How to Bet on Sports: Complete Sports Betting Guide

In 2018, the United States Supreme Court repealed PASPA, paving the way for individual states across the US to introduce legal sports betting. Since then, wagering on sports events has taken off across the country, with more than 19 billion bettors enjoying the betting options offered and new bettors learning how to bet on sports each day.

If wagering on sports has piqued your interest and you want to learn about sports betting, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know, from sports betting basics like odds and betting lines to how to place a bet online. We also offer several handy tips and answer all of your burning questions about sports wagering. So, let’s begin.

How to Bet on Sports Online

Sports betting is available at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks across PA. However, players looking for convenience can visit the best online sportsbooks in Pennsylvania to wager these bets.

Betting on sports online is relatively easy and requires a bettor to sign up with a reputable online sportsbook. Once bettors have signed up, they can wager on the sport of their choice. Below, we take you through several steps to show you how:

  1. Choose your sport and team – browse the sportsbook section on your chosen betting site to see the various sports covered and the teams and events available to bet on. When you have decided which sports event and team or athlete you want to wager on, double-click that game to launch the betting lines and odds.
  2. Pick your betting line – next, you need to choose which type of bet you want to place on your team. Take a look through the options offered for that game. Double-click the betting line you want to put money on and ensure that the one you selected is for the team you want to put your money on. Clicking the betting line value will fill in all the details of the wager on your betting slip.
  3. Add your bet value – next, you will need to look at your bankroll and figure out how much you want to bet. Then, type in your bet amount on the bet slip. Once you have added in your bet value, click “Place Bet.”
  4. Outcome and payout – now it’s time to catch the game. Once it’s over you’ll be able to see the outcome of your bet. If you win your bet, the sportsbook will payout your profit into your betting account.

What is a Bet?

A bet is when someone risks something of value, usually money, on an event like a sports match, hoping to win something else of value. In other words, a bet is when a sports bettor puts money on a sports team to win their match. If that sports team wins the game, the bettor wins back a profit and the original amount they put on the team.

When it comes to betting on sports, there are a number of different types of bets a sports bettor can wager. We will look at these in more detail later in this guide, but for now, let’s begin by understanding sports betting and how it works.

How Does Sports Betting Work

PA sports bettors will discover there are a multitude of ways to bet on sports. However, the sports betting basics center on a bettor predicting something will occur during a sports match and risking money on the chances of that occurrence happening. For example, a bettor may risk money on the Philadelphia Eagles winning their game against the Baltimore Ravens.

The sports betting site offering this wager will set the odds on these betting options based on how likely they are to happen. As a result, bettors can review these odds and bet on the side they predict will have a favorable outcome.

If an outcome has a high chance of occurring, then the risk tied to that bet is lower, making the payout offered less. In contrast, a bet with a low probability of occurring is much more risky to put money on and, as a result, provides a much higher payout.

Generally, a sportsbook offers the bettor two teams or opposing athletes to wager on. However, in some cases, bettors may have a more extensive selection of teams to choose from, for example, when picking which team they predict will win the Super Bowl.

BetMGM PA Sports Betting


How Do Bets Work – Favorites and Underdogs

When it comes to sports betting for beginners, two popular sports betting terms will come up frequently, the favorite and the underdog. These terms refer to the two teams or athletes you can wager on when you bet on sports.

The favorite is the team or athlete that the sportsbook predicts has a higher probability of winning the game or meeting the outcome you are betting on. But because this option has a greater chance of being successful, the risk is lower, and so is the payout and return from placing a bet on the favorite.

In contrast, the underdog refers to the team or athlete with the lesser chance of winning the game or providing a favorable outcome. Because this option has a lower chance of success, the risk when backing them is higher, and so is the potential payout.

If we look at the example below, the Baltimore Ravens are the favorite, and the Philadelphia Eagles are the underdog. But how do we know this? New sports bettors learning how sports betting works will need to look at the odds provided to tell this. In the following section, we cover the odds in sports betting.

BetMGM PA NFL Betting Odds

The Odds of Sports Betting Explained – How Betting Works

Reading and understanding the odds is one of the most important sports betting basics. Through intensive research, a sportsbook will set odds for each opposing team or athlete in a sports game. These odds tell a bettor two things. Firstly, they highlight which team has the higher probability of providing a favorable outcome for a bet. Then, they also indicate to a bettor how much profit they can make from a winning wager on either team.

Sportsbooks have several formats to display betting odds, including American, Decimal, and Fractional. The most commonly used format in the US is American odds, which sees a plus (+) or minus (-) sign followed by a three-digit number.

The plus or minus sign helps highlight for the bettors which team is the favorite and which is the underdog, while the number shows a bettor how much they can win off a winning bet on either team.

The favorite is always the team with the minus (-) sign next to its name, while the numbers that follow show the bettor how much they must stake on that team to win back $100 if the team is successful.

In contrast, the underdog is typically the team with the plus (+) sign next to its name. The numbers indicate how much a bettor can win off a $100 wager if their bet is successful.

For example, if you have two teams playing a match Baltimore Ravens (-225) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (+180), the Ravens are the favorites, and bettors will need to put down $225 to win back $100 in profits.

Handy Hint

Sometimes when you bet on sports, you may find that the odds for both the favorite and the underdog are set at -110. Here, the bettor will need to wager $110 to win back $100 in profit. When the odds for both teams are the same this means there is no definitive favorite or underdog, and both teams have an equal chance of winning or losing. These are referred to as “flat” odds.

BetMGM PA MLB Betting Odds

How to Bet on Sports – The Betting Lines

Now that we have the odds for sports betting explained, it is time to examine the various types of bets a sportsbook offers. Most online sportsbooks and sports betting apps in PA offer three major betting lines, the moneyline, point spread, and totals bets, which focus on the outcome of a sports match.

In addition to these three wagers, a betting site will also offer exotic bets, including prop bets, futures bets, and parlays. These wagers allow bettors to bet on something other than the outcome of a sports game and provide more ways for bettors to back their teams and win.

Below, we take you through these various betting lines, how they work, and provide examples.


The quickest, most straightforward bet on sports is the moneyline. Here, bettors pick the team they predict will win the game outright and put money on them to win. Moneyline odds are as simple as they get and follow the principles discussed in the odds section above. When players bet on sports using the moneyline, they can choose to back either the favorite or the underdog. In the example below, the Eagles are the underdogs. Bettors who back this team will earn $180 in profits from a $100 wager.

Team Moneyline Odds
Philadelphia Eagles +180
Baltimore Ravens -225

Point Spreads – How Sports Betting Works with Handicapping

A points spread is another popular wager among sports bettors. Here, bettors wager on the final outcome of the game relative to the number of points a team wins or loses by. While a points spread applies to most sports, in hockey, we refer to it as a puck line, and in baseball, we call it a run line. However, they all work in the same way.

Handy Hint

Most sports have a point spread margin that varies, for instance, in Football, it is usually 3.5, 6.5, or 7.5. However, run lines and puck lines are always set at +/- 1.5. Sportsbooks do this because the score rate in these games is usually low.

A point spread or handicapping sees the sportsbook add or remove points from one or both teams. This is done when there is a definite favorite and underdog to level the playing field and improve the odds.

When bettors back the favorite in a points spread, that team must win by more points than set out by the bookie for the bettor to win their bet. Conversely, when a bettor backs the underdog, that team must either win outright or lose by fewer points than that applied by the sportsbook. When either team meets these requirements, it is referred to as covering the spread.

Handy Hint

In some cases, this wager could end in a push, where the sportsbook must return a bettor’s original stake. This happens when a team doesn’t cover the spread but scores the exact amount of points allocated by the spread. To prevent this, a sportsbook will add a half-point to the point spread, called a Hook.

If we consider the example below, the sportsbook has applied a point spread of +/- 4.5. Here, the Eagles are the favorite with -4.5, and for bettors backing them to win their wagers, the team must win by five points or more.

Conversely, the Jaguars are the underdogs, with a spread of +4.5. This team must either win outright or lose by fewer than four points for bettors backing them to win their wagers.

Since either team could cover the spread, the odds are set at -110 for both teams.

Team Point Spread Odds
Philadelphia Eagles – 4.5   -110
Jacksonville Jaguars + 4.5   -110

Totals Bets

Another of the sports bets that bettors can use when betting on sports is the totals or over/under bet. Here, instead of betting on the final score of one of the teams playing the match, bettors wager on the total combined score of both teams.

In this instance, the sportsbook releases a set amount of points it predicts both teams will score in the game. Bettors must then put their money on whether they think the final combined score will be more than (over) or less than (under) what the bookie predicts.

If the score settles exactly on the number of points the sportsbook sets out, the wager results in a push, and the bookie must refund bettors their original stakes. As a result, many sports betting sites apply a hook to over/under odds as well.

In addition to the over/under odds, bettors will find the payout odds displayed alongside these values, as shown in the example below. However, the payout odds displayed here are unique, as both teams have a negative number. In this case, the value that is closer to zero is the favorite, while the team with the number further away from zero is the underdog.

Team Total Bet Odds
Philadelphia Eagles O 35.5   -115
Baltimore Ravens U 35.5   -105

Prop Bets

Prop or proposition bets fall under the bracket of exotic bets because they allow bettors to bet on sports outcomes other than the game’s final score.

Generally, a sportsbook will offer player props, which focus on things particular athletes do during a game. For example, a player prop could see a bettor put money on the athlete they predict will score the first touchdown of the game.

Handy Hint

It is important to remember that in Pennsylvania, bettors are prohibited from wagering player props on college athletes.

Another form of prop bet a sportsbook will offer are game props. These betting lines focus on happenings that take place during the game, for instance, in which quarter the first touchdown will land. Other game props may focus on things like the winning margin of a team.

When betting on the Super Bowl or other top sports events, bettors will often find a range of unique prop bets that don’t necessarily relate to the game itself, like how long it will take the performing artist to sing the national anthem or which brand will display the winning Super Bowl halftime advert, or even what color gatorade will get dumped on the head coach.

BetMGM PA MLB Player Props

Futures Betting

Another exotic wager bettors can use to bet on sports is a futures bet. As the name suggests, a futures bet sees bettors wagering on aspects that will take place in the future. An example of a futures bet could be which team will win the Stanley Cup.

A sportsbook will typically release the odds for a futures bet during the offseason and then adjust the odds as the season begins and progresses. Since futures bets are a lot more risky and a lot can happen during the season before the championship final for a sport is played, the payouts here are often quite high.

BetMGM PA NFL Futures

Parlay Bets

A parlay wager is one of the riskiest bets offered by a sportsbook. Here, a bettor places a series of three or more smaller bets called “legs” which combine to make up the parlay. These legs can all relate to a single sports game (same-game parlay), or they can focus on several consecutive games. For example, a bettor may pick the winner for the next three football games.

However, for a bettor to win their parlay wager, they must win all of the legs that make up their parlay. In other words, all of their picks must be successful. If the bettor loses even one of the bets that make up their parlay, they lose the entire wager.

Since the risk of a parlay is high, the total payout offered for these wagers is often high, making it a high-risk, high-reward bet.

BetMGM PA MLB Same Game Parlay

Sports Betting Basics for Live Betting

While all sportsbooks offer pre-game wagers, many also provide in-play betting. So, how does sports betting work for live bets, and what are they? A pre-game bet is when a sports bettor puts down money on a sports game before it begins. Then, just before the game starts, the sportsbooks close their lines, and the odds become fixed.

In contrast, live or in-play betting is when a sportsbook allows a bettor to bet on sports events already in play. While the betting lines here are typically the same as pre-game sports bets, the odds differ. Instead of remaining fixed, live betting odds fluctuate according to how the game progresses.

As a result, it becomes essential for a bettor to closely watch the game and the odds to make sure they get their wager in while the odds are still favorable. Here, bettors can experience a more exhilarating sports betting experience.

Handy Hint

Most sportsbooks offer a live betting suite separate to their sports betting section, where most pre-game wagers are placed.

What is the Best Way to Bet on Sports

There are plenty of ways to bet on sports. Bettors in Pennsylvania can visit brick-and-mortar sportsbooks to wager their bets, or they can use online sportsbooks or sports betting apps. While online betting sites and apps provide convenience, land-based sportsbooks offer a fun atmosphere. Choosing the best one for you depends on what you prefer.

When it comes to the types of bets you wager, we recommend that new bettors start off by trying a moneyline bet or two until they become used to reading the odds and wagering their bets. Since these wagers are relatively straightforward, there isn’t much that can go wrong.

However, we recommend that no matter what wager you place, you do so carefully and with a lot of thought to make sure you place more accurate bets and don’t splurge your bankroll before you hit a winning bet.

How to Get Good at Sports Betting

This wouldn’t be a top sports betting guide if we didn’t fill you in on the secret to getting good at sports betting. While there are several sports betting tips to help you wager more lucrative bets (we cover these in the section below,) the best way to become a great sports bettor is to practice.

The more you wager on sports, the easier it will become to recognize excellent odds, track line movement, and see which wagers are worth the risk and which aren’t. When you have these aspects taped, you will find that making accurate and winning bets becomes much simpler.

Another top way to get good at sports betting is by practicing responsible gambling. While many bettors can easily walk away when the chips are down, this is not the case for all bettors. If you or someone you know has a gambling habit, using resources to help them find help and a solution is the best thing you can do.

Sports Betting Tips – How to Win at Sports Betting

There are several top tips we would like to share with you to help you improve your sports betting game. While these won’t turn you into a pro sports bettor overnight, they will help put you on the path to making the best choices when placing a bet on sports. So, let’s look.

Tip One: Understand the Sport and Its Rules

One of the best sports betting tips we can give you is to take the time to thoroughly research the sport you want to bet on. Here, we recommend getting to know the rules of the game, how everything works, and what to look out for. By understanding the game, it becomes much simpler to wager accurate bets that lead to winning tickets.

Tip Two: Do Your Research

In addition to understanding the game, take the time to get to know the different players in a team. Look at how they perform as a team and against opposing teams, particularly the one they are matched up against. Additionally, keep tabs on any injuries that take place. An injured star player can affct the odds and the game’s outcome, as can a player who is returning from being off as a result of an injury.

Tip Three: Take Note of the Weather

Many sports are influenced by the weather. For example, wind direction can play a role in the outcome of a baseball game. Additionally, if a match is being played in a cold climate where there may be snow and one of the teams is from a region like Florida where snow is not found, this could have an impact on how players perform and thus influence your bet.

Tip Four: Consider Home Advantage

While many pro sports bettors ignore the concept of home advantage, it is something to consider. The idea here is that the home team knows their territory and feels comfortable and familiar in their surroundings, giving them the advantage. As a result, it is often thought that this team may have the upper hand.

Tip Five: Bet Against The Public

The “public” refers to the general betting population or recreational bettors who don’t really follow the odds or the line movement. Typically, these bettors will back the home team or the team that is their favorite. If there is a large number of public bets on the favorite, it pushs the odds out making them less than lucrative. In this case, it is important to consider betting against the public and putting your money on the underdog.

While home advantage is worth considering, this isn’t a guarantee that the home team will win and if there is an injury to a player or a player is benched, there could be a good chance that the underdog may win.

Tip Six: Shop Around for the Best Odds

Generally most online sportsbooks will offer very similar odds on a sports event. However, in some cases, the odds at one sportsbook may be slightly better than those provided by another.

Another aspect to consider is following line movement. When a lot of bets are wagered on a specific line, the line shifts or moves and the odds often depreciate in value. When the line moves at one sportsbook, it will typically shift at other sportsbooks too. The key here is to find the odds before they shift by looking at the offerings over several sportsbooks and getting your bets in before those lines shift too.

Tip Seven: Use Your Sportsbook Bonuses

Many online sportsbooks provide promotions and bonuses like bonus bets and free bets. These are an excellent in that they offer a free wager or free bonus funds that allow you to try out new betting lines without spending the funds you have deposited. If for example, you have wanted to bet on the UFC and you’re still a little unsure, using a free bet on a UFC match can help you overcome that and get a feel for how the wagers work.

Tip Eight: Only Use Reputable Online Sportsbooks

Sports fans looking to bet on sports in Pennsylvania have access to a range of online sports betting sites. However, not all of these provide the best sports betting options. As a result, we recommend signing up with those sportsbooks that are regulated by the appropriate authoritative bodies, like the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

These state-regulated sportsbooks are licensed and legal and must uphold a high standard of betting, offer fair play, and provide swift and consistent payouts. Additionally, these sites use improved safety and security measures, so you can focus on sports betting without hassle.

BetMGM PA NFL Point Spread

Additional Resources and Guides for Sports Betting

If you have found our sports betting guide helpful and you would like more information on ho to bet on sports like baseball, football, or horse racing, then check out some of our other handy guides below:

How to Bet on Baseball                  How to Bet on UFC

How to Bet on Horse Racing         How to Bet on NFL

How to Bet on Super Bowl            Rugby Betting Guide


Which sports betting odds are likely to win?

What is the safest bet on sports?

What is the best way to win a sports bet?

Is sports betting legal in Pennsylvania?

Which sport is the easiest to bet on?

Go to top button