Man using a betting app on their phone

How to Get Started with Sports Betting in The United States


Sports betting was legalized in the United States in 2016, and since then, the industry has grown in the country like wildfire.

The people now have legal access to one of the most popular industries around the world, and with huge sports leagues like the NBA, MLB, and NHL, to name a few, it was bound to be a success.

It was inevitable that many of the best betting websites in the world would swiftly shift to offering their services in the US.

Despite this booming growth, many people still haven’t started their online betting journey. Here’s how you can get started:

How Sports Gambling Works

Sports betting is increasing in popularity, and more people from around the globe understand its potential and viability of it.

Many engage in it purely for fun, while others are looking to turn their luck around and make some serious profit.

a man wins a bet on one of the online betting sites

Whether you’re interested in it from a professional standpoint and looking to learn about things from the ground up or a complete beginner that wants to get the hang of things from the very beginning, we have all the information that you need. Here’s how it works on the top betting sites:

The Basics

Suppose two teams are going to battle out in a game, Team A and Team B. The oddsmaker sets the odds for the game, which represent what the chances are of each time winning the fixture.

As a general rule, a positive sign means the team is favored to win the fixture and negative means that the team is the underdog in the game.

You have to figure out which team is more likely to win the fixture and wager on that team. What you wager on is called your stake, and the money you get in addition to your stake is your total payout.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are the easiest to comprehend, and most people around the world follow them. As the name suggests, they work in decimals, so the odds are listed as 3.50, 1.25, and more. To calculate your returns for any wager, you have to multiply your initial wager by the price.

Suppose you’re betting $10, with the price being 2.50. You’ll get $25 for that wager, with $15 out of that stake being profit. Note that decimal odds are always listed at 1.01 or higher; else, they wouldn’t be so profitable.

American Odds

If you’re extensively using US betting sites or local casino sites for gambling, you’ll see these odds.

While most people prefer decimals, you’ll need to get the hang of these if you’re planning to play on American platforms more often.

You’ll notice numbers being listed like +150 or +300. These numbers indicate the pure profit that you make on that bet, provided you wager $100.

For example, if you’re wagering $100 when there’s a price of +200 for a bet, you get a total of $300. $200 from this wager is entirely profit. There are also negative odds like -120 or -350.

For these numbers, it’s the amount that you have to put in so that you make $100 on that wager.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are most popular in the UK, and if you’re aware of probability, you might already be familiar with the concept.

They’re considered the most difficult, which is why most people avoid them, and it’s becoming a rare format. The numbers are listed as 7/1 or 7-1 or 3/6 or 3-6.

The formula for this system is:

Total Payout = [Stake * (Numerator/Denominator)] + Stake

Supposed you wager on a game for $10 on odds of 5/1, and you win. Here’s how it’ll work out when you enter the values:

[10 * (5/1)] + 10 or $60 for a total profit of $50.

In case you’re overwhelmed with information, know that with enough time and experience, you’ll be able to stick to one format and figure things out.

Another reassuring fact would be that most betting sites allow you to switch between formats, so you can generally find each of them on any site and use them as you like.

The Markets

The most interesting aspect of sports betting is the various markets. They’re essentially different events and elements of the sports that you can bet on.

They can range from simple odds like who is more likely to win a particular fixture to more complicated aspects.

These allow bettors to have more than one opportunity to make some money off of a single game.

Examples of Markets

Moneyline Betting

Moneyline bets are followed across a huge roster of sports, which makes it essential for ardent sports bettors looking for professional betting training to learn how they work.

It also helps that they’re easy to understand, as the only metric is that the team you pick wins the fixture (though there’s a draw clause for certain sports where draws are common, like soccer).

Each team has a number attached to it along with a plus or minus sign. The minus indicates that the team is a favorite, while a plus sign is given to the underdog.

a bunch of dice

For example, a team that is a -150 favorite requires you to put in $150 to win $100. For the underdog with +130, you’d get $130 for $100 if they win and you favored them.

Spread Betting

Many bettors realize that the potential in Moneyline betting is capped by the fact that underdogs don’t always win the bout, but they’re almost always the more profitable wager.

Because this limits the potential of winnings, people instead opt for spread betting, where a handicap is provided for both teams that even the odds out and makes it a better wager to go for.

The number on the left will generally have a positive and negative sign for each team and dictates underdog and favorite handicaps, respectively. Knowing your sports betting odds is crucial.

The favorite has to win the game by more points than the handicap assigned to them if you wager on them, while the underdog must win the game outright or lose by fewer points than the handicap dictated.


A parlay or accumulator in some parts of the world and websites is another interesting option that professional bettors generally opt for.

Here, you make several bets within a single wager, and every single bet has to be the right one. For example, between three fixtures, Team A vs. B, Team C vs. D, and Team E vs. F, you can wager on the same or different market across each fixture, but you can’t wager on the same market for different outcomes for the same fixture.

Parlays are called high-risk, high-reward betting strategies as they involve making numerous bets where the likelihood of getting all wagers right is very little.

But they’re also exciting and can lead to some of the most profitable payouts one can hope for when gambling, despite how much betting predictions change.

A man betting using an app

Over/Under Markets

Over/Under markets are also straightforward. The oddsmaker will determine a specific number of points, runs, or goals that they expect both teams to make.

All you have to do is determine whether the sum of the total points scored by each team will be greater or lesser than that particular number.

Here, you have to focus on how both teams are expected to perform, and knowing whether it’s a high-scoring game or if both teams will play defensively can help decide which option to wager on.

You’ll see these being utilized (with some variations) across a myriad of sports.

Live Betting

Various platforms also allow you to bet on games live, which wasn’t possible with various traditional betting systems.

Once a game is in-play, you can bet on various events that take place in real-time. These also allow you to bet on a particular event in case it can repeat.

For example, the next person to score points or a goal depending on the game, can update until the final whistle blows.

This way, you have the option of racking up your profits as the market continues to be updated again till the match ends.

Note that not every website has live betting options, it’s a widely available feature but mostly limited to the top betting sites, so make sure that you do your research about your options before you fully commit to one betting site.

How to Find the Safest Betting Sites

As sports bettors, people are generally afraid of losing their hard-earned money.

Many people stay away from online betting because of the various reports of fraudulent sites and elaborate scams that they hear of. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any great platforms out there.

Many of them have done well to expand the industry, pioneering new options and allowing bettors to take advantage of the developing landscape of the betting industry.

Fortunately, this guide will help you stay away from all of the platforms that you’d want to avoid and use the best betting websites.

Licenses and Regulations

If a betting site doesn’t have any license or regulations, it’s a red flag. To offer betting services in a country, a company has to acquire the necessary license and regulations.

In some parts of the world, you have to acquire a different license for each of the services that you’re offering.

As a bettor based in the US, you’ll be glad to know that since 2016, online sports betting and gambling is legal in numerous states. Companies are legally allowed to acquire a license from the state for state-specific betting activities.

Many businesses in certain states are not allowed to offer betting options for in-state college football games, mobile gaming options, and more.

Why It Matters

This way, the business is liable to offer services legally registered in the country, which allows the gambling authorities in the region to take notice of complaints and eventually help the complaining customers as well.

Working with a licensed, regulated website is always preferred over using any website that isn’t licensed by a reliable gaming authority.

Note that companies have to acquire state-specific licenses to operate in particular parts of the country, as many states have their particular restrictions that you need to be aware of as well.


Another great indicator of how safe a betting site is is the reviews about the platform. The most crucial aspect to focus on is if the betting site is fair and whether they are trustworthy with money.

The first half is not easy to judge because many bettors can have bad luck and might blame that on the platform rather than their poor judgment or RNG.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to find legitimate reviews on numerous websites as they don’t take any proper info to determine whether a review is legitimate or not.

For this reason, many websites are now shifting towards proof to ensure that all the reviews any third-party offers are legit and based on actual evidence, whether it’s a positive one or a negative review.

Warranty of Payment

For the latter, you should go through reviews to see whether they provide the withdrawal amounts and winnings properly or not.

If they regularly fail to meet expectations without any viable explanation, avoid such sites.

Many of the top betting platforms do their due diligence in this regard, providing clear and detailed explanations on their payment page.

Some websites list this info under the FAQ section. Regardless, you should go with those sites that ensure payment while also providing competitive money transfer timings as well as no extra cuts to your withdrawals.

Using Review Databases

One of the major issues of reviews online is that many of them can be manipulated by the platforms themselves.

Unfortunately, companies invest heavily in fake reviews, which can make it harder to find genuine reviews.

Luckily, there are various platforms out there that have dedicated to writing detailed reviews by anonymously testing out betting platforms.

These are much more reliable sources that not only directly give you the information without bias but allow you to compare between numerous options, so you get your money’s worth on the best online gambling sites.

Join a Betting Site

The first step of starting your journey betting online is to join a particular betting site. Nowadays, most sports betting takes place online as opposed to betting sections at casinos and specific parts of arenas.

Many sports have fully embraced this system, along with numerous casinos setting up their own online sports betting platform to capture the market.

It’s recommended that you do your research when looking for a betting site to sign up for.

Once you’ve found a reliable option that meets all your requirements, you can easily go to the site and make an account there.

To set up an account, you have to provide some necessary information that the site can use to identify you.

Once they’ve verified that you’re a legitimate person that’s legally allowed to bet, you can add some money into your account. This will be used for all your betting and gambling activities on the platform.

You can transfer money from your bank account using numerous transaction methods that your betting site accepts, which makes it easy to withdraw and deposit any amount into your betting account.

Set Achievable Goals

Winning is not that difficult when you’re betting on sports. What’s difficult is winning often and winning enough, so you’re able to make a profit.

If you want sports betting to be profitable for you in the long run, make sure you don’t have unrealistic expectations.

Be realistic, set objectives early on, and don’t aim for more unless you’re experienced enough.

Be aware of the fact that even the most successful, profitable, and professional bettors of the industry are generally right in their wagers more than half the time, with various reports suggesting anywhere from 58% accuracy.

So know that you will inevitably lose, but rather than chase losses, you should know when to go for another wager and when to call it a day.

Learn the Basics

Learn everything about sports betting online and the sport you want to bet on. This will help you be in the right position to make bets.

You can look at different sports betting guides for each sport or sporting event.

It always helps to stay updated on all the latest happenings in the sport. The most professional bettors or even those that ardently bet on sports keep their eyes and ears open for any updates regarding the games that they’re planning to bet on.

In such a rapidly moving industry, things can change at any moment. It’s important to stay away from biases but also be able to make important deductions from any information you receive to call in an exceptional wager.

Some of this comes from experience, while other aspects are intuition based on substantial evidence.

Recommended Reads: Football Betting Guide – Football Betting Markets Explained & Sports Betting Guide – How to Bet on Betting Sites

Stick to a Budget

This is the most important sports betting tip. Whether this is something you want to do in the short run or long run, you must have a budget and stick to it.

Don’t overspend and make huge bets that you can’t afford. Set a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual budget.

The common approach is establishing a pot, which means that you’ve kept X amount for an X amount of betting for a particular period, which could range from a week or a month, depending on how often you will be betting.

The rule is simple, never spend more than what you’ve kept in the pot. If you find yourself spending extra or withdrawing cash to add to your pot, be aware that it’s problematic behavior and a sign of addiction.

Bettors also align various betting strategies to make sure they don’t spiral out of control, such as using fixed or variable wagers.

Be Selective

Sports gambling appeals to everyone because of the endless sports betting options.

You can bet on any sport, virtual game, sporting event, league, and athlete. However, you have to be careful with what you choose to bet on.

While it’s true that bettors are recommended to keep their eyes and ears open for the choices available to them, you also need to be aware of your limits.

The most expert bettors tend to bet on a select number of sports, but they focus heavily on the facts and figures, which may become less feasible once you take more than 2 sports into consideration.

Betting too much on everything can lead to loss, and nobody wants that. With time and experience, bettors generally figure out how they want to proceed with a particular kind of strategy.

As a bettor based in the United States, you have convenient access to some of the world’s top betting sites, many of which will be recommended to you by Betting Sites Ranking.

The platform has dedicated its resources to accumulating reviews on sites from around 105 countries of the world.

With Betting Sites Ranking, it’s simple to find reviews and recommendations for the top 10 betting sites in the world as per various betting experts and industry insiders.

It’s simple to start your betting journey on online betting games as you bet on sports online.

They’re focusing on the latest and greatest trends of the industry, including but not limited to cryptocurrency, betting strategies that work, esports betting, and more.

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