Sports Betting in Taiwan
In Taiwan we have a single legal bookmaker called the Taiwan Sports Lottery (TSL) which has shops all over our country. While semi-popular and fully legal, their odds are not good. For example: NBA handicap bets must be done as accumulators (multiples). The true odds of winning a six-selection-wager are about 64-to-1, but TSL pays less than 30-to-1. When betting online using a foreign bookmaker – the same wager is available with around a 57-to-1 pay out.
The NBA is one of many examples of the poor value Taiwan Sports Lottery offers. The same is true for bets on football (soccer), baseball and, when offered, tennis, golf, and the Olympics too. Over 99% of the time online bookies offer better odds. In this article I will discuss TSL in more detail, but the bulk of this article is about online betting. This is where Taiwan residents can find the most value.
TWD Betting Sites
There are many countries where online gambling is fully legal. One example is the United Kingdom (UK) which has licensed bookmakers since 1961. Another is the Philippines, where the bookies offer some of the best odds on football. These countries have online bookies that are global. Their websites support many languages and currencies. The ones listed below support Taiwanese language and Taiwanese Dollar currency.
- How to Deposit
- Visit Site
- Entropay / Skrill
- English / Chinese
- English / Chinese
To use the websites above a “post-up balance” is required. Essentially this means you need to first put money into your account to bet with, as no credit is given to players online. If for example you deposit NT$3,500 to start, this is your account balance. If you then bet NT$1,000 on an NBA game, right away this money is taken from your balance leaving you NT$2500. If the bet wins the NT$1000 stake is returned to your account and the winnings are added too. At any time you can withdraw all or part of your account balance to be paid your winnings. In the next section I cover the available banking methods.
Deposit and Payouts
The easiest way to deposit to Bet365 is with credit or debit card. This is however not a straight forward process because Taiwanese cards are not accepted. The way around this is to open a free United States dollar (USD) e-wallet account at www.entropay.com. This gives you a free virtual VISA debit card number. You can load money to your EntroPay virtual VISA card using your Taiwanese debit or credit cards for a 4.9% fee. When doing so be sure to complete the Verified by VISA or MasterCard Secure Code process. Otherwise your card will be declined.
Do not be surprised if at some point EntroPay requests you to send them scans of your card, utility bill and photo ID. They are a UK company licensed by the government’s Financial Service Authority (FSA) which requires them to obtain these details under the Know Your Customer (KYC) laws. If they ask which merchant you intend to spend with, telling them the name of Bet365 or another gambling site is fine. Gambling is fully legal in the UK where they are based.
With a funded EntroPay account, log-in to the Bet365 cashier and select EntroPay as the deposit method. Although your Bet365 account is in TWD and EntroPay in USD, you can still deposit. Bet365 will do the currency exchange for you.
Bet365 Payouts: Players from Taiwan who deposit with EntroPay can use bank wire transfer as their payout method. The minimum withdrawal is NT$300 and the maximum is NT$1.3 million per request. The processing time for the money to be removed from your account and cleared to your Taiwan bank account is 2-10 banking days.
Skrill is a Better E-wallet
Many Taiwanese gamblers consider www.skrill.com a better e-wallet because accounts can be opened in Taiwan dollar (TWD) and the fees are less than EntroPay charges. The one challenge is that not all credit and debit cards are accepted. You should first try your card but if it is declined you may need to fund your Skrill account via wire transfer.
The details for sending a wire transfer can be obtained when logged into your account. When you go to your bank to make the transfer you will need to fill out a simple cross-border money remittance slip. In the bottom section, under the section titled “purpose”, it is best to write online shopping as the transfer reason. For amounts NT$15000 and less the bank will almost certainly approve the transfer.
In addition to supporting our currency and having low fees, another benefit to Skrill is online bookies also issue pay outs via this method. Skrill is essentially an online bank account where money can be stored. You can load money to your account with credit card, debit card, or bank transfer. You can withdraw from Skrill by requesting a transfer to your Taiwan bank. You can also store a Skrill balance for future use. This is nice when using multiple online betting sites to shop odds. You can take money out of one, and then store it to redeposit at whichever bookie has the best odds just before making a bet.
Taiwan Gambling Laws
I will discuss online betting in much greater depth in this article, but first it is important to understand that gambling is technically illegal in Taiwan. The specific laws can be found in Chapter 21, articles 266-270 of the Taiwanese Criminal Code. As the law was created back when our KMT government ruled Mainland China the penalties are in Yuan. The penalty for social gambling is a 1,000元 fine (≈NT$4,620). Those who gamble for high stakes, are repeat offenders, or bet professionally can be fined (≈NT$13,860) and can be sentenced to up to 3-years in prison.
Although Taiwan gambling laws appear to be strict, to date – the law has never been used to target residents who gamble online at legal and licensed foreign bookmakers. For example: Bet365 is a highly legitimate company which happens to own the English Premier League team Stoke City FC. They have been licensed in the UK since 1974 and are also licensed in Australia, Gibraltar and Malta. The bottom line is they are a huge worldwide brand with customers from around the globe – they do not take part in any form of illegal activity. They have no physical presence in Taiwan and therefore are outside the jurisdiction of our gambling law.
Gambling and betting have been part of Chinese culture for thousands of years and today it is just popular in Taiwan. We have many agents and bookies, and a large percentage of our population bets at internet gambling sites. Recognising this, in 2008 our government decided to make sports betting legal by creating a new lottery. The same as all lotteries in Taiwan and soon Taiwan Casinos, Tawian Sports Lottery (TSL) is now legal to use. The odds offered are however, as mentioned earlier, not competitive with those offered by online bookies. In the next section I will provide comparisons and explanations.
Taiwan Sports Lottery vs. Online Bookies
In this section I discuss the wagering options offered by Taiwan Sports Lottery and show how this compares to what is offered at online bookies. First it is important to understand how odds work.
Sports Lottery Shops such are found throughout Taiwan, but are a terrible option for punters
Taiwan Sports Lottery lists their odds in European Decimal odds format. In this format the odds display the amount returned per NT$1 dollar staked. For example if you stake NT$1000 at odds of 1.91, a winning bet returns NT$1910, of which NT$1000 was the stake and NT$910 is the winnings.
At online betting sites there are many different odds formats offered including Hong Kong and Malaysian odds formats, however European Decimal is the easiest to use. Therefore look for Decimal, DEC or EUR on the settings menu of the site you are using in order to select this option.
Understand that bookmakers odds are set in order to make a profit. Take for example a wager that has a 50/50 chance such as the flip of a coin. If the odds were fair the payout would be win $1 for every $1 staked. Because the bookmakers need to make a profit they pay less than $1 per $1 staked. At online bookies, the line for NBA handicaps is set at odds of 1.91 ($0.91 profit per $1.00 staked). However, the odds at the Taiwan Sports Lottery are far worse – 1.77 (or $0.77 per $1.00 staked).
Internet betting sites set their lines so they average 4.5% profit on the total of all bets they take. So, if they take one million dollars in bets, they would expect to make $45000 in profit. TSL on the other hand sets their lines to average 11.5% profit per bet. So in the same scenario, if they took an even million in bets, the TSL would expect to make $115000 in net profit. This further demonstrates why online bookmakers are a far better choice than the TSL.
In fact, the difference in profit margins is even larger than explained in the previous paragraph, for reason that Taiwan Sports Lottery, as the name indicates, is a lottery. Most often it is required that wagers be made as accumulators as opposed to single bets. Instead of picking just one bet, an accumulator involves choosing multiple selections and to win you must get all selections correct. If your bet involves 6 games and you get 5 correct and one wrong you get paid nothing. This is obviously nothing short of daylight robbery.
To compare: for NBA a wager on 6 matches will have an average pay out at TSL of 29.7-to-1. At www.bet365.com the same wager pays 47.4-to-1 plus a 20% bonus which brings the payout to 56.9-to-1. The bonus Bet365 pays on 6-team accumulators increases the effective odds to $0.97 per dollar staked on a per selection basis compared to $0.77 for the same at TSL.
Basketball, in particular NBA, is a very popular sport for betting in Taiwan. This has long been the case, but it has caught even more attention in our country due to the success of Jeremy Lin – who is of Taiwanese descent – entering the NBA in 2010 and becoming a star player. With Taiwan Sports Lottery there are several options for placing a bet on basketball.
- Handicap (讓分) – This form of wagering uses a handicap called a point spread. Say for example the game is listed as Los Angeles Lakers +4.5 vs. Houston Rockets -4.5. In this case the Rockets are favoured by 4.5 points. If you bet them they need to win by 5 or more for your wager to be successful. If you bet the Celtics they are getting 4.5 points so for betting purposes they are the winner if they win the game outright or lose by 1-4 points.
- Match Winner (不讓分) – This is a straight wager on which team will win the game. There is no handicap involved. Unlike handicap betting where the odds are closer to 50/50 here one team is often a large favourite (small odds) where another team is a large underdog (big odds).
- Totals (大小) – In this wager TSL lists a total number of point such as 196.5. You then have the options to wager that the combined scores of both teams will go over or will go under this posted total. This is set to be as close to a 50/50 wager as possible.
- Margin of Victory (勝分差) – Here there are six different options available. You are tipping whether the margin of victory will be 1-5 points, 6-10 points, 11-15 points, 16-20 points, 21-25 points or 26+ points. Each option has a different set of odds.
- Prop Betting (快智彩) – The word for this translates to fast betting in Taiwan. Prop bets are specials such as which of the following players will score a basket first. Here several options will be listed with different odds for each. This is only one example, there are many different types of prop bets that might be offered.
- Champion (冠軍) – This is a long term wager on which team will win the league championship.
With most of the above markets, TSL requires bets to be 3-team to 6-team accumulators. For certain matches, some singles and doubles are allowed. There is also a form of betting called Suǒyǒu wánfǎ: Hùnhé guòguān (所有玩法：混合過關) which means “all games played mixed up”. This allows you to bet different markets together in the same accumulator. For example you can add a handicap from one game, a total from another, and a match winner straight up from a third into the same accumulator.As mentioned twice already in this article, Asian online gambling sites have much better odds. They also support all of the above wagering options and offer markets not only on the NBA, but on basketball leagues worldwide. TSL offers other leagues too such as European basketball, but for those markets their margins are even higher (up to a 14% hold). With sites such as www.10bet.com you can find holds as low 2.5% on leagues such as NBA from the United States, PBA from Philippines, CBA from China, and all the European leagues. The highest price you will find on point spreads is a 4.5% hold when betting online. At TSL the same is 11.5% to 14%.
For baseball, I won’t explain the markets because they are the exact same as I just covered in the basketball section. One exception is that for major televised games TSL offers Single Inning Home Away Draw (單局主客和) also known as Single Inning 1X2. This allows you to bet on whether the results of a specific inning are home team winning, a tie, or away team winning. While this is a neat form of betting, the downside is the margins are very high. TSL sets the odds in such a way they expect to profit about 14%. At www.bet365.com there is live betting available. Here you can bet thing such as whether the next pitch will be a ball, strike or hit, or what the result of the current at bat will be. You can also bet the main markets while the games are in play.
For football/soccer, Taiwan Sports Lottery has odds on all the major European leagues. They offer five different types of wagers which are as follows:
- HAD(主客和) – is a form of wagering that is an acronym for home/away/draw which is the same wager online bookies call 1X2. This is based on regulation time only and you select whether the outcome will be home team winning, a draw, or away team winning. Each has unique odds.
- Totals (大小) – In this market a number (usually 2.5 but sometimes 3.5 or another number) is listed. Bets are made on whether both teams will combine to score over or under this number.
- Correct Score (正確得分) – This form of wagering is predicting the correct score. There are many potential outcomes and the odds differ for each. For examples a 1-0 prediction on the favourite might have odds 6.00 and a 0-1 prediction for the underdog winning might have odds 7.00. If you predict an unlikely score such as 5-2 the odds might be 250.0. Correct score wagers can be done as single bets (單場) or as accumulators with up to three selections on the same ticket.
- Prop Betting (快智彩) – Again, translating to fast betting, this is wagering on special propositions such as which team will score first, how many goals a team will have in the match and other scenarios thought up by the TSL oddsmaker.
- Champion (冠軍) – This is offered for each league and tournament. You can bet who will win the Euros, World Cup, La Liga, EPL, Serie A, Bundesliga etc.
Unsurprisingly, the TSL’s soccer odds are as bad as the ones they offer on basketball and online bookmakers offer much better value. At Taiwan Sports Lottery the odds are set in such a way they stand to profit about 11% on HAD (1X2) bets and about 14% on all others. For football, 1X2 is often available with margins of 4.5% or less online. There is also a way to get even lower margins which involves betting using Asian Handicaps.
www.10bet.com is a great site for Asian handicaps as the margins are often 2-3% compared to 11+% with TSL. In Asian handicaps, a point spread is used. If you bet a team -0.5 it means at the end of regulation you deduct 0.5 from their score to see if they are the winner. If you bet a team +0.5 you add 0.5 to their score at the end. If you bet a team -1 and they win by 1, or a team +1 and they lose by 1 the outcome is a tie. In this case all bets are refunded. A unique feature is sometimes one-quarter and three-quarter handicaps are used. If the handicap is 0.25 half the stake is bet at 0 (no spread) and the other half at 0.5. If the handicap is 0.75 half the stake is bet at 0.5 and the other half at 1.
Asian handicap is the best way to bet on football because it has the lowest margins. This means an increased chance of winning over the long term. This is only one of the many football markets available through online bookmakers that are not provided by the TSL.
At www.bet365.com anyone with a funded account can log-in and watch high quality streams of live sports matches. You can do live betting on the games while watching them online. There are also additional wager types such as which team will score first, which players will score first, will both teams score, total corners, which team will have the most yellow cards and dozens of others.