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What is sports betting?

Sports betting wears many hats. For some, it is a way to add a little extra fun to watching a game. Between friends, it can be for bragging rights. For some, sports betting is a full time job, requiring many hours per week of work with stats, systems and computers. But for us—and likely for you, since you are reading this Sports Betting Guide — betting on sports is just a pastime as American as the entrepreneurial spirit. Americans understand risk, and they understand reward. Their willingness to take chances is the main reason America has accomplished so much in such a short span of time. At BetUS Sportsbook, we understand risk and reward as well. We also understand America. That’s why, after more than a quarter of a century, we are still America’s most trusted Sportsbook.

Why Bet on Sports?

People bet online on sports for many reasons. Many like the challenge of testing their prediction skills against that of the sportsbook. It is always fun to prove you know more than the experts, that is why using resources like the Sports Betting Guide becomes important, especially when those experts pay you good money when you do. Most of us bet on sports for pure entertainment value. Even a small wager becomes something you can be proud of when you win. And, while we all love to watch our favorite teams play, a bet adds immeasurable excitement to games between teams you otherwise don’t care too much about.

Sports Betting History

Sports betting has been around since ancient China, and the ancient Egyptians bet on chariot races. Cavemen were probably rolling stones at holes in the ground for seashells and bones, or an extra chunk of mammoth meat. Ever since the first sport or game that had a clearly defined winner was played, there was likely someone right there betting on who the winner would be.

Over time, sports betting, like civilization itself, became more organized. A member of society became the person who held all the bets and paid out winners when events were over. These people eventually evolved into what we would recognize as early bookies, setting the betting rules in a sports betting guide like this one, and betting odds themselves, and taking a little cut off the top for their troubles.

After a while, various wager types and rules became somewhat standard, and bookies hired help to start taking wagers when phones came to American households. Then, in the early 1940s, Charles K. McNeil invented the point spread for American football, and that is when sports betting really took off.

Online Sports Betting

As sports betting became ever more popular in America in the decades following the invention of the point spread, bookies became ever more sophisticated and bettors always wanted more options and better understandings of the betting odds. To accommodate the growing desires of their clientele, bookies became Sportsbooks and created a Sports Betting Guide, meaning they would now take bets not just on horses, football and baseball, but on pretty much any sport they could decide a line on.

It wasn’t just the number of sports that were growing in the betting world, but the sophistication of wager types as well. Parlays, where bettors bet on multiple games with one wager amount, practically became a household word due to their popularity.

Check out our Sports Betting Rules to learn the difference between types of wagering of all the sports available in our sportsbook.

With the advent of the personal computer in the 1980s, it wasn’t going to be long before sportsbooks jumped on that bandwagon, never to look back. The first-ever online sports bet placed online was in January 1996. Even as this was happening, other online sports betting books were being put together. This group includes BetUS, well known for being America’s Favorite Sportsbook as noted in many gambling portals such as this BetUS Sportsbook Review. BetUS was founded in 1994 with a forward-looking team of bookmakers, coders and investors getting ready to conquer the world of American sports betting. BetUS now proudly boasts over 30 years in business.

How Previous Games Scores Affect the Odds

A common question that sports bettors tend to ask is how the odds and lines are set for any given game. It doesn’t matter if you’re betting on the NFL, NBA or MLB, there are several factors that are analyzed and considered when setting the odds. There are many factors, but how teams perform in the past and how they measure up will be the main factor considered.

We can’t give the past all of the credit, but it certainly plays a factor – giving us a preview of what’s to come in an upcoming game. Let’s take a look at how odds work and how the past can affect them week to week and game to game.

Learn more about How Previous Games Scores Affect the Odds.

How to Bet on Sports

Single (Straight Wager)

Historically, a straight wager is a moneyline bet on which side will win a game. These days any single bet on any outcome is often considered a straight wager. This could include a single bet on a point spread, totals, prop or futures outcome. Straight wagers are available for practically all sports betting and are the easiest way to bet on sports.

Learn how to place a Straight Bet at BetUS.

Point Spreads

Point spreads even the playing field between two unevenly matched teams. In this Sports Betting Guide, you will learn that when you bet on a point spread, the favorite must win by more points than the spread number; the underdog must not lose by more than the spread number. The point spread will be the same number for both teams and will be negative for the favorite and positive for the underdog.

Learn how to place a Point Spread Wager.


A moneyline wager is a straight wager on the winner of a game. According to the Sports Betting Guide Moneylines are also attached to other wagers to indicate the payout amount of that wager. A negative moneyline means you have to wager that much to win $100, while a positive moneyline means you win that amount for a wager of $100. Favorites will always have a negative moneyline, underdogs a positive one.

Learn how to bet the Moneyline.


Totals wagers, also known as Over/Under wagers, are bets on the total amount of points scored in an event. You may bet on the combined score of both teams or the total score for just one team. Totals can be for a whole game or a set period of play within a game. The book sets a number and you wager whether the total points will end up being Over or Under that amount.

Learn how to place an Over/Under Wager.


A parlay bet, as noted in this sports setting guide is a wager with more than one event combined on the same ticket, where every outcome must be correct for the wager to win. Any loss in any event on a parlay will render the entire parlay wager a loss. A push will reduce the wager by one event. Due to this increased risk, parlays pay out far higher than a series of straight wagers on the same events.

Learn how to place a Parlay at BetUS.

If Bet

If-Bets link a series of single wagers together, in a set order of events that is irrelevant of chronological time, where each wager in the order is only placed if the previous leg is graded as a win (or a push, if chosen). As each leg is dependent on the previous leg being a winner, you may choose to add the winnings from each leg to the next event’s risk amount, thus increasing your winnings.

Learn how to place an If Bet at BetUS.

Action Reverse

An Action Reverse is a combination of 2-8 events, where every possible two-team combination is made into an If-Bet, both ways. For an Action Reverse, you enter a wager amount. When both teams are underdogs, the risk amount will equal your wager amount. If either team is a favorite, the risk amount will equal the amount required to win your wager amount.

Learn how to place an Action Reverse Bet.

Round Robin

A Round Robin is a wager made up of a series of equal-size parlays. You choose between 3-15 events and then you choose how many events you want in the parlays. The Round Robin will consist of every possible parlay combination of that number of events, or “ways,” available within the amount of overall events you choose.

Learn how to place Round Robin Bet.


A Teaser wager, according to this sports betting guide, is a combination of 2-15 point spread and/or Totals events. It works just like a parlay except you move, or tease, the points by a set number in your favor in exchange for a smaller payout. They are easier to win, but they pay less. Teasers can only be made on football and basketball games, but both sports cannot be on the same ticket.

Learn how to place a Teaser Bet.

Futures Bet

Betting on futures in any sport can sometimes be the most exciting wager you might place all year. If you’ve ever said, “I think Team X will win the Super Bowl” or “Team X is winning it all this year!”, you have exercised the decision-making process of futures betting.

Learn how to place a Futures Bet.

How Do Betting Odds Work

American Odds are the standard format for sports betting odds in the United States – catering to American sports bettors. These odds are extremely easy to understand and are most commonly recalled or remembered as moneyline betting odds. While American odds are just one way to display your odds, many sportsbooks will offer decimal odds and fractional odds that can be toggled based on your personal preference.

Learn how American, Decimal & Fractional Odds work.

Prop Bets

Prop betting is a light-hearted, fun way to bet on sports without having to pick a winner or rely too heavily on the winning team. You don’t even need to be an avid sports fan or professional handicapper to bet on sports by using prop betting. That’s not to say the professionals don’t dabble in prop betting, they absolutely do! We just want to make sure that beginners or those who have not bet on sports before understand that it’s quite easy to bet on props.

Click here to learn more about Prop Bets

How Does the Bet Slip Work?

The bet slip is where you collect your wagers and where you can compile bets to create parlays, teasers, and other special betting types. You can select the games you’d like to bet on and choose whether you’d like to wager on each individually or if you want to group them together to increase the odds and chance you might have a larger payout.

Click here to learn more about BetUs Bet Slip

How Does Live Betting Work?

Live or in-play betting allows you to make bets when the game is being played. In-game betting refers to any wager made between the first and final plays of the game. Live betting on sports is exploding in popularity, and we are providing a brief explanation and breakdown to get you up to speed.

First things first, what is online live betting on sports?

Click here to learn more about Live Betting

Sports You Can Bet On

NFL Betting

The most popular sport by far in America is football. Even the smallest NFL stadium holds more fans than the largest baseball, hockey or basketball houses. Football’s yearly television revenue is worth billions more than all other major American sports combined. The number of fans who bet on NFL games is similarly outsized. NFL point spread betting was invented specifically for the sport in the 1940s, and is easily America’s favorite betting pastime.

Visit our NFL betting page

NBA Betting

The NBA keeps gaining in popularity every year. Its dynamic on-court action, combined with the league’s acceptance and nurturing of its players’ personalities, enamores the game to today’s fast-paced youth culture. For anyone looking to bet on the NBA, the similarities to football betting will be unmistakable. With full game and period point spreads, totals and even team totals available, any NBA game can maintain excitement until the final buzzer.

Visit our NBA betting page

MLB Betting

When every crack of the bat, every ball slamming into leather, and every stadium-wide sucking-in-air sound keeps you glued to the screen, you know you bet on baseball. Baseball has moneyline and totals betting, and even its own form of the point spread called the Run-Line.

Visit our MLB betting page

Esports Betting

There is perhaps nothing in the world of sports betting that is growing at a faster pace than Esports betting.

Visit our Esports betting page

NCAA Football Betting

Before the NFL, College Football was literally the only American football game in town. Today, there are 130 college football programs in the top division (FBS) across the country playing an average of 12 games each in a season. If you bet on college football games, the bowl games beginning in late December to decide various championships, ending with the College Football Playoff National Championship game in mid-January are always worth waiting for.

Visit our College Football betting page

NCAA Basketball Betting

There are about 175 or more, depending on the source, American colleges with Division I basketball teams. In the 2018 and 2019 seasons, over 5,800 total games were played. Those include the raison d’etre for the very sport of College Basketball: the March Madness Tournament. Every spring, millions of Americans who would otherwise not watch a basketball game fill out brackets to predict the winner of this 65-team championship tournament.

Visit our College Basketball betting page

NHL Betting

Hockey betting is another sport for which bookmakers have created an adaptation of the point spread. The Puck-Line is also set at 1.5, except for select international events. Same as most sporting events a bet on baseball can be a moneyline wager or a total as well, and totals can be for each team and broken down into periods as well. Live betting is a popular option for ice hockey. You can make even a Futures bet on the Stanley Cup winner almost all year long.

Visit our NHL betting page

UFC Betting

Go for the knockout by taking a swing at UFC betting. You can pick the fight winner and place a moneyline wager. Or, for even more excitement, you can bet on UFC on the Over/Under on the number of rounds the fight will last. Select fights may also have Prop bets available where you can guess at how the fight will end. Will it be a knockout, a tapout or a TKO due to a referee stoppage?

Visit our UFC betting page

Sports Betting Odds & Lines

There is always something going on in the world of sports, and some of it might even affect the way you bet. Keep up to date with this sports betting guide, in real time, with all of the relevant sports betting news you’ll need to know. Or go straight to our free betting picks, where our trusted, veteran writers have already assimilated all they feel you need to know.

Sports Betting Frequently Asked Questions

How does sports betting work?

A sports bet works by having someone bet, or risk, a quantity of money on one side of a game. If the side they pick wins the game—or goes over a certain total if that is the line they bet on—then that bet wins back the original wager amount, plus a “win” amount on top. Win amounts vary compared to the amount risked depending on if the bet was placed on a favorite or an underdog. Sports Betting on favorites to win pays out less than betting on underdogs to win.

What are odds?

The word ‘odds’ is the name used for the numbers you see in betting lines, and odds is often used interchangeably with the term ‘lines.’ This is why you will often see the phrase “odds and lines,” written out. According to BetUS’s Sports Betting Guide, Sports Odds most often come in the form of moneylines, which indicate favorites and underdogs as well as payout-for-risk amounts.

What do odds of -250 mean?

Odds of -250 are what is called moneyline odds and a negative moneyline equals the amount of money you would need to bet in order to win $100. In this case, you would have to wager $250 in order to win $100. A negative moneyline represents the favorite. If the line were positive, say +250, it would mean that $250 is the amount you win for a wager of $100. A positive moneyline represents the underdog in a game.

What does the + and - mean in sports betting?

In the simplest of terms, a minus (-) sign indicates the favorite, while a positive (+) sign indicates the underdog in a game. Going slightly deeper, when betting dollar amounts on sports events, the minus number is the amount you need to wager to win $100 on that side, while the positive number is the amount you would win for a wager of $100 on that side.

Can I bet on more than one sport at a time?

Yes, you can bet on multiple sports in one bet at any reputable sportsbook using a few different wager types, the most popular of which is a parlay. If-Bets, Reverses and Round Robins are also wager types that allow bets on more than one sport on the same ticket.

What is a parlay?

A parlay is a wager type that allows you to use one wager amount to bet on more than one event on the same ticket. Because you need every pick you make in a parlay to win, the risk is higher than on a straight wager, but the payout is correspondingly high. Any losing pick in a parlay means the entire bet is a loss.

What sports can I bet on?

You can bet on almost any sport, including all of the popular ones from around the world, including NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and American college football and basketball, International soccer and cricket, Aussie rules football, rugby, tennis, golf, top MMA organizations like UFC and Bellator, boxing, motorsports such as NASCAR and F1, horse racing, and even less mainstream sports like table tennis, volleyball, badminton and cycling. Even sports played using computer simulations are available, as are esports and there are even some fantasy sports options available.

What is a point spread?

A point spread is set by a sportsbook to even the playing field between two mismatched (at least on paper, or in the mind of the betting public) teams in a sporting event, for betting purposes. Mostly, you will find point spreads are used for betting on NFL and American college football games and also for NBA and American college basketball. Some other sports sometimes have odds meant to mimic point spreads: baseball has the run line, soccer has a handicap and hockey has a puck line.

What does a point spread bet mean?

A point spread bet means you either need a team to win by more than a set amount of points (if the point spread is a negative number), or that you need a team to either win the game or lose it by less than a set amount of points (if the point spread is a positive). A negative point spread indicates the favorite while a positive one indicates the underdog.

If you win a sports bet, do you always make money?

If you bet on sports and win your bet, you will always get back more money than you put in. This is because sports bets always first pay you back all the money you risked, and then you will also get back a win amount on top of what you risked. The win amount can vary greatly depending on the odds you wagered on and how much money you risked.

How to make money sports betting?

Due to what is called the ‘Juice,’ or the ‘Vigorish/Vig,’ sports bettors need to win 52.4% of their bets to break even at standard odds of -110. To make money this way, you need to win more than 52.4% of wagers. You will always make money on any wager in sports betting if you win that particular wager.

In what states is sports betting legal?

Sports betting is legal in some form in 18 states, with pending legalization legislation in another six states, and expected moves towards legalization in another 24 states. The only states that are not moving at least somewhat towards sports betting legalization are Idaho, Wisconsin and Utah. Sports betting is full-scale legal in Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.