How VAR Has Affected In-Play Betting – Betting Guide

In recent times, in-play betting has been growing in popularity, allowing punters to follow along with the game and get involved with real-time decisions. But with the introduction of VAR to all major soccer leagues and tournaments, in-play betting has been impacted. But to what extent, and is this a good or a bad thing?


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What Is VAR?

VAR (Video Assistant Referee) is a way of making more accurate decisions during a soccer match through the review of video footage. A Video Assistant Referee is an official who reviews the decisions of the on-field referee by accessing all the cameras in the stadium to review the run of play.

To assist in the decision making, the VAR works with the AVAR (Assistant Video Assistant Referee) and the RO (Replay Operative) to gather all the footage of an event and make a decision. This team then contacts the on-field referee for review.

When Is VAR Used?

There are currently four instances where VAR can be used to review a decision:

  1. Events leading to a goal/no goal (this includes things like fouls, offsides and handballs)
  2. Events leading to a penalty/no penalty (this includes things like fouls and the location of the foul)
  3. Events leading to a red card (this includes violent conduct and the use of offensive language and gestures)
  4. A case of a mistaken identity (in the case of a red or yellow card being issued)

How Does VAR Work In A Match?

When any of the four instances occur in a questionable manner, the VAR team will begin reviewing the footage of the event, assessing it from every angle possible. There are two outcomes of a review.

If the team concludes that no error has taken place and agree with the referee’s decision, no action is taken and gameplay resumes with no player or viewer aware that a review has taken place.

If the team reviews an event and disagrees with the referee’s decision, they will contact the referee who will then consult a monitor at the side of the pitch showing the video footage found by the VAR team that disagrees with the decision. If the referee agrees that an error has been made, he will signal that the original decision has been reversed. This causes a pause in the match.

The Impact On In-Play Betting

Whereas previously a decision was final, viewers now experience an element of uncertainty when any decision is made. If a decision is being reviewed, you do not know about it unless the VAR team believes an error has occurred. This uncertainty can make it much more difficult to bet on what will happen next. VAR can also lead to the disappointment of the events of a winning bet being overturned, changing the outcome.

Another big impact VAR has had on in-play betting is the pauses, delays and change of momentum it can cause throughout a match. If the VAR team believe an error has occurred, gameplay has to pause. If a decision is then overturned, it can have a huge impact on the way a team plays. A team who thought they had scored a goal could be demoralised, or on the flip side could be encouraged to play harder. Alternatively, a team who thought they were falling behind could be motivated by a goal not counting for the other team. As a bettor, you need to take these breaks in play into consideration and bet based on how you feel the change in momentum may impact the players.

How Have Betting Sites Responded?

The impact of VAR isn’t all bad. At first, bookmakers and betting sites didn’t change anything about how their odds were calculated, meaning that smart punters could cash in on the fact that VAR can lead to an increased number of penalties and red cards.

Betting sites have since caught up and now offer VAR-related markets and promotions, giving more opportunities to bet. Some examples of bets within this market include whether a goal will be disallowed due to VAR or the number of VAR interventions that will take place during a match. This gives more changes for in-play betting and opens up a whole new way to profit from the match.

Tips For In-Play Betting

  • Consider the accuracy of technology

If you’re an avid soccer fan, it’s likely you’ve seen that VAR can be subject to human error and interpretation, leading to controversial decisions and inconsistencies. It could be a good idea to research how many games have been impacted by VAR and use this information when placing your bet on any in-play betting markets, whether VAR-specific or not.

  • Pay attention

When watching a match, if you see an obvious penalty that the referee has missed, you can be almost certain that a VAR intervention is about to take place. This can be a good time to bet on VAR-specific in-play markets, or can give an indication of who is going to score the next goal.

  • Consider momentum

As we’ve mentioned, VAR interventions can have a huge impact on momentum and the mentality of the teams, potentially having a game-changing effect. If a VAR intervention has taken place, start to think ahead as to how this will impact the teams. Will a team be disheartened, causing them to have a few minutes of poorer performance? Will a team be encouraged, increasing their performance? Will a player receive a red card, changing the lineup of the team? Consider all of these elements before placing your next in-play bet.

So, Is The Introduction Of VAR Good Or Bad?

The introduction to VAR has definitely had an impact on both the soccer match itself and match betting. The aim of VAR is to improve decision making, ensuring accuracy of referee decisions which can only be a good thing! However, there’s no doubt that there are some kinks that need ironing out over time to improve the technology, reduce game interruption and remove the likelihood of human error.

In terms of betting, an overruling of a decision can be frustrating if it changes what you thought was a winning bet into a loss. However, to combat this, some betting sites are offering a refund of your stake if your bet is impacted by a VAR decision. The introduction of VAR has also opened up a new betting market, focused specifically on VAR impacts on a match, providing more opportunities for in-play betting. The in-play markets longstanding punters know and love may have been impacted by the introduction of VAR, but all it takes is a slight change in tactic to take advantage of this new technology.