Real Money Sports Betting USA 2021

Posted by Chris Spencer . Last updated:

Whether you enjoy the NFLNBAMLB or soccer, the thrill of a little profitable side action continues to be the best part of sports. Several online gambling sites offer real money sports betting for an additional layer of entertainment for all the major sports, all year long. From explaining what a moneyline bet is to simple tips for sports betting beginners, this guide is the perfect introduction to sports betting.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What is a moneyline bet?
  • What is a point spread?
  • What is a point total bet?
  • What is a sports betting teaser?
  • What is a parlay?
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Best Real Money Sports Betting Sites for US Players

Our experts have created a list of the industry’s best sports betting sites in the United States:

History of Sportsbooks and Bookmaking

Well before sports gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1949, bookmaking existed. From cock fighting to horse racing to the iconic dirt ring boxing match, early bookmakers set event odds for hundreds of years before the first sportsbook was built. In fact, the first legal places in Nevada to bet on sports were actually referred to as turf clubs and ran independent from brick-and -mortar casinos.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that sportsbooks started to pop up within popular Nevada casinos and hotels. Sports gambling remained concentrated in Sin City for decades before Delaware started to slash through the political red tape and normalized sports betting. Since then, more and more online sportsbooks have popped up and more and more states have legalized sports betting. At this rate, most U.S. states should offer some form of sports betting online before the end of the decade.

Types of Real Money Sports Bets



Bet on who wins the game

This is the easiest real money sports bet one can make. First, pick which team or which athlete, like in golf, will win their game or contest. If they win, your betting slip is a winner.

An example of moneyline wager would look like this:

  • Pistons (+450)
  • 76ers (-700)

If you believe the 76ers (heavy favorites) are going to win, you’d have to wager $700 to win $100. If you believe the Pistons (heavy underdogs) are going to win, you’d wager $100 to win $450. It’s as simple as that.

Point Spreads

Point Spreads

Bet on which team will win based on their margin of victory, defeat

A point spread bet is very popular when it comes to sports betting on NFL Sundays. While it’s more challenging for beginners, experienced sports bettors often prefer point spread wagers because the odds are typically better.

Here’s an example of a point spread wager:

  • Dolphins (+3.5) | Browns win 33-30 = Dolphins +3.5 point spread ticket is a winner
  • Browns (-3.5) | Browns win 34-30 = Browns -3.5 point spread ticket is a winner

If you believe the Browns are going to win, Cleveland must “cover 3.5-points” and win by 4-or-more points for your bet to win. If you believe the Dolphins can “cover +3.5 points”, then you think Miami will lose by three-or-fewer points OR beat the Browns straight up. If you believe they can beat the Browns outright, you may be interested in a moneyline bet where the odds are better.



Bet on the combined score of both teams

Totals are a betting option that don’t depend on which team wins the game. Instead, they depend on the total combined number of points, runs or goals scored by both teams.

For example, if the Chiefs-49ers point total is set at 50.5, you can either bet that the combined score at the end of the game will be OVER 50.5 or UNDER 50.5.

So, if the Chiefs-49ers final was 25-24 and you bet the UNDER, your ticket is a winner because the combined total equals 49 points, which is UNDER the set total of 50.5.



Improve Your Odds

Another sports betting option is a teaser. This type of bet allows you to pick three or more teams in three separate games but they must all beat a specific spread in order for your bet to win. Sports books give additional points over the regular spread for teasers. Teaser cards typically are offered with lower odds because of the more attractive spreads given to bettors.

Let’s use NBA games as an example:

  • 76ers (-11) favorites over Pistons
  • Heat (-10) favorites over Hornets

For both the 76ers and Heat to cover and win by double-digit points is a lot to ask when it comes to an NBA wager. However, if we tease these two spreads down four points, to 76ers (-7) and Heat (-6) it becomes much more attractive. This now means if the 76ers win by 8-or-more and the Heat win by 7-or-more, the bet is a success! Since two outcomes were needed for the winning bet to occur, the odds improve to (+100) or EVEN money, where a $100 bet wins $100.



Bet on multiple outcomes, at once

The sports betting parlay option allows you to bet on multiple teams, but each team must win in order for the bet slip to cash. However, because you’re taking on more risk, in the form of needing more teams to win, the odds are better.

For example, let’s say you want to wager on a three-team NHL parlay:

  • Blackhawks (-165)
  • Oilers (-130)
  • Avalanche (-170)

If all those favorites win each of their games and you bet $100 on the three-team parlay bet, the ticket wins $351.30.



Bet on future outcomes of sporting events

If you think you know who is going to win the baseball’s World Series for MLB before the start of the season, a futures bet may be of interest. As the name implies, you are betting on a future event to occur.

For example, MLB World Series futures would look like this:

  • Yankees (+350)
  • Dodgers (+400)
  • Astros (+850)

If you believe the Yankees will win the World Series, wager $100 and New York raises the trophy as season’s end, you would win $450. You would get your original $100 bet back and $350 profit of winnings. With baseball having such a long season, a lot of things can change and impact the odds throughout the year such as injuries, suspensions and performance.

Real Money Sports Betting Odds Types


This is the most common real money sports betting odds format found online. It’s the (+) / (-) odds shows in the examples above.

The (+) before a number indicates that team is the underdog.

The (-) before a number indicates that team is the favorite.

If a team is (+300), you risk $100 and that team wins, your bet slip cashes $300 and recoups the $100 wager.

If a team is (-300), you risk $300 and that team wins, your bet slip cashes $100 and recoups the $300 wager.


This odds format isn’t as common for real money sports bettors but does pop up occasionally.

If the Lakers’ decimal odds are 1.15 to win a game and you bet $100 on the Lakers, your ticket would earn the original $100 bet back plus $15 in profit if they win the game.

Fractional odds are very common in horse race betting. At 5/1, you’re looking at 5-to-1, at 10/1, you’re looking at 10-to-1. So, if you bet $100 on a horse with fractional odds of 10/1 and it wins, you would get your $100 original bet back along with $1000 (10x $100) in profit.

Real Money Sports Betting Promotions

If you’re new to real money sports betting, be on the lookout for sportsbook bonuses. Typically, when you first sign up for a new account, real money sports betting books will offer first-time deposit bonuses or promotions and occasionally your first real money sports bet is covered by the sportsbook. In other cases, if you reload your account wallet, sportsbook sites will reward you with additional funds and bonuses.

Mobile Sports Betting Options

Thanks to advances in online sportsbook technologies and one-of-a-kind smartphone apps, mobile sports betting has never been easier. Without sitting down at your desktop or picking up a laptop, mobile users can enjoy the convenience of making sports bets from their phone or smart device anytime.

Sports Betting Tips

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Bankroll Management

The best advice for an inexperienced sports bettor is to pay attention to your bankroll. Bankroll management is the key to enjoying sports betting from season to season. If needed, set a budget before each season and stick to it.

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Do Your Homework

Be sure to do your research and avoid betting with emotion. Sure, you may love your Boston Red Sox, but don’t let your fanhood cloud your judgement before placing a bet. There is a chance you may be biased with information and that can cost you in the long run.

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Don't Bet Blindly

Bet on what you know. If you don’t follow the NHL or NBA, don’t bet on that sport blindly. If you haven’t missed an NFL Sunday in five years, you may want to focus your bankroll in that market and capitalize on skewed odds.

Real Money Sports Betting FAQs

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