Sports betting continues to be a big part of our culture today. Just as in times past, there is not a single sport you can name that doesn’t have some kind of betting audience. Proponents of sports betting say that it is a harmless way to add a little fun to the game. Even if you have never been to a bookmaker, odds are that you have made some kind of wager on a sports event. It might be a fantasy pool, it might just bet for a beer with a buddy, but you have been drawn by the appeal of making a correct prediction.
For some people, sports betting is more than just a way to spice up a favorite past time; it is big business. All over the world, bets are placed on lacrosse, cricket, football, soccer, baseball, and every other sport you can name. Some people win big, some people win consistently, but it’s always the books that come out on top. Let’s take a deeper look at what sports betting is all about, and some of the burning questions people have on the topic.
Is sports betting legal?
One of the biggest questions surrounding sports betting is whether or not the activity is legal. The fact is that in many parts of the world, sports betting is legal. Most of Europe and Asia regulate sports betting quite heavily, but bettors can place their wagers without fear of legal reprisals.
North America is a different story. In Canada and the United States, wagering on sports is only actually allowed in four states: Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. Of these, only Nevada actually allows sports gambling outfits to operate.
Now, this does not necessarily mean that North Americans are out of luck if they want to wager on a game. The Internet has opened up a wide range of opportunities for residents west of the Atlantic to places bets on sports, although they must do so through books operated in an area where sports gambling is legal. Even so, the status of those operations is a little bit shady.
How does sports betting work?
Official sports bets, those which take place through bookies rather than buddies, are carefully measured odds offered by shrewd business number crunchers. Whether we are talking about Las Vegas or Beijing, you can be sure that the books are one step ahead of your average bettor when it comes to wagering.
This is not to say that you don’t stand a chance of winning when you place a bet, because one of the appeals of laying a wager on a sports event is that victory is equal parts knowledge and luck (as opposed to casino wagering, which is pretty much just luck no matter what Charlton Heston has to say!).
The sports books offer several different kinds of bets, all of which are designed so that the book itself makes a profit no matter the outcome of the event. That profit is known as the vigorish (vig for short). It’s usually around $10, paid by the person who loses the wager.
Generally, bettors will select one of two options when wagering on a sports event. The first is the money line, in which a straight up win by the team picked will result in money returned to the bettor. They look like this, in a
Chicago White Sox -200
New York Yankees +150
That example tells us two things. First of all, the White Sox are the favorites. That’s indicated by the negative sign. If you bet the Sox, then you have to put down $200 in order to win $100. That’s the second thing the example shows us; the amounts indicate how much you win if the team you select comes out on top. For the Yankees, the underdogs, you only have to pay $150 to get a shot at that hundred bucks. But, of course, the Yankees will have to win!