Exploring the world of online sports betting

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, online sports betting involves placing bets on the outcomes of various sporting events. As with any betting activity, getting the prediction right will result in a sportsbook payout, while an incorrect prediction means a loss of the bet amount.

While sports betting has been a popular activity in many parts of the world, it has only recently gained widespread attention in the United States. As a result, there are now numerous platforms available for online sports betting, though it's important to verify the legality of each platform before placing any bets.

To help you navigate this growing market, we've compiled a list of the best online sports betting platforms, along with the bonuses they offer. Whether you're a seasoned bettor or just getting started, this guide will provide a useful introduction to the world of online sports betting.


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📖 Published on: May 22nd, 2023

✍️ Updated: 3 months ago

⏳ 26 mins read

Is online sports betting legal in the US?

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) made sports betting illegal in certain parts of the United States. Nonetheless, states such as Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon had already established lotteries and sports betting frameworks before the enactment of PASPA, rendering them exempt from the new law.

In 2018, the PASPA act was repealed, paving the way for additional states to authorize sports betting through legislative means. A report from May 2020 revealed that Americans had already wagered nearly $20 billion on sports following the Supreme Court's PASPA decision.

As of May 2022, 30 states have legalized sports betting, and four states have passed legislation allowing online sports betting. Nevertheless, the implementation of regulated betting operations remains pending.

 Sports Betting


Types of bets

Sports betting sites offer various types of bets that cater to both novice and experienced bettors alike. For beginners, Moneyline and spreads are typically recommended, while seasoned bettors may opt for more risky bets such as parlays.

Outlined below are the different types of sport bets that can be placed on sports gambling sites, each with its own unique set of rules and potential outcomes.


Moneyline bets

This is the simplest type of wager. You bet online on which team will win the game outright. As with any sports bet on betting apps or sports betting sites, there are favorites and underdogs. Placing stakes on the favorite is a typical move for many bettors because it has a better chance of winning. However, the underdog on a sports betting platform pays out more if the team is lucky enough to beat its opponent.


Point spread

A "point spread" is a popular form of sports betting that involves wagering on the margin of victory for the favored team. Typically, if a minus sign appears next to a team's name, they are considered the favorites and must win by the margin specified by the sportsbook in order to pay out.

Conversely, if the team you are betting on has a plus sign next to it, they are considered the underdog. In this scenario, a win is achieved either by an outright victory or by losing by a margin smaller than the odds listed. Therefore, keeping track of the constantly changing sports betting odds is crucial, as each team's odds will vary.

For example, in a typical college football season, Oklahoma is generally expected to beat Kansas in a Big 12 matchup. As a result, one could wager on how badly Oklahoma will defeat Kansas using the point spread provided by bookmakers.

Oklahoma would be the favorite in this situation, with the odds likely set at -34.5. Meanwhile, Kansas, being the underdog, would have a point spread of +34.5 at the sports betting site. If Oklahoma wins by a score of 51-21, Kansas would still cover the spread despite suffering a significant loss. This is because the loss was less than the set point spread of 34.5 points.


Totals (over/under)

These are bets that bettors place based on what the total score at the end of a game would be. Betting on the over means wagering that the game's total points will be more than the sportsbook specified. On the other hand, betting on the under means wagering that the total at the end of the game will be less than what the sportsbook has set.

Consider an MLB game where the online sports betting site sets the total at 10.5. If the total points end up being 9.5, punters that had wagered on under win their bets. However, there are times when the total points are precisely what the sportsbook predicted. In this case, the bet is a push, and you get your bet amount back from the sports betting site.



Parlays are combinations of bets that pay off handsomely if every single wager in the parlay is accurate. A parlay consists of at least two wagers and can include as many bets as the sports betting platform will accept.

The parlay's potential payoff is based on the odds of each individual wager, and the same applies to the payout. So, for instance, parlays with more underdogs are riskier but will pay more than parlays with more favorites.

Note that for this bet to win, each wager involved must win. In other words, a parlay bet is a loss if any participating wagers lose. In case of a push, the sports betting operator removes the wager from the parlay, and the remaining bets determine the odds and payout.


Proposition bets

Proposition bets are placed on a specific match outcome that has nothing to do with the final score. For instance, on betting apps, you wager on whether certain players will reach a particular total. It is common in American sports games like the NFL and NBA. The lines and odds for the prop bets are set by an online sports betting site.



These are the baseball equivalents of a point spread, but its runline is usually set to 1.5. Like the point spread, the favorite is at -1.5, while the underdogs are at +1.5. If you bet on the favorite, your team must win by two runs or more. On the other hand, if you bet on the underdog at +1.5, your side can either win or lose by one run.



Although, you wager on future events in online sports betting, bets that categorized as "futures" have a long-term period measured in weeks or months. An example of this is betting that a specific NFL team will bag the Super Bowl for the coming season. 

Bettors place their stakes before the season begins in September to get the best reward for such a wager. However, futures are often available all year long at sports betting apps or sites. Just note that the payouts decrease as the season progresses since choosing the winner is simpler.

The sportsbook will only pay winning wagers once the Super Bowl ends in January or February. The odds for such a gamble are typically stated as a ratio of the units you win to the units you stake. For instance, if the team is 40-1 (or +4000) to win the Super Bowl, the bet will pay 50 times the amount you stake if the team wins.


In play betting

Some online sports books now allow bettors to place new wagers during a sporting event. This feature is known as in-play betting or live betting. With the advent of in-play betting, bookmakers have expanded the available markets to bet on during sporting events.

For instance, you can wager on in-play markets for football games that include the match outcome, halftime score, and the names of goal scorers. The in-play markets depend on the online sports betting site.

In-play sports betting appeals to punters because of the betting possibilities it presents. The best gambling websites update their odds based on what's happening in the game. This gives punters an edge, as they can place better-informed bets based on these odds.

What is a bookmaker?

In sports betting, the vast majority of wagers have only two potential outcomes: win or lose. This is the fundamental principle with which bookmakers operate. They use both possible outcomes to establish a spread, which is designed to ensure that the bookmaker profits regardless of the bettor's stake.

A bookmaker always has an inherent advantage over customers who place both large and small bets. You may be curious as to how these companies remain in business despite bettors winning significant amounts of money. This is precisely why.

Many bookmakers in the sports betting industry trace their roots back to Eastern Europe, with those who rose to prominence between the 1930s and 1960s entering the business as early as 1920 due to the influx of immigrants to the United States.

In an effort to curtail illegal bookmaking, the U.S. government passed a law in 1961, but it solely targeted sports betting and did not address other forms of online gambling. As a result, there remains ongoing debate about the appropriate measures to regulate online gambling.


What are odds in sports betting?

Before placing bets on bookmaker or bookie betting apps, it is essential for bettors to thoroughly review the odds. Newcomers should ensure they have a strong grasp of the various odds formats as they can heavily influence the decisions made. The odds inform bettors of the potential winnings or losses they stand to incur with each bet placed on sports betting sites.

The three most common odds formats at sportsbooks include fractional, decimal and money line.

Decimal odds, which are commonly used in European, Canadian, and Australian sports betting sites, represent the decimal representation of the total payout to the stake. For instance, even bets are represented as 2.00 odds in decimal form, indicating that bettors will receive the same amount they wagered if the bet wins.

In contrast, U.K. bookmakers typically display fractional odds, which reflect the ratio of the sum won to the bet placed. For example, an even bet in fractional odds would be expressed as 1/1.

In the United States, odds are often set at a baseline of $100. For favorites, bettors must risk money to win $100, while for underdogs, they must risk $100 to win the respective payout amount.

For example, a favorite with a point spread of -135 requires a $135 bet to win $100, while a $100 bet on an underdog with +350 odds would result in a $350 payout if the bet is successful.

Other formats, such as Indonesian, Malaysian, and Hong Kong odds, may also be used by certain online bet sites, but these formats are tailored primarily to the Asian market.


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The best platforms to place a legal online sports bet

Thanks to the growing popularity, sports betting sites and gambling apps are much better at helping you enjoy gambling. After thoroughly evaluating their offerings, we have handpicked the best of these sites and betting apps. Below are our best picks and a brief review of each.


DraftKings Sportsbook

DraftKings has solidified its reputation as one of the most reliable sports betting sites for bettors in the United States. With a presence in 20 states, DraftKings offers a vast selection of sports, providing bettors with numerous markets to place their wagers. Live betting enthusiasts will appreciate the live betting markets and live streaming options available for select sports.

As one of the top betting agencies, DraftKings offers an attractive welcome bonus to new users. Additionally, after taking advantage of this introductory offer, bettors can access a variety of other bonuses available on the site. With dedicated betting apps and a user-friendly mobile site compatible with multiple operating systems, DraftKings ensures that betting is easy and accessible for all.

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FanDuel Sportsbook

In 2009, five co-founders launched the FanDuel.com, online sports betting site in New York. Initially offering markets for fantasy sports, the company added industry-leading options for sports betting following the repeal of PASPA. Sports betting enthusiasts who prefer to bet while on-the-go will appreciate the convenience of FanDuel's app. Whether betting through the app or on a computer, users can easily manage their finances, make deposits and withdrawals, and communicate with customer support.


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BetMGM Sportsbook

BetMGM was a well-known bookie before the U.S. government all owed online sports betting. So with a long history in the Las Vegas hotel business, it wasn't surprising when it added sports betting to its services. Today, it is functional in over 19 states and lets punters place prematch and live wagers. With the support of Entain, BetMGM offers a cutting-edge platform with all the features a sports bettor might desire. In addition, BetMGM provides free live streaming for various events, including tennis tournaments, soccer matches, and more.

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Caesars Sportsbook

Caesars is widely regarded as one of the best betting sites, boasting a top-tier platform that offers live betting, daily specials, and a broad range of markets. Following the legalization of sports betting, Caesars quickly established itself as a leader in online bookmaking.

In April 2021, Caesars acquired William Hill PLC, one of the world's largest bookmakers, further cementing its status as a major player in the industry. With licenses in over 12 states, Caesars is authorized to offer gaming services to a wide range of users.

For bettors who prefer to bet while on-the-go, Caesars offers a top-rated betting apps that can be easily downloaded. Additionally, the site's numerous promotions enhance the betting experience, whether accessed through the app or desktop sites.

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BetRivers Sportsbook

BetRivers Sportsbook is a go-to platform that every bettor should consider. With a vast array of special offers, BetRivers stands out as one of the most reliable bookmakers in the industry. Owned by Rush Street Interactive, BetRivers provides an enticing array of online sports betting options that appeal to a wide range of users.

BetRivers offers some of the most appealing bonuses in the industry, featuring low wagering requirements and reasonable conditions that make them highly attractive to users. For bettors who prefer betting on the go, BetRivers also offers sports betting apps that provide the same excellent experience as the desktop site.

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PointsBet Sportsbook

PointsBet, an Australian-based online sportsbook, has quickly become a popular option for American bettors in licensed jurisdictions due to its competitive prices, excellent mobile app, and extensive sports betting coverage. The platform is active in several states across the country, including New Jersey, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, and Virginia.

PointsBet offers a cash-out feature for select markets and allows users to place sportsbook bets on ongoing events while watching them unfold with its live streaming feature. Whether betting on a desktop computer or through the sports betting apps available for download on mobile stores, PointsBet delivers a first-rate betting experience.

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Betway Sportsbook

Since its debut in 2006, Betway has established itself as a premier provider of online sports betting services, with licenses from reputable organizations in multiple countries and a commitment to rigorous security and fairness audits. With 26 different sports and thousands of markets available for wagering, Betway provides a comprehensive sportsbook experience.

Betway prioritizes user experience by maintaining an excellently designed and user-friendly website and betting apps, making navigation a breeze for newbies. Additional standout features include an attractive welcome bonus, multiple payment methods, live betting, and live streaming, all of which make Betway a top choice for bettors across the country.

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Fox Bet Sportsbook

After joining forces, FOX Sports and BetStars created the FOX Bet sportsbook. The licensed operator has put everything in place to ensure bettors enjoy their time on its platform. This includes excellent odds and a good selection of betting markets. 

The sporting apps are available for iOS and Android and work just as well as the mobile site. In addition, bettors who run into roadblocks can contact customer support via live chat and email. Other features present in this sportsbook include acceptable payment methods, live betting, and early cashouts.

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Unibet Sportsbook

With over two decades of experience, Unibet is one of the leading sportbetting sites that stands out for its exciting mix of promotions, including sign-up bonuses and ongoing deals for existing bettors.

Unibet's platform is packed with features, such as the early cashout option that allows users to settle bets before the game's outcome is decided. It also offers same-game parlays for soccer, NHL, NFL, and NCAAF, providing a wealth of opportunities for bettors to place their wagers. Additionally, Unibet provides excellent customer support, top-notch sports betting apps, and reliable payment methods, making it a top choice for users across the country.

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Golden Nugget Sportsbook

Golden Nugget is a renowned brand that provides exceptional sportsbetting services to bettors across several states, including Virginia, Michigan, Arizona, and New Jersey. As a result, it adheres to the unique regulations of each state to ensure compliance. With top-rated sports betting apps available for iOS and Android, Golden Nugget offers bettors the flexibility to place their bets on the go. Bonuses are also available to users who register on the site or the sports betting apps, providing additional value to their betting experience. Additionally, Golden Nugget offers some of the best odds in the industry, enabling bettors to maximize their profits with every winning wager placed on the site.

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Tipico Sportsbook

Tipico is a well-known online sports betting site that provides users with a comprehensive betting experience. The platform features a vast array of markets, including major US sports like football, basketball, and baseball, as well as international sports like soccer, cricket, and tennis. Tipico's user-friendly website and mobile apps make it easy for bettors to navigate and place their bets, while a range of attractive promotions and bonuses add value to the overall experience. With licenses in several states, including New Jersey and Colorado, Tipico adheres to strict regulations to ensure fairness and security for users.

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888 Sportsbook

888 Sportsbook is a leading online sports betting platform that provides users with a wide range of betting options. With licenses in several US states, including New Jersey and Nevada, the platform adheres to strict regulations to ensure users' security and fairness.

888 Sportsbook's comprehensive range of markets includes major sports like football, basketball, and baseball, as well as international sports like cricket, rugby, and soccer. The platform's user-friendly interface and mobile apps make it easy for bettors to navigate and place their bets.

888 Sportsbook also offers attractive promotions and bonuses, including a generous welcome offer for new users. With 24/7 customer support and a variety of payment options, 888 Sportsbook provides a seamless and enjoyable betting experience for users.

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Bet365 Sportsbook

Bet365 is a highly respected and trusted online sports betting platform that provides a comprehensive range of betting options. With licenses in several states, including New Jersey and Colorado, Bet365 adheres to strict regulations to ensure users' security and fairness.

Bet365's vast array of markets includes major sports like football, basketball, and baseball, as well as international sports like cricket, rugby, and soccer. The platform's intuitive and user-friendly website and mobile apps make it easy for bettors to navigate and place their bets.

In addition to a generous welcome bonus, Bet365 offers ongoing promotions and bonuses for existing users, adding value to the overall betting experience. With excellent customer support and a variety of payment options, Bet365 provides users with a seamless and enjoyable betting experience.

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Explore Top Sportsbooks!

Take your sports betting to the next level with our expert reviews of the best sportsbooks. Discover a world of betting options, competitive odds, and exclusive promotions. From football to basketball and beyond, we've got you covered with in-depth analyses of top-rated sports betting platforms. Make informed choices and elevate your sports betting experience today!

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Ways to bet on sports online

Placing sports bets on online gambling sites or betting apps is a simple process. However, you must first create an account with the sports betting website or app to take advantage of their offerings.

Registering for an account is a straightforward process that involves visiting the sports betting site or app and filling in your details, including your name, email address, date of birth, and preferred password. Once completed, the platform will notify you of a successful registration. Follow these simple steps:

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Using an internet-enabled device, visit the online sports betting site.

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Select the appropriate option to create an account on the sportsbook.

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Fill in your details, including Your full name, email, date of birth, and preferred password.

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Once done, submit Your registration form.

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The sports betting platform will notify You of successful registration.


Unless an online betting site offers you a no-deposit bonus, you must fund your account before placing a bet. Like registering, depositing at sportsbooks and betting apps is easy; all you need to do is follow these steps:

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Navigate to the cashier section of the sportsbooks or betting apps.

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Select the deposit option.

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Choose a payment method.

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Enter the amount You want to pay.

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Fill in other necessary details.

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Complete the transaction.


Deposits are processed instantly, so the funds you paid should reflect in your gambling account within minutes. Then, you can enjoy betting online by following these steps:

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Visit the sports lobby and choose the sport You want to wager on.

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Pick the event or league and choose Your odds.

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Your selection will be added to your website bet slip.

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Once done, confirm Your bet.

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The online sportsbook will then deduct the bet amount from your real-money balance.

What events You can't legally bet on in the US?

A different set of laws governs sports betting in 50 states. Even though not every market is precisely the same, what is and isn't allowed is something they all have in common. The following are prohibited wagering options at legitimate U.S. online sportsbooks.

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High school sports

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U.S. elections (Municipal, State and Federal)

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The weather

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The results from reality T.V.

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The oscars and other award shows


It's worth noting that only a few sports betting apps and sites allow Oscar betting. Legitimate online betting sites should only offer wagers on actual sporting events.

When it comes to betting on college sports at online sportsbooks, it's essential to pay attention to the regulations. Although it's permitted in all legal states, there are still limitations.

For example, if you're a bettor in New Jersey, you can't place a wager on a college event within the state. On the other hand, if you're in Pennsylvania, you can do so on sports betting apps. In some jurisdictions like Colorado, you can bet on college basketball and football pregame, but not on player props.

While politics and weather discussions are a big part of our everyday lives, the United States gambling regulatory body has not permitted betting on these events. So, even though it might be legal to wager on sports, you won't find any betting options for politics or weather.


What is the major difference between daily fantasy sports and sports betting

Online sports betting and daily fantasy sports are two distinct types of gambling. In sports betting, the bettor selects a team or teams to win the game or cover the point spread. On the other hand, daily fantasy sports participants choose athletes and participate in a competition, where a winner is determined using statistics from participants in a particular sport.

Around 40 states have legalized daily fantasy sports, making it more popular than betting sports in some areas. However, the process of placing a wager on either is similar. First, bettors register on betting apps or sportsbooks where they can gamble on real or fantasy sports. Then, they fund their accounts, claim bonuses (if any are available), navigate to the sports lobby, and place their bets.

Is it legal to place wagers on sports betting apps?

The legality of sports betting in the United States depends on the state. Some states where online sports betting is legal are Colorado, Arizona, New Jersey, and Delaware. While betting on sporting events is legal in these countries, a few rules are in place to ensure you gamble responsibly.

Which sports betting site is safe?

The most secure and trustworthy sports betting sites are the ones licensed in the United States. These platforms are required to follow strict regulations to ensure that bettors have a safe and fair gambling experience. On the other hand, many offshore platforms operate without a license in the U.S., so it's best to avoid them and stick to legal platforms to guarantee safety and security.

How do I cash out my winnings from a sports betting site?

To withdraw your funds from sports betting apps or sites: Navigate to the cashier section and select the withdrawal option. Pick your preferred payment method and enter the amount you want to cash out. Fill in the rest of the necessary details and submit the request. Depending on the bet U.S. site, they will then process your payments within a few hours or a few days.

Legal Betting vs Offshore Betting?

Sports betting in the United States is only legal in states where it has been explicitly permitted. Obtaining a license to offer gambling services is difficult, and many companies invest heavily to become approved operators. However, offshore sites are also available to U.S. bettors, providing them with more appealing options. These platforms do not have a license to operate in the United States, making legal platforms a preferable option despite having less attractive offerings.

Travis Asherton
Editor | Sports Betting Expert

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