A Beginner’s Guide to Sports Betting for 2020

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In a world where professional athletes are loved all over, sports have always been a big part of many people’s lives, whether you participate in it or watch it. Now, sports betting is also becoming an increasingly popular form of entertainment. Some of you visit legal online sports betting sites to increase the thrill of watching a game while others are probably more interested in turning a bit of a profit. Good news is, you can have both.

Finding a trustworthy website doesn’t have to take you a long time at all and at GamblingNews, we specialize in helping you locate the best online sportsbooks on the market. There’s a lot of criteria to consider here, but our trusted guides, reviews, odds, predictions, and savvy betting tips have all been written with the sole purpose of helping you become a little better at placing wagers.

Plus, you can always be up to date with what’s new in the world of sports betting, as we cover the industry extensively.

The Best Online Sportsbooks Cover Extensive Sports and Leagues

There are many various competitions you can bet on, but it’s usually the ones that have the largest fan base that come with the most developed betting markets. All of which, the best online sportsbooks have covered.

Sports betting markets as they appear at most bookmakers
Browse through the available markets and pick your favorite event

Sportsbooks rank their markets differently, but you will almost certainly see football or soccer as the top choice. Markets are not necessarily ranked by how popular they are, although the majority of bookmakers prefer to list sports based on the size of the market, i.e. the number of events. You have a delightful choice of options to pick from here:

  • American football
  • Soccer / Football
  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Boxing/UFC
  • Golf
  • Ice Hockey

Now, there are other sports that you will certainly not see immediately listed in a sportsbooks table of choices, but they’ll most certainly be available.

Sports and betting fans also commonly use sports slang to refer to the competitions they are interested in. Some Leagues are located in certain parts of the world, but that doesn’t stop them from appealing to an international crowd. Such competitions include:

  • The English Premier League (EPL)
  • The National Basketball League (NBA)
  • The Australian Open
  • The Melbourne Cup

There are many regional competitions which generate quite a bit of interest, even though the people betting on them are far fewer in comparison with such flagship sports as soccer and American football. These include Major League Baseball (MLB), National Hockey League (NHL) and many more.

Many of the main events to bet on
Pick you favorite event and start betting on it right now.

Legal online sports betting makes it possible for you to bet on multiple competitions without actually being in the country where the event is played.

The top sports betting websites will have no trouble providing you with sufficient opportunities to make a wager and reap the rewards. Let’s now look into how actual betting works.

How Betting Works

The best online sportsbooks usually focus on either of two activities, or in some cases – both. You have the traditional bookmakers where you can place bets on the outcome of events. In this case, if you win, it’s the operator that pays you.

There’s a small fee known as “vig”, “vigour” or “juice”. These are different descriptions of the same thing. For each bet you place, the sportsbook will claim a small commission for services rendered. This is usually 10% of the amount of the bet. Everything else, including your original stake and the money you win, is paid back to you. So, to get this straight – with traditional bookmakers, if you win, then the operator must pay you.

Betting exchange interface
Betting exchanges are very similar to sportsbooks.

There’s another popular concept called a “sports betting exchange”. In this case, the sportsbook is an intermediary matching up your bets against someone else’s. It’s a peer-to-peer platform driven by demand, which makes the betting exchanges slightly more difficult to master, but immensely more valuable.

These operators usually post higher return from certain mainstream events, but it helps to remind yourself that one man’s loss is another man’s gain.

Registering and Placing a Bet

Registration is an important part of the betting process. It matters for various reasons, and most importantly – it affects your ability to place wagers and transfer funds from your sportsbook balance to bank account.

A quick walkthrough registering at a sportsbook.
Registration is easy as long as you fill the fields truthfully

Thankfully, registration is very simple to accomplish. All you need to do is provide important information that sportsbooks use to comply with existing regulation. As per most forms, you will be asked to state your legal name as well as address.

It’s important to provide truthful information as it will be later used to allow you to execute financial operations. Providing untruthful information could lead to forfeiting your account and any money on it later on. The best online sportsbooks are obliged by law to conduct background checks on their customers.

Now that we have cleared these prerequisites out of the way, we can look at how we place a wager. If you haven’t funded your account yet, you’ll need to head to the Cashier section, select one of the available payment options and deposit the desired amount. There are also available minimum and maximum amounts. Once you have some money up and running, you can find the game or match you are interested in and select the outcome you like.

Sports betting odds and outcomes available
Just click on the outcome you want to bet on
Check your potential winnings in real time!

Once you see an option you like and want to bet, click on that outcome. This will bring up the betting slip where you can select the type of bet and tinker with other metrics, including the size of the stake.

In almost all cases, the possible winnings are displayed. Betting slips are very intuitive and you’re unlikely to have trouble finding your way around one.

Most bookmakers incorporate a feature in their betting slips from where you can monitor your betting history as well as track the active ones.

Odds, Lines and Spreads

As a participant in sports betting, you know that bookmaker numbers represent the probability of a certain outcome. Through your scouting for new betting grounds, there’s a very good chance that you have encountered sportsbooks that offer slightly different representations of this probability. Generally, there are three ways odds can be expressed:

  • Decimal Odds
  • Moneylines (American lines)
  • Fractional Odds

Decimal Odds are perhaps most popular in Europe. They are very easy to read and some argue the easiest to understand. As the name suggests, these odds are expressed as a decimal value.

Example of betting on sports with decimal odds.
Decimal odds are quite easy to read and a real comfort to use.

With decimal odds you see a visual representation of how much money you will win for every $1 you bet. In the case of Brighton and West Brom, backing the Home team would bring you $1.8 for every $1 you stake.

Staking money on the Away team will fetch you a tidy profit of $4.33 per each $1. However, bear in mind that the higher the potential profit, the slimmer your chances of actually winning the bet are.

Moneylines (American lines) are an interesting concept devised for a North American crowd. The concept is built around the idea of wagering bets worth $100 (not that you necessarily need to commit such an amount).

An example of American odds or Moneylines
Learn about American odds at a glance

Let’s look at the available data for the matches between Orlando Magic @ Detroit Pistons, part of the National Basketball Association (NBA) season.

Orlando Magic +145
Draw + 1225
Detroit Pistons -150

With American lines, the (+) value means that for every $100 you stake, you stand to win back $145. In other words, Orlando Magic are not as likely to win as Detroit Pistons.

When you bet on Detroit Pistons, you need to stake $150 to win back $100. If you think a draw is possible, then you can expect to win $1,225 for every $100 you lay down. Do keep in mind that the odds of this happening are very slim indeed.

Fractional Odds are yet another format. They are just as easy to read than decimals we believe. Let’s use a real example to make things simpler to understand.

Fractional odds on football.
Fractional odds are easy to win and quite rewarding

Looking at the game between Southampton and Derby County, we can see that Southampton are priced at 7/10 whereas their opponents stand at 4/1.

Southampton 7/10
X 14/5
Derby County 4/1

This simply means that for every $10 you put on Southampton, you will win $7. Your total return will constitute $17 if you only lay $10 to begin with. Now the (X) stands for a draw. The odds of this happening are again pretty slim, if you think about it, and if the teams finish tied, you will stand to win $14 for every $5 you’ve committed.

This about sums the types of odds you will find at the best online sportsbooks.

What’s Spread Betting?

Spreads betting is another exciting aspect of the industry. Let’s use our familiar example with Orlando Magic and Detroit, but this time – we won’t consider a draw (X).

Orlando Magic +145
Detroit Pistons -150

Now, for our example to be accurate, we want to introduce the “spread”, which is represented with another decimal value. Look closer:

Orlando Magic -3.5 (+145)
Detroit Pistons +3.5 (-150)

The numbers in red are our spread. Since we already know that Detroit Pistons are more likely to win (you need to stake $150 to win $100), Detroit Pistons must win with more than 3.5 points in the game.

If the final score is Orlando 89 – Detroit 91, that’s fewer points difference than the spread, so Orlando win the bet. In other words, you add & subtract the 3.5 value to find out the final score:

Orlando 89 + 3.5 = 92.5
Detroit 91-3.5 = 87.5

Spreads betting is quite interesting and it can surprise you quite pleasantly in the long term. For example, you might think that the underdog needs just a few points to get it right, and if they do – then your spread bets will truly pay off.

Legality of Online Sports Betting Across the World

When it comes to legal online sports betting, this could be a contentious topic. At Gambling News, we’ve been watching the industry for years now, and we know how to make sense of the confusing, and often -mutually-exclusive information you find lingering around the internet.

In General, there are many sports betting markets that promise to be big, despite strong opposition in certain areas of the world:

  • Europe (UK. Sweden, Denmark, France, Spain, Poland and many more)
  • North & South America (U.S. Canada, Mexico, Argentina)
  • Asia (China, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam)
  • Africa (South Africa)

In a word, the industry has a truly global footprint. China is projected to be the largest legal sports betting market by 2030 whereas the United States (which only legalized its sports betting industry in May, 2018), will be second.

Regulation across Europe is tightening while South America, Africa and certain countries in Asia are shaping up as vibrant new markets. Want to always be updated with what’s new in the world of sports betting? Don’t forget drop by our news section.

Offshore Betting

You might wonder about offshore betting, looking into the top 5 offshore sportsbooks or analyzing offshore betting odds. In most cases, this means that there are little to no alternative close at home to enjoy.

Offshore betting sites in the United States, for the sake of example, are somewhat developed and a preferred choice of entertainment for some customers in states where legal betting hasn’t arrived.

Mind though, that customers in several states are now enjoying sports betting operations in the United States:

  • Delaware – June 5, 2018
  • New Jersey –June 14, 2018
  • Mississippi –Aug. 1, 2018
  • West Virginia –Aug. 30, 2018
  • Pennsylvania–Nov. 16, 2018
  • Rhode Island–Nov. 26, 2018

Meanwhile, there’s no clear way of determining how many customers offshore bookmakers take. Some estimate that the industry is worth billions, but there’s been no exact gauge. Meanwhile, there are several things to consider when playing at offshore sportsbooks, which:

  • Offer an alternative in non-regulated countries (Pro)
  • Have competitive and valuable odds (Pro)
  • Come with innovative offers (Pro)
  • Remain susceptible to legal changes (Con)
  • Can have trouble clearing payments (Con)

Offshore betting is popular despite all, but the shift towards establishing credible and accountable operators is gathering steam as new accommodating laws are being forged.

Some renowned experts have said that offshore sportsbooks also lead to an overall deterioration of the pricing models and betting markets in licensed jurisdictions.

Choosing the Right Site for You

Apart from providing you with insightful articles about the state of the legal online sports betting industry, we’re equally committed to helping you make a smart choice yourself. You’ll find hundreds of sportsbooks online, but not all necessarily will be worth your while.

The best way to be as sure as possible that you are making the right choice is to read expert reviews that have been updated to reflect the latest changes in the bookmaker’s offer as well as the laws that the bookmaker is bound to.

Choosing the best online sportsbook is not always easy, and there are many factors that come into play:

  • Reliability of withdrawals
  • Customer opinions
  • Professional reviews
  • Bookmaker reputation
  • Available bonus offers

Different people have different expectations. For some, a reliable cash out could be what determines whether you stick or give a bookmaker a pass. For others, it could be the type of sports on offer – whether it’s horse racing, NBA or NFL betting.  

It helps to visit established forums where you can talk to actual players who have experience with the casino. Apart from reading our dedicated reviews, we agree that doing your own due diligence is also immensely helpful in determining which the right site for you is.

Mobile Sports Betting

Live streaming is available for mobile betting
Bet & watch your favorite events on your phone

Mobile sports betting is the natural development of consumer trends and bettors’ preferences. Today, each sportsbook that has raised to a considerable profile within the industry is mobile-friendly.

Most commonly, websites invest something extra to create mobile sports betting apps, which will be compatible with both iOS and Android devices, offering the full-functionality of the desktop websites, including:

  • Detailed betting slips
  • In-play features
  • Fully-functional banking
  • Live streaming options

Mobile sports betting is very popular in certain parts of the United States, including:

  • New Jersey (NJ)
  • Nevada
  • West Virginia (still in the works)
  • Mississippi (still in the works)

In the United Kingdom (UK), every sportsbook, big or small, is mobile friendly and the majority of bookmakers offer dedicated native apps for additional comfort and immersion.

Gamblingnews.com Approved Rankings

At Gamblingnews.com we’ve decided to take all our expertise and create the “Approved Rankings”, a list of recommended sportsbooks that you can use as a reference. This way we can use our experience to help businesses gain a little more traction and possibly traffic as well as help our readers to pick a credible bookmaker.

This is precisely what our mission is. We use a number of proven methods to establish the credibility of the sportsbooks we review, looking into particular details, such as:

  • Reputation
  • Licensing & certification
  • Fairness of the betting offers
  • Reliable support
  • Extra features, such as mobile and in-play betting

To put an operator on our best online sportsbooks list we don’t necessarily expect the brands we review to meet every single provision when it comes to “extra features.” However, we expect them to have a solid core offer that upholds and even tries to improve the industry standards. These operators are the sort of recommended brands you’ll find on our pages.

Exclusive bonuses & Loyalty Scheme from Us

Example of a generous £20 bet.
£20 in free bets will allow you to kickstart your betting career!

Our experts have spent countless hours researching bookmakers. One upside of this, other than providing you with a reliable guide to the industry, is our familiarity with arguably the best sportsbook bonuses.

The upshot is that we can always recommend you a top choices that will help you build a respectable bankroll in the long-term, and even win a few important competitions along the way.

Here’re some of the bonuses we usually keep an eye out for:

  • All welcome 100% bonuses
  • Free-play no deposit bonuses
  • Value reload bonuses
  • Seasonal promotions
  • Betting competitions

The bonus opportunities that we explore are fit for beginners and advanced players. We pick all exclusive offers, including Enhanced Accas, betting tournaments with a fixed prize pool that can reach from $25,000 up to a million worth of prize money for the winner, mobile offers, and more.

Example of free play bonus.
Every little counts when it comes to free welcome bonuses!

Each big event in the world of sport is certainly featured in the form of a special promotion or bonus at the best online sportsbooks. To enhance security, most welcome bonuses and free bets usually offer amounts varying between $5 and $100, and we recommend you just the ones that will help you get a firm foothold at your bookmaker of choice.

More You Should Know about Sports Betting

If you have been around the world of sports betting for a while, you’ll at least get the idea that there’s a lot of science that goes into it. Understandably, some people are just dab hands and tend to win more. Whether it comes from some visceral understanding of the game or the careful study of probabilities is anyone’s guess. One thing is sure, though: it’s not all, all about finding the best online sportsbook. There’s a bit of theory as well.

On the plus side, there’re a lot of helpful materials that you can read yourself to make sure that you are on your A game every time you place a wager:

  • Trading Bases by Joe Peta is a story of a gamer who channeled his love for fantasy baseball and amassed a fortune. It’s an inspirational behind-the-curtains work that reveals the mind that has been able to make a comfortable living from his passion for the game.
  • Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas is the rather forthcoming account of the author who looks into such important aspects of the industry as decision-making, probabilities, human error, and more, all in a bid to provide you with an authentic guidance to sports betting.
  • The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver is a look into the purely theoretical workings behind the idea of making predictions. It’s a book that helps you develop the right mindset and address one of the main tenets captured by the second title, i.e. “why so many predictions fail.”
  • Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong address sports betting heads on, taking into consideration logic and maths, helping you develop the right strategy and look up the important qualities that you will need to beat the bookmakers.

Legal online sports betting is in a constant state of flux, and this is at least half of the fun. There’s a lot to learn, but the fun is precisely in the thrill of the chase. Our experts are here day in and day out, to chart a successful betting course for you in 2019 and beyond.