What is sports betting?

Since 2018, sports betting has been legal in the US and customers have been flocking to sportsbooks to get a taste gambling on sports. But before you get involved it is a good idea to know what you are doing. At we share our decades of experience from betting on sports in Asia and Europe where it has been legal for years.

What is sports betting

Sports Betting Explained

The simple definition of sports betting is the activity of predicting, and placing a wager on the outcome of a sports event.

In the US most sports bets will be placed on the major leagues; NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA and MLS.

In sports betting, a sportsbook will offer odds on an outcome. These odds indicate what the sportsbooks believe the likelihood of an outcome will be. The odds they set will determine how much you win or lose depending on how much you stake.

From the perspective of the bettor, the odds define the value in a bet. The less likely an outcome is the higher the odds will be, which will mean greater returns for you and vice versa. This means that you will need to balance the risk of losing vs the value in the odds.

If you accept the odds offered by the sportsbook, you will then place a wager. There will be some restrictions, such as a minimum and maximum wager, but generally, you can choose how much you want to commit.

If your prediction is correct then your sportsbook will pay you your winnings as well as your original wager into your account with them. If your outcome is incorrect then your sportsbook will keep your original wager. There are a few examples, such as point spread bets, where the outcome is considered a draw, in this case, you will be returned your original wager. If the sporting event is called off then your wager will also be returned.

Sports betting is really a mixture of skill and luck and so it should be respected as such.

Thorough knowledge of the sport, event, teams and players you are betting will greatly increase your chance of winning. At the same time, no bet is a safe bet and sport in its very nature is unpredictable.

At we believe that sports betting should be the perfect mix for sports fans who enjoy gambling. Sports betting can be a great way to get some extra fun out of sports. It is important to remember that however smart you are, sportsbooks make money because they will almost always win in the long run.

Frequently asked questions about sports betting

Is it legal to bet on sports online in the US?

Yes. It is now legal to bet on sports online in the US. However, each state still needs to decide whether to allow sports betting. Currently, New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania have legalised sports betting and have sportsbook ready to receive your bets.

In what states is sports betting legal?

The states were sports betting is officially legal are New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. However, online sportsbook only exist in PA, NJ and NV.

Can you make money from sports betting?

Technically yes. But you would need an enormous amount of luck and you would need to put in an enormous amount of time and research to make any serious money. Sports betting is part skill, so you can increase your chances, but at the end of the day it is still a gambling industry and the sportsbooks have to make money, and just like casinos, if you gamble long enough the house usually wins. That's not to say sports betting in moderation cant be a bit of good fun!

What does the + and - mean in sports betting?

The + sign means that a team or player is considered the favourite. The minus means that the team or player are the underdogs. It is the number, called the odds, that comes after the plus and the minus that assigns the value to your bet. You can read more about that on our guide on how sports betting odds work?

At what age can you place a sports bet in the US?

At 21. There are a few exceptions but these are very rare and are difficult to validate online.

Is sports betting popular in the US?

Yes. Until now, it has been illegal to place bets on sports apart from a few specific locations such as sportsbooks in Las Vegas. However in 2018, it was legalised at a state level, which means states one by one are allowing sports betting. This will mean that interest in sports betting will grow. The US loves to gamble and the US loves sports, so it's a match made in heaven.

Online Sports Betting in the US

Sports Betting was only legalized in 2018 when Congress ruled that the existing ban was unconstitutional. This ruling meant that at a national level, sports betting both online and offline were legal for anyone over 21. It was absolutely huge news in the sports betting industry around the world.

Until this point, Las Vegas had been the only established legal hub for sports betting in the USA. This meant that the city had enjoyed a monopoly on the industry and most sports bets were run through casinos who offered sports bet within their establishment.

With sports betting only really available in ‘sin city’ the industry in the US has got a different image than in many other places around the world. I cities like London, every high street will have sportsbooks and placing a wager is a common thing amongst people of all ages.

Now that sports betting has been legalised in the US, the sportsbooks have been lining up to get involved in the action.

However, it’s been a steady stream rather than a gold rush so far as the country and states are easing people in slowly. 2019, looks like the year of opportunity with a number of major sportsbooks launching their online and mobile operations in a number of different states.

But the story is not over yet. The law meant it was up to each state to decide whether to allow sportsbooks in their jurisdiction. In 2019, we have a few states that have decided to legalize sports betting, a few states who are about to, a few states who are discussing it and finally a load of states who haven’t even look into it.

In the states where sports betting is legal, sportsbooks can operate within the state borders. This can either be in the form of a physical sportsbook or online. The state will see if you are online by reading your IP address.

Types of sports betting

You can read more on this subject with our guide on the different sports betting markets. When we say markets we refer to the various forms of bets you can place on sports. Most beginners will be aware of the most common type of sports betting; moneyline betting: This is where you either back the favorite or underdog to win the match.

However, there is a whole world of different, unusual sports bets out there. They include:

  • Spread Betting
  • Parlays
  • Teasers
  • Futures
  • Over/under totals

The list can go on and become even more obscure. In some countries, like the UK, where sports betting has been legal since time immemorial, you can even predict the number of corners in a soccer match.

what sports can you bet on?

Any sportsbook worth its salt will offer all the major sports and more. Every US-based sportsbook will offer odds for:

  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Hockey
  • Soccer

As well as these sports the vast majority of sportsbooks will offer odds for:

  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • MMA
  • Boxing
  • Motor Racing

You can read our guides on what sportsbooks are best for the NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL.

Of course, within these sports, you may find a variation of sports bets available for different events. For example, when it comes to the Superbowl you can expect your sportsbook to roll out their full portfolio of sports bets. However, for a college soccer game, you may be restricted to a moneyline bet.

Sports betting on entertainment

You may have noticed that it is possible nowadays to bet on almost anything. In Europe, sportsbooks have offered bets on everything from politics to the naming of royal babies.

US-based sportsbooks have now joined the party, with the Oscars being a particularly popular bet.

These bets are usually just a bit of fun, but it can be a nice way to engage people in public events. It is also useful for the media to gauge how likely the public consider an event to occur. We usually stick to sports at

What is a sport betting promotion?

A sports betting promotion can take many different forms but essentially it is when a sportsbook offers something of value for free or for a reduced rate. The first type of promotion and as a US customer, usually the most generous type of promotion you will come across will usually be the welcome bonus.

The welcome bonus or signup bonus is what you get when you sign up to a betting company and they provide you with some sort of incentive. This can take a number of different forms, but will often involve a set of free bets. To know more you can read our guide on how do betting bonuses work?

Once you are signed up sportsbooks can offer a host of different promotions. Each sportsbook has its own promotional style and usually, it takes a while to understand how each one works. If you look at any of’s reviews you can find our section on promotions.

Legal online sports betting

Staying on the right side of the law is extremely important, especially in the US. The country is new to legalized sports betting and any serious violations could throw this arrangement into jeopardy. This means that sportsbooks will be very tough with customers. Make sure you are within a state where sports betting is legal and that you are over 21.

An informal betting sector has existed for a number of years and is worth billions. This was one of the arguments for reversing the ban on sports betting. The argument was twofold; America was losing out on the revenue and criminal networks were profiting of the industry.

At we are aware of any reputable sportsbook and will never write about or recommend a sportsbook that is not 100% legal. We suggest you stick to the sportsbooks we have published on our site.