If you're one of the sports bettors who hasn't started placing bets online, you need to know a few things before getting started.
Online sports books make it look easy to get started, and for the most part, it is easy.
But before you jump in, take a few minutes to learn what to do and what to avoid:
The laws, rules, and regulations covering gambling vary from location to location and change on what seems like a daily basis.
The bottom line is online sports betting is legal in some areas, illegal in some areas, and a solid gray area in other locations.
Want to find out if it's legal where you live?
Ask an attorney.
Don't make the mistake of looking around online for a couple minutes and then just winging it.
Most people fall into the category called the gray area. If you live in an area that doesn't have a clear-cut law making it legal or illegal, you need to use some common sense.
Has anyone been arrested for gambling online?
Do you know other people who do it and have they had any trouble?
I'm not offering legal advice. Only you can decide if you should place bets online. Use your best judgment. Seek professional legal advice before taking any risks.
It may be tempting to just sign up at the first online sports book you find, but they aren't all the same.
Some are more trusted than others. Some offer better lines than others. You may be able to place bets at some while not being able to access others.
You can find an online sports book to take your bets from just about anywhere in the world, but not all of them operate in every jurisdiction.
Do some research to find out which sports books are available in your area, how long they've been in business, how their lines and vig compare to other books, and see what bonuses are available.
This may seem like a common sense piece of advice, but always make sure you understand the lines before placing a bet. Not all online sports books display their lines the same way, so it can be confusing until you get used to how each place you make bets does their lines.
Online sports books are in the business of figuring out how people from anywhere in the world can deposit money to place wagers on sporting events. They have entire departments that deal with this on a regular basis–if players can't make deposits the sports book can't make any money.
Good sports books also make sure winning players have a way to withdraw their winnings. But they don't spend as much time making sure players can withdraw.
Once you find a few sports books, take a quick look to see what withdrawal options they have where you live. If you don't see a method that works, or if you aren't sure, contact the support department. They can tell you how other players in your area receive cash out requests.
Remember the bonuses I mentioned a few tips earlier?
Most online sports books offer a bonus to first time depositors to get them to make a deposit and start betting.
You might get a free bet or a match on your deposit. Common deposit bonuses are 50% or 100% of your deposit up to a certain dollar amount.
Here's an example:
You might get 50% up to $500.
So if you deposit $1,000 you get $500 extra.
All bonuses come with certain requirements that must be met before you can take out any money. Most of these requirements revolve around placing a certain amount of wagers. The main thing you need to do is read all the terms and conditions BEFORE making a deposit.
Bonuses CAN be great.
But you don't want to be surprised when you try to cash out and find out you haven't met all of the wagering requirements.
I like to have at least two or three different online sports book accounts so I can always wager using the best line possible. Most games will have the same lines on the same games.
But sometimes you can find lines that differ by 2 or 3. When this happens you can use it to make more money over the course of a season.
Here's an example:
Your handicapping tells you the home team should win by at least 7. You check the lines. One book is offering – 7, another, – 6 ½, and another, – 5 ½.
By shopping the lines you were able to turn any outcome of the home team winning by 6 or 7 to a win instead of a loss or push.
It won't come into play often.
But it will come into play often enough to make shopping worth the time required to do it.
Sports books don't really want you to win too often. What they really want are bettors to win about 50% of the time, so they can collect vig from everybody half the time.
If you start winning too much, you might be asked not to place wagers with them any longer. This won't happen at the lower betting limits.
But if you consistently win with larger wagers, it's a possibility.
When you're asked not to place any more wagers, the best course of action is find another sports book. It's not worth the hassle and risks involved with trying to get around the ban. If the sports book finds out you tried to open another account or placed bets through another person, you could lose your deposit.
You probably aren't in danger of placing bets on soccer matches when you're trying to bet on American football–the team names won't be familiar.
But it's always better to be safe than sorry.
Always check to make sure you're looking at lines for the sport you intend to bet on. If you want to bet on soccer, it might be called football.
And if you're looking for football, you might need to separate American football from the other games.
Betting on sports online is safe, convenient, and easy–if you use a little common sense and do some research. Use the tips included above and you should be able to start placing wagers online in no time.