How to Bet On Sports: Beginner’s Guide to Sports Betting in 2023

Being able to bet on sports online is still a relatively new thing in different parts of the USA. But for many, the concept of how to bet on sports has been clear for some time. This is because the legal status of sports betting is still developing in the USA. Of course, there are many states where online sports betting has been legal for quite some time. But for others, the rollout is still taking place. Here we shall be explaining where you can bet on sports online, as well as many important aspects surrounding this activity as a whole.

How to bet on sports online

Now that you have an idea of how to bet on sports in terms of where this is done, as well as the important terms, let us get a little more specific. With online sports betting, you have two main choices in terms of the platforms that you use. You could make online bets through some of the best sports betting sites on desktop, or you can do so on mobile. The latter has an extra element that you will shortly learn about too. And this involves the ability to bet on sports through designated mobile apps.

But briefly, before we get to all of that, let us actually run through how to set yourself up with online sports betting account. After all, this is something that you need to do before you can actually make any wagers. So, here is the standard process:

  1. Choose one of the best online sports betting sites to join
  2. Head to the respective platform and hit ‘register’ or ‘sign-up’
  3. Enter all personal information such as name, address, SSN, DOB, etc.
  4. Sign in and deposit funds with an eligible payment method
  5. Verify your account details ASAP
  6. Browse around and start making some wagers

This process of opening your account, verifying details, and depositing funds remains fixed no matter where you are betting from. And as it happens, this is a very important element of how to bet on sports online legally. That’s because the initial information provided shows the operator that you can indeed place sports bets in accordance with state laws.

So with that cleared up, let us now switch our attention to the two main platforms that have for online sports betting.

Best online sports betting sites

If you have already looked at how to bet on sports previously, or if you have engaged in online sports betting in the past, some of these names you will already know. But regardless of current knowledge or previous experience, we’d still like to share some details of them right here:


how to bet on sports

Speaking of great sites, BetMGM just had to be mentioned alongside these other gladiators of the game. BetMGM embodies that ‘Vegas’ element of excitement and quality in every regard. This is apparent through things like free sports betting tips, exclusive markets for major events, and great bonuses for new and existing customers. In our opinion, BetMGM also has one of the best sports betting apps in the nation.

sign up to BetMGM >


how to bet on sports online

FanDuel is known as one of the ‘big two in the USA. They are one of the most extensive (in terms of where they operate) and top-quality sportsbooks that can be accessed right now. The main rival of FanDuel is DraftKings, which we have also mentioned below. And of course, FanDuel has a superior sports betting experience thanks to things like bonuses, features such as same-game parlays, and much more.

sign up to fanduel >


sports betting terms

DraftKings is the next of the big two in North America, for good reason. These guys actually drove the development of the legal sports betting market in many key states such as New Jersey. And typically, DraftKings is one of the first betting brands to enter a state once legislation has changed to allow this activity. DraftKings is immensely popular due to things like betting pools, live wagering, and regular reload bonuses.

sign up to draftkings >>


how to bet on sports online legally

Caesars is another brand that you are probably familiar with. However, many don’t realize that Caesars recently acquired the brand, William Hill. So in many states, the two brands are viewed as the same entity, which is a positive thing. Caesars provides a valuable experience for punters in all states where it operates too. This is all down to elements such as daily odds boosts, creative promotions, and very competitive odds for sports like football and basketball.

sign up to CAESARS >


best sports betting sites

Whenever a sports betting market gets a little crowded, it helps to offer things that differentiate a site from others. And PointsBet is a platform that has certainly managed to achieve this. PointsBet actually has two main offerings, including a section designated to spread betting and a regular sports betting section too. Spread betting might be tough to learn, but the site has all kinds of tutorials for you to follow. And once learned, it really can be one of the exciting forms of online sports betting.

sign up to Pointsbet >

Best sports betting apps

One of the preferred platforms for placing sports bets these days is mobile apps. The top sites tend to have designated mobile apps that can be installed for both Android and iOS devices. So all you need to do to gain access is to download the correct app for your device. And to avoid any confusion, you can install these apps on both smartphones and tablets. Of course, the best sports betting apps have many benefits behind them too. The most obvious is instant access to your account no matter where you might be.

However, many of these apps also support things like live betting, streaming for many sporting events, and cashouts for bets. Each of these areas is critical for a great mobile betting experience, in our opinion. And at the same time, these apps tend to be customizable so you can set things up as you wish.

Sports betting terms explained

Before you learn how to bet on sports online, it helps to know what the key terms are. By taking the time to learn these, you will be positioned better when making your bets. We say that because then you will understand exactly what the implications are for many different areas of online sports betting. On that note, let’s begin with these key terms right now:


The odds are incredibly important to understand with online sports betting. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that they are the most important of all the sports betting terms discussed here. That’s because the odds dictate what the probability is for a certain outcome. The subsequent odds that are given also dictate what your bet could return if it pulls through. For example, if you see a market with odds of +200, this implies that the market has a 33.3% chance of coming true. It also means that if you were to place a $100 bet on this market, your possible return would be $300 ($200 profit).

Needless to say, the bigger the odds, the bigger the returns. But at the same time, bigger odds suggest a reduced chance of the bet coming true.


The amount that you ‘stake’ in a market is intricately linked to the odds discussed above. After all, the stake corresponds to the mentioned odds to determine what you could possibly win – or lose if the bet doesn’t pull through. So as far as sports betting terms go, this is pretty important. Working from the same example shown above, let’s provide three different stake values to witness the impact. If you were to bet $100 on a market with odds of +200, the potential payout is $300. But if you were to bet $200, the returns could be $600. And if you bet $300, the returns could be $900.

As you can see, the amount that you stake changes the possible payout. This is the way that things always work. And this is incredibly important to understand when learning how to bet on sports in general.


Something that you may have picked up on above is the mention of a ‘market’ or a ‘betting market’. These are the actual outcomes that you are betting on, and every outcome provided with online sports betting has an odds value attached. As an example, let’s assume you were thinking about betting on a basketball game. If you wanted to pick the Lakers to beat the Celtics, then this is the actual market that you’d choose – for the Lakers to win the game. Of course, there will also be odds for this outcome to occur. But there can also be markets given for the overall score, individual point scorers, who will win each quarter, and much more.

In fact, the very best online sports betting sites tend to always have a greater market selection than most. This is true for all sports, including online football betting, online tennis betting, and essentially every other sport you can think of!

sports betting tips

Payout / return

Another important element to learn in our ‘how to bet on sports online’ journey is the concept of potential returns or payouts, as they are sometimes referred to. Basically, the payout or the return is the money that you could win based on your bet. This is important because it gives you an idea of whether the bet has any real value to it or not. Once again, this is all linked with the odds and stake too. This is important to understand for two reasons. First, you need to know how much you could possibly win before placing the bet. This avoids any unwanted surprises further down the line.

And secondly, it indicates whether you can justify the bet based on the possible returns. As an example, let’s say that you felt that an NFL game was a bit of a toss-up as to who would win. This means that each team has a 50% chance of coming away with a victory. Therefore, if the odds suggested otherwise, you probably wouldn’t take on the bet, as the possible returns wouldn’t align with your perceived risk.


This is perhaps the easiest of all the sports betting terms to understand, but it’s still important. Your ‘bankroll’ is the amount of money that you have in your online sports betting account. And actually managing your bankroll is a key element of any sports betting strategy that you might be following. So, if you had $100 in your online betting account, this is the value of your bankroll. From this fixed figure, each stake or bet that you place will equate to a certain percentage of your bankroll. So if you were to make a $10 bet on a certain market, you have staked 10% of your total bankroll.

As a general rule of thumb, although each person is different, many punters suggest that you shouldn’t be betting more than 5% of your total bankroll in a single shot. That’s because it is inevitable that in sports betting, you will make losing bets. That’s just part of the game. So you have to be able to ride out any losing bets while still having enough in the pot to seek out those winning bets – immensely important in the long run.


The last of the sports betting terms we’d like to mention is actually the most common of all the sports betting markets. For every single sport, no matter what it is or how the scoring system works, there is the chance that the game will finish with a winner. Of course, certain sports also have the chance that things could end in a draw, such as a soccer, as an example. But in many cases, sports will only end when there is a clear winner. And this is what is referred to as the ‘Moneyline market’. This is where you can bet on the eventual outcome of a game, and there will be a minimum of two Moneyline markets for just about every sport that you bet on.

Once again, however, in sports where you can get a draw such as a soccer, there will be another Moneyline market for this outcome. The Moneyline market also gives you the full scope of which player or team is favored to win a game. You can then use this information to explore other markets too.

best sports betting apps

Where is sports betting legal?

Although the angle here is to show you how to bet on sports, all of this would be useless if you didn’t know where sports betting is actually legal. This has a direct impact on whether you can engage in online sports betting or not, period. After all, not only must you be over the age of 21, but you have to be based in a state where online sports betting is legal too. These are the two critical boxes that must be ticked to engage in this activity. So we wanted to also discuss this area to ensure that you have all the information required.

As you may or may not know, there are many legal sports betting states in the USA. In fact, there are more than 25 states currently that have a regulated sports betting industry, whether online or in-person. And this is just how things stand right now. Other states also have various bills that are in progress which could instantly change the game within a matter of months. But for now, here are the states where sports betting is allowed:

As stated previously, these are simply the states where sports betting, either online or in-person is already supported. However, states such as Ohio, Nebraska, Maryland, and Maine could soon join this list. That’s because online sports betting bills have already been passed in these states. But as of yet, no formal sports betting industry exists. Of course, there are several key sports betting sites that operate in the mentioned states too.

Sports betting options for popular sports

It goes without saying that in the USA, certain sports are more popular than others. And as you have probably guessed, the best online sports betting sites pay special attention to these sports. Typically, the mainstream sports are the ones that are played at the highest level in North America and Canada. So of course, some of the sports we are about to talk about will be quite familiar to you. Anyway, we don’t want to take up too much time talking about these sports. Instead, let’s get right into these sports right now:

NFL / College Football

online football betting

Learning how to bet on NFL or college football is pretty easy if you follow the sports closely. If not, it won’t take too long to familiarize yourself with the standard markets and betting options. Of course, the NFL is the pinnacle of American Football, and even college football has a huge following – especially in the fall. Pretty much all of the best NFL betting sites, as well as the best NFL betting apps will cover every game of the season. And as you get to the post-season tournaments, with the Super Bowl being the biggest of them all, you can expect some pretty awesome bonuses to take advantage of.

The beauty of this sport compared to others is that you can bet on specific quarters, player performances and points, and so much more. So the more familiar you get, the more experimental you can become in terms of your sports betting strategy. And finally, to engage in online football betting, just make sure you sign up to one of the top sites before the season begins. Here’s how to bet on NFL games online and all our articles about NFL.

NBA / College Basketball

online sports betting

Since we are hammering home how to bet on sports here, we had to cover how to bet on NBA basketball. At the same time, the NBA is closely followed by college basketball in terms of popularity. And as you may be aware, March Madness is one of the hottest betting times of the entire year for college basketball. Again, the best NBA betting sites always come up with great bonuses for events where the action is turned up a notch. Along the lines of March Madness, there is also the NBA post-season tournament.

Winners from both the East and West Conferences battle things out for a shot at the NBA title. And it really is one of the major events in North America in terms of overall sports betting action. With this said, you can also wager on these sports through the best NBA betting apps if flexibility is something you desire. See our articles about NBA.

Hockey / NHL

sports betting strategy

Ice hockey is on a par with many of the other top sports in the USA, so of course, we had to cover it with our guide! Learning how to bet on hockey isn’t as difficult as some others. That’s because hockey has fewer ‘variables’ if you will when it comes to what can occur out there on the ice. So this makes the NHL a decent sport for beginners to take a punt or two. With that said, more experienced punters can also engage in things like live wagering at the best hockey betting sites. And just like the other leagues we’ve mentioned here, the NHL also has a post-season, commonly known as the Stanley Cup.

This is the playoff tournament that always leads to a winner of the overall NHL league. Again, the best hockey betting apps cover the action here, as well as mainstream desktop sites. And many of these apps let you live stream certain games too, which is ideal! For more information, here’s how to bet on NHL online and our articles about NHL.

MLB / Baseball

how to bet on sports

The last of the ‘major leagues’ that we want to highlight relates to MLB or Major League Baseball. As you likely know, baseball has a huge following in North America, so learning how to bet on baseball is important if you follow the sport. The MLB is split into two leagues containing 15 teams each, and you can bet on every single match through the best baseball betting apps. Given how regular games are in the main season, you have a boatload of action to wager on for this sport. And at the same time, the best baseball betting sites are ideal to frequent if you fancy wagering on the games from your laptop or PC.

Another great thing about baseball betting is that you can wager on individual innings, and player performances, and there are many ‘specials’ to check out too. So if you have a sports betting strategy in mind for this sport, you will never be short on options. See all our articles about MLB.


how to bet on sports online

Soccer probably isn’t viewed as one of the major leagues in the USA, but the MLS is certainly gaining ground, especially over the last few years. This league has been given a boost thanks to big names from Europe coming over to bolster the league. Of course, it’s beneficial to learn how to bet on soccer too. We say this because soccer often has the biggest range of markets out of all other sports. And it’s a sport that is fantastic for live betting, which can be done through the best soccer betting sites in North America. You don’t necessarily have to stick with the MLS either, even if this is the most popular domestic league.

Instead, you can switch your attention to other major leagues in Europe such as La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, and of course, the Premier League. All of the best soccer betting apps support betting markets for these leagues. See all our articles about soccer.


sports betting terms

Golf has plenty of interest from American punters, especially since many of the majors are played in North America already. But putting individual tournaments aside, you’ve also got events like the Ryder Cup, which is always covered by the best golf betting sites. Before you can bet on these tournaments and events, however, you need to learn how to bet on golf. And interestingly, while the sport itself is pretty slow, the range of markets that are available is typically pretty epic. You can even bet on ‘hole by hole’ winners if you like, which is done through live betting.

If you want to engage in this sort of thing, just sign up with the best golf betting apps around and you’ll be in business. See all our articles about golf.

Horse Racing

how to bet on sports online legally

Horse racing is actually one of the oldest forms of sports betting in the world. This activity literally dates back centuries, and learning how to bet on horse racing is a little more complex than some of the others mentioned. This is true if you want to understand some of the intricate bets such as trifectas, winning distance, quinella, and others. But if you only want to stick with the main markets at the best horse racing betting sites, this is perfectly okay too. In terms of action, there are some pretty huge domestic horse racing events in the USA.

The famous Triple Crown is perhaps the largest of all, and naturally, the best horse racing betting apps also cover these races. See all our articles about Horse racing.


best sports betting sites

Last but by no means least, learning how to bet on tennis is another great idea if you want to become a knowledgeable, all-around punter. With tennis, you have tournaments taking place every single week of the year, with no real off-season. This means you have a ton of action to bet on, and there is also no possibility of a draw in tennis. So there is always a winner – perfect for beginners and those following a designated sports betting strategy. The best tennis betting sites can often have 50-100 markets for major matches too, which is better than other sports.

As for the best tennis betting apps, these provide you with cashouts, streaming, bet builders, odds boosts, and so much more – especially for Grand Slam events! See all our articles about tennis.


We sincerely hope that you now feel more comfortable with how to bet on sports online. The sports betting tips given here are designed to educate, and make you feel like the online sports betting world isn’t quite as complex as it may seem. And really, all that’s left is for you to choose one of the betting sites listed here. Once you’ve signed up, you can then put what you’ve learned here to good use!