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Betting In The USA Sportsbook

 

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There’s nothing like sports betting to turn a dull sporting event into something exciting. Right now, except for horse racing and dog racing, betting on sports in the United States is mostly illegal. Most states have laws that make legal sports betting impossible.

But as we all know, making something illegal doesn’t mean it stops. However, for this article (and any articles pertaining to the individual sports), we’ll largely concentrate on LEGAL sports betting in Las Vegas and the like.

However, one can safely assume that the same general terms and mannerisms are present in the illegal world – just replace the word “Casino” (or “Sports Book”) with “bookie” and add in “Bruno the Enforcer”, and you’re all set to go in the illegal world.

Ok, so how does (Legal) sports betting work in the US?

Well, a Casino typically has an area called a Sports Book. This is a place where wagers are taken on almost every conceivable sport (including horse and dog racing, where it is handled the same as it is at the track). You can bet on football games, bet on baseball games, hockey games, basketball games, etc (by the way – the preceding covers college games as well as pro, too). And while there are a myriad of bets one can make (like “who kicks the first field goal”, etc), most bets fall under three types:

Seasonal winners (like in the beginning of the season, which teams will make the Super Bowl).
The over / under (popular in football – you bet if the game’s total points will be over or under a certain number).
The winner – far and away the most popular bet. You bet on who will win a particular contest.

In terms of odds, Americans prefer to use the moneyline format when possible. Instead of fractions or decimals, a dollar amount (positive or negative) is placed next to the bet. Using a base of $100 dollars, this tells the bettor how much they must bet to win $100 or how much their bet will win for every $100. For heavily favored bets, bets in excess of the wins are normal. That’s because the bet is expected to win. Here’s how moneyline sports betting works:
The New York Yankees are the favored to win and their moneyline is -150. The Boston Red Sox are at +130 because they are expected to lose. To win $100 on the Yankees, you must bet $150. If you place a winning $100 bet on the Red Sox, you win $130.00.

The moneyline is useful for most sports, save for American Football and Basketball (which are the two most popular sports to bet on). These games generally use what’s called the point spread. This means favored teams must win by a certain number of points – if the NY Jets are favored by 7 ½ points over the Arizona Cardinals, the Jets must win by 8 points or more for you to win by betting on them. You could conceivably bet the Cardinals and still win even if they lose (as long as it’s by 7 or less). Point spread betting is even money in payout (bet $100, win $100, etc.).

So, how does the casino make money? Besides collecting the losses, they also take a percentage of each win. Plus, they adjust the betting odds / point spread / lines as bets come in, so they have close to an even amount of “action” on both sides.

The next time you are at a casino, plunk down a few bucks on your favorite team. It’ll make watching the games that much more fun.

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