Cover Betting Term Meaning

Cover in a betting sense can have multiple meanings depending on the part of the world you originate from. On this page, we’ll look at both the UK and US meaning of the betting term ‘cover’.

In the UK, ‘cover’ can refer to ‘covering a bet’, which simply means having enough money to pay out on a bet. A traditional bookmaker would be the party covering the bets as they are assuming the liability on the ‘lay’ side of the wager. 

Another use of the word ‘cover’, is to ‘make a cover bet’. This involves a “safer” second bet covering the outlay of a “risky” first bet. For example:

Bet 1: High odds TrebleOdds
Federer to win Wimbledon 9.00
Tottenham to win the Champions League 3.00
D. Johnson to win the Open 8.00
Stake: £5.00
Returns: £1,080.00

The treble bet is a longshot, so you can place a cover bet, such as:

Bet 2: Low odds SingleOdds
Golden State Warriors to beat Portland Trail Blazers 1.50
Stake: £10.00
Returns: £15.00

As you can see, you cover yourself by picking a low odds favourite. If this bet wins, you can make enough profit to cover the risky treble, which means that has become a type of free bet now.

For American sports bettors, ‘cover’ is an abbreviated term for ‘cover the spread’. This relates to (points) spread betting which is popular in basketball and NFL. Let us run through an example:

  • Buffalo Bills: -7 points @1.95
  • New Orleans Saints: +7 points @1.95

The spread for this game is 7 points. The Bills are favourites, so they are starting 7 points behind if you are betting on them. If you bet on the Saints, who are the underdogs, you get a 7 point head start. 

With that in mind, let’s say we bet on the Bills. The final score was Buffalo 36 New Orleans 21, so the Bills won by 15 points, we have covered the spread. The alternative would be the Bills winning by a margin of 6 points or less (or losing), then we have not covered the spread.

You can cover the spread on the underdog. For instance, if the final score was Buffalo 36 New Orleans 32. You get +7 points betting on the Saints, so the adjusted score is 36-39 (to the Saints) so the spread is covered. Lastly, if the Bills won by exactly 7 points, the wagered is ‘pushed’ and the stake is returned to the bettor.