnings, including your returned stake.

So, if you put £1 down on odds of 3.00, you will win £3.00, including your initial stake, if your prediction comes true. And again, this works on a ratio basis. So, if you put down £15 at the same odds of 3.00, you will win £45, including your original stake.

Popular Types of Bet

1) Outright Winner

One of the easiest bets to make on bowls is to put money on the one player you think will win a tournament, whether it's a major event such as the World Indoor Championships or the Bupa Open or something much smaller.

Unlike many sports, for instance with football where bookies take lots of bets on possible Premier League winners before a ball has even been kicked in a new season, this type of bet is not that common in bowls. Most competitions will have a field up around 32 to 48 competitors, most of whom are capable of beating one another on any given day. This means that it's very difficult to predict a winner before a tournament has even started. Far better to wait until a few games have been played to see who's on form and how the draw is likely to pan out.

Outright Winner bets are very easy to make. The bookie will simply post a list of players and the odds of them winning. All you need to do is put money on the player you think will win and if you're right, you will cash out at the odds quoted.

For example, say you fancy Mervyn King to win the World Indoor Bowls Championship. Given his pedigree, the bookies might give you odds of 3/1 on this happening. If you back him with £10 at these odds and he wins, you walk away with £40, including your original stake. If he loses, however, then you lose your money.

If you're not too confident in backing a single player to win, look out for 'each-way' bets. Here, you can back a player to finish in the top two or three places, usually at half odds. For example, rather than backing Mervyn King to win at 3/1, you could bet on him 'each-way' at 3/2. This way, even if he comes second, you will still win some money.

2) Match Winner

Just like an Outright Winner bet, this is very simple, but much more popular. All you need to do is bet on a player winning a single match. This will always be a two-way bet, since tied games are not possible; all matches are decided through a play-off.

Before each match, the bookies should offer odds on both players. All you need to do, then is back one or the other at the odds given. It doesn't matter if they then win in straight sets or just squeeze through by the finest of margins, so long as they come out on top, your bet is a winner.

Again, it's far from uncommon to see lesser-fancied players win single matches, so lookout for long odds, especially in matches that are best of three sets as this gives the underdog a better chance of winning.

3) Winning Margin

In matches played over the best of three sets, there really is no such thing as a strong favourite and clear underdog, and lesser-ranked players often come out on top. Given this, the odds offered for straight-up Outright Winner bets are often relatively unattractive.

One way of lengthening the odds and so boosting your potential winnings is to bet on the Winning Margin. Here you just put money on by how much you think the victor will win the match by, whether it's in straight sets or in three sets. Most bookies will offer Winning Margin bets, especially during major tournaments, and you may also be able to bet on Winning Margins within individual sets, for example by putting money on how many ends a player will win a set by.

4) Other Popular Bets

During major tournaments such as the World Indoor Championships, online bookmakers in particular may offer an impressive range of betting markets, and they may even give you the chance to bet in-play, meaning you can have a flutter as the action unfolds. Some of the bets you may be able to make include:

  • First End Winner: All you need to do is put money on one player to win the first end. It doesn't matter if they then go on to win or lose the set or match, so long as they draw first blood, your bet is good.
  • Next End Winner: An exciting bet to make in-play, just predict who will win the next end and if you're right, you will win at the odds given.
  • Match-Ups: Before a tournament starts, a bookie may offer the chance to bet on one player performing better than another. It doesn't matter how far the player you back goes, so long as they do better than the player that they are matched with, your bet will be a winner.

Hints and Tips for Betting on Bowls

There is no such thing as free money, whether it's in bowls or betting on any other sport. However, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of taking money off the bookmaker. For example, you should:

  • Consider the draw: Just like in many tennis tournaments, for major bowls events, you should be able to work out who a player is likely to face if they progress. You can then use this information to make a more accurate assessment of their overall chances.
  • Consider the number of sets: Most bowls matches are now played over the best of three sets. This makes victory for the underdog more likely. Some matches, however, are played over five sets and long matches favour the better player.
  • Steer clear of international bowls: In international bowls, a handful of countries, including England and Scotland, have always dominated. This means you will rarely get attractive odds, so it's often better to stick to putting money on individuals rather than national teams.

A Note on Betting Responsibly

Betting on bowls can be great fun and can also be a good way of making a little bit of money from the sport. Like all types of sports gambling, however, it can become addictive, so it's important to remain responsible at all times. Steer clear of betting while under the influence of alcohol or in an attempt to make up your losses as this will only impair your judgement. Also, never bet with any money you genuinely can't afford to lose.

Important Information on Gambling

You must be 18+ to gamble and use the offers and betting odds featured

Every new gambling account offer has "Terms & Conditions" that will apply - make sure you read these before opening an account.

See for help and advice on problem gambling.

Please gamble responsibly.


Further Sports Betting Reading

Bowls is just one of many sports you can make money on through savvy betting. If you're new to sports betting, check out our range of introductory guides before you get started:

Further Bowls Betting Reading

  • To find out more about the game of bowls and to learn all the latest news, check out the website of the English Indoor Bowling Association:
  • For the latest news from major tournaments in the UK and elsewhere, visit the BBC Sport website:

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