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By ESPN Staff

Asian Handicap - The Story

It's the future of football betting, but so little is known about it - especially in the UK.

But it's the choice of millions of people in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and throughout the Asian peninsular. So what is so special about Asian Handicap betting and why is it the fastest growing form of betting in the world today?

And, more importantly what is it and how does it work?

Betting Expert Sean Smith guides you through Asian Handicapping and how it can make you money…

History of Asian Handicap

Although the betting form itself has a very short history - only springing up in any kind of regulated form around 1999 - its parentage can be traced back to the halcyon days of the boom-and-bust economic miracle of the 1980s.

During the '80s a firm called City Index started offering spread betting on shares - effectively giving people outside of the bear and bull pits the chance to bet on the markets. And they did in droves - winning and losing millions.

As this form of betting grew, the City boys turned their attention to football and offered spread prices on big football matches.

Rumours of outrageous gambles were legendary at the time. The most famous alleged England players were in cahoots with the gamblers and this came to a head when during the start of an international the ball was booted directly into touch from the kick-off, winning everyone concerned thousands of pounds on the spread.

Completely unsubstantiated nonsense, of course. But the whole City experience showed that UK football had tickled the interest of those not necessarily associated with the game in this country.

People with serious money had garnered an interest and the search was on to find a way to keep them interested - particularly in the Asian tiger economies of Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and the Pacific Rim.

The search was on to marry the confines of UK football rules to a form of betting that could sustain the attention of a burgeoning market. Normal gambling odds proved confusing. The Asian market - like the US market before it - had no idea what to do with a draw. To an Asian gambler a draw was the stall numbers of a horse race.

Meanwhile UK bookies had been attempting to tap into two new markets as the Government continued its sweep of draconian gambling laws. American Football, rugby union and Rupert Murdoch's recently-born Super League (rugby league) were prime betting markets.

But with much bigger points systems and with many matches almost walkovers it became clear that a handicap system was required. So Gridiron teams were offered head starts between three-and-a-half points and 27-and-a-half points, which guaranteed that there could be only one winner in the eyes of the bookie and punter.

The move didn't not go unnoticed and as the '90s progressed - and British football became more popular - Asian bookies began to offer half-point handicaps on Premiership matches.

If Manchester United were playing Manchester City then giving City a half point in the handicap made sure that there could only be two winners - and a market would be formed accordingly.

From 1999, with the internet booming and English football now totally embraced within the Eastern culture the Australian bookies took a serious interest and the betting form took off.

Now the UK bookies stand alone as not offering Asian Handicapping - a situation which is likely to change as the gambling laws in the UK and USA continue to be relaxed.

What came first the Money or the Reds?

There is some debate as to what came first - Manchester United's popularity in the Far East or the gambling boom on UK football that swept the region.

It is a moot point, but I feel that gambling came first simply because during the '80s Asia looked towards the West predominantly because of its rampant money markets.

That is what created spread betting, which is arguably the godfather of modern betting methods - and the first point that Asian gambling markets looked West for satisfaction.

Regardless of what came first there is no doubt that fortunes were made out of Manchester United's Champions League win against Bayern Munich in the Nou Camp in 1999.

That game marked a spiralling in the popularity of English clubs and because of it there is no surprise that Manchester United were the first to crack the Asian market.

If they were only slightly popular before that balmy spring Spanish night - their success made them superstars in a region not known for its toleration of losers.

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