When the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting, the floodgates were opened for regulated and licensed sports betting stateside. This includes online sports betting, as well as betting in retail sportsbook environments. Almost half of all US states have legalized and regulated their own online sports betting industries since 2018. Anyone can bet on sports online provided you are above the legal age limit and reside in a US state that has legalized online sports betting.
Within this beginner’s guide to sports betting, we’ll explore the basics to get you on the fast track to becoming a successful online sports bettor.
Online sports betting really does up the ante. Never has it been so fun to watch two teams play out a tie in a random game of soccer in England or even Belarus (if you know you know). Having a stake in the outcome of a game can make it even more entertaining, especially if it’s a sport you’re not familiar with.
If you’re drawn to sports betting purely for its entertainment value, then there’s really not much you need to know. Just find a sport, market, or line that interests you and go from there. One important caveat to this: make sure you know what bet you’re placing. If you’re not sure how a bet wins or how much it pays out (this should at least be clear on the bet slip), then find out before you place your wager.
But, betting is also about probability and value odds. The most profitable online sports bettors scour the betting markets for odds with a likely probability of an outcome happening. Unlike doing your homework back in junior high, putting in the time really can pay off here.
For example, let’s say there is a 50% chance of Team A winning a game. Implied probability is also used to determine the price of sports betting odds. 50% implied probability equates to odds of +100. This is considered a value bet if you can find odds of greater than +100 on Team A winning a game. Profitable sports bettors seek out value in every bet they place, as they know the implied probability is on their side long-term. For more tips on how to be successful at sports betting, check out our other guide.
There is a growing number of online sportsbooks in the US. It’s your job as a bettor to find the sportsbook that offers the most competitive (value) odds in your preferred sports.
With competition in the online sports betting industry hotting up, there are plenty of US sportsbooks to choose from as a first-time online sports bettor. As a newcomer to the industry, it can seem impossible to differentiate between them all. That’s where we come in. In an ideal world, you should choose an online sportsbook that offers the following:
We're big advocates for players having accounts with multiple sportsbooks. Each operator will provide different odds meaning some will be better value than others. By not being loyal, you're able to look across the markets and what they have to offer ahead of making selections. It's worth noting, that you cannot have multiple accounts with the same sportsbook!
The caliber of welcome bonuses is also another crucial differentiator that separates good online sportsbooks from great ones. We all love something for nothing, right? Within our online sportsbook reviews, we explore the welcome bonuses of each site in detail. The best sign-up offers are those that don’t require you to make a real-money deposit. You can get free bets upon simply creating your new account with certain sportsbooks. There’s also a string of online sportsbooks offering risk-free bets for your first real-money wager. This is another great feature as it allows you to make a bet and familiarize yourself with the operator’s betting markets and betslip – safe in the knowledge that if your bet loses it will be refunded in cash or free bets. Think of it like having one too many beers but without a hangover the next day.
Be sure to look at the wagering requirements of any welcome bonus received. The lower the rollover requirements the better chance you have of turning that bonus money into cold, hard withdrawable cash.
The best online sportsbooks also make it possible for customers to live stream events they wish to bet on within the user interface. Many of the leading operators have secured broadcasting partnerships with the major networks to cover some of the Major League sports, as well as other leading sports like ATP and WTA tennis, handball, and even coverage of the burgeoning eSports industry.
These live streams are often embedded within a sportsbook’s desktop site and it’s also possible to view the streams within native mobile apps.
What’s great about online sports betting is that sportsbooks have got literally every market you can think of covered. Our most popular bet types at an online sportsbook include:
A growing number of online sportsbooks are starting to offer a cash-out feature to bettors. This is one of the newest live sports betting features, giving customers greater flexibility when managing their bets in-play.
The cash-out function gives bettors the freedom to lock in a profit before the final whistle of the live event. Online sportsbooks allow bettors to take a partial profit if their wagers are looking good in-play. Bettors that may have second thoughts on their bets when watching the action live can take the partial profit instead of risking losing their entire stake. Sure, it's a bit like you've chickened out, but at least you've got something to show for it!
Some online sportsbooks will only offer a cash-out facility on single bets, but it’s also offered by some operators for wagers on everything from the moneyline and point spreads through to futures bets and multi-leg parlays.
Wondering which payment methods are the most widely accepted by the leading online sportsbooks? You can typically deposit and withdraw funds from the leading US operators using the following payment sources:
Once you have read our extensive library of online sportsbook reviews, and you’ve chosen your preferred sportsbook, you can go ahead and create a new bettor account. You’ll usually need to provide proof of identity, such as a government-issued ID card, as well as proof of address in the form of a utility bill. These documents can often be uploaded digitally to expedite the sign-up and account verification process.
Make sure you include any relevant welcome bonus codes in the sign-up form when prompted to ensure you get full value for becoming a new customer.
Now that you already know the basics of the sports you can bet on online – and the types of sports betting markets available – you've got everything you need to hit more home runs than Barry Bonds!