Sports betting has emerged from the shadows and into the mainstream. The anti-gambling stigma that existed for decades faded quickly in American popular culture, opening the door for a massive, multibillion-dollar legal sports betting industry to emerge.
What is Sports Betting?
Sports betting is a form of gambling that entails placing a wager, also known as a bet, on the outcome of a sporting event.
The primary intent of sports betting is to win additional money. With the exception of spread betting, ‘draw no bet’ wagers and a few other examples, a bet will have two possible outcomes. Either you win a profit based on the bookmaker odds, or you lose your wager.
While sports betting obviously incorporates wagers on sports like rugby and tennis, it also includes betting on entertainment, such as the winner of Dancing with the Stars, and finance, such as interest rate changes.
Online Sports Betting
You may have heard that sports betting cannot be profitable over the long term. However, while relatively rare, there are professional bettors out there who would prove that wrong.
Can sports betting be profitable?
Being profitable generally comes down to creating a well-crafted betting strategy that includes thorough research and disciplined bankroll management.
Sports betting can be profitable, but the majority of bettors lose money, which is why sportsbooks exist.
Can you make a living by sports betting?
Sports betting is not always profitable because it is against your favor due to the vig. For sports betting to exist, companies have to make money off it, which is why PASPA was struck down in 2018. While Nevada has been raking in millions of dollars through sports betting, new legislation will allow every other state to benefit from sports gambling. If states are benefitting from sports betting, that means those wagering are losing money more often than not.
Betting at the Best Sportsbooks
According to J.R. Miller, a former TV show writer and professional gambler, an essential job of every bettor is to beat the spreads—the odds difference between projected winners and losers. And one way of doing that is by choosing bookies that give you a fair chance to win.
The fairest casinos are often licensed, safe and reputable. Top online operators also provide competitive odds, sometimes better than physical betting shops. What’s more, they give out free bets and bonuses regularly even when you wager small amounts of money.
Note: sportsbooks are guided by regulatory laws. They can only operate where they are licensed. As such, find websites authorized to provide betting services in your country. Also, look out for unique features that can increase your betting experience: In-play betting, cashback and partial withdrawals, to name a few.
What does it take to become a profitable sports bettor?
What are some of the tactics the experienced sharps use to keep themselves on the profitable side of the equation? What can you do to help yourself become more successful at sports betting?
Sports Betting Strategy Quick Tips
Here’s a rundown of the quickest and easiest tips our experts could put together. If you want to start betting immediately, make sure to put these tricks into action:
- Learn basic odds – Whether you’re betting online or live, you have to learn the basics. Check out our crash course in betting odds to get up to speed.
- Have a betting bankroll – We’ll go into more detail later but we can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain a separate bankroll for betting.
- Diversify your action – It’s always better to spread your money out over more bets to help overcome bad luck and reduce variance.
- Avoid longshots and parlays – When you get a bigger bankroll it’s okay to make a few longshot bets but when you’re starting out they’ll be a big drain.
- Bet the underdog – One of the most common edges you can find is when a popular team is overhyped. Bet the underdog for better value and a bigger payout.
While the National Basketball Association (NBA) was once active in preventing sports betting law relaxation, current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver became the first major sports leader to break from previous administrative opposition to gambling.
In 2014 he stated in a New York Times op-ed, “I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.” In 2017, with support for legalization growing, he confirmed his belief that “legalized sports betting is inevitable”.
Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred has also advocated the league changing its stance on sports betting, with both Manfred and Silver noting that the scale of illegal sports betting makes opposition to betting meaningless.
He also stated a willingness to “try to shape” any future legislation at federal level. This was noted as a marked contrast to former Commissioner of the MLB Bud Selig, with Manfred going beyond tacit approval and stating, “There is this buzz out there in terms of people feeling that there may be an opportunity here for additional legalized sports betting.
The National Football League (NFL) remains the only sports league to maintain public opposition to sports betting, however critics have noted that with the move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas in 2019, the NFL has positioned itself for legalization, while simultaneously contradicting its long-held position that sports betting in NFL markets would lead to potential match-fixing.
Commissioner Roger Goodell agreed with Manfred in a July 2017 seminar that betting on in-game events, as opposed to the outcome of games, was a more palatable form of sports betting.
How to Bet on Sports
Sports betting comes in many different shapes and sizes.
At its core, sports betting is putting money behind an outcome of your choice and getting paid if thatoutcome is achieved. If a bet is on the winner of a game, that is called a moneyline bet. If you’re betting that a team will win or lose by a certain amount of points, that is called a spread bet. If you combine multiple outcomes into one bet, that is called a parlay.
Moneylines, spreads, and parlays are the most common bets to choose from, but there are also prop bets which allow you to have a vested interest in more specific outcomes, like how many points a certain player will score. The world of sports betting is vast, and there’s something for just about anyone.
There are many reasons to bet on sports for new and experienced gamblers alike. Above all, it’s an easy way to add more excitement to your viewing experience, by giving you something more to root for. That’s rewarding in itself, regardless of the outcome.
Favorites vs. Underdogs
When oddsmakers release a betting line on a game, the first thing they do is decide which team should be the favorite and which should be the underdog.
The favorite is the team that is more likely to win the game and will get a minus sign next to its odds. The underdog is expected to lose and gets a plus sign.
There are two main ways to bet on a favorite or an underdog. The first is the point spread, which is a bet on the margin of victory.
The second way to bet on a favorite or an underdog is on the moneyline. A moneyline bet requires you to just pick the winner of the game, and uses American odds to calculate the payout.
American odds are centered around winning $100.
In addition to setting a line for the favorite and the underdog, oddsmakers will also set a total number of points scored in a game by both teams combined. This is called the total or over/under.
Bettors can then wager on whether or not the game will go over or under the total. You’re not trying to guess the exact score (though that bet is available, too).
What Is the -110 Number Listed Next to My Bet?
With many bets, you may see two numbers — a spread like -4.5, and then odds below it, like -110.
The spread is the margin of victory your team needs to win by
The -110 odds are the price you need to pay to bet that spread
The spread is -8, so to win your bet, you need Indy to win by 9+ points.
The “juice” is -110. So you’d need to wager $110 to win $100, or $11 to win $10, on that spread.
If you wager $11 to win $10 and the Colts win by 14, you’d win $10. If the Colts win by 3, you’d lose $11.
What is Online Sports Betting?
While it may seem like an obvious question, it is one that many traditional sports betters may not completely understand.
The concept of online sports betting has only recently become a major topic for those who enjoy gambling. This is especially true in the United States where gambling regulations and laws are only just now becoming more relaxed. Here are a couple ways for people to better understand online sports betting.
Where to Bet
Sports betting has been online in Europe for a multitude of years. This is because their laws and regulations have allowed them to bet most specifically on the English Premier League or just Soccer/Football as a whole. People can use whatever online booking site they would like.
Generally, looking around for the best odds at different sites is the best way to start. Although many of them will have similar odds, betters may be able to find a few that under or overestimate based on timely news. Also one can just bet at a site that has a great starting promo code. Checkout this promo code site for some deals that will allow people to get started right away. Another good spot can be this online lottery codes site.
If someone is looking to get started in betting on sports, using code sites are normally a very easy way. Then the player has some extra cash to make bets on, similarly if they were at an offline casino.
Best Sports Betting Sites
While the majority of online sports bettors have become accustomed to using their favorite sportsbook’s betting app over the last few years, we’re here to shed some light on the best legal sports betting websites on the market, right now.
We’re strictly talking about the desktop website accessible through your laptop or PC.
Despite a heavy focus on wagering on-the-go by most bookmakers, the best online sportsbook brands also step up to the plate with a quality desktop offering.
Top 10 US sports betting sites
Each of the sportsbook operators listed below cracked our ranking due to their stellar desktop client. An industry-standard sportsbook website typically contains little to no clutter, displays information in an orderly fashion, and is extremely easy to navigate while you bet on your computer.
Here are our Top 10 sportsbook sites that fit the bill:
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- BetMGM Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
- WynnBET Sportsbook
- BetRivers Sportsbook
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- PointsBet Sportsbook
- FOX Bet Sportsbook
- bet365 Sportsbook
- Barstool Sportsbook
What Do The Sports Betting Odds Mean
The first thing to know about betting odds is what they represent. Betting odds are a tool that reveals an oddsmaker’s opinion (or stance) on a particular game, event or proposition. They also reflect how much money bettors must risk to win a specific amount—that is, the potential payout.
What is the Vigorish?
Vigorish (also known as “vig” or “juice”) is the name given to the amount charged by the sportsbook for taking your bet. Think of it as the casino’s cut for the service it provides. Vig amounts vary from sport to sport and wager to wager, and it’s not always easy to determine the vig from reading the odds.
A good example would be a coin toss that has an equal chance of landing either heads or tails. Because of the theoretical 50-50 outcome, you would expect to get even money in return for a coin-toss bet—in other words, if you bet $10 on heads and the coin lands on heads, you would expect to receive $20 ($10 original bet, $10 profit).
Sports betting is unlikely to make you rich unless you turn it into a full-time job and become one of the best bettors in the world. That’s an extreme statement and before getting rich, it’s important to remember that only a small percentage of sports bettors are simply profitable.