History of Spread Betting


Betting has been a favourite past-time of man for thousands of years, even being depicted in early cave drawings. Spread betting is the newest form of this old favourite, proving phenomenally successful since its inception less than 40 years ago and it’s growth shows no signs of slowing.

Stuart Wheeler is considered to have invented spread betting in its current form. A gold bullion specialist within London’s financial sector, Wheeler offered his specialist peers the chance to gamble on whether the price of gold would increase or decrease, and more importantly by how much. Due to demand Wheeler then began to offer this bet on the spread of prices on other commodities within the financial community and spread betting was formed.

A Tax Free Investment Alternative

Spread betting was popular because although it required knowledge it was still classed as gambling and any profits were therefore tax free. Many stories of huge profits and equally huge losses were reported in the media and the term spread betting became more widely known but there were factors limiting market growth beyond city traders. The general public found the idea difficult to comprehend as spread betting was built around stocks and shares and required very specialist knowledge which could only be accessed by a few.

All this changed with the emergence of the Internet and the introduction of personal computing. Suddenly a swathe of information was available on every conceivable subject and this information was accessible to all. Coupled with the speed at which information could be processed the stage was set for spread betting to take off.

Betting companies saw the potential of this new market and increased the range of areas in which spread betting was available and once sporting events were included it gave every armchair enthusiast the chance to prove their expertise and make money. Customers could research and bet on their own areas of interest and specialised hobbies and the term spread betting became a household term.

The large profits available to those who knew their facts well and were prepared to back their judgements together with the facility introduced to limit high losses through automatic stops once a customers spread limits were reached meant that spread betting has become the fastest growing sector within the betting community.

Mobile phone improvements, iPads and tablets usage, the availability of specialised apps and the constant upgrades in broadband speeds means that the current growth of spread betting shows no signs of abating and is now provided by dozens of providers such as IG, City Index or CMC Markets. Spread bets can be placed while watching the news, at work, at the pub or theatre or even at the sporting event at which the bet covers. Placing and monitoring a spread bet has never been easier.

The ability to make a large tax free sum of money is as appealing today as it was thousands of years ago, it is just the methods and the type of betting that has changed.