Sports Betting 101

sports betting

Whether you’re a casual fan or a die-hard fan of a particular sport, sports betting can add excitement to your viewing experience. In addition to regular-season games, sportsbooks also offer wagers on non-human contests such as horse racing, greyhound racing, and political elections.

Sports betting is legal in all 50 states. In some cases, bettors can also wager online. However, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in 2006 to curb illegal offshore betting sites.

Online sportsbooks offer betting markets and list different types of bets. Most wagers are placed on basketball, baseball, football, and hockey. In other cases, bettors can focus on niche leagues and games.

The most popular bets are moneylines, point spreads, totals, and parlays. Regardless of the type of bet you make, it’s important to understand the odds and how to read them.

Point spreads are bets on a team’s margin of victory, or the number of points that a favored team needs to win to “cover the spread.” Typically, bookmakers offer odds of 11 to 10 to represent a 50 percent chance of the favored team winning. If you think the Dallas Cowboys will win by more than six points, you’ll “lay” 5.5 points.

Totals are bets on the combined score of two teams. In a matchup, for example, the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams are playing a game with a total of 43 points. Ideally, you’d like the combined total to be more than 43 points, so you can “push” the Seahawks.