Online Sports Betting: What is Important to Know Before the Games Begin

A sportsbook or bookmaker is an online or physical betting shop. The sportsbook observes the probability of each outcome for an event and puts a numeric value on each possible outcome – this is the value that the bet is multiplied by if you are successful. 


The sportsbook’s main focus is accepting bets on sporting events. The number of sports available to bet on can reach up to thirty. They do not include only popular sports like basketball, football, tennis and hockey, but also more exotic sports such as golf, darts and cricket. However, betting is not only limited to sports; some sportsbooks offer to take bets on iconic events from the political, entertainment and cultural world as well. 

Types of Bets Offered by Sportsbooks

In order to beat the sportsbook, you need to correctly bet on any of the proposed results. Sportsbooks offer a wide variety of event results and a wide variety of bets. Therefore, in a football game, you can bet on a large number of different markets. Each legal sportsbook will have varying number of bets available for each sport. 

  • Which team will win the competition
  • Total number of points scored
  • Player/ team prop bets
  • First half scores, first team to score, etc. 

Total points, number of games and shots on goal take place in basketball, tennis and hockey respectively. In general, there is a wide range of results for betting. 

In addition to the basics, a sportsbook can also bet on a particular event both before the game starts and during the game (live bet). During a live bet, the speed of decision-making is important, because the quotes can change quickly depending on the course of the game, the current result and the time remaining before the end of the match. 

The proposed events combined with all the outcomes and the corresponding odds is called the sportsbook’s line. Thus, all possible bets before the game should be searched in the “line” section on the sportsbook’s website. 

What are Sports Betting Odds?

Every outcome in the sportsbook’s line is assigned a factor that determines the size of the expected win. It is easy to determine the payment amount that the player will receive from the sportsbooks if the bet is won. You need only to multiply the stake amount by the assigned odds.

Please note that the payout size and profit rate are not the same! To determine the profit, you must first take away the amount of money you put down, which will determine your net profit after winning the bet. 

For example, the following quotes are offered for the Borussia Dortmund- Schalke match: 1.65, -4.44, -5.55 (Borussia Dortmund win, draw and lose respectively). If you bet $100 on Borussia Dortmund, the potential profit would be $65.

($100 x $1.65 = $165, minus the $100 you originally placed) 

The betting odds do not just show the potential payout to the player; in addition, they express the expected probability of the particular outcome of an event. The lower the odds assigned to the outcome, the higher the probability for this outcome, according to the sportsbook.

Thus, in the example of Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, we see that Borussia has a better chance of winning because of the lower odds. At the same time, it should be understood that the odds are the bookmaker’s assessment, an opinion that does not always coincide with reality. 

Sportsbook Bonuses

It is not uncommon for sportsbooks to encourage their customers to make more bets with various bonus offers. Most often they are bonuses on the first deposit (welcome bonus) or bonuses for free bets.

Please note: before you agree to receive a bonus from the sportsbook, you need to carefully read the terms of the promotion! In most cases, receiving a cash bonus that you can withdraw is possible only after placing a certain amount of bets. 

How does it work? 

Let’s say, for the replenishment of the game account (deposit) of $10, the bookmaker promises the player a 100% bonus of the deposit amount, that is, an additional $10 per account. However, the terms of the promotion require the repayment of this bonus in the form of, for example, a five-fold turnover of the deposited funds.

That means that before you are able to withdraw the bonus money, you must first place at least $50 on bets. In the instance where a free bet is offered, the sportsbook will credit a certain amount of virtual money to the player’s account. The only way for the player to use this amount will be to place it on bets.

At the same time, it is again worth paying attention to the terms of the action: the free rate of the bet can be a made a requirement! For example, if the bet is won, the player would only receive the net profit, while the amount of the virtual money for the free bet would not be converted. As a general rule, the profit from bonus funds will immediately become available for withdrawal, but can sometimes require wagering. 

How the Sportsbook Makes a Profit

Of course, a significant amount of a sportsbook’s profits is earned from the players' losses. However, there are guaranteed earnings initially laid into the odds. While assessing the probability of each event and putting the odds on an event, the sportsbook underestimates the odds, factoring in its margin. This margin represents guaranteed earnings that will bring the sportsbook profits regardless of the event’s outcome.

In the case of an equal odds match, the objective odds should be 2.0 (+100) for both teams to win (50/50), but these odds will not be found in sportsbook's lines. Rather, they will always be lower than 2.0 because of their margin. Take an NBA basketball game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers for example. The sportsbook may offer odds 1.87 (-115) for the victory of both teams, thus estimating their chances of winning equally (50/50).

The odds, excluding margins, would be 2.0, and the net gain at $100 would be $100.

However, if you consider the margin, the player will receive a profit of $87 ($100 x 1.87- $100) instead of $100, and the remaining $13 ($100-$87) the sportsbook takes for themselves. This is the sportsbook’s margin, which provides it with a guaranteed salary. 

Offline and Online Sportsbooks: What is the Difference?

Sportsbooks can operate in physical betting locations as well as on the internet (online sportsbooks). Many sportsbooks will have both, and some will have multiple locations in different states. In the former, cash is paid at the betting point and the winnings are paid through the cash register.

Some companies arrange their books in a way that customers have the opportunity not only to make bets but also to fully relax and watch live broadcasts of sporting events. Despite the amount of comfort that sportsbooks try to provide to customers at their betting points, the popularity of online sportsbooks- those that take bets over the internet- is growing. 

Where to go in case of a dispute/conflict with the sportsbook?

Each sportsbook should have their own customer service, which can be addressed in case of questions and in case of disagreements with the company’s actions. 

Copy the token