Sports betting has been an ever-expanding marketplace in the United States in just the last three years. That’s thanks to a Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that saw a federal ban on sports wagering as a violation of states’ rights. This has opened the gates for states other than Nevada to allow legal sportsbooks to operate and accept wagers.

Delaware, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island — these are just some of the now 22 states in the U.S. that have legalized sports betting in some form, whether it be sitting at a sportsbook at a casino or submitting your bets through apps like DraftKings and Fanduel. Here are some ways of breaking into sports betting and making the choices that are right for you.

Types of Bets

If you are going to engage in sports betting, it is important to understand what exactly it is you are putting your money on. For example, a money line bet is represented by negative and positive values. If you see a number with the minus sign in front of a price, it means that team is the favorite to win. If you see a plus sign, that team is the underdog.

The number you see on a negative money line bet actually indicates how much money you need to bet in order to rake in $100. If the Yankees are -150, it means you need to wager $150 in order to get $100 as part of a winning bet. If the Red Sox are +200, that indicates you would win $200 for every $100 wager you place on Boston to win the game.

Another form of sports gambling to know is “the spread”. It’ one of the easier forms of betting with one team a favorite with a negative point value next to their name. Let’s say the Packers are a 7.5-point favorite over the Bears. If you bet the Packers to win, they will need to win by at least eight points to cover the spread. If the Bears win or lose by less than seven, it’s a touchdown for the bettor who picked Chicago.

Knowing the Terms


There are a few terms that can get you acclimated with sports wagering a little faster. If you hear that a team is chalk, that means they are a heavy favorite to a point you would have to drop a significant amount of cash to make any kind of profit.

You may have also seen the over/under-listed for a game, or the O/U. It’s a number for a score in a given game set by sportsbooks. Bettors then wager that the actual number in the game will be higher or lower than that predicted number based on the total score of both opponents.

For those taking part in in-person wagering at bookmakers, you may have heard the term vig come up. Vig, or vigorish, is a term that refers to the amount charged by a sportsbook for taking a bet for someone. This can also be referred to as juice.

Betting Safe and Wise


Be certain of the sports book operators that you are working with, whether it is in-person or online. Make sure that all wagers are being made legally in accordance with your state’s guidelines. If you feel you are developing a gambling problem, be sure to reach out to lottery-provided hotlines and websites for consultation.

Be wise when it comes to your cash, especially if you are just starting out in the working world. Take the time to look into smart money tips for millennials. Millennials should take into account all of their expenses to create a proper financial plan including debt repayment and housing costs. It is best to also avoid any frivolous purchases, using that money instead to pay back loans or outstanding credit card balances. Remember, each paycheck counts.