We have prepared the following online sports betting guide for all of you looking to try wagering on your favorite sports. We have the knowledge and experience of how sports betting works, and we wish to share it with you, as not everything is as straightforward as you may think, especially when it comes to sports betting for beginners. You need to be aware of the ins and outs so you can play safely and consciously and not risk getting into debt or having what started as a fun hobby turn into an obsession.
🏈 What is Sports Betting?
Betting on sports is a favorite pastime to millions of people worldwide. It is the activity of placing a wager against a specific outcome of a sports game. People do it for fun and to win money, as there are billions of dollars spent in the sports betting industry. For example, people wager more than $150 billion on sports in the US alone.
People chose to bet on sports for three main reasons:
- They love sports
- They want the chance to win money
- Sports betting requires limited knowledge
Many sports lovers opt to place a sports bet to make watching the game more exciting, as everyone is more into a game when money is involved. Even if you are not into sports, many people are, and sports betting comes as a natural progression.
However, the more significant reason someone places a sports bet is to win money. Namely, one can place a sports bet and wager a small amount of money, and get the chance to win a significant amount.
When discussing placing a sports bet, no specific knowledge or skill is required, and people with limited knowledge can place a bet and win money. It does not mean that every bet one places will win, as professional full-time sports betting requires much more skills and in-depth knowledge.
⚖️ Is Online Sports Betting Legal & Safe?
Online sports betting is not an illegal activity, but it depends on the local laws in your country. Many countries have legalized sports betting, while many don’t allow it. In the places where sports betting is legal, it is usually accompanied by additional regulations.
Still, different rules may apply to online sports betting as the sportsbooks are online and not situated in a physical location. To learn more, you will have to know the local laws regarding online sports betting in your country.
Almost all online betting platforms have a valid SSL certificate and are safe to use when it comes to safety. We are not saying that all the sites are legitimate and safe, as some are scams and unsafe. Still, most big online sports betting platforms are safe to use.
The safety of an online sports betting platform can be easily checked, and you can do this by checking their license and registration. Expect that most of these are registered in countries with relatively loose regulations and have online sports betting licenses from Gaming Commissions from Malta, Gibraltar, Curacao, Cyprus, or somewhere similar, with local licenses in the countries where they provide services.
⚠️ Is Sports Betting Right For You?
If you are thinking of placing an online sports bet, then it would be wise to read carefully through the following questions and answer them very honestly:
- Do you enjoy watching sports?
- Do you think you are knowledgeable about sports?
- Do you enjoy predicting game scores?
- Do you have some extra money to spare?
- Do you want to earn some extra cash while watching sports?
The truthful answers to these questions will help you determine if you should take up sports betting. If your answers are mostly YES, then it looks like you should be placing bets on your preferred sports. However, there are more questions that will help you decide what type of sports punter you want to be. We are talking about casual and full-time betting, as there are significant differences between the two types of bettors.
✅ Casual Betting
Casual betting is when people occasionally place bets on sports, and they usually don’t wager large amounts. The casual bettors are the more numerous participants in the sports betting industry. They are sports fans who love watching sporting events and follow the happenings in the sports world from an entertaining point of view.
Casual sports bettors make some money by betting, but they do this slowly as the sports season progresses. Below are several questions that will help you determine whether you should be a sports punter. If you answer YES to most or all of them, you are a casual sports punter.d
- Do you like to bet on your favorite sport or team?
- Do you plan on making up to five bets a week?
- Do you want to place a small bet to make watching the sports event more exciting?
- Do you plan on wagering less than $100 on sports?
✅ Full-Time Betting
Full-time betting is a serious commitment, and it involves a lot of work and comes with significant risk. The risk, however, comes with a high reward, and professional bettors usually make a living, just like any profession.
Here are some questions that can help you decide whether you should consider full-time betting as a profession. If you answer YES to most or all of these, then it looks like full-time betting is for you. However, please note that if you take up full-time betting, you need to follow statistics and do regular in-depth research about the sport you plan to bet on to turn a profit.
- Do you do thorough research and follow sports statistics before placing a bet?
- Do you plan on placing regular bets?
- Do you have a large amount of money to use for betting?
- Do you plan on wagering large sums of money at once?
🎰 Why Bet on Sports?
People usually bet on sports to make the live event more entertaining. It is human nature to feel more excited about an outcome when money is involved, and the same goes for watching sports. Many people bet on sports as they enjoy the challenge of making an accurate prediction of the game’s outcome and like to test their sports knowledge. Plus, there is always the chance to win some money.
Sports betting is a type of gambling, and people have always enjoyed gambling. The thrill of expecting the outcome and the potential to win money are powerful motivators. Plus, getting started with sports betting as a hobby does not require anything special, as you can just go online to a sports betting platform, open an account and place a bet.
🤞How Does Sports Betting Work? Sports Betting Explained
Generally speaking, sports betting is straightforward, even though many people find it confusing. Sports betting is the simplest form of gambling, as it involves placing a wager on the outcome of a sporting event. To win, you have to be correct, and if you are not, you lose.
Most people stick to straightforward bets, which are easy and very fun. There are three basic steps in sports betting:
- Selection – the step where you choose the sport and team to bet on, the type of bet you wish to place, and the outcome you think will happen. You can’t just say, “I want to bet on the Champion’s League.” You have to select the team, the bet, and the outcome you wish to bet on.
- Stake – the step where you decide how much you wish to bet on a game. If you want, you can bet $1, $10, $100, or much more. You decide on the stakes, but most sports betting platforms have a minimum and maximum stake, for example, between $5 and $5000, and you can wager an amount anywhere in that range.
- Odds – the odds are the likelihood that something will happen. The odds decide how much you will get for your wager, and the odds are calculated based on complex statistical data. You need to remember that the less likely something is to happen, the higher the odds and vice versa.
✅ Benefits of Sports Betting
Sports betting is a simple yet highly entertaining activity, as with the advance of technology, it has become more accessible to more people. It is the favorite hobby of millions, as it has some benefits.
First is the entertainment value it brings. Placing a bet on the outcome of a game makes watching it more entertaining. It is affordable fun and has an excellent value for money, much more than other hobbies when done moderately.
To sum up, here are the key benefits of taking up sports betting:
- The chance to win money
✅ How Sportsbooks Make Money
Sports betting is done between the bettor and the bookmaker, regardless of what sports event one bets on. The bookmaker takes the money when the bet is made, and they pay money when the customer wins the bet. They have to take more money in that payout to make money.
There are several ways through which the sportsbooks make money, and those are:
- There is a set vig – vigorish or margin that can also be called a commission that the sportsbook charges for every bet;
- They set and change the betting lines – odd compilers calculate the odds based on math and statistical data;
- They balance the books and eliminate the risk – the odd compilers balance the odds to provide the same income for the sportsbook regardless of the outcome; a usually accepted 5% margin;
They involve bettor’s emotions and lack of knowledge – when people bet on a favorite team, they are governed by emotions, are more likely not to be objective, and are likely to lose, which is the sportsbook’s gain.
🎰 Sports Betting for Beginners: How to Place Your First Sports Bet
The general rule of placing a bet is selecting a sport and a sports event, entering a stake, predicting the outcome, and placing the bet. However, this is an oversimplified explanation, as other things are involved in placing a sports bet.
You have to choose how and where to place the bet. There are many types of bets which we’ll explain below, and many sportsbooks available. There are brick-and-mortar sports betting houses where you can place a bet using cash. There are sportsbooks within casinos, and you can also place a bet via phone with some sportsbooks.
Still, today the most prevalent way of placing a sports bet is by going online in one of the many online sports betting platforms. There are hundreds of online sportsbooks that accept online bets, and these platforms have made sports betting an effortless thing to do. Most online sports betting platforms have focused on user satisfaction and ease of use. Overall, all online sports betting websites have the same or similar way of placing a bet:
- Open an account with the online sportsbook
- Deposit your money
- Choose the sport and event you wish to bet on
- Read the odds and lines they offer
- Fill in your bet slip and place the bet
- Watch the game and wait for the outcome
✅ Choosing the Right Online Sportsbook
Where you plan to place your sports bet is vital to your experience, as you need to consider several factors before you opt for an online sports betting platform. Here are the things you need to note about the online sportsbook you consider joining:
- Check their reputation – use respectable platforms and always read customer reviews. Don’t rely only on the reviews published on the site, but look for independent reviews and user testimonials.
- Check their license – good sportsbook platforms have a license from a relevant gaming commission, as the license guarantees fair and secure play. Reputable online sportsbooks publish their licenses on their websites.
- Check the security – when you create an online profile on a platform, you leave essential private data, so you want to check that the platform has a valid SSL certificate and uses data encryption.
- Check their odds – the odds are vital in a bet, as they determine the amount you can win. The larger the odds, the higher the expected winnings, so you should select an online sports betting site with reasonable odds.
- Check the available payment methods – you want to join an online sports betting platform that provides a lot of fast and secure deposit and withdrawal methods convenient for you.
- Check their customer service – the customer service of an online site is vital for user satisfaction, as people usually have additional questions related to the provided services. Choose a platform with knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly customer support.
🏀 Sports to Place Your First Sports Bet
If you are just starting with sports betting, you should start by placing small bets on sports you are familiar with. You may not win all the time, but you will get to test the waters and learn the critical sports betting terms and tricks.
As the odds change from hour to hour and sometimes from minute to minute, you need to do your research and place bets on sports that are most familiar to you. For example, if you are familiar with football and regularly follow the Bundesliga, it will make the most sense to bet on a football match from this league.
💵 What Types of Bets You Can Place
There is a long list of bets one can place, but not all are available on all online sports betting platforms. Here is a list of the most popular sports bets you should consider as a beginner in sports betting:
- Single bet – one-off bet on the outcome of a single event.
- Win or Moneyline bet – a wager on who will win the event.
- Total or Over/Under – you wager against the specified total related to a sports event, and in many cases, it is the total number of scored points.
- Future Bets – a wager on the future outcome of a sporting event, like a team winning the championship or the total number of wins a team has at the end of the season.
- Live Bets – bets placed after the game has started. With live bets, the odds change dynamically as the game progresses.
- Parlay and Accumulator bets – consist of several selections on unrelated events. The stake is multiplied by the corresponding odds of all selections, and to win the accumulator bet, all the selections must be correct.
- System Bet – very similar to an accumulator bet, but the odds are not multiplied but gathered, and you can win even if not all the selections are correct.
We need to note that there are many more bets, but they are more complicated and not beginner-friendly.
🏆 What Are Most Popular Betting Strategies
Sports betting is a game of chance and luck, but here are some tricks that can help you get into the action:
- Focus on one sport and one league – it is much easier to follow one sport and one league, and learn as much as you can about it, as this way you can understand their value and get a better chance at winning your bets.
- Learn the basic odds – before you start placing wagers, you need to learn the basic odds, as it is the only way to get a chance at winning.
- Start with a set budget – set a small budget aside and use it for betting. Making more bets with a smaller percentage is wiser than blowing your entire budget on one bet. Even if the winning chances are smaller, you can play for a longer time and are less likely to spend your entire betting budget.
- Place single bets and avoid accumulators/systems – system, parlay, and accumulator bets have promising payouts, but they also have high risks and
- Avoid betting on the favored teams – the odds that a favored team will win are minimal. Instead, focus on the familiar sport and league, and bet on the lesser-known teams.
- Be disciplined – you need to leave emotions outside of sports betting. For example, don’t bet on your home team if they are the apparent underdog just because they are your favorite team and you feel loyal to them.
🎁 Bonuses, Deposits, Withdrawals & Payments in Online Sportsbooks
Many online sports betting platforms have welcome bonuses for new members, but these come with strings attached, as there is no such thing as free money. The bonuses usually have rollover requirements in place, meaning you have to bet a certain amount of money to be eligible for the bonus.
The bonuses are in direct relation to the deposits and withdrawals. Namely, to be eligible for a bonus, you have to make an initial deposit to the site and to get your winnings, you have to uphold your part from the terms and conditions. That is why we always urge our readers to read the terms and conditions attached to a bonus/promotion, so there would be no disappointments later.
When it comes to depositing money into your account, you should look for the deposit method most convenient for you. It is usually via credit/debit card, PayPal, Skrill, or Neteller, as they are available almost everywhere in the world. The deposit time is usually instant or takes up to 15 minutes.
Withdrawing money from your online sportsbook account is usually done via the used deposit method. However, to be eligible for withdrawal, you need to fulfill all the terms and conditions of any bonus/promo deal. However, if you have not used a bonus/promo deal, you can freely withdraw your winnings via the method you deposited funds. The withdrawal usually takes between 5 minutes and seven business days.
🎰 Sports Betting Tools
When it comes to online sports betting, some tools can help you bring all essential things in one place. Since sports odds often vary from one platform to the next, you need to know the best ones to bet on to increase the winning chances.
There are thousands of online betting tools and software that help and can predict aspects of the game. However, you can’t use them all, and since sports betting is a game of luck, you should stick to the tools that increase the winning chances.
✅ Betting Calculators
The betting calculators are among the essential tools you can use when placing a bet. These automatically calculate the possible payout for any given combination of stake and odds.
Almost all online sports betting platforms have a bet calculator, usually incorporated in the bet slip. You choose the games you wish to put on your bet slip and enter the stake, and you will get a possible payout.
You’ll see how the expected wins change on the bet slip by changing the selections. You can also change the type of bet you wish to place, and the bet calculator will automatically calculate the expected winnings based on the odds, stake, and type of bet.
✅ Reading the Betting Lines
When it comes to sports betting, you have to understand several basic terms, and one of the essential ones is the betting lines. When it comes to reading the betting lines, we need to note that these change during the day and closely depend on the player’s physical state, the weather changes, and the like.
The betting line consists of betting odds. So, to read the lines, you need first to understand the sports betting odds.
🎰 Understanding Sports Betting Odds
The odds are a vital factor when it comes to sports betting. Understanding the odds helps you decide on your next bet, and they are also used to calculate how much money your wager will bring you.
Generally, there are odds on and odds-against. The odds on means that you are to win an amount less than the staked amount, while the odds against means that you can win a more significant sum than the staked amount.
From this, we can see that the higher the odds, the less likely it will be to win the wager, but the higher odds mean a greater reward if you win.
When we talk about betting odds, there are three main ways of displaying them, and almost all online betting platforms allow users to change the display format which is most convenient for them:
✅ Decimal Odds
The decimal odds format is the most widespread display format and the simplest. The decimal odds are displayed using two decimal places and show how much a winning bet will return. The possible winnings of the wager are calculated per the following formulas:
Potential Return = Stake X Odds
Potential Profit = Stake x (Odds-1)
✅ American/Moneyline Odds
The American or Moneyline odds are mainly used in the USA, and this display method is a bit more complicated to understand. The Moneyline odds can be positive if there is a + sign before the relevant number or negative if there is a – sign before the relevant number. They are more complicated to calculate, but you will soon get the gist once explained. Here is how the potential profit is calculated using the American/Moneyline odds format:
For positive Moneyline odds: Potential Profit = Stake x (Odds/100)
For negative Moneyline odds: Potential Profit = Stake / (Odds/100)
✅ Fractional Odds
The fractional odds display is mainly used in the UK and shows the odds as fractions. Some examples are 2/1, 10/1, ½, 10/11, 7/4, etc. It can be a bit tricky to calculate the potential profit at first, but with practice, you will soon get in the game. The fraction shows how much profit you can win based on your initial stake.
To calculate the potential profit using fractional odds, you need to use the formula below, where a is the first number and b is the second number in the fraction.
Potential Profit = Stake x (a/b)
🎲 Understanding Probability and Value
When looking to take up sports betting, you need to take some time to understand probability and realize the difference between odds and probability. The betting odds don’t reflect the real chance that something will happen.
When discussing sports betting, the probability is subjective, and the sportsbooks and sports punters always have different opinions on predicting the outcome of a game. To be successful in sports betting, one needs to accurately assess the probability of an outcome and determine whether the odds make the wager worth it.
When talking about sports betting, we also need to mention implied probability. Implied probability suggests the chances of any given outcome. It can help sports bettors calculate the sportsbooks advantage in a betting market and help determine if a wager offers value.
To calculate the implied probability, you can use the following formula:
Implied Probability = 1/decimal odds
The formula’s result is between 0 and 1, and it is often presented as a percentage by multiplying the result by 100.
Here is a short example to help you better understand the implied probability and expected value in sports betting. Let’s say there are two football teams with equal winning chances, so the sportsbook will give both teams the exact chance of winning and set the odds at 2.00 (we use decimal format). You will not find actual odds of 2.00 at any sportsbook in real life, but let’s assume it is so in our hypothetical example.
Applying the above formula, you get ½-0.5*100=50%, which gives both teams a 50% chance of winning, which is the implied probability. It also shows that you have a 50% chance of winning your bet and 50% of losing your bet.
However, if you follow one of the teams more closely, you may believe that one of the teams is better than the other, and you believe they have a 60% chance of winning the game. This is the expected value that exists, and if you are correct, you get a 60% chance of winning your bet and 40% of losing the bet.
The example above is an oversimplified version, but it serves our purpose of explaining implied probability and expected value.
👩🏼💼 Should You Hire Professional Help When Starting Betting on Sports?
Well, this is a subjective answer, as sports betting is as much a game of luck as it is a game of knowledge. As we’ve discussed above, it involves following the sport you plan to bet on, having vital knowledge of the preparedness of the athlete/team during the season, and following a bunch of other stats during the season.
That said, several professional sports betting strategies have gained traction over the years, but unfortunately, none have been proven valid in the long run. We believe that you should not hire professional help when starting betting on sports, as it will take the whole fun out of the game.
You can ask professional help in learning the betting terms and how online sports betting platforms work. However, since you are betting with your own money, the final decision to wager should be entirely yours.
👍 Our Expert Betting Tips to Help You Get Started
Now that we’ve covered the basics of online sports betting for beginners, we’ll share some expert betting tips to help you get started:
1️⃣ Pick the Right Platform
When taking up sports betting, you should pick the right platform for you. That means you should do your research and see all the available betting options, odds, design and navigation, deposit and withdrawal options, customer support, user reviews, and more. You can refer to our list of reviews of some of the most notable online sports betting platforms for more info.
2️⃣ Compare Betting Lines
After you narrow the selection of online betting platforms, you should compare the betting lines and pick the one that has the most favorable betting lines for the sport you plan to bet on.
3️⃣ Manage Your Bankroll
Managing the bankroll is vital for successful sports betting, as this includes setting a budget (bankroll) you are prepared to lose. Next, you should determine how much you should stake on a bet – a staking plan and set your betting goals. It is vital for every single wager you place.
4️⃣ Know When to Stop
Sports betting can be seen as a form of gambling, and like other types of gambling, it is essential to know when to stop. Everyone can get a lucky streak and a losing streak, but playing smart and knowing when to stop is vital for keeping sports betting fun and exciting and not allowing it to become an obsession.
There you have it, guys, a comprehensive online sports betting guide that should help you start placing bets online. Sports betting is a form of gambling, but at the same time, it is not, as there is an equal dose of luck and skill involved. You may want to try sports betting to make a game exciting to watch or may want to win some money. No matter what drives you to place a sports wager, it would help if you kept the essential facts within easy reach:
- Pick a legitimate online sports betting platform
- Properly manage your bankroll
- Know when it is time to take a break or completely stop
We’ve covered all aspects of online sports betting, and we’ll wrap this up by wishing you luck and reminding you that you should play smart and keep it fun and exciting.
Yes, it is possible to make real money by betting on sports online. There are people whose income relies largely on winnings from sports bets. While this is all well, not anyone can be a professional sports bettor, as there are many factors involved in professional sports betting. If you are diligent, committed, and intelligent about it, you can develop proper skills that can help you win good money by sports betting online.
Every person over 18 years of age (21 in the USA and other countries) can bet on sports. It is straightforward to take up, as basically, you need to choose a sports betting platform, pick a game to bet on, put your stake, and place the wager.
No, you don’t have to be a sports expert to bet on sports. Having a basic knowledge of the sport you wish to bet on does help a lot, though.
In online sports betting, free bets are an incentive for new bettors to join a particular betting platform. These usually involve a small bet like $10 that you are given as a thank-you for registering with the platform.
Many online betting platforms have milestone events that grant free bets to the people reaching the milestones. For example, once you wager $1000 on a platform, you may get $50 in free bets.
Another form of free bet is the risk-free bet, where you stake the bet with your money. If your selection loses, the online sportsbook will refund your stake with a new chance to place a bet.
Matched bet offers are another form of free bets, as are the gifts and bonuses that one earns with the Loyalty Programs that many online sports betting platforms have.
The legal regulations of sports betting depend on the country. For example, sports betting has been popular in the UK for centuries, and the first gambling and betting-related law in England was brought in way back in 1541. The laws changed over the centuries, and the current Gambling Act 2005 controls all forms of gambling, including online sports betting.
In the USA, the US Supreme Court lifted the ban on states being able to establish sports wagering industries, effectively legalizing sports gambling in the US. Argentina legalized horse race gambling in the 1880s but has changed the sports betting status over the years, finally legalizing it in the 1990s.
In Australia, sports betting was legalized in 1980, paving the way for sports punters. Like the USA, Brazil formally legalized sports betting in 2018. Canada does not have a federal restriction on sports betting, and it provides sports betting. The particular regulations are on a province level, as each province has different rules regarding sports betting.
China invented gambling, but the Chinese government does not look favorably on sports betting. Instead, Chinese people can “bet” via a sports lottery and place pooled bets on soccer or basketball. However, Hong Kong and Macau have legal sports betting.
Colombia has legalized sports betting in 2016, but a form of sports betting has gone on since the early 2000s. Ghana legalized sports betting in the 1960s, Kenya legalized it in 1966, and Mexico established legal sports betting in 2004. Italy legalized sports betting and gambling in 2011, the same year as Belgium, Denmark legalized it in 2008, and sports betting is also legal in Finland and North Macedonia.
Spain legalized sports betting in 2011. India’s sports betting laws depend on the state, and Costa Rica allows only online sports betting. The Netherlands allowed online sports betting in 2019, and it is also legal in New Zealand, and Nigeria legalized it in 2005. Peru has legalized sports betting in 1996 but allowed online sports betting since 2008. Russia legalized sports betting in the 1970s, and South Africa allowed it in 1994.
When we talk about legal sports betting, this activity is legal, is in a gray area or is not regulated in many countries worldwide. That means that sports betting is entirely legal in over 20 countries, while about 100 countries have loose regulations or are regulated differently.
Yes, you can bet on sports online, as hundreds of online sports betting platforms provide such services. Check out our reviews of some of the most notable online sports betting sites.
Sports betting beginners should stick to placing small, single bets on sports they are familiar with. This way, they can learn the ins and outs of sports betting and familiarize themselves with the different possibilities online sports betting provides.