Frequently Asked Questions about Sports Betting
“Superbookie”. Published by Contemporary Books Inc. Copyright 1991.Changes or additions to this section of the FAQ should
be submitted to:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Page last modified: 2-15-96
Table of Contents
- Section S: Sports Betting
- S1 Where can I bet legally on Sports?
- S2 What sports can I bet on?
- S3 What is “the spread”?
- S4 Why do I have to bet $11 to win $10?
- S5 What are all of the different types of bets?
- S6 Can I make a million dollars with one bet?
- S7 Who makes the odds?
- S8 Do I have to be over 21 to bet on sports?
- S9 What is the minimum bet that must be reported to the IRS?
- S10 Are there any good books or articles on sports gambling topics?
- S11 What internet resources and sports
computer data services are available to those interested in sports
Leaving aside various forms of (animal) racing, there are at least four ways
to bet on sports in the US, and of these two are legal, one is illegal, and
one is ambiguous.
You can bet legally at licensed Nevada Sports Books, and illegally
with bookies in virtually every town. Most of the following describes
the ins and outs of gambling at sports books. There are two points
worth noting here. First, Nevada Sports Books can set up phone
accounts, but will not accept wagers across state lines. Second, odds
with illegal bookies are often worse than those one can get in Nevada.
Betting with offshore (international) sports books seems to be on the
rise, and promises to spread from phone services to internet based online
services. From the point of view of bets and odds offered, these books
are similar to licensed Nevada Sports Books. The legality
of these services is, at best, ambiguous. There are claims and opinions
on all sides of the argument, but few legal precedents. In addition, some
offshore books are run by old trustworthy firms, some are fly-by-night
scams, and many are somewhere in between. Cavaet Bettor.
The last way (and other than in state Nevada betting the only other
clearly legal way) to bet on sports in the US is the Oregon Lottery. This
as follows in a rec.gambling post:
The Oregon lottery is alive and well as far as football betting. The game
is called sports action. The line is set by Jim Feist. It is set and
printed on Wednesday and does not change. This can work to the bettor’s
advantage due to changes in team lineups due to injuries and such. The
minimum wager is $2.00 and the minimum number of games bet is 3. The
payoffs for a three game win is $5.00 per dollar wagered. Four games gets
$10.00 per dollar wagered. All other wagers are paid on a paramutual
fashion. For example, a seven game winner usually pays around $160 to
$350. The maximum number of games that can be bet have a winner. A week
or two ago $14,000 carried over in the 14 pool. There are also some games
that are called special play games with over/under total score. The line
seems to be fairly consistent with the Vegas line on the Wednesday that it
You can bet on any sport the Sports Book you are wagering with covers.
At most books, this includes professional and college football and basketball,
professional baseball, professional hockey, and horse and dog racing. Every now
and then Sports Books will offer proposition bets (see below) on events like
professional golf tournaments and the Indy 500 and the like, but not on a
regular basis for other events in those sports.
The spread is a point advantage given to a weaker team that is expected
to lose by X number of points. This is the odds makers way of making even bets
possible for a Sports Book. Usually if you bet against the spread you make
an 11-10 bet. This means that you win $10 if you bet $11 for a total of $21 if
your team covers the spread.
A team covers the spread if it wins the game with the score modified by
the spread. If Dallas and Washington are playing and the spread is (Dallas -7),
then Dallas has to win by at least 8 points to cover. Half-point spreads are
This is one of the many ways the Sports book makes its money. In an
ideal situation, the same amount of money will be bet on both sides of the line
and the Sports Book will take its 10% from the losing side. If $55000 ($50000
and an addition $5000 to make the bets) was bet on Washington and $55000 bet on
Dallas, no matter who wins the game the SB will make $5000. In case of a tie,
all money is refunded. This is a rather simplified version as the spread moves
when one side becomes more heavily bet on.
A prop bet is a bet the SB offers at odds and conditions of its
choosing. Prop bets can be exotic bets like which team will score the most
touchdowns, which team will shoot the most three pointers, which running back
will rush for the most yards, etc. Most prop bets are offered at 11-10 odds,
but some of the exotics will be offered at better or worse odds, depending on
Money Line Bets
A money line bet is a bet on the straight up total of an event or
the odds for a straight up prop bet. There are two totals given for either
side on a money line bet. A negative and a plus side.
Dallas -170 Washington +150
What this means is that for every $17 you bet on Dallas, you win $10 if
they win. For every $10 you bet on Washington, you win $15 if they win. This
is the way SB’s make money off games by not giving points.
These are the standard bets to make. Basically a proposition bet at
11-10 odds where the conditions are you give or take points on the team you are
betting on hoping that the modified total of your teams score beats the other
teams straight score. Bets on the spread are often know as straight bets because
they pay even money (minus the 10% vig).
Tampa Bay +19 1/2 Miami -19 1/2
This means that if you bet on Miami, Miami needs to score at least 20
more points than Tampa to cover. If you bet on Tampa, the score must be at least
within 19 for you to win. The bottom team is almost always the home team.
These are also 11-10 bets on what the total of the game will be. If the
total posted on a game is 39 1/2 points, then you can wager that the total score
of both teams added together will be either over or under the posted total.
Betting the over is known as “betting on the ball”, betting under is
known as “betting on the clock”.
Chicago -5 1/2 -180 1:00 pm Atlanta +5 1/2 +150 42 1/2
This gives the money line, the point spread, and the total for the game.
It also tells you that Atlanta is the home team, and the game starts at 1:00 pm.
As far as I know, this is the standard posting at mosts Books.
A parlay bet is betting on the outcome of two or more events, and
getting higher odds than betting on the outcome of both events. The drawback is
that the odds aren’t right and that you must win all of the events to win the
# of plays Standard Odds True Odds ---------- ------------- --------- 2 plays 13-5 3-1 3 plays 6-1 7-1 4 plays 10-1 15-1 5 plays 20-1 31-1 6 plays 40-1 63-1 7 plays 80-1 127-1
The more events parlayed the worse the odds shift in the casinos
advantage. The advantage for the player for parlays lies in the fact that he
can bet more on the same game (spread and over/under) and he can bet more on
two teams who are playing at the same time.
In order to be competitive, some casinos offer ties-win parlay cards.
This greatly helps the player. The Las Vegas Hilton SB is one of these.
A teaser bet is a bet where you can move the spread by a set amount,
but have to pay to do it. You must bet at least two teams like a parlay and
win both. You can move the spread by on all the games by the set amount.
# of teams 6 pts 6 1/2 pts 7 pts ---------- ----- --------- ----- 2 teams 11-10 5-6 5-7 3 teams 8-5 3-2 6-5 4 teams 5-2 2-1 9-5 5 teams 4-1 7-2 3-1 6 teams 6-1 5-1 4-1
# of teams 4 pts 4 1/2 pts 5 pts ---------- ----- --------- ----- 2 teams 11-10 5-6 5-7 3 teams 8-5 3-2 6-5 4 teams 5-2 2-1 9-5 5 teams 4-1 7-2 3-1 6 teams 6-1 5-1 9-2
Buying a half point
You can shift the spread a half point in your favor by laying 6-5 odds
instead of the standard 11-10. This is called buying a half point. You usually
want to stay away from this bet except on three point spreads on football games.
This is also know as “buying the hook”.
Sure. Bet $1,100,000 straight up.
Las Vegas Sports Consultants Inc., establishes the odds for about 75%
of the licensed Sports Books in Nevada, as well as for the Oregon
State Lottery. It is run by Michael ‘Roxy’ Roxborough. He also
operates as a consultant on gaming strategies, management, marketing,
and personnel. Most illegal books in and out of Nevada draw their
odds from what is posted at the various casinos. Transmitting gambling
information across state lines for the purpose of placing or taking
bets is illegal. News items about point spreads and the like can be
reported for informational and entertainment purposes only.
Well all gambling wins and losses are supposed to be reported to the IRS
at the end of the year, but if you bet more than $10,000 at once, you must fill
out some IRS paperwork at the ticket counter.
All money won must be reported to the IRS.