Basketball is one of the most popular sports to bet on in the US but will its attractions reach a new audience in an online gambling world?
Betting on basketball is hardly rocket science but to the uninitiated, or those not used to US betting systems, it can seem a tad complex. This is mostly because the point spread is a concept not used in betting on soccer or other sports around the world. So if you want to bet on basketball the first thing you’re going to need to do is understand the spread, and why it exists.
The spread is there to make each team an equally attractive wager. The points scored handicap system meaning that however mismatched the teams on the court, the chances of each being a winner to back is about the same. This might seem like an inexact science but both real-world and online sportsbooks in the US are very good at getting this just right.
So why do the sportsbooks want such equality? As the teams pound up and down the court what is the point of a point spread? Pretty basically this is how sportsbooks make their money. They take a percentage of a losing bet as commission on the wagers placed paying out less to winners than they take from losers. Usually this is at about 11-to-10 so when you lose they gain that extra which is why sportsbooks operate at all.
Now obviously this means the best scenario is for both teams to be equally backed by punters, because in that case some win, some lose, and the sportsbook takes a percentage. The equality rendered by the point spread does its job not just by making both teams nicely even propositions for the gamblers, but also by making the bookies uninterested in the actual winner of the game. Why should they care who wins or loses on the court so long as there are about equal winners and losers on the sportsbooks?
Keeping It Very Evenly Spread
Betting On Basketball
• Can you beat the spread?
• Do you bet under or over?
• Will the money line make gambling news?
Once you understand that sportsbooks do all they can to keep the odds even, betting on basketball becomes far more an activity based around information, form and team tactics than merely luck. Judgment of everything from their performance on the same court to what they ate for breakfast can become just as important as getting the feeling the Knicks might beat the spread tonight, or that the Lakers will win by 20.
Of course betting on the spread isn’t unique to basketball (parallels are often draw with Football) and the arguments for and against it as a system have all been done to death. Does it reduce the corruption of game results removing the risk of those match fixing scandals that have marred soccer and cricket across the pond? Is it just overly complex American gambling law to involve even more stats? Perhaps, but in the main it gives a better chance to the bettor than might otherwise be available and it keeps the sportsbooks operational.
Betting on the spread isn’t the only wager to be made. Online sportsbooks like Bet365 offer an array of wagers on basketball beyond the point spread dynamic and some of these can be quite attractive propositions in the right circumstance so lets take a quick look at them and size them up. Remember the sportsbooks don’t care who wins, so long as everyone bets on it in about equal measure.
This is reflected in the Money Line wager where you are still wagering on the winner of the game but without the point spread to equate the teams, instead the teams are ranked so that when you bet on this ‘straight up’ option you must risk more to win on a favoured team, and will win less than if you win on an underdog. Sometimes these variances can be large and one has to be lucky to win against the money line’s stats.
Going Under Or Over
But people who bet on sports in the US of A have several other options when it comes to basketball and the best of these is the over/under bet. To someone unused to this it can seem counter intuitive, because it’s a wager not on one team or the other but the game as a whole. You are betting that the total points scored in a game is either under or over a set number. Again it should be noted that sports books are very good at setting these.
Combine the total scores of each team and if you’ve wagered it’ll be higher and it is, you win, and of course vice versa if you’ve bet on it being under the total set. This can be a great bet for a neutral fan who isn’t necessarily interested in a particular team winning or losing, providing a level of thrill and excitement to an otherwise insignificant game.
Of course it’s not just the professional game that is wagered upon and college basketball is a big draw for sports bettors across the US, particularly during the March Madness of early springtime. The well established schedule, the wide range of information and media coverage and, of course, the sports books availability in those places it is permitted make basketball one of the most popular sports on which to wager in the US.
With the rise of online sports books like Bet365 across the world it is now possible for people beyond the borders of the US to gamble on basketball and given the attractive nature of the odds and the frankly exuberant nature of the game itself we shouldn’t be surprised to see a rise in popularity amongst the global gambling public over the next decade or two.