Legal Sports Betting in the United States

Legal Sports Betting in the United States 2024

In May of 2018, the US Supreme Court gave its ruling in Murphy vs. NCAA, a case that focused on states’ rights to individually legalize and regulate sports betting.

The decision, a 6-3 vote, overturned PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), the federal ban on sports betting that had been in place since 1992. With the repeal, states now have the ability to legalize and regulate sports betting.

Types of Sports Bets

Point Spread Bets

Also known as ‘playing a side’, the point spread represents the margin of victory in which a favored team must win by, or an underdog may lose by, in order for the bettor to win his bet.

For example, if the Warriors are -11 in a game against the Cavaliers who are +11, the Warriors must win by at least 12 points to ‘cover the spread’ and the Cavaliers my lose by up to 10 points to ‘cover the spread’. Should the game land on an 11 point differential exactly, it’s known as a ‘push’ and bets are refunded.

Moneyline Bets

A moneyline bet represents the odds of a team winning the game outright, by any margin. For example, the Warriors could face the Cavaliers as a -200 favorite with the Cavaliers being a +170 underdog. The ‘minus’ represents the amount of money a bettor would need to wager to win $100. The ‘plus’ represents the return on a $100 wager.

So in this scenario, the Warriors could win by any amount, and your $200 bet on them would return $300 (your original $200 bet, plus your $100 winnings). Should the Cavaliers win, a $100 bet would return $270 (your original $100 bet, plus your $170 winnings).

Total Bets

Also known as over/under bets, a total bet is a wager on the number of points/runs/goals scored in a given game or match. In boxing or MMA, it refers to the length of the match in rounds. In tennis, it can be the total number of games or sets played.

Parlay Bets

A parlay bet is a single wager made based on two or more outcomes. A bettor can parlay moneylines, point spreads, totals, or a combination of all. To win the bet, all legs of the parlay must be winners. Parlay payouts are determined by the number of bets linked and the odds at which they bets are taken.

For example, let’s say you place a parlay bet on Broncos -3, Cowboys -6, and Bears +6.5. The Broncos win by 7, the Cowboys win by 10, but the Bears lose by 17. Even though your first two legs of the parlay were winners, you lose the entire bet due to the Bears not covering the spread.

Teaser Bets

A teaser bet is a single wager allows the bettor to move the point spread or total in their favor so long as there are at least two legs to the bet. As with a parlay, all bets made within the teaser must win for the ticket to pay.

For example, the posted lines for an NFL game have the Raiders -7 and another game has the Chargers at -3. A bettor could place a 6-point teaser and move the lines to Raiders -1 and Chargers +3. Again, both outcomes have to win for the ticket to be paid.

Teasers are available for football and basketball. NFL teasers are typically 6, 6.5, and 7 points. NCAA football can come with additional 10 and even 14 point options. Basketball teasers are usually 4, 4.5, and 5 points.

Futures Bets

Futures bets are wagers placed well in advance, bound to a future outcome. Super Bowl winner, World Series winner, and NBA champion are all examples of popular futures bets.

Prop Bets

Prop bets focus on the outcome of a specific event within a given game. Also called ‘exotic’ bets, prop bets are extremely popular during marquee sporting events such as the Super Bowl and stand-alone games like Thursday or Monday Night Football.

An example of a prop bet might be “which player will score the first touchdown?”

In-Play Bets

In-play wagers are bets placed after a game has already started. Betting shops update spreads and totals throughout games where in-play is offered and also offer bettors quarter/half/period lines and totals.

Sports Betting FAQ

What is a point spread?
A point spread is a handicap applied to a favorite. The team most likely to win lays points, while an underdog gains points. The point spread hopes to find the most likely number that a favorite is predicted to win by in a team sport. Point spreads are often found in American football and basketball. Alternative lines in hockey and baseball use point spreads on 1.5.

What is a pleaser?
A pleaser is a reverse teaser. This involves a player giving points away from the published line. That number is typically seven. Pleaser cards are often even where ties lose so books will try to place the lines on important numbers. Pleasers are normally available only in American football. Sportsbooks will try to place teaser lines on important numbers like 3, 7, 10 and 14. Ties lose in a pleaser.

Can I bet on a game that is in progress?
Many online sportsbooks accept bets on games that are in progress. This is called in-play. Most in-play bets are only accepted when a game is on commercial break. Bettors making these wagers should note that television feeds often run behind the actual event.

What is vigorish?
Vigorish, often referred to simply as vig or juice, is the price a sportsbook charges for accepting a bet.

What sports can you bet on?
If the sport exists, you can probably find a sportsbook that will take action on it. In Nevada, it may be difficult to find lines on sports outside of the US that are relatively niche.

How old do I have to be to bet sports online?
Nevada, and all regulated US markets require players to be at least 21 years of age.

Can I bet on sports on Android?
In the state of Nevada, Android apps are available.

Can I bet on sports on an iPhone?
Many Nevada sportsbooks provide an iOS platform.

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