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Sports Betting 101: How to bet on sports online

Are you new to sports betting?
Are you wondering how sports betting works and how to bet on sports online?
Here’s how you can bet on sports in four easy steps:

Step 1 Make sure online sports betting is legal in your state

You can find out where online sports betting is legal on this page. 

Step 2 Find a legal sports betting site or app in your state

Now that you know sports betting is legal in your state the next step would be to visit a legal online sports betting site.

You can also choose to visit our legal sportsbooks and

Step 3 Check out the latest Online betting odds

Betting sites are also called online sportsbooks. Once you find a legal online sportsbook, you can check out the sports betting odds there.

If you are wondering how sports betting odds work, stick around because we’ll be talking about that too.

Step 4 Sign Up

If you want to place a bet you need to sign up first.

If you’ve visited our legal sports betting site in your state you’d know that you can sign up with our betting site in under 90 seconds!

Once you sign up, you make your deposit. If you join any of Unibet’s legal sports betting sites you get a welcome bonus like a risk free bet!

Deposits at Unibet are usually processed instantly.
Once your deposit is accepted you can choose to confirm your bet.

How to bet on sports in the US
Welcome offer

Grab Your $500 Risk Free Bet!*

*New players only. Bonuses may differ by region.Terms & conditions apply. 21+

What are betting odds and how do betting odds work?

If you’re new to sports betting, understanding how odds work can be tricky.

You might be wondering what’s the difference between a moneyline bet, betting lines, vegas odds and betting spreads.

We’ll be covering all of that here!

Betting odds are estimations by sportsbooks.

These estimates tell you two things

  1. What is the probability of an event according to the betting site or oddsmaker.
  2. How much do you stand to win from the bet you place on that event.

Betting odds typically look like this in the United States:

These betting odds are also called moneyline odds.
Moneyline odds show you the odd sportsbook’s probability for the result of the game.

They also show which team is the underdog and which team is the favorite to win the game.

In moneyline odds, one of the teams will have plus odds (+). This team is the underdog.

The other team will have minus odds (-). This team is the favorite.

In our example above, the plus (+) odds of +255 means that you’ll win $255 for every $100 you bet.

The minus (-) odds of -355 means that you’ll have to bet $355 to win $100.

You can also convert odds into probabilities to see the probability of each event.

If you convert odds of +255 for the Browns, it turns out to be 28.2%.
That means that the odds are the Browns have a 28.2% chance of victory.

You can also do that for the team with minus odds.
Usually the team with the minus odds will always have a higher chance of victory.

When we convert the minus odds for the Packers in our example, we get a win probability of 77% for the Packers.

So now that you know how odds work, let’s see the different types of bets you’ll find when you’re betting on sports online.

Different types of bets in online sports betting

#1 Moneyline Bets

Moneyline bets are the simplest way to bet on sports online.  
All you need to do is to pick the winner.
You can either place a moneyline bet on the underdog or the winner.
You also get a chance to bet on a tie in sports where ties are common like hockey and soccer.

#2 Spread betting

Are you wondering what is point spread betting?
Spread betting involves placing bets on points spreads when you're placing your bets online.

If you're not familiar with point spreads you might be asking yourself "what’s a point spread?"
Think of a spread as the margin of victory for a team.

When you bet on a point spread, you're betting on the amount of points a team will win or lose by.

If your team wins by more than that spread, that means they covered the spread.

Here’s what point spreads look like on Unibet's sportsbook:

As you can see odds for point spreads are very similar to moneylines or vegas odds.

There is one difference though.
In point spreads you’ll notice that a number right next to your team.

In our example the Cavs have a +5.5 point spread while the Celtics have a -5.5.
Just like the moneylines, the team with the minus (-) point spread is the favorite.

The team with the plus (+) points spread is the underdog.

If you bet on the favorites, that means they need to cover the spread for you to win the bet.
In our example, the Celtics (-5.5) would need to win by at least six points to cover the spread.

If you bet on the underdogs they either need to win the game or lose by fewer points than the spread.

In our example if you bet on the Cavs (+5.5) they’d need to lose by five or fewer points or win the game outright for you to win the bet.

You can also use the slider to increase or decrease the spread. This freedom to change the spread is called a teaser bet.

Usually higher spreads give you better odds.

#3 Total bets or over/under bets

Total bets are also called total points bets.
These are sports bets based on the total number of points that you think will be scored during the game.
Total points bets are also called over/under bets.

Here is what an over/under bet looks like on sports betting sites like Unibet:

In an over/under bet, you bet on whether the total number of points would be over or under a certain number.

In our example for the Cavs vs Celtics game, you can bet on whether the game’s total points will be over 215 or under 215.

You can change the total points at Unibet thanks to our teaser bets feature.

#4 Future bets or Outrights

Future bets are bets on events that could happen far in the future.

Think of bets like:

  • who’ll be the league MVP or
  • who’ll win the NFL or NBA championship.

Future bets can start even before a tournament or a season starts.
Odds for future bets change dramatically based on how a league season or tournament progresses.

🔥Hot tip : Bet on futures early. Betting sites offer BIG odds for future bets but those odds tend to start shrinking towards the end of a season or tournament.

#5 Prop bets

Prop bets are also called proposition bets.
Think of prop bets as a question.
Will the Lakers win both halves against the Celtics?
Will the Packers score the first touchdown against the Titans?
Who will score the first goal?

You can pick prop bets and include them in your parlays for a bigger payout when you're betting online.

#6 Parlays

If you like to go big or go home you’re gonna love parlay bets!
What are Parlay bets?
Think of them as combining multiple bets.

There are 2 types of parlay bets you'll come across when you're betting online:

1) Single Game Parlays
In same game parlays you combine multiple bets on the same game. Check out the example below:

Our first pick for the parlay was a spread bet on the Chiefs where we predicted the Chiefs to cover their 11 point spread.
Our second pick in the parlay was a totals bet of 45 or more points.
Our third pick was a player prop on Tyreek Hill to cover 64 or more yards.
Our fourth pick was another player prop bet. We chose Darrel Williams to score the first touchdown in the game.
We ran with an under bet (under 271.5) on our last parlay pick where we predicted that Patrick Mahomes would clock in less than 272 passing yards during the game.

Each bet in a parlay is called a leg.
This would be a 5 leg parlay because we have 5 bets here.

2) Multi Game Parlays
You can also parlay bets across multiple games. This would be an example of a multi game parlay.
Check out this 7 leg parlay we built on our betting site:

multi game parlay

Look at the huge potential payout in that parlay bet!
If we manage to win this parlay we can win $353 from a $10 bet.
That’s a return of 353.15x from one bet!
This is why sports betting fans love parlay bets when they're betting online!

Parlay Offers on Unibet 

Looking for offers on parlay bets?
Check out our parlay betting promotions on our legal online sportsbooks when you're betting online!

Boost your cash with parlay boosts!*

*Bonuses may differ by region.Terms & conditions apply. 21+

Sports Betting Tips

There are plenty of sports betting tips out there.
Here are some betting tips we have for you that you can use when you're betting online:

Tip #1 Gamble Responsibly

“You gotta know when to hold’em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run…”

Many people see online gambling as a get rich quick scheme.
They don't realize that sports betting is a game of chance.
They often start chasing their losses and end up loosing money.

A lot of unexpected things can happen on the field.
If you think about it even the most "fool proof" betting system can't account for all these variables.

Think of sports betting as entertainment.
Stick to a budget and don't chase your losses.

If you want to help someone with gambling addiction please reach out to us or call 1-800-GAMBLER.

Tip #2 Use your own judgement

Sports betting isn’t an exact science.
You’ll find a lot of sports betting tips from self proclaimed experts.
In our opinion when you're betting online the best thing to do is to use your judgement.

Tip #3 Understand the basics of sports betting

We walked you through the basics.
When it comes online sports betting it’s all about the odds.

When you place your bets online more frequently, you start to see if the odds are undervalued or overvalued.
How do you if the odds are undervalued?
It’s all about that sweet research!

Tip #4 Research!

We left you on a cliffhanger on point #3.
The best way you can find out if the odds are undervalued is to do your research.

Most people hated math in school.
But for online sports betting. math is your best friend!
We recommend you to check out stats like:

  • Head to head records 
    While head to head records aren't always a good predictor they tend to be a good starting point for your betting strategy.

  • Win/lose streaks 
    We'd recommend you to combine win streaks with head to head records.
    A team that's on a solid win streak could have a terrible head to head record with the opponent.

  • Injuries 
    This one's a no brainer.
    Injuries to key players can affect a team's performance.
    This might also give you some ideas for player prop bets.

    For example, let's say the Chiefs are playing a team whose defensive line has suffered a lot of injuries, it might be a good option to bet on their running backs to rack up some serious yardage during the game.

  • Home/away record
    Home advantage was a massive variable before games had to be played without fans during the pandemic. Without the fans a lot of teams saw their home advantage erode. 
    Some teams also tend to do well on the road.

Tip #5 Consider Parlay bets

Parlays can help you win get some big payouts because of the high odds they have!
Build your own parlay bet after you do your research.
Many online sportsbooks like Unibet offer betting bonuses on parlays too.

Tip #6 Don’t miss out on your sports betting bonus

Many online betting sites like Unibet have some pretty cool sports betting offers and promotions.
Make sure you check them out while you sign up!

Welcome offer

Grab Your $500 Risk Free Bet!*

*New players only. Bonuses may differ by region.Terms & conditions apply. 21+

The Legality of Sports Betting in the US

Are you wondering why a lot of sports betting sites are popping up across America?
Is online sports betting even legal in the US?
Is sports betting legal across the US or is it up to the states to decide on that.
At Unibet USA we’re going to answer all your questions about legal sports betting.

A quick history on the legality of sports betting in America

There are three important years which also serve as turning points in the history of sports betting laws in the US.

1992 PASPA Makes sports betting illegal on a federal level

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (also called PASPA).
PASPA prevented individual states to legalize sports betting.
But it allowed states where sports betting was already legal to keep sports betting legal.
These states were:

  1. Delaware
  2. Montana
  3. Nevada
  4. Oregon

2012 New Jersey allows limited sports betting

In spite of PASPA, Chris Christie and the state legislature of New Jersey signed a law in 2012 legalizing sports betting in race tracks across the state and in casinos in Atlantic City.

2018 The rise of legal sports betting in the US

PASPA was overturned in 2018 by the Supreme court in the Muprhy v NCAA case.
New Jersey became the first state to legalize both retail and online sports betting in June 14 2018.
Many states have now started to legalize sports betting across the US.

Where is online sports betting legal in the US?

Currently there is no federal legislation that legalizes sports betting on across the US.
At the time of writing there are over 21 states where online sports betting is legal.

ArizonaGov Doug Docey signed a bill legalizing all forms of sport gambling including mobile gambling on April 2021.
ColoradoVoters approved legalizing sports betting including mobile sports betting through proposition DD on November 2019. On May 1,2020 online sports betting became available on legal sports betting apps and sports betting sites in Colorado.
ConnecticutAug 31 2021: Governor Lamont announces legalization of online gambling in Conneticut.  Oct 12 2021, "soft launch" announced for online gambling including mobile sports betting in conneticut
IllinoisGovernor Pritzker signed the Illinois Gambling Act into law on June 28, 2019 which legalized online gambling including online sports betting.
IndianaGiv Eric Holcomb signed H1015 in May 2019 legalizing online sports gambling in Indiana. The law became effective on September 1 2019 with the Governor placing the first legal bet in Indiana which was  a $10 bet on the Colts.
IowaGov Kim Reynolds signs off on Iowa Senate File #617 legalizing sports gambling in Iowa on May 13 2019
LouisianaSports betting  legalized  in 55 out of 64 parishes in Louisana that voted to legalize sports betting in the November 2020. Mobile gambling is expected to be legalized in early 2022
KansasOnline sports betting legalized in Kansas from September 1 2022.
MassachusettsSports betting  legalized  on August 10, 2022. Betting on in-state college teams is not allowed unless they're playing in a tournament.
MarylandMaryland officially launched sports betting including online sports betting  on Dec 9th 2021. Gov Larry Hogan placed the first bet in the state.
MichiganOnline betting in Michigan legalized and live on Jan 21 2021.
MontanaMontana legalized sports betting on May 3 2019. Online gambling in Montana is only allowed on the premises of gaming facilities.
NevadaSports betting was legalized in 1949 and remained legal after PASPA. Online sports betting is also currently legal in Nevada.
New HampshireGov Chris Sununu announces the legalization of sports betting in New Hampshire on Jul 12 2019
New JerseySports betting legalized in June 2018. Mobile sports betting is currently legal in New Jersey.
New YorkOnline betting became legal in the state of New York on Jan 8 2022
OhioOhio residents can start placing bets on licensed sportsbooks physically or online from January 1 2023.
OregonLegal prior to PASPA but limited. Scoreboard app in October 2019 which is the only legal mobile gambling app in Oregon. Betting on college sports is currently illegal in Oregon.
PennsylvaniaSports betting legalized in Pennsylvania in 2018. Online sports betting Is currently legal in Pennsylvania.
Rhode IslandBetting legalized on Nov 26 2018. Online betting is currently legal in Rhode Island.
TennesseeOnline betting is legal in Tenessee and is currently the only legal form of sports betting in Tenessee. Online gambling was legalized on April 30, 2019.
VirginiaSports betting legalized and effective on July 1 2020. If you're from Virginia and looking for betting site in your state, check out Unibet's legal betting site in VA!
West VirginiaGambling legalized on August 30, 2018. Online gambling is currently legal in West Virginia
WyomingOnline betting is legal in Wyoming since September 1 2021

Online sports betting is also currently legal in DC. There are nine other states where sports betting is legal but online sports betting isn't legal.
Sports betting was legal in Florida with the state signing a gaming compact deal with the Seminole tribe.
However a federal judge struck down the law in Nov 23 2021.