A guide for anyone wanting to learn how to bet online. If you are new to the game you will find the basic concepts to help you get started. Or if you are a seasoned veteran you can add to your knowledge and learn more about the less common wagering options.

Guide to Betting on Sports

Background information, a detailed breakdown of the types of wagers allowed, a rundown of the payment options you can use and a reference guide for the most common types of bonuses available.

How to Bet – Overview

Is Online Sports Betting Legal?

Yes, in 2018 the US Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting allowing individual states to legalize and regulate the industry.

How Do I Get Started?

Each state has a different selection of legal sportsbooks to choose from. You can sign up for a new account on your chosen sportsbook’s website or via their app. The apps are available for both iPhone and Android users.

How Do I Choose a Sportsbook?

It basically comes down to personal preference. There are no bad choices as each legal sportsbook will have gone through a stringent process before being granted a license to operate.

It’s worth trying out several apps before deciding which one is your favorite and having multiple accounts also gives you the advantage of picking the best odds/lines on a given event between the competing sportsbooks.

What Are These Bonuses All About?

Legal sports betting is a relatively new industry in the U.S. and the sportsbooks are competing to attract new players. As a result, they offer a variety of bonuses for new account registrations. We keep track of these on our Free Bets page.

How Do I Get Money On and Off the Apps/Sites?

This varies by sportsbook and state but there are a wide variety of options available. The most common deposit method is credit/debit card although not all banks allow transactions with sportsbooks yet.

Other methods include eWallets such as PayPal or Skrill, direct Bank Transfer, Prepaid Cards, Cash at the Cage, PayNearMe, eChecks and traditional paper checks, which are still one of the most popular choices for cashing out.

Is It Safe?

Yes, every sportsbook must go through a comprehensive (and costly) vetting process to get a license to operate in each state. Only the most established and trusted companies are being allowed to operate in this relatively new industry and that’s why you see the big names like MGM, Caesars, Bally’s, DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, 888sport, PointsBet, PlaySugarHouse, Bet365 etc. behind the apps.

On top of this, each state has a regulatory body (a Gaming Board or Division of Gaming) that oversees the industry and ensures the absolute safety of customers’ money and data on the sites.

What Sports Can I Bet On?

It’s pretty much a case of, you name it – you can bet on it. The biggest sport by wagering volume is NFL and the two biggest events in the sports betting calendar are the SuperBowl and the NCAA Basketball Tournament aka March Madness. Then there is NBA, MLB, NHL, college football, college hoops, soccer, tennis, MMA, boxing, Nascar and other motorsports, rugby, cricket, Australian Rules football… the list goes on.

There can be minor differences between sportsbooks in the sports they offer but the major American sports and biggest international events will almost definitely be covered. There are some minor restrictions on college sports depending on the state you are in; you can check your individual sportsbook for details.

What are the Different Types of Bets?

Moneyline, Point Spread, Totals, Parlays, Teasers/Pleasers, Props, Futures, Round Robins, In-Play Betting and PointsBetting are among the most popular forms of sports bet.

How to Bet – Types of Wagers

Moneyline Bets:

This is the most popular bet type, it is simply betting on a specific team to win. The team with the negative sign is the favorite and the team with the positive sign is the underdog. Example: New York Jets are @ -165, New York Giants @ +140: the Jets are favorites and the Giants are underdogs. In this example if you bet on the favorite, the Jets, you have to bet $165 to win $100. If you bet on the underdog, the Giants, you’ll bet $100 to win $140. Moneyline bets on solely who wins.

Point Spread Bets:

Also known as betting the spread, this bet is on who wins and by how much. It is used to even out the odds between two unevenly matched teams. The sportsbook estimates which team is expected to win and by what margin. The favorite has a negative sign and the underdog has a positive sign. Players then bet that the team expected to win will exceed the margin of victory and “beat the spread” or players will bet the underdog will lose by fewer points than the margin thus “cover the spread”.

Example: Patriots vs Rams. Patriots are favorites (-5), they have to win by six points or more to beat the spread and the Rams would have to lose by four points or less to cover the spread. If a game results in the exact number e.g. in this case if the Patriots win by exactly five points it would be a ‘push’ and bettors on either side would be returned their original wager. The spread is often expressed in half points to avoid a “push”/tie.

Total Bets: Over/Under:

This is a single wager that the combined score of a game will be over or under what the sportsbook sets it at before the game. The bettor is not concerned about which team will win but is concerned on the combined number of points/goals/scores scored by the teams by the end of the game. Those who think the score will be higher than that set by the sportsbooks are “taking the over”, those who believe the score will be lower are “taking the under”. Normally expressed in half points to avoid ties.

Parlay Bets:

This is a type of wager that combines multiple individual bets into one bet. In order for the player to win, all the individual bets have to win. Despite your odds being lower to win, when you do win your payout is significantly higher. Parlays allow players to risk a small amount to win big.

Teaser/Pleaser Bets:

These are a form of parlay bets. The differences are 1) all bets within Teaser/Pleasers are Point Spread Bets or Total Bets and 2) the spread is shifted either for the bettor (Teaser) or against the bettor (Pleaser). All the lines are shifted in the same direction either for you or against you for the same amount of points.

Teaser: Here lines are adjusted in the player’s favor thus the player has a better chance of winning, however this will be at a lower payout than a standard parlay.

Pleaser: The line is adjusted in the opposite direction of a teaser thus the line is adjusted in the sportsbook’s favor so the player has a lower chance of winning than a regular parlay but the payout will be at a much higher rate than a standard parlay.

Prop (proposition) Bets:

This is a bet on something occurring that is not necessarily directly related to the final score. It is also known as a side bet. E.g. Lebron James Assists in a game 10.5; you could bet the over or under. Tom Brady 3.5 Touchdown Passes in a game; again you could bet the over or the under. Betting on the number of fouls in either half of a game or on someone running a mile in under five minutes would also be examples of prop bets.

Futures Bets:

These are bets on an event occurring in the future. For example, you could bet on the New England Patriots to win the Superbowl at the start of the season. These are particularly popular in soccer, golf, tennis and Olympic events.

In-Play/Live Betting:

This is betting on a particular sporting event after it has started. Odds are adjusted in real time depending on score lines, various statistics e.g. possession, injuries etc. Live betting allows continuous betting throughout the duration of a sporting event. Moneyline, Spread Bets, Prop Bets, Totals can all be placed during In-Play betting.

Round Robin Bets:

This is similar to a parlay bet. A parlay is a collection of single bets combined into one bet; a round robin is a collection of parlays placed into one bet. As a result you do not have to win every bet within the round robin to win some money, there is room for some losses. However payouts will not be as high when some of the parlays within the round robin lose.

PointsBetting (Only on PointsBet):

This is a brand new type of bet offered by PointsBet only. Wagers are placed on the points a team win by rather than simply the outcome of a game. E.g. $5 placed per point the Jets win by so if for example the Jets win by 9 points you would win $45, however if the Jets lose by 5 you lose $25. Essentially the winnings or losses are magnified depending on “how right” or “how wrong” you are. Wagers can result in big wins or but big losses can also occur.

Decimal/European Odds:

These are different formats for expressing odds. The decimal odds number represents the amount a bettor wins for every dollar wagered. For the decimal odds the number represents the total payout including the original wager amount, not just the profit.

Example: Odds of 4.5, you bet $1 and if your team wins you get $4.50 back so $3.50 profit. European odds, also known as fractional odds, are more common in European betting markets. To convert fractional to decimal, divide the top or first figure by the bottom or second figure then add 1. For example, 5/2 in fractional odds = 5 divided by 2 = 2.5 then add 1 which results in 3.5 in decimal notation.

How to Bet – Payment Options

Credit/Debit Cards:

Most sportsbooks accept these for deposits. Options may be restricted to Visa and Mastercard. Some banks may block these transactions as they don’t allow deposits onto any type of gambling site despite the legalization of U.S. sports betting in 2018.

Electronic Wallets:

Availability is dependent on the individual app/site but established eWallets such as PayPal or Skrill are an option on some sportsbooks. You can only withdraw using eWallets if you deposited with the same method first. Deposits usually process immediately.

Bank Transfer:

Sports bettors can deposit by sending money directly from their bank accounts.

Prepaid Cards:

These are like gift cards that players can use similarly to credit/debit cards to deposit any amount up to the value of the card. You can also withdraw to the prepaid card.


Some sportsbooks offer this deposit-only method however you cannot withdraw via PayNearMe. You simply select it as your deposit option with the sportsbook, then decide on the amount you would like to deposit and the sportsbook sends you a unique barcode. You can then go to your nearest 7-Eleven/CVS/Family Dollar where the cashier will scan the barcode and you pay them the amount of the deposit. Typically, your deposit will process within 15 minutes and is then available to use on the sportsbook.


You can deposit and withdraw using electronic check (eCheck) and you can withdraw by paper check. Typically, you cannot deposit directly to a sportsbook using a regular paper check. With eChecks, after a player requests their bank to transfer money from their bank account into a sportsbook, their request is first passed through a clearing house before the funds are transferred.

Cash At The Cage:

In some cases, players can deposit or withdraw money at the cage of the land-based casino with which their sportsbook is partnered.

Depositing vs Withdrawing:

Typically there are fewer options for withdrawing and it takes longer than depositing. The most common form of withdrawal is by check, paper or eCheck. If you want to withdraw by a particular method you must first have used that same method to deposit.

How to Bet – Bonus Types

Free Bets/No-Deposit Bonus:

No-Deposit Bonuses are simple: you sign up to an account and on registration you are given a free bet. You do not need to deposit but it is usually for new accounts only.

Risk-free Bets:

Risk-free bets are bonuses where if you place a bet and win you get paid as usual but if you lose you get credited back the amount you lost in the form of a free bet. Basically, they are a bet where you can’t lose. For instance, if you place a risk-free $20 bet on the Patriots to win but they lose, you get a $20 free bet.

Deposit/Match Bonus:

Matched Bonuses are usually on your first deposit only. You make a deposit and then the sportsbook will match your deposit amount or a % of your deposit. There are typically playthrough requirements to release these bonuses. On some sites they might be only 1x playthrough but others make them up 50x. This makes the initial offer not as lucrative as it seems because you will have to make a lot of bets before your bonus money is available to withdraw.

Reload Bonus:

Reload bonus are bonuses that the gaming companies offer from time to time. You re-deposit money into an already set-up account and subsequently receive some form of site credit. It is usually in the form of a matched bonus.

Refer A Friend:

This is a bonus you get for referring a friend to register a new account with one of the sportsbooks. When they complete their account registration, make a deposit or place their first bet you get credit to your account depending on the specific sportsbook’s offer.

Loyalty/Bonus Programs:

Bonuses and VIP Awards are given when you play through a certain amount of money and are usually released in small increments. Some sportsbooks may offer these VIP rewards in the form of tickets to sporting events for high volume, high wagering bettors. However, not all sportsbooks offer VIP Rewards.

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