Sports Betting 101
Aside from simple wagers such as betting a friend that one's favorite baseball team will win its division or buying a football "square" for the Super Bowl, sports betting is commonly performed through a bookmaker or through various online Internet outlets.
The many types of bets include:
- Proposition Bets. Proposition bets are wagers made on a very specific outcome of a match. Examples include guessing the number of goals each team scores in a handball match, betting whether a player will score in a football game, or wagering that a baseball player on one team will accumulate more hits than another player on the opposing team.
- Parlays. Parlays involve multiple bets (usually up to 12) and will reward a successful bettor with a large payout. For example, a bettor could include four different wagers in a four-team parlay, whereby he is wagering that all four bets will win. If any of the four bets fails to cover, the bettor loses the parlay, but if all four bets win, the bettor receives a substantially higher payout (usually 10-1 in the case of a four-teamer) than if he made the four wagers separately.
- Progressive Parlays. A progressive parlay involves multiple bets (usually up to 12) and rewards successful bettors with a large payout, though not as large as normal parlays. However in a progressive parlay, unlike a regular parlay, a reduced payout will still be made even should some of the bets lose.
- Teasers. A teaser allows the bettor to combine his bets on two or more different games. The bettor can adjust the point spreads for the two games, but must get all the games correct to win and recognizes a lower return in comparison to parlays.
- If Bets. An if bet consists of at least two straight bets joined together by an if clause which determines the wager process. If the player’s first selection complies with the condition (clause), then the second selection will have action; if the second selection complies with the condition, then the third selection will have action and so on.
- Run Line, Puck Line or Goal Line Bets. These are wagers offered as alternatives to straight-up/moneyline prices in baseball, hockey or soccer, respectively. These bets feature a fixed point spread that (usually) offers a higher payout for the favorite and a lower payout for the underdog (both in comparison to the moneyline).
- Future Wagers. While all sports wagers are by definition on future events, bets listed as "futures" generally have a long-term horizon measured in weeks or months; for example, a bet that a certain NFL team will win the Super Bowl for the upcoming season. Such a bet must be made before the season starts in September, and winning bets will not pay off until the conclusion of the Super Bowl in January or February (although many of the losing bets will be clear well before then and can be closed out by the book). Odds for such a bet generally are expressed in a ratio of units paid to unit wagered. The team wagered upon might be 50-1 to win the Super Bowl, which means that the bet will pay 50 times the amount wagered if the team does so.
- Head-to-Head. In these bets, bettor predicts competitors results against each other and not on the overall result of the event. One example are Formula One races, where you bet on two or three drivers and their placement among the others. Sometimes you can also bet a “tie”, in which one or both drivers either have the same time, drop out, or get disqualified.Totalizators. In totalizators (sometimes called flexible-rate bets) the odds are changing in real-time according to the share of total exchange each of the possible outcomes have received taking into account the return rate of the bookmaker offering the bet. For example: If the bookmakers return percentage is 90%, 90% of the amount placed on the winning result will be given back to bettors and 10% goes to the bookmaker. Naturally the more money bet on a certain result, the smaller the odds on that outcome become. This is similar to parimutuel wagering in horse racing and dog racing.
- 2nd Half Bets. A 2nd half(Second half) bet is also sometimes called a halftime bet. This bet is placed only at halftime of a particular sporting event. This bet can be placed on the spread(Line) or over/under. The resulting bet that is placed is won or lost only on the points scored by both teams in the second half only.In-play betting. In-play betting is a feature offered by some online sports books that enables bettors place new bets while a sporting event is in progress.
By adjusting the odds in his favor or by having a point spread, the bookmaker will aim to guarantee a profit by achieving a 'balanced book', either by getting an equal number of bets for each outcome, or (when he is offering odds) by getting the amounts wagered on each outcome to reflect the odds. When a large bet comes in, a bookmaker can also try to lay off the risk by buying bets from other bookmakers. The bookmaker does not generally attempt to make money from the bets themselves, but rather profiting from the event regardless of the outcome. Their working methods are similar to that of an actuary, who does a similar balancing of financial outcomes of events for the assurance and insurance industries.
Bookmaking may be legal or illegal, and may be regulated; in the United Kingdom it was at times both regulated and illegal, in that licenses were required but no debts arising from gambling could be enforced through the courts. Now, since the inception of the National Lottery, it is not only legal but also a small contributor to the British economy, with a recent explosion of interest with regard to the international gaming sector industry. However, gambling debts were unenforceable under English law until the Gambling Act 2006. Trusted legal bookmakers are members of IBAS, an industry standard organisation to settle disputes.
Bookmaking is generally illegal in the United States, with Nevada being a notable exception.
In some countries, such as Singapore, Sweden, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan, the only legal bookmaker is owned and operated by the state. In Canada, this is part of the lottery program and is known as Sport Select.
With the arrival of the World Wide Web, many bookmakers have an online brand, although independently owned bookmakers often still maintain a "bricks and mortar" only operation and others operate a "skin" or "white label" operation which they purchase from one of the large firms as is the case with BetDirect and Betterbet. The main websites only accept bets from countries where Internet gambling is not prohibited, and from people over 18 years old. Often these websites are linked to online casinos.
Bets are also taken via phones, using SMS text messages, though poker and other sports are more suited to other media. As technology moves on, the gambling world ensures it is a major player in new technology operations.
In the United States a sportsbook (sometimes abbreviated as book) or a race and sports book is a place where a gambler can wager on various sports competitions, including golf, football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, horse racing, boxing, and mixed martial arts. The method of betting varies with the sport and the type of game. There are roughly 150 licensed sportsbooks in the United States, all located in Nevada casinos, as such operations are illegal in the other 49 states. In English-speaking countries other than the United States terms such as betting shop or bookmakers are used rather than sportsbook.
Winning bets are paid when the event finishes, or if not finished, when played long enough to become official; otherwise all bets are returned. This policy can cause some confusion since there can be a difference between what the sportsbook considers official and what the sports league consider official. Customers should carefully read the sportsbook rules before placing their bets.
The betting volume at sportsbooks varies throughout the year. Bettors have more interest in certain types of sports and increase the money wagered when those sports are in season. Some major sporting events that don't follow a specific schedule, like boxing, can create peaks of activity for the sportsbooks.
In the mid 1930s, Leo Hirschfield started a company in Minneapolis, Minnesota called Athletic Publications, Inc., that published and distributed odds to bookies across the country by telephone and telegraph. He had a team of handicappers analyzing the matchups who also studied newspapers across the country. The company was a major provider of odds and prices until it finally disbanded, under fear of prosecution from the Federal Wire Act of 1961.
Today most sportsbooks get their opening prices from other sportsbooks as well as private companies like Las Vegas Sports Consultants. They adjust prices based on the bets coming in, news, injury, and weather information, and the price movement by other sportsbooks.
Today there are roughly 150 licensed sportsbooks in the United States, all located in Nevada casinos. Now that many casinos share the same parent company, they offer the exact same wagering choices and odds, which is a disadvantage to the astute gambler who in the past could do more shopping for better prices.
In the 1950s the first Nevada sportsbooks, called Turf Clubs, opened. They were independent from the casinos, and had an informal agreement with the hotels that they would stay out of the casino business as long as the hotels stayed out of the sportsbook business. The sportsbooks had to pay a 10 percent tax so they charged a high vigorish to gamblers, but they still brought in a lot of business.
In 1974 the tax was lowered to 2 percent, (it was lowered to 0.25 percent in 1983), and in 1975 Frank Rosenthal, who ran the Stardust Casino, convinced legislators to allow them in the casinos, and soon nearly all of the casinos added them. The turf clubs were no longer able to compete and eventually all closed.
At Nevada casino sportsbooks you will find:
- Betting windows
- Big screen televisions
- Interactive betting stations
- Odds boards, usually computerized
- Papers with different odds for the day
- Places to sit and watch games & races
Sports Betting on the Internet
While internet sportsbooks lack face-to-face transactions, they can handle more customers than physical sportsbook shops and operate more cost effectively. They pass lower costs on to customers in the form of reduced vigorish (cheaper prices) or bonus incentives. They can also offer similar products, such as casino games, bingo, and poker to their existing clients.
While Internet sportsbooks take bets online, normally they are licensed in some jurisdiction. Taxation and regulation vary greatly by country.