Sports betting is a popular pastime in the US, thanks to growing acceptance of gambling, intense media coverage of sporting events, and emerging technologies that make wagering easier. Americans can place bets on a variety of sporting events through local and national television, cable or satellite television services, the Internet, cellular phone networks, and in many bars and restaurants that specialize in sports betting.
In the US, bettors can legally place a bet on virtually any sport with a licensed bookmaker. While some states have banned or restricted sports betting, most allow it in some form.
A Straight Bet is the most basic type of sports wager, and it involves placing a bet on one team to win or lose based on a line set by the oddsmakers. Odds on a winner are displayed on a board called the tote board and are constantly recalculated during the prerace betting period. The payoff for a winning bet is higher than the payoffs for place or show bets, which are calculated by subtracting the total amount paid into each pool from the actual total payout.
Point spreads are often quoted with a half-point (for example, 2.5-point favorites) to avoid a push, where both sides get their money back. You can choose to “take” the point spread, betting on the underdog, or you can give it, or lay, by taking the points offered by the sportsbook.
Over/Under bets are similar to point spreads in that they focus on the total score of a game or event, rather than who will win. When you bet on a total, you predict whether the two teams will combine for more (over) or fewer (under) runs, goals, points and other stats than the number set by the oddsmakers. Novelty props are also available, such as betting on how long the national anthem will last or what song the halftime performer will play.