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Now more than ever, online sports betting is a popular activity. But not all online sportsbooks are trustworthy. And if you’ve never placed bets online before, you might not know which sites are safe. To help you cash in on your understanding of athletic events, here’s how to get started with today’s top online sportsbooks.
If you’re concerned about your gambling or are worried about a loved one, reach out for help:
Disclaimer: Our information about sports betting is for entertainment purposes only. We do not endorse online sports betting or specific providers, services or offerings. Most betting sites require you to be at least 18 years old to play. Confirm online gambling regulations in your county or state before placing any wagers with sites on this page.
Not all sports betting websites offer the same set of features, so here are some items to consider while deciding which one is best for you.
Although many casual bettors tend to stick with a single sportsbook once they find one they like, more experienced bettors often create accounts on multiple platforms. While there are advantages to doing this, it can also lead to issues down the road.
For starters, it might pay to join several sports betting sites so you can get the best odds for the sports you’re interested in. This is known as line shopping. Another reason to bet on multiple sites is that you can qualify for attractive signup bonuses.
Signing up for multiple sportsbooks gives you more opportunities to place bets online. If you’re worried gambling is turning into more than a game for you, then having access to lots of sportsbooks might not be the best idea.
At its core, online sports betting works in much the same way as traditional sports betting, which has existed in Las Vegas and other areas for decades. Essentially, you’re wagering money on the likelihood that something will or won’t happen — a team will win a game, a player will score a certain number of points or the total number of points scored will equal a certain amount.
But unlike offline sports betting, where you place bets in person and hand over cash to a bookie, online sports betting allows you to get in on the action from any Internet-connected device.
A point spread is the margin of victory in a specific sporting event, based on the perceived differences between two teams (or players). The team that is favored to win will have a minus sign (-) in front of the number of points they are expected to win by, while the underdog will have a plus sign (+) in front of the number of points they are likely to lose by.
A money line (ML) bet is a straightforward wager for which team (or player) you expect to prevail in a specific event. ML bets don’t involve point spreads or any other factors, and the payouts are represented in positive and negative values. A minus sign (-) suggests that a team is expected to win, and a plus sign (+) means they are expected to lose. The number itself indicates how much you need to bet to win $100, and the higher a number is, the more likely it is that a team will lose.
An over-under is a bet based on the combined number of points expected to be scored by both teams (or players) during a game. Over-under bets are more common in football and basketball, though they exist in nearly every other sport as well. This kind of bet is unique because you’re not aligning yourself with one team over another — instead, you’re betting on both teams’ performance.
It’s common for odds to differ from one sportsbook to the next, though if you’re new to the world of sports betting sites, you might not understand why. Essentially, the people who determine the odds for sports betting sites — called odds compilers — try to strike a balance between the amount of money that comes in for both sides of a bet.
For example, say Team 1 is favored to beat Team 2 in an upcoming game.
The odds compilers will shorten the odds for Team 1 and lengthen them for Team 2. This means the payoff for people who bet on Team 1 will be far less than that of people who bet on Team 2, which is considered a long shot.
By making the payoff for Team 2 so appealing, sports betting sites hope to entice more bettors and balance their accounting.
That’s not the only reason why odds might vary between sports betting sites. One site might also adjust its odds to become more competitive and attempt to lure away customers from another online sportsbook.
Online sportsbooks allow you to make many different types of bets. Here are a few of the most common.
A straight bet is the most basic type of bet, in which you simply wager on a specific outcome. For example, the total number of points that will be scored, whether a team will win or lose. Straight bets can involve money lines or point spreads, and they can also be based on whether the total number of points scored in a particular game is higher or lower than a specific number.
A parlay is a single wager that combines two or more bets on different games — or even different sports. Parlays generally have larger payouts than straight bets because you need to pick more winners correctly. For instance, you could place a parlay bet on your hometown’s NFL, NHL and MLB teams, but if any of them loses, you lose the bet.
A futures bet is a wager placed on an event that will occur at some point after the day the bet is placed. Season championships, such as the World Series, Super Bowl and NBA Finals, are common futures bets, though futures can be placed on just about any sporting event.
Prop bets are wagers on events that occur during a game or season but don’t necessarily depend on a particular team winning. Examples of prop bets include wagering on a coin flip at the beginning of a game or picking which athlete will be declared MVP.
Like a parlay, a teaser is a type of bet that combines wagers on two or more games, but the bets must be based on point spread or total points scores. Teaser bets also allow you to adjust point spreads to your liking, but your payout will be lower if your picks win.
A round-robin bet is a wager that combines several parlay bets on multiple teams or players. Round robins let you bet on many different outcomes, allowing you to cover your bases by betting on every outcome.
Online sports betting is legal in the following states, and several other states are expected to be added to this list in the next two years.
No, you do not need to be a resident of a state to place bets using an online sportsbook based in that state — but you do have to be physically present in the state when placing bets.
If you’re not physically present in a state where online gambling is legal, then you risk criminal prosecution — which might include paying a fine or even jail time depending on your state laws.
There are many different online sportsbooks, but most of them involve a similar signup process.
Although there are several legal sports betting sites in operation today, there are also many sketchy sites that you should avoid.
Here are five signs a sports betting website isn’t legit.
Sports betting sites can be addictive, and gambling with money you can’t afford to lose can have devastating consequences for you and your loved ones. Here’s how to identify whether gambling has become more of a game.
For the gambler
For the family
Get more of your questions about online sports betting sites answered here.
Yes — as long as you choose a trustworthy sportsbook. Most online betting sites are legitimate, but a few unscrupulous outliers should be avoided.
Different sites have different limits. But in general, most major sites have maximum limits between $1,000 and $2,500 per bet.
No, you can open accounts on as many sports betting sites as you’d like.
A prepaid debit card accepted at most casinos and online gaming sites.
The top cards often have cashback rewards of 5% or more. But which one is the best for you depends on how you spend.
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