The Basics to Winning Sports Betting in the US

Sports wagering is fundamentally a straightforward idea. When you believe one team is superior to its opponent, you have the option to bet on the team you expect to win. If your selection is correct, you end up winning the bet!

Though this is easy to understand, there are many betting options that you can choose from – even just for a single game. Just imagine how many more over the course of a season! Bets can be for the most granular of sporting events such as the first player to score a basket or at a macro level, like which team will win the Championship.

With a myriad of ways to bet, it is easy for your mind to quickly find easy betting options. Lots of bettors, especially those who are inexperienced, can lose lots of money when sports betting. But, as you well know, you hardly hear of sports bettors who lose, only those who win big!

So how can you win in Sports Betting? We delve into what it takes to be a serious sports bettor and how to win.

Mathematical, psychological and a fan of sport

An obvious statement to make, but sports betting involves teams and players who are human. Unlike a casino, whereby a deck of cards is dealt or dice are rolled and have distinct probability of outcome, sports betting incorporates soft factors which cannot be quantified in a concrete manner.

Teams and players have mindsets that can be influenced by confidence, injury, travel, social cohesion – just to name a few. These factors aren’t easily measurable (if at all), and therefore a sports bettor needs not only mathematical skills but the ability to translate and draw insights of the soft factors into betting odds.

In addition, betting requires discipline and resilience. Discipline to not be rocked when a loss occurs and the resilience to keep working and not deviate on impulse.

Lastly, it helps to be a fan of sport. To derive soft factors to take into account for sports betting odds, you needs to follow sports news, keep up to date with the games and players, and be quick to respond and take advantage of any betting opportunities.

Understand that sports betting is more than just about sports. It’s a mixture of mathematics, psychology and a love of sports.

Winning Percentage

What does it take to be successful in sports betting? To become a full time sports bettor you need to be able to approximately pick at least 55% of bets correctly (assuming 50% probability of an outcome). This often confuses many as to why an extra 5% is needed, it’s because sport books factor in a range of 5 to 10% in their odd spreads, in order to make a profit. So for a 50/50 result, often a sports book will pay out approximately 40% return.

So this means, for sports betting sustainable a success rate of over 55% would be ideal. For some readers, this may sound like a piece of cake, but it is in fact quite difficult. How many people do you know that are full time professional sport gamblers? I can guess for most readers it would be none or at the most one. The truth is, it takes a lot of effort, hard work and dedication to achieve a long term winning percentage.

Winning doesn’t come easy, but if you establish a good betting approach and mode, you can become a full time sports bettor. You need to be able to achieve a winning percentage higher that 55%.

Types of Sports Bettors

Now, you may think you fit the bill of what will become a successful sports bettor, but first see where you fit in these three types of sports bettors. Once you know where you stand, you can then set your expectations.

The Casual Sports Bettor

You are an avid sports fan who likes to supplement your love of sport with a few side bets. You have a few favorite teams, may bet on them occasionally throughout the regular season, but like to place a few big ones during the playoff.

The Semi Pro Sports Bettor

More than just a sports fan. You not only follow sports news and players closely, but you dabble in the statistics. You don’t mind betting against your favorite team and you have rudimentary calculations which you base your bets on. You also, don’t bet big just because it’s playoff time.

The Seasoned Sports Bettor

You love number crunching, understand how to use Excel, Access Database, Google Sheet. You may even know how to perform coding – VBA – or even be able to scrap data from websites and other sources to feed into your risk based models. You follow the sport news (and probably subscribe to a wide range of sports media and sport analyst reports) and have a way to feed soft factors into the risk based models. The outcomes drive the bets.

By knowing which category you may fit in, you can begin to understand how successful you could be with full time sports betting. To be honest, the majority are going to fall into the Casual Sports Bettor category. And if so, all well and good! It’s ok to have a few bets, but have the mind set that you won’t be able to give up your day job. Inevitably over the long run, losses will arise and accumulate and that’s ok. Because you know that it’s for fun and you have set aside a budget that you play within.

But if you feel that you have the skill set, and the dedication to be a Seasoned Sports Bettor then why not! Go for it. But know that it is hard work, takes time and you are competing against sport books that have their own people crunching the numbers, just like you. In essence, you need to outperform them!

Set your expectation by knowing which Sports Bettor you are.

US Sports Betting Laws – You can Bet

Straight upfront, we do NOT condone the breaking of any laws, whether it be Federal, State or Local. Having said that, we are not law experts (let alone in sports law), so if you need to seek professional opinion, we strongly encourage you to do so.

The following is WagerDex’s interpretation of sports gambling laws in the US. We begin with context and then delve into how States have proceeded with legalizing sports betting (or not).

US Federal Laws were designed to stop illegal bookies

The intention of Federal and State laws in the US regarding gambling, were created to prevent or stop organized crime from creating illegal gambling syndicates. Criminal, historically, were able to wash their money and also make some profits on top, through running sports books.

As a result, The Organized Crime Control Act of 1995 was enacted to put a halt to the mafia sports book. This Act stipulated that any sports book that took in more that $2,000 in handle would be deemed illegal. As you can imagine, these were very low thresholds and were designed to strangle the sports book business.

The 1961 Wire Act then came into force to again further stymie the mafia led sports book. The intention, again, was not to hurt the sports bettor but attempt to reduce organized crime. During this time, telecommunications such as telephone wires, were being used to broaden sport books and drive more revenue. The Wire Act loosely describes the illegality of betting using telephony.

In 1992, along came the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This Act was created as a result of corruption, games being thrown or influenced in College game. PASPA was designed to prohibit sports betting books and to stop ANY state from generating tax revenue from sports betting (Nevada being the only exception).

In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was introduced and killed off Online Poker. UIGEA prevented US banks from transacting with known offshore sports books and online casinos. It did not declare placing a bet illegal by US residents, but rather made it difficult for offshore sports books to process deposits and withdrawals.

In 2018, a huge change to sports betting laws took place with the Supreme Court overturning the 1992 PASPA. This became the catalyst to trigger each State in the US to decide on whether sports betting should be legal, regulated and operational.

It’s important to point out that all the gambling laws there were created in the past had intentions to hinder sport books rather than to penalize the bettor directly. Therefore, you will not find any instance of a sports bettor being fined, charged or penalized for placing a sports bet. On the other hand, there have been plenty of instances of illegal sport books being charged with breaking the law.

Yes, you can place a bet in the US!