Sports Betting FAQ

Online sports betting has changed a lot since its inception. At the turn of the century, online gambling in all forms was extremely new. To a large portion of the population, including many governments it was largely an unknown.

Within a few years, online betting, including online poker, casino gambling, and sports betting was exploding across the world and in the United States. Until, the next boom, the years of 2000 to 2006 were easily the golden age of online gambling.

Since that time, there have been many laws and regulations adopted in by the US government concerning online sports betting. The industry has changed a lot over the last decade and a half.

However, it’s still a more than a viable option for sports bettors. There are still lots of excellent choices and depositing into an online sportsbook can be done in a matter of seconds. There is still money to be made in this much-maligned market.

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Since that time, there have been many laws and regulations adopted in by the US government concerning online sports betting. The industry has changed a lot over the last decade and a half.

However, it’s still a more than a viable option for sports bettors. There are still lots of excellent choices and depositing into an online sportsbook can be done in a matter of seconds. There is still money to be made in this much-maligned market.

Sports Betting FAQ Index

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Getting Started – A Background on Sports Betting

Is betting sports online legal in the US?

In one word: Yes. No federal law criminalizes sports betting from on the individual level. Individual states may have laws that make the activity illegal, but on the national level – you’re not committing a crime by placing a sports bet online.

We cover this much deeper in-depth in our US country article, including which states are friendlier to online gambling compared to others. Several states, such as Washington State, have draconian laws on the books when it comes to online sports betting and internet gambling.

It’s a felony on the level of possessing child pornography in the state to gamble online, but no one has ever been charged with a crime for gambling online in Washington State.

Similar laws on the on the books in a few states, but again, they’re not enforced. As an individual, there should be no worries about legal penalties for betting sports online. No one has been charged with anything, and it’s not a crime in most states to place bets at online betting sites.
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Where is sports betting expressly legal?

Full-scale sports betting is only expressly legal in Nevada. They allow residents to bet online with Vegas sportsbooks. That is the extent of regulated online sports betting in the United States. Sports lotteries are legal and regulated in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana.
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Do you guys think sports betting will eventually be legal and regulated across the United States?

It seems like an inevitability, but that it could still be awhile. Several states have already begun to regulate online poker and casino gambling. Sports betting hasn’t had as much luck.

However, in recent challenges, states have failed to pass sports betting legislation. The state of New Jersey has tried, but they’ve been denied at every turn.

They only have one appeal left, and that is with the Supreme Court, but their chances of winning are slim, and regulators may not take it to the highest court with such a small chance of winning the case.

With that said, there is still support for a change in the laws across the nation. Some states have drafted bills approving sports betting, and many have pushed for a repeal of PAPSA, which banned sports betting nationwide, but allowed exceptions to Nevada and for sports lotteries in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana.

Legalized sports betting has also gotten support from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who said he supports the federal legalization of sports betting in November 2014. Commissioner Rob Manfred also stated in February 2015 that, “Gambling in terms of our society has changed its presence on legalization.”
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How old do I need to be to play?

At most offshore sportsbooks, you only need to be 18. Of course, in Las Vegas and the legal age to gamble and drink is 21. You will be able to play three years earlier at most online sportsbooks, poker rooms, and casinos.
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How much is bet at Nevada sportsbooks each year?

Bookmakers in Nevada, which is technically the only place expressly legal when it comes to full-scale sports wagering have a handle of about 4-5 billion each year. The amount has steadily grown in recent years but is still a meager amount compared to unregulated betting.
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How much is bet by Americans each year?

It’s impossible to know for sure, but the unregulated or “illegal” gambling industry is estimated at somewhere between $380-$400 billion per year. Nevada sportsbooks take a fraction of that amount. Unregulated gambling counts offshore sportsbooks and local bookies, many of which use pay-per-head sites to take action. As you can see, most Americans are betting through other channels than legal regulated sportsbooks.
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Do you have a glossary on common sports betting terms?

Yes, we do. We’ve tried to add as much as possible, let us know if we’re missing any key terms.
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How do sportsbooks make money?

Sportsbooks charge vigorish or a commission on each bet they take. Think of it as a service charge. Bookmaking has come a long way since the early days. The balanced book isn’t necessarily the goal for operators anymore, we discuss this further in an article of the same topic, How Sportsbooks Make Money.
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What is vigorish?

The vigorish is a commission that all sportsbooks charge on each bet they take. It is also called vig for short, juice, or a bookmaker’s overround in European markets. Vigorish is what gives the sportsbooks an advantage before a bet is placed and is the primary way sportsbooks make money.
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The Basics of Betting and Bet Types

How are odds set?

The initial or opening line is set by groups of extremely knowledgeable oddsmakers, who are incorporating statistics and public perception into the line. There are several companies around the world whose job is to set opening lines.
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Where can I get real-time odds?

At a lot of sites, some of which come with a free and others that are free. SportsInsights.com offers live odds for free and features two of the sharpest bookmakers online in Bookmaker.eu and Pinnacle Sports. Covers.com is a sports betting portal that also has live odds for free.
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What are the different types of betting odds?

There are more than a few different odds types. The most popular odds types are decimal and moneyline odds, with fractional odds just behind those two. The default odds at your sportsbook will depend on your region, but just about all sportsbooks offer several different odds types.
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Are there any resources to find odds of past games?

There are a few services that bettors can pay for, but the best option we found that was completely free was the database at ScoresAndOdds.com. It’s not organized the best, but they have every major U.S. sport going back to 2006 with opening numbers and line movement included.
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What does the money line mean?

When you bet the moneyline, the team or selection must the game or contest outright. There is no point spread. American odds are also sometimes called moneyline odds.
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Can you explain point spread betting?

Spread betting is wagering when the result is determined by the accuracy of the wager and is not a definitive win or lose outcome (due to pushes), such as moneyline or outright betting. The point spread is a number oddsmakers use to as a handicap between two unequal teams to generate betting interest on both sides. We delve into the history of the point spread along with a deeper explanation and some strategies.
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Are parlays bad bets?

Generally speaking, yes. In our article our parlay betting, we explain the times that they may be +EV. With that said, bettors are usually better of placing two or three straight bets, instead of betting a two or three team parlay. It’s important to stay away from any parlays that are beyond two or three selections, the bookmaker’s edge gets increasingly tougher to beat as more teams are added to the parlay.
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What is a correlated parlay?

Correlated parlays are parlays with two bets that are tied to each other. If one of them wins, it increases the odds or likelihood of the other bet winning, and vice-versa. A real life example of this is if you wanted to bet that it would be cloudy, but that it would also rain, in a parlay. The two events are correlated enough that booking this bet would be unprofitable for a bookmaker. Almost all sportsbooks won’t allow correlated parlays.
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What is a round-robin bet?

A round-robin bet is a way to place multiple parlays by placing a single wager. Although they are rarely used, they’re an excellent way to bet multiple parlays with x number of teams quickly.
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What are if-bets?

An if-bet is almost the same as making two straight wagers with one caveat, you have to wager on two games and can’t cash out after a single win. They’re not much use unless you want to bet multiple games but don’t have enough in your account to cover it. You also won’t be forced to log in and place more wagers if your first leg wins. A reverse bet is similar to an if-bet but wagered in the opposite order.
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Are teasers bad bets?

Like parlays, teasers are generally poor wagers when it comes to making a straight wager. However, that isn’t always the case. We tackle both NFL Teasers and NBA Teasers. There are some +EV spots in both sports for teasers, but it is worth noting the market has adjusted to basic strategy teasers, known as “Wong Teasers” for the most part. Similar to parlays, bettors should never bet teaser that are more than 2-3 teams or selections.
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What are propositions?

Propositions are wagers offered by sportsbooks that are not related to the final score line of the game. Generally, they center around a team or player’s performance in a game. The most common prop is “Which team will score first?” Props also center around individual performances, like if a player will score a touchdown or how many yards a quarterback might pass for or basketball player might score in a game.

Props typically come with -115, but they are still a weak spot for sportsbooks. Proposition markets are appealing to new bettors because the odds are soft, and there aren’t many high stakes wise guys looking at props due to their lower max betting limits.
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What are futures?

Futures are extremely popular and often quoted by the sports media, especially when it comes to Super Bowl odds for each team. They got a lot of press, but they’re one of the markets with the least +EV opportunities, despite being inefficient. Vigorish can be extremely high when it comes to futures, making most wagers -EV.
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What is an Asian handicap?

Asian handicaps are one of the most popular forms of soccer betting. Instead of traditional three-way markets (favorite-underdog-draw), Asian handicaps offer two possible outcomes. They are a favorite of bettors for this reason and because of their low vig compared to three-way markets.
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What is a sucker bet?

A sucker bet is one that has a -EV expectation and has no value to the bettor. Straight bets aren’t usually sucker bets, but there are many bets that bookmakers offer that have no value. The most commonly bet sucker bet are parlays and teasers over three teams.

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Sports

What major sport do sportsbooks lose the most on?

To be clear, the sportsbooks don’t lose long term on any sport, but MLB baseball is where they are most vulnerable. The number of games to monitor is tough, and baseball’s advanced statistics can be powerful tool for handicappers who build betting models.
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What is the best sport(s) to bet on?

The sportsbooks lose the most on baseball, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a market to attack if that’s not your area of expertise. Betting on the sports you’re most knowledgeable about makes the most sense, but there are other considerations. Such as the sharpness of the market and the availability of profitable betting opportunities. Bettors should always look to seek out inefficient markets and find value.
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What are the most popular sporting events to bet on?

Worldwide, it’s easily soccer or football as it’s called in most countries. For American sports bettors, two events garner the most wagering, and it’s not close, they are the NFL Super Bowl and the NCAA Tournament, otherwise known as March Madness.
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What are small market sports?

Sports that have lower wagering limits and are less popular than other sports in the region your sportsbook in servicing. For instance, e-sports and mixed martial arts are still small market sports compared to the much larger betting markets of football and basketball wagering.

When sportsbooks have lower betting limits, their less confident with their odds. Small market sports can be markets to attack for inefficiencies, especially those looking to build a bankroll.
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What is live betting?

Live betting, also known as in-play betting, is the ability to bet on sports during the game. Live betting is available for just about every sport these days and at 90% or more of all sportsbooks. Live betting can be profitable, but these markets sometimes have extremely high vigorish.
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What are e-sports?

E-sports are short for electronic sports. Basically, e-sports are competitive competitions involving videogames. Electronic sports have risen greatly in popularity in recent years, both regarding viewership and betting interest. E-sports are an emerging market that some expect to grow exponentially in the coming years. The two most popular games are Dota 2 and League of Legends (LOL).
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Can you bet on politics and entertainment at sportsbooks?

Yes, everything from elections to critical votes like “Brexit” and more is available for betting in the political realm of sports gambling. Some larger bookmakers have odds on just about every political race. Entertainment markets are the same. Betting markets are expansive and include everything from reality TV shows to more prestigious events like the Oscars.
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What other things can I bet on at most sportsbooks?

We do our best to discuss the most popular betting options for players, both when it comes to sports available and bet types. However, we can’t possibly cover every event or sport that is available for betting. If you’re interested in betting on it, it’s likely there is a sportsbook out there that has odds on it. Heck, you can bet on high school football at some offshore sportsbooks.

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What percentage of bets do I need to win in order to profit?

It depends on the vigorish. The standard juice on a straight bet is -110, which means you have to win 52.38% of your wagers to break even. Any percentages above that are profitable with -110 vig. Hitting 55% of your bets is an excellent goal for those new to betting, even the best sports bettors top out at about 60%.

Your break-even percentage can be lower if you’re betting at a reduce juice sportsbook. Using reduced juice markets and line shopping is a recipe for success if you’re looking to reduce your break-even rate.
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How much can I win? Can I make a living betting sports?

Theoretically, you can win unlimited. Realistically, making a living at sports betting is extremely hard but possible. The market is still viable, but getting your bet sizes limited is a major problem once you start to become profitable. Especially in U.S. markets, it can be tougher to get a lot down once you become known as a profitable, +EV sports bettor.

Regarding return on investment, it’s tough to say, but long term you can expect an ROI from anywhere between 3-10% on the amount you bet. Your edge on each bet is going to vary widely and depending on your starting bankroll. It may take some time to make any serious money.

With that said, sports betting is scalable. If you’re a profitable gambler and can beat the best sportsbooks online (no easy task), you will likely make a considerable amount of money before your limits are cut and if you can beat certain sportsbooks, like Pinnacle Sports, your limits may not get cut at all.

Ultimately, no one should go into learning sports betting with a goal to bet for a living. Instead, focus on finding value in the lines and building your bankroll and the profits will come. For most people, it can be an excellent side income. If you’re successful for some years and making excellent money, then maybe it’s time to consider doing it professionally.
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What kind of bankroll do I need?

You can get started in sports betting with just a few dollars. If you follow bankroll management strategy and are a profitable bettor, you can grow your bankroll quickly. Bankroll management is one biggest pitfalls for gamblers of all types, not just sports bettors.

Adopting a bankroll management plan is vital to success at sports betting. We recommend a fixed plan for most bettors, especially those new to betting, but if you can accurately quantify your edge, then a variable plan would maximize your EV. Kelly Criterion is a variable staking plan, but it has its advantages and disadvantages.
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What types of bets do most professionals focus on?

Well, for one thing, they’re not betting parlays and teasers with a large number of teams (more than three). In fact, they rarely bet parlays at all, and teasers in rarer and rarer spots. The professional level wiseguys go where the value is and where they are most skilled, whether that’s football, basketball, or a lesser known sport.

Straight wagers are going to be the preferred bet of sharp bettors, but they will be happy to exploit inefficiencies with parlays and teasers, along with other bet types. What markets are the world’s top bettors crushing now? You would have to ask them.

They’re not likely to give away their secrets. As the sportsbooks could adjust to their methods and it would make it a lot more difficult for them to profit. The guys selling picks aren’t elite sports bettors. They’re much closer to scammers. A sports bettor who is crushing worldwide betting markets wouldn’t sell their advice, especially not for the rates touts charge.
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How many betting sites should I use?

As many as you want. Using multiple sportsbooks is important to line shopping. We recommend bettors use at least two sportsbooks, but three would be ideal. If you’re looking to make serious money at betting, using multiple betting sites is a must.
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Why is line shopping important?

It’s the best way to find value in the market. As a sports bettor, you will make plenty of money off spotting inefficiencies. Most importantly, line shopping always assures you will get the best price available on each of your bets, which adds up tremendously long term.
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Do you have to pay taxes on your sports betting winnings?

It depends on your region. U.S. citizens have to pay taxes on every form of gambling, even money on unregulated sites or with their corner bookie. There are particulars to follow when reporting gambling income on your IRS forms.

In other countries, tax situations will differ. Most countries tax gambling, but there are a few notable exceptions that require no taxing on money won from gambling, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.
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Any tips on tracking wins and loses?

We cover this a bit in our bankroll management article. Sharp Bet Tracker and FansUnite.com is our top choice. They’re b oth completely free and user-friendly. There are plenty of other ways to track your results, something we highly recommend. An Excel spreadsheet should do the trick as well.

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Sports Betting Strategy

Should I buy points?

That depends completely on the sport and the price that the oddsmakers are offering per half-point or point. There are plenty of spots in NFL betting markets where buying points are a +EV strategy.
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Should I hedge my bet?

Hedging can be an excellent strategy to lock in a profit on some markets, but we have found in many cases bettors do it too often. Ultimately, they reduce their EV by placing a hedge bet that is -EV, or in some situations place two -EV bets. If you’re going to hedge a large amount, we recommend you do it with two highly rated sportsbooks with a long history.
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Can I bet on each side of a bet?

Yes, you can, but there’s not much value doing this at the same sportsbook unless the odds move enough that you can profit from a sports arbitrage. However, we don’t recommend doing this at the same sportsbook. Another reason to bet on each side of a wager is if you made a mistake by wagering on the wrong side or bet too much.
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What is a sports betting arbitrage?

Sports arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of prices differences in the sports betting market to lock in a profit. When players arb, also called ‘scalps’ surebets’, or for short, ‘arbs.’ Large margins can be tough to find with arbing and it’s a something some sportsbook don’t typically like players doing.
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Is middling a profitable strategy?

Middling is a strategy that gives bettors a chance to win both sides of a market with two wagers. Hedging a bet makes a lot more sense when you make a wager with an idea of betting a middle if it becomes available. Middles usually result in small losses but are plus +EV because you win both bets enough to make a profit.
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Is fading the public a profitable strategy?

It can be, but blindly fading the public is a poor strategy. The strategy has more merit in nationally televised games and in situations where there is reverse line movement or a heavily public majority on side and the odds don’t move. Fading the public across the board in all sports or contests is a poor decision and is -EV.
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Are betting exchanges worth it?

Yes, in most cases, you can find the most competitive odds on betting exchanges. Unfortunately, for American residents, there are currently no betting exchanges available online. Betfair is the largest exchange in the world and regularly has the best prices online on major markets.
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What is chasing steam?

Chasing steam means following steam moves of professional bettors before the betting market can adjust. It’s undoubtedly a +EV strategy but has become harder in recent years because the market reacts so quickly. It’s also something that can get your account limited or banned from some sportsbooks.
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What is implied probability?

Implied probability is the percentage chance of an outcome as it relates to betting odds. When we refer to the breakeven percentage on a bet, we are referring to the bet’s implied probability. Implied probability is important to calculating vig and spotting +EV opportunities.
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How should I respond to line moves?

That depends, generally, if market you were looking to bet don’t move in your favor, the value of that bet may be lost, but that isn’t always the case. Monitoring and predicting line movement is something you will get better at as you progress as a sports bettor. Your goal is to beat the closing line at the top bookmakers.
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Should I vary my unit size?

That’s up to you. We recommend sticking with flat betting and then possibly incorporating a variable staking plan later. We have articles both on traditional bankroll management and Kelly Criterion (variable).
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Should I consider trends?

This is a tough answer. There can be profitable “trends” in sports betting where the sportsbooks don’t adjust quick enough, but it’s tough to quantify your edge or know for sure the sportsbooks don’t have it factored into the odds. Historical trends, such as underdogs being more profitable than favorites are +EV, but that’s more general knowledge than a trend.

Now, the trends bettors shouldn’t follow or pay any attention to, is stuff like, “The Dallas Cowboys are 7-3 ATS in their last ten road games.” These are posted on a ton sites with betting advice and many online sportsbooks even give out these trends for free, right next to their betting markets.

That should tell you all you need to know about their value. Sportsbooks would love to have bettors who are wagering based on these “trends” because they’re undoubtedly going to be losing players.
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What outside considerations should I consider such as the weather and the refs?

Aside from making finding value in the lines as your main priority, team motivation is a big factor, particularly when it comes to NFL betting markets.
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What are some of the biggest mistakes sports bettors make?

There’s quite a few of them. We dedicated an article to the most common reasons why sports bettors lose.
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Are there good books on sports betting?

Yes, but not as many as one might think. The main reason for this is that sports bettors don’t want to give out their secrets if they’re killing the bookmakers. Luckily, some have decided to do so. We recommend a few sports betting books, many of which are available in digital format.
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Where can I go to learn more about being a better sports bettor?

We’re shameless. We hope you read our content at Safest Betting Sites.

Seriously, though, there are some of excellent discussions and analysis out there, but there is also a lot of noise. Sports betting forums can be an excellent resource for sportsbook feedback, but are hit and miss when it comes to actual sports betting strategy.

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About Online Sportsbooks

What are the advantages to betting online?

There are quite a few. Online sportsbooks offer a larger odds selection than local bookies and a variety of bonuses, including deposit bonuses and possibly reloads. They’re also more trustworthy than offline options with added convenience. Line shopping is also much easier online.
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Should bettors be careful about which sportsbook they choose?

Yes, is this one area where some bettors get snake-bitten by a bad operator and never end up wagering again. One of the biggest problems with this industry is the bad apples. There are many rogue and predatory online bookmakers out there, and they give the industry as a whole a bad name.

We offer a section dedicated to helping players spot scam sportsbooks and profile the “scam-books” that are still operating. Our sportsbook site reviews will point bettors in the direction of the best shops.

We call ourselves Safest Betting Sites for good reason. We hope to help put bad operators out of business and bring business to those that treat their players fairly.
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Are there resources for researching online sportsbooks?

Our section of sportsbook reviews is a great start. SportsbookReview.com has a large database as well. They’re a strong resource when it comes to sportsbook reviews and helping players, but they do sometimes promote sites they’ve worked out deals with ahead of more reputable sportsbooks. The Bet Islands debacle is not one to forget.
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What’s the sharpest sportsbook in the world?

That would be Pinnacle Sports. The rest of the market moves when they move their odds. They take million dollar wagers, offer reduced juice, and are an A+ sportsbook option. Unfortunately, for U.S. residents, they left the market in January 2007 after the UIGEA was passed.

In U.S. betting markets, it’s Bookmaker.eu. They may even be sharper than Pinnacle when it comes to certain sports, like NHL Hockey. Bookmaker posts their odds earlier than just about every other sportsbook that takes Americans. They also have the highest betting limits among U.S.-facing sportsbooks.
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Are there sportsbooks that scam players or don’t pay?

Yes, quite a few. We have scam sportsbook section of current and past sportsbooks to avoid completely. Most sportsbooks fail due to managerial or financial decisions, but some operators have no intention of paying their customers. Many sportsbooks that aren’t quite in the scam category but are poorly rated should be used with caution. The industry is mostly honest, but there are a few rotten apples.
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Will I receive a bonus when I deposit?

Most likely, yes. Sportsbooks will usually offer a deposit bonus in the form of a freeplay when players make their first deposit. It’s best to maximize your bonus with your deposit because first-deposit bonuses are usually a one-time deal.

Deposit bonuses come with a “rollover”, meaning the number of times a player has to play through their balance before they can withdraw their bonus. Rollover requirements vary between sportsbooks.

Sportsbooks may also offer regular, “reload bonuses” to players. These work in the same way as deposit bonuses and come with a rollover, but can be utilized by players who have already used their deposit bonus.

Although, it’s important not to value bonuses too heavily. Reduced juice markets or sites with softer odds usually have more value than a deposit bonus.
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How much should bonuses and promotions go into my decision when choosing a sportsbook?

They’re certainly worth considering. Promotions and bonuses, depending on their terms, can offer a lot of value to bettors. However, ultimately, sportsbooks with softer odds or reduced juice pricing are worth much more than deposit bonuses or promotions in the long run.

That isn’t to say that deposit bonuses and promotions aren’t worth pursuing. We provide tips on bonus terms and the best ways to clear sports betting bonuses.
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Do U.S. sportsbooks have odds on international sports?

Yes, although the focus of most sportsbooks that service Americans is on sports popular in the States, many have an extremely large selection of betting markets from sports all around the world. It is important to note that betting limits will be much larger for major domestic sports, such as football, baseball, hockey, and basketball compared to international sports, like soccer and tennis.
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Can you bet sports on your mobile devices?

Yes, mobile betting has exploded in recent years. Regulated bookmakers in Europe often have their own apps to download, but just about every sportsbook in the world has a mobile version of their desktop site. There are some slight differences between Android and Apple devices, but no matter what device your use, if you have an internet connection, placing bets shouldn’t be an issue.
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Can I bet on a Mac?

Yes, without issues. There won’t be a problem on any Apple devices, including iPhones and iPads.
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If I can’t get to a computer, can I still call in bets through a phone line?

It depends on the sportsbook, but yes, that is usually possible, particularly at large sportsbooks or those with higher limits. Bets that go beyond the default online betting limit also need a phone call before they can be placed. In almost all cases, calls are toll-free.
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What’s the smallest bet I can make?

For the most part, sportsbooks are pretty accommodating even to those who want to bet low stakes. Most sportsbooks have a $1.00 minimum bet, but some have will go even lower. Don’t expect to be able to call in small bets through the bookmaker’s toll-free line. There is usually a larger minimum for phone wagers.
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What is the biggest bet I can make?

That depends on a number of factors, including the sportsbook that you’re betting with and the market you’re looking to wager. Some sportsbooks take tens of thousands or even up to a million on sides on major markets while others take just a few thousand or less. Betting limits and maximum win amounts are something to consider before depositing at online sportsbook.
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What happens if my bet pushes?

Pushes are pretty common. You don’t win or lose anything, the amount you wagered (including any vig) will be returned to your betting balance.
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Do sportsbooks limit players bets and/or close their accounts?

Yes, actually, this is quite common. Many sportsbooks are solely after the recreational bettor (a losing player) and won’t take action from accounts that they know can’t be beaten. Some sportsbooks will quickly limit players, but others it will take a lot longer.

It starts with a reduction of the amount you can bet, and in some cases, betting on delay, in which your wagers must be approved by management manually. Eventually, they may decide not to take your action altogether or limit you to less than $50 per bet. How often a sportsbook limits players is something we try our best to mention in our sportsbook reviews.
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How long does it take for my account to be credited after a win?

That’s something else that depends on the sportsbook, but usually pretty quickly. I’d say within 5-20 minutes, but a lot of sportsbooks do it nearly instantly after the market concludes. Sportsbooks that grade their wagers slowly usually aren’t rated too highly.
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What if your sportsbook cancels a bet?

It’s pretty uncommon, but it does happen occasionally. Most of the time, this is because a customer bet a line that was a clear pricing mistake, which the sportsbook has every right to cancel. We don’t recommend betting pricing mistakes, especially at sportsbooks that are lower rated. They may use it against you to void future winnings.
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Can I cancel a bet?

At just about every sportsbook, the answer to this question is no. You can try calling in and getting it canceled, but most sportsbooks don’t allow players to cancel their bets once they have been confirmed. Your best option is to bet the other side and take the loss in juice or just let it ride.

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Best Online Sportsbook

Safety and Security

Is it safe to bet online?

There isn’t any real risk of being prosecuted as an individual, even in states where online gambling is criminalized. There is always going to be risks with betting websites, but if you stick with trusted operators, 99% of the time things go smoothly.
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Does it matter where or if my sportsbook has a license?

Regulatory agencies aren’t created equal. Some allow sportsbooks to operate however they wish, provided they pay the licensing fee. Others are a lot more stringent. Regulations in Europe are going to be a lot tougher than most offshore regulatory bodies.

However, even in regions where regulations are relaxed, valuable operators emerge. A focus on the sportsbook itself, not the country it is located in or regulated by, is the best approach.
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What should I look for in a sportsbook if safety and security is my primary concern?

You want to take all aspects of a sportsbook into account before depositing, but if safety and security are your primary factor, looking at longevity and payment processing speeds should be your primary concern.

Sportsbooks operating longer in the industry are typically more trustworthy. Our monthly U.S. Offshore Online Sportsbook Payout Report covers the top offshore sportsbooks, and we do our best to keep our reviews as updated as possible regarding withdrawal methods and speeds for each sportsbook.
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What practices do sportsbooks use to maintain safety?

The reputation of a sportsbook is important when it comes to keeping their customers’ identities and funds secure. Most use multiple security measures, including encryption of sensitive information. Security does differ depending on jurisdictions and regulatory bodies. As always, it’s important to read up on a sportsbook before depositing.
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Can I trust these sportsbooks with my information?

Once again, this depends on the operator. We trust some sportsbooks a lot more than others. Generally, we would say yes, but there have been plenty of times that offshore sportsbooks sold off client lists or used the customer data from one sportsbook to begin another operation.
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What recourse do I have if I have a problem with a sportsbook?

From a legal standpoint, not much. However, emailing us at Safest Betting Sites and letting us know the situation may allow us to start a dialogue with the sportsbook and perhaps work out a solution. Sportsbook Review does a lot of a lot of mediation between players and sportsbooks as well.

In disputes, we highly recommend that players keep things civil, even if they are frustrated with the sportsbooks decision or angry about a slow payout. Ultimately, working with management and not name-calling is the best way for a positive solution.
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What if my sportsbook is not paying me?

We cover this under our scam sportsbook section. We encourage players to be polite in communications with management and if you deposited with a credit or debit card, not to threaten a chargeback.
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I have a gambling problem, where do I go for help?

Gamblers Anonymous is a good start. You should never gamble more than you can afford to lose. If you think your sports betting is turning into problem gambling, seek help.
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How can I set self-exclusion limits on my bets?

It may be a feature inside your sports betting account. You may also be able to permanently ban (self-exclusion) yourself from betting at an offshore website. If you have a gambling problem, we encourage you to seek help.

SBS Pick

  • Launched in 1996 as the first online sportsbook.
  • Consistently fast payouts since their inception.

Safest Online Sportsbook

Deposits and Withdrawals

How do I deposit?

It’s as simple as making an account and choosing a cashier method. Deposit options will vary depending on the sportsbook you choose. We cover all methods in our Deposit and Withdrawal Guide.
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How do I withdraw?

By logging into your account and requesting a payout. It’s the same method you used to deposit but in reverse. Generally, you can withdraw with any method that you used to deposit with previously. Checks and bank wires are usually available as a withdrawal method regardless of your deposit method.
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How long should it take a sportsbook to pay?

Provided you’ve completed your know-your-customer (KYC) process (which can add time to processing) it depends on the method you choose for withdrawal and the sportsbooks you’re using. Also, the time of year may have an effect on processing. Online sportsbooks are usually backed up with withdrawal requests after the conclusion of the NFL season and Super Bowl.

Checks: On average, about 2-3 weeks. Some sites can process checks in about week. That’s probably the top speed.

Bank Wires: These are probably identical to checks, but perhaps slightly longer. They can also be processed in about a week’s time during periods of fast processing.

Money Transfer: Money transfers are done via Western Union and MoneyGram. They’re both typically processed in 48 hours or less. The fastest speeds with this method take less than a day to process.

Bitcoin: If you’re betting at a Bitcoin-only site, withdrawals are often instant. The fastest sites pay in a matter of minutes, but a few hours are probably the average. For fiat-sportsbooks, the process takes a bit longer but is still the fastest and most cost effective option. Withdrawals are processed in 1-2 days on the high end and can take up to a week on the low end of processing speeds.

We have a full guide on depositing and withdrawing at online sportsbooks. In addition, we report on the speeds in the offshore industry each month in our monthly, Sportsbook Payout Report.
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What is the best deposit and withdrawal method?

There are still a lot of cashier options for players, but we think Bitcoin blows every fiat-method away by a large margin. It’s free deposit and withdraw at most betting sites and has the shortest processing time. We have a set-by-step guide to using Bitcoin at online gambling sites for those looking to use the crypto-currency.
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What are typical minimum and maximum deposit and withdrawal limits?

It depends heavily on the method and your jurisdiction. European sportsbooks in regulated markets typically have much larger deposit and withdrawal limits. For most methods, the limits are in the tens of thousands or more, for both deposits and withdrawals.

For U.S. sportsbooks, it’s a bit lower. When it comes to withdrawals, checks usually have a maximum of around $3,000. Bank wires allow for a larger maximum and are available for unlimited amounts in some cases. Bitcoin withdrawals at many operators are unlimited.

Deposit limits in the U.S. market will vary, but some sportsbooks will allow you to deposit any amount you wish, while others may have a minimum deposit ranging between $5-$25.
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Do sportsbooks charge fees when I withdraw?

That depends on your region. In the regulated online gambling markets of Europe and other jurisdictions where top gambling payment processors operate, like Neteller and Skrill, almost all deposits and withdrawals are free.

Those betting inside the United States using offshore sportsbooks will pay more in fees. It’s one of the reasons we heavily endorse Bitcoin as a deposit and withdrawal option. Compared to other methods, it’s the fastest and cheapest, by a large margin.

When it comes to other methods, bettors will pay a fee. However, most sportsbooks do offer players one free withdrawal request each month or every 30 days. Fees for sending checks and bank wires usually range between $20-$50 per request. Bank wires will have additional fees from the intermediary and receiving banks as well.
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What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital currency that has become especially popularly in online gambling markets in recent years. It has many positives, including decentralization and no government controlled central bank. It’s also basically free to send and receive bitcoins. We highly recommend it as a cashier option when depositing at online sportsbooks. We cover betting with Bitcoin thoroughly at Safest Betting Sites.
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My credit or debit card won’t work when I try to deposit. What should I do?

We cover depositing with credit, debit, and gift cards extensively. There are lots of things to try if the first card you try doesn’t work. By far the most common issue is that the card is not enabled for international transactions. If you contact your bank, this can usually be solved within a few minutes.
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Can I use Skrill to deposit into online sportsbooks?

Similar to Neteller, Skrill can be used in most countries, aside from the United States and Canada to deposit into online gambling sites. Skrill is licensed in New Jersey, like Neteller and PayPal, to accept online gambling transactions on licensed online poker and casino sites.

Skill was formerly known as “MoneyBookers.” They left the U.S. market in 2008, a year after Neteller’s departure. Skrill left Canadian online betting markets in 2013.
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Can I use PayPal to deposit into online sportsbooks?

Not in most jurisdictions. Since online gambling isn’t regulated in the United States, PayPal can’t be used for depositing, withdrawing, or any payment processing for online sportsbooks. In parts of Europe, where sports betting is regulated and legal, PayPal is sometimes available as a cashier option.

PayPal is currently available in New Jersey for their regulated online casino and poker market. The company could easily become the top gambling processor again if online gambling is fully legalized.
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Can I use Neteller to deposit into online sportsbooks?

In most jurisdictions, yes. However, Neteller is no longer available for residents of the United States and Canada. Aside from those two countries, Neteller is available in most other nations. Neteller, along with their competitor, Skrill, is one of most popular cashier options for online sports betting.

Neteller notoriously left the U.S. online betting markets in 2007 (and Canadian ones) after the company’s owners were charged with money laundering and racketeering. Neteller, like Skrill, re-entered the U.S. market fully licensed and currently operates in New Jersey’s regulated online casino and poker market.

SBS Pick

  • They offer more methods than other sites and one free withdrawal per month.
  • Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals are completely free.

Best Deposit and Withdrawal Options

Types and Variations of Sports Betting

Do you recommend local bookies?

We still recommend online sports betting as the best choice, but we wouldn’t advise bettors to completely write off local bookies as an option. There are certainly a lot of pitfalls with locals, unreliability and then some that regularly stiff players, but if you can find a trusted local they can be an excellent complement to online sportsbooks.
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What is a pay-per-head (PPH) site?

Pay-per-head sites are services that local bookies can use manage their player accounts and betting odds. Instead of the bookie managing the bets himself, he can send his clients to an offshore website for a fee for each player he has, hence the “pay-per-head.” Many PPH sites offer comparable markets and odds to post-up offshore sportsbooks. Some more advanced ones provide casino gambling and phone support as well.
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Are daily fantasy sports legal (DFS)? Is DFS classified as gambling?

Daily fantasy sports are legal in most states and is not classified as gambling under the UIGEA. DFS faced legal questions after an “insider trading” scandal at DraftKings and FanDuel in October 2015. The employee in question was cleared of wrongdoing but put DFS under the microscope from regulators.

DFS was banned in several states, but the trend as of late 2016 is trending towards state regulation and licensing, rather than prohibition. Currently, DFS is available in all states except Washington State, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Alabama, Rhode Island, and Delaware.

DFS sites scored were dealt a blow when they were banned from operating in New York State, but after spending $200,000 in lobbying expenses, they succeeded in reentering the state after a law was passed.

DFS is not classified as gambling on the federal level. Some states have declared it gambling and banned operators from their jurisdictions. It is our opinion that DFS is gambling, but just like poker and sports betting, that both have luck elements, skill wins out in the end.
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