What does SP mean on betting sites?
Sometimes when you log into an online betting site, usually a good amount of time in advance of a sporting event starting, you will see the famed SP. More often than not, you will see this in ante-post horse racing and greyhound markets where a bookmaker has not actually posted their prices for a race. So what is the SP? It means Starting Price and this is a sort of pre-match gamble on the part of the punter, if they want to jump the gun and get a bet down. There are risks with this as opposed to waiting for posted prices, but it is a great, uncomplicated way for punters who are new to betting (horse racing betting in particular) to just worry about whether their horse wins or not.
The basic upshot of an SP is that you are not making an agreement with the bookmaker on a set price. They haven't stated odds of 3/1 or 5/4 or anything, all that is available is the starting price. So what is the starting price? Well, it is whatever price the horse actually starts at on the day of the race, or, looking at it another way, it is the price at which bets are settled. Sticking with a horse racing example, the odds on the entries ahead of the race will constantly change up until the start of the race. So, if you decided just to take the SP option at your bookmaker, say a day before the running of the race, then you will just settle on whatever the horse's starting price is set at come the race. You determine the stake, but you are betting blind to a degree because you won't know what the starting price is until the time.
So there is a difference between that and shopping around to get fixed odds on a horse you fancy at a meeting. An SP can work in your favour if punters desert the horse you want, which means the odds will drift longer, but will work against you if the horse attracts more backers and therefore has its odds trimmed. There is another angle for SP bets. Perhaps you spot a horse which is trading shorter than you would expect, and by the time the race starts you expect it to drift to a larger price. It would be worth taking an SP bet in that instance. So, there is not a lot of mystery as to what does SP mean on betting sites, but at the end of the day, you are not going to be sure exactly what you are getting when you take an SP bet.
The actual starting price comes from the racecourse and it is an average reflection of the betting market at the course. One great thing to look out for if you ever fancy just taking an SP bet, is to find online bookmakers which offer best odds guaranteed. This means that you will be guaranteed to get the best price that shows up for a horse in a race, regardless of whether that price is the starting price or one which has been shown on the early market board.