A beginner’s guide To sports betting

A record 42 million Americans wagered on the league last year as a majority of states moved to legalize sports betting. Fans all across the country were able to add that extra layer of excitement to their gameday by backing a huge range of markets on some of the biggest leagues in the world all over the country. Sports betting had been illegal in large parts of the US since 1992 following a federal law ruling. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) made it unlawful for a State or its subdivisions “to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact… a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based… on” competitive sporting events.

It was not until 2018, some 26 years after the original ruling, that the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting allowing states to legalize as they wish.

In 2022, there is now some form of legal sports betting in over 30 states with a further four more pending and three expected in 2023. You can now bet online in most states where sports betting is legal, making it simpler and quicker than ever.

For those who are new to sportsbooks, betting could be a little confusing— but it could not be simpler. Here we will break it down with our guide on sports betting.

We will start by laying out the basics. Sportsbooks will price their markets with positive (+) and negative (-) numbers. A positive number will tell you how much you would win on a $100 bet whilst a negative number outlines how much you would have to wager to win $100. We’ll start with the basics. On a sportsbook like DraftKings, markets are priced by positive (+) and negative (-) numbers. For example, lets say the Chiefs (-200) are playing the Raiders (+400). In this scenario, a $100 bet on the Raiders would win you $400 whilst a $200 wager on the Chiefs would win you $100. All bets placed with real money (ie not bonus funds) will also return your stake. So our $200 bet on the Chiefs would leave you with $300 in total if it was to win.


The moneyline is the simplest bet to understand. You are simply betting on the result of the game. Any sport that goes to overtime following a tie in regular time will be settled on the final result, meaning there will never be a ‘push’. Whilst the moneyline is a very easy bet to make, they generally offer smaller returns when wagering on favourites.


A bet on the total is just as simple as the moneyline. You are betting on over/under on the number of overall points to be scored in the game. A half point is often used to prevent the case of a tie/push. For example, if the total for the Chiefs/Raiders was 39.5, fans would wager on if the total of both teams points tally is Over or Under that number (over <40, under >40).


The Point Spread

A spread bet is one of the most popular wagers amongst sports bettors. However, it may be a little tough to understand if you are a first timer. Fear not though, they are not as scary as the look. The easiest way to explain the spread is that it handicaps the favourite in any given game, in that it essentially starting them on a virtual negative-points total. The spread will always be a number set by the sportsbook, with the favourite being negative, meaning they have to overcome a set handicap for your bet to win. So for example, if in our Chiefs/Raiders game you bet on the Chiefs against the spread of -10.5, they would have to win the game by 11 points or more for the bet to win. Alternatively, you could bet on the Raiders at 10.5, meaning they must either win the game or lose by no more than 11 points. One of the reasons spread bets are so popular is because they are a great way to back heavy favourites without sacrificing the smaller return.

Other Bets

We have named the most popular bets on the market but there are a lot more on offer. With Parlays you can cover multiple markets across different games in one big bet with increased odds. You can even bet on multiple markets in the same game with Same Game Parlays. Teasers work just like Parlays but you can adjust the markets (e.g. decrease the Spread number) which will then either increase or decrease the odds of the bet dependent on which way you adjusted them. In all of these bets, every singular market you backed must come in for the bet to win.

Player Props are also very popular and exciting bets. With these you can bet on, for example, the number of threes Steph Curry will make in a game or the number of passing touchdowns Patrick Mahomes will make.

Hopefully this guide has given first-timers a lot more confidence with sports betting. Be sure to put it into practice!



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