Sports bettors place their wagers either legally, through a bookmaker/sportsbook, or illegally through privately run enterprises. The term "book" is a reference to the books used by wagebrokers to track wagers, payouts, and debts. Many legal sportsbooks are found online, operated over the Internet from jurisdictions separate from the clients they serve, usually to get around various gambling laws (such as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 in the United States) in select markets, such as Las Vegas, Nevada, or on gambling cruises through self-serve kiosks. They take bets "up-front", meaning the bettor must pay the sportsbook before placing the bet. Illegal bookies, due to the nature of their business, can operate anywhere but only require money from losing bettors and don't require the wagered money up front, creating the possibility of debt to the bookie from the bettor. This creates a number of other criminal elements, thus furthering their illegality.


As already mentioned, there have been sports bets since the first sports events. There is evidence that bets were placed on the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece. The bet was placed on the winner of a race or the winner in wrestling. The more matches there were to the games, the more bets there were. The Romans made bets on almost everything that was possible. Among them also the bloody gladiator fights and chariot races. From the very beginning, fraud and manipulation were a means of winning a competition. The Roman Emperor Nero even bribed so much at the Olympic Games in his own country that he won in six different disciplines. One of them was the car race and that although he fell off the car, which normally leads to disqualification. The Olympic Games were then discontinued, but not the sports betting. In the last century there was again a time when sport, especially boxing and horse racing, fell into the hands of criminal gangs. The image of sports betting had to suffer a lot from this bad influence, also because Hollywood used the topic as the basis for many films, as a result of which perception in society drifted further into the negative.
What's the difference between an oddsmaker and a bookie? A bookie's job is purely mechanical. He gets the line from Vegas or another source, offers bets at those odds, then collects money from the losers, pays out to the winners and keeps the vig. Oddsmakers don't actually take bets -- they study the games and set the lines. Bookies often adjust the spreads for their games, so they do a little oddsmaking, and oddsmakers work for casinos, which operate sports books that take bets.
The point spread will list one team in the negative and the other in the positive. (Unless neither team is favored, then they will be listed as EVEN or PICK). The club posted in the negative with a minus sign is favored and so the bookies take points away from them, which means that team must win by at least a certain number of points to cover the spread. The underdog will have a plus sign and will cover if they win outright or lose by less than the posted number.
Futures bets are exactly what they sound like, a wager placed on an event that will occur in the future. As you can imagine, the most popular futures bet in the NFL is who will win the Superbowl. In fact, the Team Odds to win it all are released within a week after the previous year’s championship. It is not uncommon to see last year’s worse team to be 100/1 dogs or worse. Naturally, Futures are not limited to simply who will win the big game. Much like proposition (prop) bets for any particular contest, you can place several futures bets on potential outcomes, from who will win what division to who will win the league’s MVP. Futures Odds can be found at nearly any reputable sportsbook, but some have a limited selection of wagers they will actually take.
Many of the leading gambling bookmakers from the 1930s to the 1960s got their start during the prohibition era of the 1920s. They were often descendants of the influx of immigrants coming into the USA at this time. Although the common stereotype is that these bookies were of Italian descent, many leading bookies were of eastern European ancestry.[4]

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Say the Bears are a six-point favorite over the Lions and the total is 42. To bet the Bears, you must "lay the points," meaning they must win by seven or more to cover and give you the win. Betting the underdog Lions, you are "taking" six points, and they can lose by five or fewer, or win the game outright, and you have a winning bet. If the Bears win by exactly six, both sides "push" and all bets are returned. It's also a push if the final score equals 42, otherwise the over or under will win.
Obviously, the first three letters on the top two lines of the three-line package of symbols represents a team in the game you’re wagering on; NYG stands for the New York Giants, while DAL stands for the Dallas Cowboys. The number next to each team’s name is known as the spread or the point spread. Wagers on the point spread are among the most popular sports wagers in the world. The reason this wager is popular is that it doesn’t matter which team wins or loses; what matters is the amount of points the teams score, and whether or not the team you place your money on beats the difference in points (the ‘spread’) or not.
I’ve titled this Sports Betting For Dummies. It’s a tutorial for those who want to start betting on sports or those who want to gain a better understanding of some of the terminology and theory behind it. We’ve all been in the position of learning something new, so please don’t be embarrassed if you don’t grasp these concepts. Instead, contact me via the form at the bottom of this page, and I’ll help you in any way I can.
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