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The wave of sports betting legalization in the U.S. is showing no signs of stopping. It seems like we have several new states joining the party every month, and if you’re living in a state that is yet to legalize online betting, there’s a high chance it will happen soon.
Online sportsbooks have many advantages over their land-based counterparts, but if you’ve never placed a bet online, you may not even know where to start, let alone realize what all those advantages are.
That’s why we created this detailed guide to walk you through all the steps necessary to successfully place your first online sports bet.
How to Make an Online Sports Bet
The process of making an online sports bet is intuitive and straightforward and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, regardless of which betting site you choose. But if you’re afraid of making a mistake, here’s a simple step-by-step guide that you can follow.
1) Choose an Online Sportsbook
Most U.S. states that have legalized online sports betting have multiple sportsbooks to choose from. While these sportsbooks might all look similar, they differ in terms of odds, the number of markets, user experience, how competitive the intro promo is, ongoing promotions, and other aspects.
You can use our Best Online Sportsbooks Guide, Best Sports Betting Accounts for Beginners Guide, or click the state-specific guides linked in the menu of our site to find our top picks for your state.
2) Register for an Account
After doing your research and deciding which sportsbook fits your preferences, head over to its official website or download the mobile app.
Once you get to the website/app, you’ll see a button that leads to the registration form. It’s usually going to say something like “Join,” “Register,” or “Sign Up.”
Click on it and provide the required information, including your name, date of birth, address, phone number, last four digits of your Social Security number, and anything else. You will also need to provide an email and password that will serve as your login credentials.
You can learn about the process of opening a sports betting account here.
3) Check the Intro Promo for New Customers
As soon as your account is created, you will become eligible for the sportsbook’s welcome offer. The intro promo will usually come in the form of a deposit match or a risk-free bet, and you’ll need to make sure to check everything required to properly unlock it, like what the minimum deposit match or risk-free bet is, whether you need to use the promo code or not, if there is a qualifying bet requirement, and any odds requirements.
An intro promo can be valuable and extend your initial bankroll, but if you miss the opportunity to claim it, you won’t be able to later.
4) Make Your First Deposit
To fund your newly-created account, you’ll need to find the deposit page. Once you’re there, you’ll see a list of available deposit options, which may include credit and debit cards, e-wallets such as PayPal, electronic bank transfers, and a few other options.
Choose one of the methods and follow the instructions on how to complete the payment. You should pay special attention to the minimum and maximum deposits, as not all methods have the same limits.
5) Decide on Your Bankroll
Deciding on your bankroll is a crucial step in making the most of your online betting experience. Remember that sports betting is a form of gambling, and as such, it can be addictive and financially detrimental.
That’s why you should carefully think about your online betting budget. Don’t ever deposit more than you are willing to spend, and always be prepared for the worst, which is losing it all.
Once you decide how big your bankroll should be, make sure to spread it out evenly. Typically you should aim to risk 5% or less of your total bankroll on any individual bet.
>> Read More: Responsible Gambling Guide
6) Learn the Basics of Sports Betting
Sports betting can be profitable only if you know what you’re doing and are familiar with how it all works.
If you are unsure of how to read betting odds, what the different types of sports bets are, or how to utilize certain sports betting strategies, browse the resources linked in this paragraph, check out the FAQs below, or see our Sports Betting 101 Guide.
7) Research Available Markets
The final step before placing a bet is going through all the available wagering options. Online sportsbooks in the U.S. will allow you to wager on dozens of different sports, and each sport may offer hundreds of events and thousands of markets.
Go through all the available markets to find the options that you think have the best chance of winning. It also helps to mainly focus on the most profitable sports for betting.
8) Place Your First Bet
If you followed each of the previous steps, you’re now ready to place your first online sports bet. Here’s how to do it:
- Log in to your online sportsbook.
- Search the markets to find the right bet.
- Click on your market of choice and you’ll see it appear on your bet slip.
- Click on more markets if you wish to create a parlay.
- Once you’re done, input your wager amount at the bottom of the bet slip, and you’ll get a calculation of your potential profit.
- Submit your bet and wait for it to play out.
Sports Betting FAQs
Is sports betting legal in my state?
Not all states have legalized sports betting, but new laws are constantly introduced, so even if the state you’re currently in hasn’t legalized this form of gambling, it may soon. To stay in the loop, follow our map of sports betting legality by state.
What is the point spread?
The point spread is a popular sports bet in which the sportsbook will determine a certain number of points (the spread) that they think the final scores of the teams will be separated by.
For example, if the sportsbook thinks the Chiefs will win by 7 points, you will see the spread as Chiefs -7 and they must win by 8 or more in order for you to win your bet. The Chiefs +7, on the other hand, would mean they’re underdogs and would have to either win or lose by 6 or less in order for you to win.
What is a moneyline bet?
A moneyline bet is the simplest type of sports bet because you simply choose who will win the game.
What is the total or Over/Under?
When betting on the Over/Under, the aim is to guess whether the total number of points, goals, runs, or any other score measurement in a given game or a match will be over or under a line set by the sportsbook. What Are Total Bets? How Over/Under Betting Works
What is a parlay?
A parlay is a bet that consists of multiple individual bets grouped into a single wager. To win a parlay, all of your selections (legs) must win. In exchange for the increased difficulty, you receive a much higher payout than you would if you bet them all individually.
What are the main types of sports bets?
The holy trinity of sports bets includes the spread, the moneyline, and totals (Over/Under), although you can make many other types of sports bets, like parlays, props, futures, teasers, and more.
What does -110 mean?
The -110 is the most common odds you’ll find in point spreads and totals markets. It suggests that you’ll need to wager $110 to earn a $100 profit, although you can wager more or less than that amount. Make sure to know how to read betting odds before placing a bet.
-110 odds implies that the chance of winning a bet is 50%. The reason it is not +100 (bet $100 to win $100) is because the sportsbook charges “vig” or “juice” so they make money over time.
What are the best online sportsbooks?
There are multiple factors to consider when trying to find the best online sportsbooks, including the quality of odds, the value of an intro bonus and other promotions, the variety of payment methods, user experience, and more.
How can I make sure I’m gambling responsibly?
To gamble responsibly, you need to see sports betting as a form of entertainment and not a way of making money. You should also stick to your spending limit and familiarize yourself with the various problem gambling organizations out there if you need help. To learn more about all of this, you should check out our Responsible Gambling Guide.
>> Read More: Sports Betting Tips