How Does Sports Betting Work?

Gaming Guide

Sports betting has existed for as long as there have been sports. Even the Ancient Romans made bets on the chariot races. Today, sports betting generates over $150 billion annually in America. 

One of the reasons that number is so high is because of a 2018 Supreme Court decision that made sports gambling legal across the country. However, that decision leaves it up to each state to allow some form of sports betting. 

The internet makes finding an online New Jersey sports betting portal easy. In addition, you can find a sportsbook in almost every state and even download a sports betting app to your phone. 

This access to betting apps means you can bet on any sporting event, from weekend football games to NASCAR racing. Before you make a bet, let’s take a closer look at how sports betting works. An informed bet is a smart bet. 

Sports Betting Basics 

When you place a bet, you wager a certain amount of money on the outcome of a particular sporting event. You pick the event and your predicted outcome, but you must make that bet with a willing participant. That participant can be a New Jersey sports betting app or website or a physical NJ sports betting facility such as a casino or Off Track Racing parlor. 

You are guaranteed a payout if your team wins by placing a bet with a legitimate betting entity. However, that entity can only stay in business if they have the funds to cover all the bets that they take in. Those entities are referred to as a sportsbook or a bookmaker. 

With each bet, you will pay a fee to the bookmaker; this fee is sometimes referred to as a “vig” or “juice,” and it’s how the NJ sportsbooks or any other bookmaker can afford to stay in business. 

The concept of betting is simple. However, weighing your options with the type of bet and the odds is where things can get complicated. Here are some of the bets you can pick from: 

Moneyline Bets 

A moneyline bet, sometimes called a straight bet, is a bet on who will win a game. These bets work with an odds system that shows up as -/+ 100 or a variation of some other three-digit number. The minus sign refers to the team that is a favorite to win. The plus sign designates the underdog team. 

Suppose the Bulls play the Knicks with the Bulls -200 and the Knicks +350. With a moneyline bet, you would need to bet $200 on the Bulls to win $100. However, if you bet $100 on the Knicks to win the game, your potential payout will be $350. 

Moneyline bets are the most common type of sports bet, and it’s win or lose with no fancy calculations or safety nets. 

Point Spreads Bets

A point spread bet adds or subtracts a certain amount of points from the final score of a game. That means your team could lose the game but beat the point spread, and you will still win the bet. 

For instance, if the Bulls are at -10 (-100) and the Knicks are at +10 (-100), you could bet $100 on either team. If you bet the Bulls, you want them to win by more than 10 points. You can also win if you bet the Knicks and they lose by less than 10 points. 

Of course, in a point spread bet, you have to come in on the correct side of the spread. So if the Bulls win by only 4 points in this scenario, you lose. If the Knicks have a lousy night and lose by more than 10 points, then you will also lose your bet. 

Futures Bets

A futures bet is also called an outright winner bet. It is a bet you put down on a team at the beginning of a season. The most common type of future bet is that a certain team will win the championship. This is a very popular bet for the Super Bowl and a favorite for March Madness and the PGA Tour. 

A sportsbook will consider all factors to create its list of future winners. Then, each sportsbook can set its own odds, allowing you to shop around until you find a bet that provides the best odds for your future pick. 

Obviously, with this type of bet, you must wait until the season’s end to collect. If your team drops out of contention for the championship at any point, your bet is over. 

Totals or Over Under Bets 

A totals or over/under bet is not about picking a winner or loser; it’s about choosing what might be the final score of a game when all the points are totaled. You will bet whether the outcome will be over or under that final number. Each over or under bet comes with its own odds for payout. 

For instance, if the over/under on the Bulls versus Knicks game is 150, then you have to bet if that final score will be more or less than 150. Again, each sportsbook sets their own totals, which means they can vary from site to site. 

Parlay Bets

A parlay bet is a bet that covers several games in a single bet. For instance, you could make a parlay bet on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday NFL games. Parlays have a bigger payout but also come with more significant risks. It only takes one team to lose in your parlay for your bet to lose. 

Fractional Odds

Every bet you place with a sportsbook will have odds. The most common form of odds is fractional odds. For example, the odds on our basketball game could be the Bulls at 2/9 and the Knicks at 17/5. The left side number is what you can win if your team wins, and the right side number is the amount you have to bet to win. 

So, you would need to bet $9 on the Bulls to win $2. On the other hand, if you bet $5 on the Knicks and they win, then you score $17. 

When To Bet

You can place a bet days before a game or live as the game unfolds. Live betting requires careful attention to the game, and there will also be a cut-off for accepting bets. Some live betting lets you “cash out” early, which could prevent you from losing if your team falters at the end of the game. 

No matter what type of bet you decide to make, money on the game can make watching a lot more interesting!