Sports betting is the activity of predicting sports results and placing a wager on the outcome.
Sports bettors place their wagers either legally, through a bookmaker/sportsbook, or illegally through privately run enterprises referred to as “bookies”. The term “book” is a reference to the books used by wage brokers to track wagers, payouts, and debts. Many legal sportsbooks are found online, operated over the Internet from jurisdictions separate from the clients they serve, usually to get around various gambling laws (such as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 in the United States) in select markets, such as Las Vegas, or on gambling cruises through self-serve kiosks. There are different types of legalized sports betting now such as game betting, parlays props and future bets. They take bets “up-front”, meaning the bettor must pay the sportsbook before placing the bet. Due to the nature of their business, illegal bookies can operate anywhere but only require money from losing bettors and do not require the wagered money up front, creating the possibility of debt to the bookie from the bettor. This creates a number of other criminal elements, thus furthering their illegality.
There have been a number of sports betting scandals, affecting the integrity of sports events through various acts including point shaving (players affecting the score by missing shots), spot-fixing (a player action is fixed), bad calls from officials at key moments, and overall match-fixing (the overall result of the event is fixed). Examples include the 1919 World Series, the alleged (and later admitted) illegal gambling of former baseball player Pete Rose, and former NBA referee Tim Donaghy.
Types of bets
Moneyline bets do not have a spread or handicap, and require the chosen team to win the game outright. The favored team pays lower odds than does the underdog; thus, it acts mainly as an enticement to take the underdog for a better payout. Sometimes a bettor may couple this type of bet on the favored team to increase the payout of a parlay.
Spread betting are wagers that are made against the spread. The spread, or line, is a number assigned by the bookmakers which handicaps one team and favors another when two teams play each other and one is perceived as being more likely to win. The favorite “gives” points from the final score, and the underdog “takes” points. This number can also be in increments of half-a-point (.5) even though very few sports have .5 point scoring (i.e., The Ryder Cup), to avoid the possibility of a tie.
Total (Over/Under) bets are wagers made based on the total score between both teams. In an example, if an MLB game has a total of 10.5, an over bettor will want the combined total to be greater, and the opposite for a bettor taking the under. If the combined total is the same as the proposed total, the bet is a push. Most sports books refund all wagers on pushes, though a minority counts them as losses.
Proposition bets are wagers made on a very specific outcome of a match not related to the final score, usually of a statistical nature. Examples include predicting the number of goals a star player scores in an association football match, betting whether a player will run for a certain number of yards in an American football game, or wagering that a baseball player on one team will accumulate more hits than another player on the opposing team.
Parlays. A parlay involves multiple bets that rewards successful bettors with a greater payout only if all bets in the parlay win. A parlay is at least two bets, but can be as many as the bookmaker will allow.
Teasers. A teaser is a parlay that gives the bettor an advantage at a lower, but still positive, payout if successful.
If bets. An if bet consists of at least two straight bets joined 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 money line wagers in baseball, hockey, or soccer, respectively. These bets are effectively point spread bets that have the same money line odds on either side of the wager (i.e., industry standard of −110 to −115). Sportsbooks will occasionally shift the moneyline by a few points on either side of these spread bets.
Futures 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 can be made before the season starts in September for the best possible payout, but futures are typically available year-round, with payouts being reduced as the season progresses and it becomes easier to predict a champion. In this example, 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 (or +5000) to win the Super Bowl, which means that the bet will pay 50 times the amount wagered if the team does so. In general, most sportsbooks will prefer this type of wager due to the low win-probability, and also the longer period of time in which the house holds the player’s money while the bet is pending. For this same reason, most professional bettors do not prefer to place futures bets.
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.
Half bets. A half (halftime) bet applies only to the score of the first or second half. This bet can be placed on the spread (line) or over/under. This can also be applied to a specific quarter in American football or basketball, a fewer number of innings in baseball, or a specific period in hockey.
In-play betting. In-play betting, or live betting, is a fairly new feature offered by some online sports books that enables bettors to place new bets while a sporting event is in progress. In-play betting first appeared towards the end of the 1990s when some bookmakers would take bets over the telephone whilst a sports event was in progress, and has now evolved into a popular online service in many countries. The introduction of in-play betting has allowed bookmakers to increase the number of markets available to bet on during sports events, and gamblers are able to place bets based on many types of in-game activity during the matches. For example, in football matches, it is possible to bet in on in-play markets including the match result, half-time score, number of goals scored in the first or second half of the game, the number of yellow cards during the match, and the name of the goal scorers. The availability of a particular sport and in-play markets varies from bookmaker to bookmaker. In-play sports betting has structural characteristics that have changed the mechanics of gambling for sports bettors, as they can now place a larger number of bets during a single sports game (as opposed to a single bet on who is going to win). One of the most important differences between being able to place an in-running sports bet opposed to a pre-match bet is that the nature of the market has been turned what was previously a discontinuous form of gambling into a continuous one. The gambling study literature has suggested that in-play sports betting may offer more of a risk to problem gamblers because it allows the option for high-speed continuous betting and requires rapid and impulsive decisions in the absence of time for reflection. There are three different types of in-play sports betting products(cash out, Edit my Acca, and Edit my Bet).
Positions of American professional sports leagues
The positions of the four major American sports leagues (representing American football, baseball, basketball, and ice hockey) have become more complex since their decision to embrace daily fantasy sports (DFS) in 2014, which are described by those within the industry as “almost identical to a casino” in nature. With the contention by critics that such activities blur the lines between gambling and fantasy sports, the endorsement of all four major sports leagues and many individual franchises provided a marked contrast to their positions on betting. Professional sports leagues updated their positions again on May 14, 2018, when the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).
Major League Soccer (MLS) the top soccer league in the United States and Canada has expressed sports betting as a possible way to gain popularity.
” We have a project going on now to really dig in deeply and understand it. I’ll join the chorus of saying it’s time to bring it out of the dark ages. We’re doing what we can to figure out how to manage that effectively.”