Want to Bet on Basketball? Basketball Betting Explained

If you’re new to basketball betting, you’re probably in search of a handy guide to help you. Look no further because here is everything you need to know.

Do you love watching basketball and are curious about putting wagers on your predictions? To those unacquainted with sports betting, the writing on basketball betting sites might look like a complex string of code. Don't worry: OddsIndex is here to help you bet on basketball. Soon you’ll be slam-dunking speculations on your betting slip with the same precision as Michael Jordan.

Basketball is Big – And so is the Betting

Unsurprisingly, basketball is huge in the USA. You probably know this already, based on the widespread TV coverage and household names over the years like Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kevin Durant. Interestingly, the average number of viewers per game in the regular season is 1.34 million, with the NBA itself earning around $10 billion in revenue each year. Basketball is the third-most-popular sport in the country, beaten only by baseball and football.

Even though basketball is mainly enjoyed in the US, it's also still regarded as a popular sport on a global scale. For example, basketball is ranked as one of the top three sports in the entire world that is bet on the most. For perspective, an astonishing $10 billion is usually wagered on March Madness alone. Projections suggest that if betting was legalized across all 50 states, the figures for basketball betting on this major event would be around 50% higher.

Does that make you feel like you’re missing out? If so, read on to find out more about how you can get involved with this booming basketball betting scene.

Why Should You Bet on Basketball?

The big question is, why should you start to bet on basketball? Well, there are various reasons why people get into basketball betting. Some people stake their bets on basketball because of the sheer volume of games, and the fact that there are almost always games/events ahead to place wagers on.

If you’re someone who wants to get into sports betting, in general, and trying to choose a sport to stake on, basketball betting is a simple one to navigate. On top of that, if you’re living in the USA, you have the bonus advantage of constant coverage: it’s hard to avoid basketball news and opinions, which is good because these expert commentaries could be invaluable guides that help you form your predictions and bets.

In addition, sites like Basketball Reference, for instance, feature all the data you could possibly need. This lets you weigh up various factors and come to an informed conclusion. There are even sites such as Spotrac where you can look at the money side of the sport as they display the contracts for all the players in the league and break them down into their individual components. Some sports have less information about them, therefore making them a bit harder to research.

Why Betting Online is the Best Option

One of the reasons why so many people bet on basketball is down to its accessibility, and the fact that markets can easily be found online. Few would disagree that online betting is now the best option for staking money on games, but why is this? Here are a couple of the reasons why I believe that online betting is the way of the future.

Welcome Bonuses

Who doesn’t like free stuff? Online bookies have identified our needs for treats and rewards, and now the industry is ripe with bonuses that you can win from. Yes, you read that correctly, you have the chance to win bets from the free money that online bookies gift you for joining their sites, although most of these are deposit matches or free bets given when you lose your first bet, so they aren't as lucrative as they may seem at first. There are also wagering requirements to consider as well because bonuses sometimes need to be wagered again several times before they can be withdrawn.

Our site is the best way to find out about all the top offers, with our dedicated list of bonuses being available with all the information you’ll need to get started.

Best Bookies for Betting

There are plenty of top bookies for American players, some of which offer enticing bonuses. One of the best sites is BetMGM, where there is a $1000 "risk-free" bet for new players. FanDuel Sportsbook offers $50 in the form of a free bet or site credits and FOX Bet offers a $500 risk-free bet, while Caesars Online Sportsbook has a free bet worth $1001.

What are the Different Types of Bet?

So, you’ve joined a site, claimed your freebie and now you’re wondering what all the different bets are about and how to bet on basketball. Here are a few of the main ways to bet on basketball.

Moneyline Bets

Think you know which team is going to win the game? If so, you can simply put a moneyline bet down. The odds for these are stated based on the team’s statistical chances of winning. The odds for the favorite are listed as a negative value, with the less likely winner written as a positive.


The spread is basically the expected margin of difference between the two teams at the end of a game. For example, say team A is favored over team B and the bookmaker expects them to win 10 points, team A will have to win by 11 points or more if you back them, while team B will have to avoid losing by more than 9 points for a wager backing them to win. If team A win by exactly 10 points then the stake is returned to you. Similar to moneyline, this market is available in live betting, although it will change based on the events in the match.


For games where two teams are evenly matched or it's likely to be a one-sided affair where the spread isn't attractive, total betting can be an attractive option as you're betting either above or below the line for the number of points expected in the match by the bookmaker. This market is also available in live betting as it will change based on the score.


An outright bet is when you speculate about a result that might happen after a certain amount of time. For instance, you could bet on who will be the winner of the NBA Championship or you could stake on the team you think will prevail in the Eastern or Western Conference. There are other options like MVP, most improved player, and best coach of the year. These bets will sometimes be filed under specials at an online bookmaker. Our latest article looks at the NBA offseason trades and our favorite picks for the championship. 

Prop Bets

If you’re a lover of stats and figures, prop bets are for you. Instead of betting on the actual outcome of a match or event, you can stake on the statistical performance of players and teams. This is a good option for people who like to study trends, as it can help with predictions. Sometimes, the result of a game contradicts the stats due to freak instances of chance, so prop bets can help narrow down your focus.

Live Betting

This type of betting can be done while you watch a game and provides an advantage over other forms of betting as you can make wagers based on trends and the flow of the game. These bets include options like next player to score and over/under bets based on the total number of points in the game. Most online bookies now offer live betting options.

Other Types of Bet

There are a few other types of bet you might want to familiarize yourself with. The points spread bet is popular, as it can level the playing field if there are gulfs in class between two teams. This is similar to handicap betting, and it means that the favorite has to make up a points deficit for the bet to land.

Parlay bets are also enjoyable, as they allow you to combine a few different markets for greater odds. Sometimes these are listed by the bookies, while other times you can request the odds manually.

What are the Major Competitions and Leagues?

The NBA season is the most important competition in the sport, and it runs for 82 games from mid-October to mid-April, giving players plenty of opportunities to bet on basketball games in that time. It then finishes with playoffs, which start around the end of April most years.

Outside of the USA and the NBA, there are a few major leagues and competitions to bet on. These include the EuroLeague, the EuroCup, the Liga ACB in Spain, and the Lega Basket Serie A in Italy.

Are You Ready to Start Betting Today?

If basketball betting was as difficult as it is to play, we’d be more likely to head home from the half-court line than take a shot. Luckily, with everything we’ve covered in our guide, making that three-point bet will be easier than it looks. Take a look at our sportsbook reviews today to become the MVP of the bet slip and check out our odds comparison tool to get the most value possible.

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