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".
Before I go on, let me clarify some terminology. Despite it being probably the most popular way to bet, there is no particular term for a bet against the spread. Many people call this a "straight bet." However, this term can also be used, and is printed on tickets for, money line bets, total bets, and any other bet involving just one game. For purposes of this page, I call such bets a "point spread" bet, and invite the rest of the world to adopt this terminology.
Simply, bigger returns. On a point spread bet you would usually have to spend $105 or $110 to win $100. If you bet on the moneyline you may instead only have to spend $50, or even less, to win $100. You won't win as often, of course, because the underdog not only has to cover the spread, but it actually has to win the game outright. Upsets happen, though, and good handicapping will often isolate situations where the likelihood of an upset exceeds the risk of the bet. This is especially relevant in the NBA because the number of games, and the possibility for even the best teams to have a bad night mean that major upsets are far from rare and can be very profitable.
Many novice bettors fail to understand the impact of home advantage when wagering on sport events. When looking at the board for potential wagers, these bettors tend to get excited and bet on lots of superior teams favored on the road against weaker opponents. The betting market is so much more advanced than this, and for the most part point spreads are always going to be 50/50 propositions.
If you've never set foot in an actual sportsbook before or logged into an online sportsbook, the chances of you getting overwhelmed when you actually do is very high. In an actual Las Vegas sportsbook, there is typically a lot of commotion and the odds and lines are displayed on a massive digital board for everyone to see. When a novice sports bettor looks at the massive digital signage, they will see a bunch of numbers, both positive and negative, some two digits, some three digits. They also won't have a clue what any of it means. The same can be said for the online sportsbooks. It looks like a massive spreadsheet with negative and positive numbers beside each teams' name. Read More >>
Many reasons contribute to why point spread betting is one of the most favored by NFL players, certainly one reason it is so attractive to the recreational player is that essentially you have a 50-50 proposition on every team no matter who they are playing meaning you have the opportunity to bet your favorite team no matter who their opponents and in theory have a 50% chance of winning your bet at reasonable odds. Take the 2008 Detroit Lions who went through the regular season without winning a game, now betting them on the NFL money line odds would have been a disaster whereas their point spread record for that season was 7 wins and 9 losses. Similarly the 2007 Dolphins went through the NFL regular season with only one win however their point spread record stood at 5 wins, 7 losses and 4 pushes against the closing line.
If you're an amateur bettor that's just starting out and are in desperate need of a quick betting terminology lesson, you've come to the right place. For starters, I would like to believe that you are starting out by picking teams that you believe will win the game outright. That would be known as a money line bet. If you are a bit more advanced then that, you would probably be looking at betting the "line" on a particular event. To some, this is known as the spread and that's completely fine, but if you ever come across a conversation involving the "line" this article will prepare you for what it actually means. Read More >>
In the United States, it was previously illegal under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 for states to authorize legal sports betting, hence making it effectively illegal. The states of Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon—which had pre-existing sports lotteries and sports betting frameworks, were grandfathered and exempted from the effects of the Act.
While home field advantage may be a sports term, it can also be linked to your house, your route to work, or even a trip to a familiar grocery store. Think about this for a second. If you've ever hosted a party at your house, you know where everything is and you would have free reign to go into any cupboard, drawer or room you that you please. That would be an example of home-house advantage. If you've ever gone to an unfamiliar grocery store (maybe you weren't around town but you needed to make a pit stop), it is going to take you a while to find exactly what it is you are looking for. Read More >>
The point spread is a handicap placed on one team for betting purposes only, it has no place in the game itself. It's designed to give both teams an equal chance at winning in the context of wagers. Think of it this way: If last season's Super Bowl champion was playing a basement-dweller team that hadn't won a game all year, that's a shoo-in bet. Of course, you're going to take the Super Bowl champs, and in all likelihood, you're going to win. What's the fun in that? Even your bragging rights would be next to nil.
All this means to someone betting on New England is that in order for them to win their wager the Patriots must win by more than four points. For another bettor placing his money on Seattle, the Seahawks must either win the game outright or lose by less than four points. If the outcome of the game were to be decided by exactly four points, it what result in what is called a “push” where both bettors would neither win or lose their wager.
One important assumption is that to be credited with a win, either team only needs to win by the minimum of the rules of the game, without regard to the margin of victory. This implies that teams in a winning position will not necessarily try to extend their margin—and more importantly, each team is only playing to win rather than to beat the point spread. This assumption does not necessarily hold in all situations. For example, at the end of a season, the total points scored by a team can affect future events such as playoff seeding and positioning for the amateur draft, and teams may "run up" the score in such situations. In virtually all sports, players and other on-field contributors are forbidden from being involved in sports betting and thus have no incentive to consider the point spread during play; any attempt to manipulate the outcome of a game for gambling purposes would be considered match fixing, and the penalty is typically a lifetime banishment from the sport, such is the lack of tolerance for gambling in sport.
How the point spread works - When two teams meet on the playing field or on the basketball court, one team is typically better than the other or in a more favorable position because of factors like playing at home. If all you had to do were pick the winning team in a game, everybody would simply wager on the best team or the home team in a even matchup and bypass all the lines and collect their winnings at a high rate.
"There’s only so much discretionary income in the Commonwealth, and if this new form of betting taps into it, we feel our sales could be negatively impacted, which in turn could effect proceeds to the Commonwealth," Polston said in an email. "As those proceeds fund college scholarship and grant programs — including every dollar of the popular KEES scholarship — there’s a lot at stake here."
Let’s say you decide to bet $100 on the Packers to win by more 7 points and the final score is Packers 30, Seahawks 21. The Packers have won by 9 points, meaning they’ve covered the spread, and you’ve won the bet. The -110 means that your $100 bet will win you a total of $190. That total includes your original bet amount, so your total profit is $90.
A parlay basically combines several different wagers into one. For example, a parlay could be made up of five point spread wagers on five separate games. The payout for such a wager could be very attractive, but only if ALL the wagers were correct. Just one wrong pick would mean the whole wager failing. That's why these are considered quite risky. They're a bit more complex than the previous wagers mentioned, but we won't go into any more detail here. We do on the following page though.
Money Line: More common in baseball and hockey, pro football moneylines are growing in popularity. There is no spread, so your team just needs to win the game, not win by a certain number of points. The negative value means a favorite (-190) and a positive one indicates an underdog (+170). Picture the number 100 sitting in between these two values. Example: if you want to pick a -190 favorite, you must risk $190 in order to win $100. To back a +170 underdog, you put up $100 and win $170 if the dog wins. In some cases, betting moneylines is actually better value and can provide a bigger profit for less risk.