When the Supreme Court struck down federal laws banning single-game betting there was a swift shift to state-sponsored legal US sports betting.
Governments and casino industry heavyweights now have 8 states in operation, 2 that have recently passed bills, and 17 that are in the process.
If you’re not in already you probably will be soon.
This is part of our series on sports betting laws and tips.
Take a look at our other in depth guides below
So how do you get started?
Let us help you get your chips in the middle with this in-depth betting guide.
US Sports Betting Guide - How to Bet on Sports Online
Step 1 - Be in the Right State
If you’re going to wager legally on US sports betting sites you’ll naturally need to reside in one of the states currently allowing bets:
With New York and Arizona recently passing bills and a handful of others (Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Connecticut, California, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, Kansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, DC, Oklahoma, and Louisiana) in the process of introducing legislation it looks as if sports gambling is here to stay.
Keep checking back here to see if your state gets approved.
Step 2 - Find the Right Site
At Betting.com we’re reviewing US sports betting sites on a state-by-state basis to ensure you get a crack at the best player-pleasing offers in the business.
Best sports betting sites in Delaware
Best sports betting sites in Mississippi
Best sports betting sites in Nevada
Best sports betting sites in New Mexico
Best sports betting sites in Pennsylvania
Best sports betting sites in Rhode Island
Best sports betting sites in West Virginia
Step 3 - Sign Up
Though the industry can’t escape its entanglement with the world of state law, you’ll be happy to know that setting up an account with major US sports betting sites is no harder than signing up for a social media account.
The primary goal here for sites is to verify your identity and legal age - much like alcohol consumption this is typically 21 for the states above though Rhode Island operates at 18.
It’s best to check with the site at the time of sign up.
Ensure you have a valid email address and telephone number because you’ll more than likely be sent a confirmation number to verify the account.
Step 4 - Deposit
In order to start betting on sports in the US you’ll typically be faced with a few deposit options which mirror a transaction with other online merchants like Amazon.
Credit/debit cards: the most popular option for players for convenience, security, and lack of service charges.
E-Wallets: a godsend for players who have banks which prevent gaming transactions, these pre-loadable wallets like Paypal and Skrill also offer added security.
Bank transfers: a slow yet familiar and secure option.
Cash at the cage: all US sports betting sites are connected with a brick and mortar casino where cash is accepted and deposited to your account much like a bank.
Do keep in mind that while most of these deposit options will be approved with very little verification, you will be required to prove your identity upon cashout.
This typically involves sending a picture of a valid piece of photo ID, a bank or utility bill, and a copy of any cards used.
If a copy of your card is requested please ensure you black out the middle 8 digits for security reasons.
If you think the casino is getting a little carried away please know that I can tell you after working 5 years in fraud for online casinos that this is standard procedure.
Annoying, but standard.
Once you’ve got your money on the site we can finally do what we’ve wanted to do all along… play!
How to Bet on Sports Online
When you log in to your account it can be overwhelming to see a bunch of team names drowning in a flood of numbers, fractions, and decimals.
How to Calculate Odds
What we need to do is get the basics down and it starts with odds.
In short, odds are the numerical expression representing the likelihood of an event. In the case of wagering they also represent how much money we’re likely to win should the event happen.
Let’s start by rolling dice.
When rolling one single six-faced die there is a ⅙ (16.67%) chance of any specific number coming up.
Since the probability is 1 in 6 the casino may (but likely won’t) opt to pay you $6.00 for every $1.00 you bet on each correct guess.
Obviously, this is a bet with no house or player edge so it will not be offered… the action and challenge comes with odds offerings holding more perceived value or hopefully even edges.
Since we just talked about fractions let’s utilize them to get into some very basic betting fundamentals.
Futures bets recall some of the most basic bets we made in the schoolyard as uninformed, homer-betting children: it’s a type of bold bet for a future result long before all the cards are down.
A typical example would be predicting the Super Bowl winners in early season. The casinos set out the odds and you see a few teams and their fractions in action:
New Orleans Saints 7/4
New England Patriots 6/1
Kansas City Chiefs 9/2
Detroit Lions 2000/1
Here you’ll be paid $7.00 for every $4.00 bet on New Orleans should they win the Super Bowl and a whopping $2000.00 for every $1.00 bet should the Lions take it down.
For the patient, season-long fan these are some interesting bets that get a lot of miles.
Just keep in mind that typically payouts are not made until the very end of the season, so if you picked a team to win the AFC then it usually won’t be paid until the Super Bowl has ended. Read how to bet on the NFL
Moneyline (Single Game Outcome Bets)
For those without the patience to endure a season of ups and downs, getting some money in on a single game offers the chance to get the heart rate up a bit more.
The most common single game betting format comes in the form of Moneyline since it is simply a wager on the outcome of the game with no strings attached.
Here we typically use the American Odds system which is not a fraction or a decimal, but rather an indication of the relative return on a bet using a 100 unit base figure.
Consider the following line: ML Dallas (+150) vs. San Francisco (-110)
When we see “ML” we know we’re going for a straight result Moneyline bet.
The ‘+’ sign means that we’ll win that amount for every $100.00 bet, while the ‘-’ sign means we’ll have to wager that amount to win $100.00.
If we bet $100.00 on Dallas and they win we ‘reclaim’ our original bet of $100.00 plus the $150.00 for the win for a total of $250.00.
If we bet $110.00 on San Francisco and they win we ‘reclaim’ our original bet of $110.00 plus the $100.00 for the win for a total of $210.00.
Who was the favourite then?
If you said San Francisco then you’re right.
Be careful: many US sports betting sites have different interpretations of Moneyline and some of the results only refer to the full time result not including overtime/extra time - please check in advance.
Point Spread Betting
Single game betting strategy can get increasingly more complicated than typical Moneyline propositions when the casino offers an advantage or disadvantage to teams playing.
Using our Dallas and San Francisco battle from above, let’s add some numbers to the line to see what types of bets can break out.
Dallas + 4.5 (+150)
San Francisco - 4.5 (-110)
Here again we see Dallas as the underdog as much more money is being offered for bettors daring to wager on them.
In fact, the casino is so down on Dallas’ chances in the game that they’ve even given them 4.5 extra points to compete.
This means that even if they lose the game by one point, let’s say 27-26, they’ll technically ‘win’ 30.5-27 with the + 4.5 point spread. And you’ll get $150.00 for every $100.00 wagered.
By the same token if you’d bet on San Francisco they would have needed to win the game by at least 5 points to cover the spread. And you’d get paid $110.00 for a $100.00 bet.
If you’re not in the mood to pick a team or it’s just too close to call then you can still get in on the action with an over/under bet which simply predicts the quantity of a statistic (usually points) in any given game.
The classic bet here is the total amount of points between two teams.
If you’re expecting a shootout between the Warriors and Raptors the best thing to do is to go check the lines offered. Check how to bet on the NBA.
Here’s an example:
The key here is the number 230.
It’s here that the casino is setting the line from which you can go over or under. If you bet on the game total going over (‘o’) 230 combined points, you’ll receive $110.00 for every $100.00 wagered.
If on the other hand you bet that the game would score less (‘u’) than 230 combined points you’ll receive $100.00 for every $110.00 wagered.
Proposition bets are simply side wagers which have very little bearing on the overall result of sports events.
If you’ve got a feeling that Messi may score a goal and get a red card in the same match, this type of bet may be for you!
Common props include strikes and balls thrown by pitchers, first team to score, an unusual player scoring, how many yards passing per quarterback etc.
Also, with the growth of sports betting in the US there has been an influx of so-called exotic prop bets like how long the national anthem will last. These are usually good for a laugh and not taken too seriously.
In case one game wasn’t interesting enough there is always the chance to worsen your odds of winning but having a bigger reward for the risk.
To parlay is simply to combine two or more bets.
Let’s imagine one winter you’ve got a good feeling that next Sunday night the San Antonio Spurs, Vancouver Canucks, and Seattle Seahawks will all be victorious.
We simply need to look at the lines:
San Antonio -110
Without getting too much into the mathematics here (the website will calculate it automatically) we suddenly see that we’ve got a combined parlay odds of +758.
If all three teams win you’ll get $758.00 for every $100.00 bet.
Parlays can be made with any existing bets on the site including props, point spread, over/under, moneyline, and futures bets.
The world of online bets gets more and more inclusive, even with bettors who have already missed the first pitch or kick off.
One of the great additions to the industry is the capability of in-game betting which offers real time odds on virtually every major sports league you can imagine.
Especially when playing with some of the top US sports betting apps from the comfort of home or the chaos of a bar during the playoffs, this can add a level of excitement to betting we haven’t yet seen.
All the sports bets explained above are on offer except for futures.