Asian vs European Handicap Betting – What is the Difference?

Published on: Category: Betting Guide

Handicap betting is a measure applied to football (and other low-scoring sports) whereby teams are handicapped according to their capabilities. In this way, weaker teams start the game with a ‘virtual lead’, while stronger teams start with a ‘virtual penalty’ in order to ‘level the playing field’. Asian and European handicaps are similar; however, some key differences should be noted.

Asian Handicap

In Asian handicap betting, stronger teams or players start the game with a negative handicap (e.g. -1.5 points) and have to compensate by scoring more goals. Similarly, weaker teams or players start with an advantage (e.g. +2.75 points) and thus need to score fewer goals to achieve the same outcome. Punters backing the team with the higher score – taking the handicap into account – win the bet.

Although it may seem complicated at first, Asian handicap betting actually simplifies matters by always producing a clear-cut winner. Due to using half and even quarter number variant handicaps, it is impossible for games to end in a draw score (as half or quarter goals cannot be scored).

Furthermore, by eliminating a draw option, the gambler has only two betting selections – to bet on the home or the away team – essentially giving them a 50% chance of success.

European Handicap

Like the Asian handicap, European handicap betting gives an advantage to the underdog by awarding them a ‘virtual lead’ at the start of the game (or a ‘virtual penalty’ to the stronger team). However, unlike its Asian counterpart, it does not reduce the betting market to only two selections. Due to it using only whole numbers, a draw score is possible. With 3 potential betting options – to bet on home, away or for a draw score – punters theoretically only have a 33% chance of success.

The Differences (in Summary)

The key differences between Asian and European handicap betting can be summarised by;

Different Symbols / Representations

The two types of betting handicap methods are represented slightly differently, using different symbols. Due to its focus on a specific team ‘s ability, Asian handicap betting may be represented individually as ‘-1.5’ and/or ‘+1.5’ to the stronger and weaker teams respectively. As European handicap betting takes a draw score into account, and is more focused on relative strength, it may be represented as a ratio, such as ‘0:1’.

Different Number Variants (Wholes & Halves)

As highlighted above, Asian handicaps use whole, half and even quarter number variants to give a more accurate representation of a team ‘s strength (or weakness). Its European counterpart makes use of whole numbers only so there may not be a clear-cut winner.

Game Outcomes (to Draw or Not to Draw)

Finally, and most importantly, in Asian handicap betting, only 2 possible outcomes can be selected – to back the home or away team. In European handicap betting, punters can choose between home, away or a draw score.


While the Asian handicap seems to produce better odds (by eliminating a draw option), each betting measure has its own merits and produces varying degrees of accuracy. Test out Asian and the European handicap betting here!

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