Has VAR Affected In-Play Betting?

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was first introduced in 2016 as a trial. The experiment was to evaluate whether VAR was successful in resolving errors in matches made by the in-field referees, or catching mistakes that are otherwise impossible to see by the untrained eye. It was implemented in the Premier League during the 2019/20 season, and arguably, is here to stay.


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Since then, VAR has caused an upheaval, provoking mixed opinions from punters. Whilst some say that it rectifies wrong decisions, others believe it is negatively impacting in-play betting. We will discuss both of these ideas in detail.

What Is VAR?

VAR, otherwise known as Video Assistant Referee, is made up of a team of three people. This includes AVAR 1, AVAR 2, and AVAR 3. These are qualified specialists, e.g. match officials. Through the use of technology called ‘Hawk-Eye’ they replay specific moments in the match, and decide unanimously what they believe the outcome should be.

VAR occurs in two scenarios:

  • When the referee on the field requests a review from the VAR
  • When the VAR believe a referee has made a wrong decision

The VAR is the final verdict, as it can then overturn the choice of the on-field referee.

Which Sports Does VAR Affect?

Although we will speak primarily on football, VAR also affects rugby, cricket, and tennis. Although each sport is drastically different, the main purpose of VAR is to create clarity on a situation and improve the final outcome.

VAR affects four sectors in football:

GOALS OR VIOLATIONSVAR can award or revoke goals, which has caused an uproar on football betting sites. As this can radically affect the final outcome, it may or may not work in your favour. Additionally, it can review violations like tackling, shirt-pulling, delaying, or playing outside of the field.
RED CARDSRed cards will send a player off the pitch if they have interfered with a goal-scoring opportunity. VAR can be used to clarify this, which has a huge effect on betting if the player was one of the most valuable.
PENALTIESA penalty is awarded when there has been a rule breach by the opposite team. This can lead to goals being scored, which affects the final outcome. Additionally, some betting sites in Ireland have a penalty market.
MISTAKEN IDENTITYMistaken identity has the biggest impact on the football community. This is when a player is carded, yellow or red, but VAR is requested because there is confusion as to which player should be penalised.

What Is In-Play Betting?

Now that we understand what VAR is, and when it is used, we can begin to imagine how greatly it impacts in-play betting.

In-play betting is when punters can place bets after the match has begun. Instead of regular betting where you have until the beginning of the game, you can instead bet during the duration of the match, just before it is over.

There are may advantages of in-play betting, such as:

  • Giving you the ability to see injuries, substitutions, and other unpredictable circumstances that affect the game. In turn, you can place a wager from a better perspective.
  • The game is made more interesting, as you don’t have to wait as long for the outcome.

In contrast, there are also some disadvantages:

  • You have less time to place the wager and therefore must react more promptly
  • There are less markets to choose from as the game progresses

How Does VAR Affect In-Play Betting?

As you have guessed by now, VAR affects in-play betting immensely. This is because the controversial technique is only used in important moments, therefore the ability to overturn decisions changes the outcome of the entire match. We have summarised the biggest ways in which VAR affects in-play betting below:

Affects Final Outcome

The main impact of VAR when in-play betting is that the final outcome can be completely changed. For example, in the Premier League season 2022/23, there was a total of 116 overturned decisions. This includes:

  • Fluctuating Odds

Another significant influence that VAR has on in-play betting is that it creates fluctuation of odds. Betting sites alter their odds according to the probability of things happening. This includes:

  • Unforeseen injuries, especially to star players that the team depend on for goals
  • Penalties which change the score of the match
  • Red cards which have a detrimental affect on team performance

These circumstances all affect the final decision. When you are betting in-play, these fluctuating odds make it harder to place wagers, because time is limited. Furthermore, the lower the odds, the lower the profit.

Previous Bets

Many people in the sports betting community believe that VAR has a negative impact on in-play betting, because it could also have an affect on previous bets. Prior to 2019, the technology was not in use, and punters had to rely on the referee to make game-changing decisions which affected their wagers, and hence their finances. As this is a matter that several bettors take personally, a change in the way wagers are placed is bound to ruffle a few feathers.

Disruption Of The Game

One of the main advantages of in-play betting is that punters can improve their betting experience by creating excitement during live matches. This makes a change to regular betting, where you have to wait longer for an outcome.

With the introduction of VAR, viewers complain that the matches are usually disrupted. Not only does it take time to roll the tapes, but the three officials must come to a decision. Overall, this affects the betting experience.


VAR is a relatively new technology. In tennis it has been around for over a decade, yet in football, it is only a few years old. As a result, many people don’t understand how it works, or why it has been introduced. Most often, this is because it contradicts the decisions made by the referee which would have otherwise had a beneficial impact on wagers.

Strategies For VAR and In-Play Betting

We have compiled a list of a few strategies you can use to make the most of VAR and in-play betting.

Be Observant and Alert

When you are aware that VAR exists, you can use it to your advantage. For example, if you spot a case of mistaken identity, or the referee has allowed a goal that was clearly the result of a foul, you can anticipate the odds fluctuating. Therefore, you will be ahead of the game and can place an in-play bet before the VAR is requested.

Do Your Research

In football, some players are notorious for the way they play. You can do your research by checking:

  • Players that have the most red or yellow cards on the team
  • Players who often foul the opposite team
  • Referees that have previously shown favouritism

By watching past matches or researching statistics, you have a better holistic understanding of the game. Therefore, you can anticipate likely events and have them in the back of your mind.


In final, we can say that VAR has a colossal impact on in-play betting. Whilst it was created with the intent of making football fairer, it is also known to have caused major disruptions. However, by having understanding on what VAR is, you can therefore anticipate it and make better in-play decisions.