FIFA World Cup Betting Sites for 2018

The FIFA World Cup is an international soccer competition that occurs every four years. The tournament is contested by the national teams from all qualifying countries, as well as the host nation. The World Cup has been held since 1930 and is considered the most prestigious and most watched soccer competition in the world.

Due to the tournament being canceled in 1942 and 1946 for the Second World War, there have only been twenty World Cups. Of those twenty contests, only eight countries have ever won the trophy. Brazil has been the most successful national team with five wins, followed closely by Germany and Italy with four apiece. Argentina and Uruguay each have two World Cup wins, while England, France, and Spain each have one.

This unique worldwide competition brings more than viewing entertainment every four years, though; it's also an opportunity for sports betting. When the most important soccer tournament in the world crosses paths with the hundreds-of-billions-of-dollars-per-year industry known as online sports gambling, it naturally creates a lot of excitement and wagering opportunities.

From the qualifying events to the group stages and on to the final match, the FIFA World Cup presents loads of potential winnings for the informed sports bettor. The group stages are ripe for betting against smaller nations with no chance of progressing to the round of sixteen, there are prop bets concerning which teams will escape the group stage, and of course, futures bets on which nation will hoist the cup.

The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia where it will be played across the country in twelve venues. The massive international event will begin on July 14, 2018, and will conclude one month later. The time to start doing your research and handicapping the group stage is now! In the beginning rounds, there will be many matches taking place per day, so the more preparation you've done ahead of time, the better you will be positioned to take advantage of weak odds on match day.

But before you start breaking down each team's strengths and weaknesses, there's one last thing you'll need to do. Take this time before the tournament to find a legitimate, reliable, online bookmaker and set up your account. That way, when it's time for the action to finally begin, rather than vetting sites and worrying about potential scams, you can focus exclusively on your wagers.

The Best Online Sportsbooks for Betting on the FIFA World Cup

Rank Betting SiteSign Up BonusGet Started
#1BetwayBetway100% up to €30Go site Casino
#2Spin PalaceSpin Palace100% up to €200Go site Casino
#3888sport888sport100% up to €100Go site Casino

The Criteria for Our Recommendations

For Sports BetsSafety/Reliability

The truth of the matter is that there are numerous unethical online betting operations out there that exist solely to steal your money. If you don't know which red flags to look out for, it can be easy to fall victim to their scams. Lucky for you, our experts spend countless hours vetting potential recommendations for unethical behavior and dissatisfied former customers.

We examine a gambling site's history and reputation and verify that the places that we recommend do not appear on industry blacklists. If an online sportsbook appears on this website, the company has proven that they will offer reliable, trustworthy service that ensures our readers will get the most out of their online gambling experience.

For Sports BetsBanking Options

Sites that provide a wide range of banking options are the most desirable because of the convenience they offer and the financial stability that having several payment methods available implies. Depending on where you are betting from, there may be laws against your banking institution processing transactions from gambling websites. This is the case with citizens of the United States.

By offering options such as Bitcoin and various e-wallets, people in the US are able to work around these laws and deposit money into their betting accounts. Having a variety of options is even more critical for withdrawals. The different withdrawal methods each take different lengths of time to finalize the transaction, so it's advantageous to be able to pick the banking option that's right for you.

For Sports BetsCompetitive Odds

When judging a sportsbook, one of the most important criteria you can examine is the odds being offered. Successful long-term sports betting is all about finding and exploiting weak lines that provide value to your bets. So often, the slightest difference in odds determines whether a handicapper is making money or losing it. We are looking for betting sites that offer consistently fair odds that are on par with industry standards.

For Sports BetsCustomer Service

In the event that you ever have an issue with your account or a gambling site in general, you want to give your business to operations that prioritize customer service. We look to recommend places with quality customer service teams that respond to any problems with urgency and keep our readers happy. Before signing up with a website, take the time to do a little research of your own.

First, explore the site and find the customer service section. It should be clearly labeled and easy to locate. Next, follow any links to the customer service area and verify that there are multiple methods of contacting support. There should be an email address, a phone number, and preferably an instant chat feature. Test out the phone numbers and see that they are answered. Lastly, send an email to their inbox and make a note of the response time. If you are satisfied with their responsiveness, you can move forward with opening your account with a clear mind.

For Sports BetsRegulation and Jurisdiction

Due to the confusing nature regarding the legality of gambling online, you will want to find betting sites that are licensed and regulated by trustworthy jurisdictions. A website with no gaming license or regulatory agency overseeing their activities is a risky investment of your time and money. It's possible that they will act ethically, but the risk far outweighs the reward.

There are many different jurisdictions that regulate online betting, each of which sets their own unique requirements. Regulatory bodies in places like Gibraltar, Alderney, and Antigua and Barbuda are well respected and provide consumer protections for gamblers. Conversely, Costa Rica is known to sell licenses while offering minimal oversight.

For Sports BetsSpeed of Payouts

The most common component of customer dissatisfaction you'll find online is slow payout speeds. Unethical sites will set ridiculous withdrawal limits or purposely delay processing withdrawals as part of their business model. These websites assume that by making your payouts more difficult, they can lure you into gambling more and hopefully giving your winnings back to the site.

How quickly a betting site processes payouts is an essential factor in our rankings. Unreasonable withdrawal timelines and unfair payout limits are unacceptable. It is your money, after all.

For Sports BetsRewards Programs and Bonuses

A common tactic gambling sites use to attract your attention is the use of bonuses and rewards. These gifts typically come in the form of matching your deposit funds or providing free bets in return for signing up for an account. These bonuses that are given up-front always come with many strings attached, though, so make sure you read the terms and decide if they're worth accepting.

The more valuable bonuses come in the form of loyalty rewards programs. These programs track the amount of money that you wager, and how often, and offer rewards for your patronage. The more money you tend to gamble with, the more significant the prizes.

For Sports BetsEase of Use

It's also crucial that a website is professionally designed, straightforward to navigate, and easy to use. There may be occasions when time is of the essence when you are scrambling to get your bet in before the match begins. You want a betting site that's simple to navigate so that you may get your picks in at the last moment if necessary.

Ease of use is also vital to merely avoiding frustration. Unprofessional websites with broken links or a lack of logic in their design can significantly damage customer satisfaction.

FIFA World Cup Basics

Soccer Qualifying for the World Cup

For the 2018 FIFA World Cup, 209 national teams entered the qualification process. World Cup qualifiers are played during the three years prior to the event. Each FIFA confederation is given a set amount of entries into the tournament, depending on the strength of the teams in that region.

The host nation automatically qualifies for the competition, and qualifying matches determine the other 31 entrants. The 2018 World Cup is particularly noteworthy because countries like Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States did not qualify, while Peru, Egypt, Iceland, and Panama did.

Soccer Group Stages

In December 2017, the thirty-two qualifying teams were randomly drawn into eight different groups. During the group stage of the tournament, each group is comprised of four teams. They each play every team in their group one time. Wins are worth three points, draws are worth one point, and a loss is worth nothing.

After each team has played each other, the two teams with the most points in each group advance to the next round. The other two sides are eliminated. Here are the groupings for 2018:

Group A

  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Egypt
  • Uruguay

Group B

  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Morocco
  • Iran

Group C

  • France
  • Australia
  • Peru
  • Denmark

Group D

  • Argentina
  • Iceland
  • Croatia
  • Nigeria

Group E

  • Brazil
  • Switzerland
  • Costa Rica
  • Serbia

Group F

  • Germany
  • Mexico
  • Sweden
  • South Korea

Group G

  • Belgium
  • Panama
  • Tunisia
  • England

Group H

  • Poland
  • Senegal
  • Colombia
  • Japan
Soccer Knockout Stage

Following the group stage, there are sixteen teams left. From this point of the competition until the final game, it is a single-elimination tournament. After the round of sixteen, eight teams advance to the quarter-finals. The four winners from those matchups reach the semi-finals. The last two surviving teams face off in the World Cup Final.

What makes betting on the World Cup fascinating during the knockout rounds is that there are no draws. Removing one of three possible outcomes significantly improves the odds for gamblers. If a contest is tied at the end of regulation time, the teams play two fifteen-minute-long periods of extra time. If a winner still isn't found, the teams face off in a penalty shootout which will ultimately determine a winner.

2018 FIFA World Cup Favorites

Brazil

Brazil is one of the five teams currently favored to win the entire World Cup. The South American powerhouse already has five World Cup trophies in its history, and this year appears to be another promising opportunity.

The team's most remarkable player is Neymar, one of the top three players in the entire world. If Brazil wins it all, it will undoubtedly be in large part due to his skill in attacking and scoring. The odds of Brazil winning the tournament are currently set at 9/2.

Germany

The defending World Cup winners look poised to make another run at the finals in 2018. Their triumphant 2014 campaign saw the squad earn the highest Elo rating of any national team in soccer history. If the Germans want to repeat history, they will need strong performances from Mesut Ozil and Toni Kroos, two of their veteran midfielders.

A bet on Germany to win the World Cup can currently be had for 9/2 odds.

Argentina

Argentina has made seventeen appearances in World Cup competitions and won twice. Their last triumph over the international field came in 1986. For the last several tournaments, they've been led by arguably the best player in the world, Lionel Messi. However, they have still come up short, failing to live up to lofty expectations.

If they change their fortunes this year, their captain and all-time leading goal scorer Lionel Messi will need to add to his totals. The window is closing for this talented squad, as their hero doesn't have many more international appearances left. Argentina is being given 9/1 odds to win the Cup.

France

Les Bleus have qualified once again and are one of the favorites to win their second World Cup. After losing to Italy in a finals penalty shootout in 2006, the French side was eliminated in the group stage in 2010, and the quarter-finals in 2014. This year's squad has a quality mix of talented youth and veteran leadership led by Arsenal star Alexandre Lacazette.

French teams are traditionally known for their defensive prowess, which should be the case this year as well.France is currently being offered at 6/1 odds to win it all.

Spain

Spain's national team has enjoyed immense success in the last decade of international competition. They won the European championship in 2008 and 2012, were runners-up in the 2013 Confederations Cup, and became World Cup champions in 2010. The Spanish squad won all of their qualifying matches on their journey to Russia.

Spain has a quality, veteran goalkeeper in David de Gea, a strong defense anchored by Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba, a crafty midfield including Thiago and Andres Iniesta, and Alvaro Morata up front. The odds for the European powerhouse capturing their second Cup is set at 15/2.

Tips for Betting on World Cup Soccer

TipsDisciplined Bankroll Management

As always, the most important advice for anyone betting on sports is to exercise disciplined bankroll management. This means setting aside an amount of money that you can comfortably lose and only betting with this sum.

For a more detailed explanation of bankroll management, check out the following article:

TipsBet Against Weaker Teams in the Group Stages

The group stages of the World Cup present many opportunities to bet on mismatched contests. Teams from the smaller confederations have no shot against the European and South American powerhouses and are usually just happy to be in the tournament. One approach to betting the group stages is to single out two or three squads that are hopelessly overmatched in their group, then bet them all on a parlay.

TipsResearch Historical Matchups

An interesting facet of World Cup competition is how national teams take on individual personalities that they retain for decades. Italy is known for their smothering defense, Brazil is famous for their skill and creativity with the ball, and Germany is renowned for their organization and passing. For this reason, research historical head-to-head matchups between teams when deciding on who to bet. You'd be surprised at how often history repeats itself.

TipsAnalyze Recent Performances

You will also want to study a team's recent matches. Each national team's Wikipedia includes the results from the World Cup qualifying matches. Observe the scores and notice how often they won, how high-scoring the games were, and who their best performers were. All of this information can potentially help you predict the outcome of an upcoming contest.

TipsUtilize Asian Handicap Betting

In the group stages, in particular, it is wise to use Asian handicap betting to eliminate the possibility of a draw. Teams in the World Cup tend to sit on their leads and play defensively when they get ahead since the stakes are so high. For this reason, a (-1, -1.5) split handicap can be a useful tool. Betting on underdogs getting (+1, +1.5) is a strategy that will pay off surprisingly often.

TipsDon't Chase Your Losses

It is always worth reminding our readers never to chase your losses. When a losing streak occurs, we all get the sense that we are "due" for a win and that increasing the stakes for our next bet will get us back on track and recoup our losses. This is fallacious thinking and will lead to more devastating losses more often than not.

No matter what kind of luck you're having with recent bets, always stick to your staking plan and smart bankroll management. If your research is sound and you're betting for value, the math will eventually work itself out. Don't chase your losses!

Finding Value When Betting

Understanding Implied Probability

Finding success in sports wagering requires the proper mindset. You aren't just trying to predict the winning team. Instead, you want to discover value in the odds and exploit them. In order to do this, you must first determine the implied probability based on the line. The most straightforward example of implied probability can be represented by a coin flip.

For example, let's say you are looking to bet on which side of a coin will land face up, heads or tails. Because there are only two sides of a coin, we know the actual probability of either result is 50%. The proper odds for such a wager should be -100, an even payout, since both results have an equal chance of occurring.

But what if the betting site offers a bet on heads at -200 and tails at +175? To solve for the implied probability of -200 odds, we use the following formula:

(- (-200) / ((-(-200)) + 100

200 / (200 + 100) = 200 / 300 = 0.667

0.667 X 100 = 66.67 % Implied Probability

The odds tell us that the implied probability of -200 odds means that heads should win 66.67% of the time, which we know is incorrect, as it's only a two-sided coin. This bet has a negative value and should be avoided.

To solve for tails:

100 / (175 + 100)

100 / 275= 0.36

0.36 X 100 = 36% Implied Probability

So they're telling us that these odds were set with the expectation of tails only occurring 36% of the time. With the actual probability being 50%, this bet has a positive value and should be wagered on.

Determining Value

Once you know how to calculate the implied probability based on the odds, you just need an expected likelihood to compare it to. This is where your research and handicapping comes into play. The best sports gamblers will collect immense sets of data, analyze them, and build complex models that allow them to simulate the contest thousands of times and observe the most likely outcomes.

Whatever system you use, the more accurate you become in predicting probability, the easier betting for value becomes. All you do is compare your likelihood with the implied probability. If your number is larger, that bet has value.

Types of Wagers You Will See

Soccer Moneyline

Moneyline betting is when you gamble on which side will win, without a point spread or handicap. Instead, each competitor is given odds in the form of a three-digit number. This number determines which team is favored and which is the underdog, as well as how much a winning bet on either side pays out.

For example, Brazil is a -160 favorite against rival Argentina, who can be bet at +140. The negative number goes to the favored team. This means that you must bet $160 to win 100 dollars. On the other side, the positive number represents the underdog's odds. For every $100 you bet, you will win $140.

Soccer Live Betting

Live betting is a form of gambling that is exploding in popularity. While most odds are taken off the board once competition begins, live betting allows you to place wagers while the contest is in play. As the action plays out on the pitch, the odds for the various bets adjust based on what's happening in real time. This makes for an extraordinarily interactive and immersive gambling experience that many bettors enjoy.

Soccer Prop Bets

Proposition bets are wagers that can be placed on literally anything. In the World Cup, you will see prop bets on things like "which group will the winning team come out of," "best Asian team," or "continent of the winner." There also prop bets that can be made during live betting which include things like "next player to receive a yellow card" or "next team to kick a penalty kick."

Soccer Handicap/Point Spread Betting

Perhaps you want to bet on a match between unequal competitors without having to risk an incredible amount to pick the favorite. Another option is to apply a point spread to the game. In soccer, point spreads typically range between 1.0 and 2.5 goals.

The spread is a handicap applied to the final score. So if you bet on the favored team -1.5, you subtract 1.5 goals from their final score before determining the winner. Let's say Germany is a -1.5 favorite over Peru. The final score of the game is Germany 2 - Peru 1. While Germany won this game in real life, they actually lost against the spread. They had to win by two goals or more to "cover the spread."

Soccer Totals Bets or Over/Unders

If you don't want to choose a winning side, you may also wager on how many total goals will be scored. The bookmaker sets a total at a predetermined amount, usually somewhere around 2.5. Then you decide if you believe the combined total amount of goals scored by both teams will equal a number over or under 2.5.

Soccer Futures Bets

As their name suggests, futures bets are wagers on events that will be determined in the future. For the World Cup, you can currently bet on which team will win the entire tournament, which teams will escape their group, or who the top goal scorer will be. The lines for futures bets are typically expressed in fractional odds since we are dealing with large pools of potential winners.

In Conclusion

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup quickly approaching, sports bettors everywhere will be given the opportunity to gamble on the most prestigious and most viewed soccer tournament in the entire world. This event only comes around once every four years and includes the top talents from around the globe, making it much more special than your average competition.

Online bookmakers are already setting the odds that each team has of winning it all and making them available via futures bets. As the tournament progresses, each individual matchup will provide additional gambling opportunities, including live betting. The trick to enjoying your betting experience is finding the right betting site. You want a sportsbook that is safe, reliable, and offers a wide range of odds for you to consider.

Despite the significance of the event, betting on the World Cup follows many of the same guidelines as betting on any sporting event. Most importantly, the name of the game is still all about finding value. If the implied probability is less than what you've handicapped, that bet holds positive value. Once you've got that mindset, you just have to focus on maintaining your bankroll in a disciplined way and researching the contests you plan to gamble on.

When this tournament begins in June, thirty-two teams will face off on behalf of their respective countries while over half of the world's population tunes in and cheers them on. When it's all said and done, will one of the same eight countries that always wins hold the trophy once again? Only time will tell, but that doesn't mean we can't start handicapping the games and placing some futures bets while we wait!