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Online sports betting USA | Safe and legal gambling on sports events

Sports Balls

If you're a sports fan in the USA, chances are you're one of those sports bettors to have tried your hand at online sports betting. You may have placed some winning bets with a sportsbook or bookmaker, and you probably will have lost a few, but win or lose, it's very likely you will keep coming back for more wagers.

We like to watch sports, we want to play sports, and we like to read information about sports. So it's no surprise that sports betting takes a high rank among the many different ways of making a profit when it comes to gambling to win money. And betting online makes it all so much easier to get involved for many of America's sporting followers. Many sportsbooks and bookmakers offer betting on a broad range of sports markets.  

The Ultimate Guide to Sports Betting in the USA

The popularity of betting where a sport is concerned is obvious globally. Still, the statistics surrounding it and the sports gambling industry in general in the U.S. can be appreciated in some of the market size estimates, with betting revenue in the tens of billions of dollars widely mentioned. Some estimates place the market size at $22 billion ten years from now as more states regulate gambling activities and fully legalize sports betting.

The excellent news for those fans across America who like to wager is that online sports betting in an ever-growing number of US states is falling under that banner of regulated online gambling. That means plentiful opportunities for any bettor to place sports bets legally and safely online on just about every sport you can think of, including NFL, NHL, and MLB events and leagues.

For those gambling online outside of regulated states, there are ways to bet irrespective of gambling laws too. Unregulated or offshore betting is not necessarily risky from a safety and legal perspective anyway. Other than the risk of losing bets, there are several offshore sportsbooks or general online betting sites offering USA betting options where you can place your wagers with no fears over account safety or getting payouts.

If you're going to make the most of your opportunities, there's a lot to consider. It's more complicated than just finding a sportsbook, registering an account, making a selection, placing a bet, and collecting the money.

This page is the sports betting hub of ProfessionalRakeback and is designed to steer anyone seeking US online betting opportunities through all the aspects requiring consideration. Indeed, it's designed to take you through every aspect you'll need to consider to help make your winning bets. It's an extensive subject, and we'll end up with a beneficial page that will explore:

Top-rated and recommended sportsbooks

Before we get into the details behind sports betting across the US states, we'll look at a hugely important subject that can have many pitfalls for any punter - where to place your bets and on which betting platform. Of course, we're talking about the sportsbooks running a business that caters to US players. Without an account at a reliable sportsbook with a sturdy reputation, you won't be making any online wagers, no matter how much you know or how good you are at winning picks and predictions.

There are plenty of choices of well-regarded operators in the bookmaking industry, and those options are gaining more breadth each month. It's also a complex subject that takes us into the restrictions associated with regulated betting in some states and offshore betting where many Americans will find plenty of worthwhile options.

Based on many years of experience, we prefer offshore operators, and it's not hard to come up with a small but select list of the best online sportsbooks for us players, which also reads like a Who's Who of reputable offshore betting sites. You can read what they have to offer in fine detail on our dedicated page, but here's a summary, which breaks them down a little, so you'll know who's best in specific circumstances:



100% up to $1,000
4.8 / 5



With a great bonus and several promotions you can enhance when using a cryptocurrency as a deposit method, it's not hard to place on top of any sportsbooks to consider. 




75% up to $750
4.6 / 5



If you're a recreational USA-based bettor, you won't need to look much further than the highly respected Bovada sportsbook. Bovada's rewards program is well-known in the industry, and with several other benefits, this sportsbook delivers unquestionable value to customers and displays a strong commitment to effective customer service. 




100% up to $1,000
4.5 / 5



Props and eSports betting are two areas of online betting that see significant interest from punters alongside whether there are any bonus bets available. BetOnline has developed some valuable markets designed to cater to props and eSports fans, cementing its position as one of the leading online bookies for Americans. The sports bonus is useful, too.




100% up to $750
4.4 / 5



Everygame's 30-year history demonstrates its reliability and honesty. Choose from three different welcome bonus deals when you sign up for a new Everygame account.




100% up to 25mBTC
4.0 / 5



Nitrobetting is a pioneering site that transacts in Bitcoin and Bitcoin alone. With low juice and a broad array of markets, it certainly merits your attention.



Among the regulated operators, and if you're living in a state with regulated online gambling, you'll likely already be aware of names like DraftKings, FanDuel, FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet, Caesars, Bet365, and Betway.

How we rate a sportsbetting site or app

It's OK to rely on the views of industry experts to give a list of valuable operators and choose from those laid out based on someone else's betting experience, but it pays to understand how those lists are derived.

In our own betting activities, we look for strong signals of trust as one of the main criteria, closely followed by site or app features, a range of markets that include more exotic examples like futures and prop bets, and a suitably broad range of deposit and withdrawal options. Customer support is essential, too, alongside features like in-play betting.

Finding all of these aspects covered perfectly in one sportsbook can considerably enhance your betting experience. Aside from these elements, there are three critical features of any betting app or website that you'll want to watch for:

Interface and Navigation

A website's competitiveness may be primarily gauged by how effectively its user interface and navigation are built. Whether you're a first-time visitor still getting acclimated to the site or a seasoned pro who has been there many times before, you'll find that almost every site has a sleek user interface and a straightforward structure that's simple to use.

Operators strive to make their websites as user-friendly as possible so that clients can quickly find the data and wagering alternatives they need.

Bet Slip

Bet slips are like virtual tickets; they detail every aspect of your wagering history and the bets you have open. You may find details on the odds, markets, and stakes for your wager on the slips. You should be able to use them intuitively and with little instruction.

Simple Moneyline Bet Slip at EverygameA Bet Slip Moneyline Wager at Everygame

Bookies often also have more high-tech bet slips that depict estimated payments on the off chance that a wager wins. You'll always be able to examine the bet's specifics on a bet slip before committing to the wager.

Cash Out

Now more than ever, cash-out options are standard fare at the best online bookies. The ability to "cash out" means that you may withdraw or cancel your wager at any moment after the bet is placed or throughout the event, perhaps turning a profit before the end of the betting event or events.

If you want to guarantee that you get anything out of a bet, cashing out before it's over is a great strategy. Taking the cash-out option carries the potential danger of losing money and missing out on a larger payoff if your pick wins.

It's likely that each of these aspects will be determining factors for you too. Once you've made the high-level choice of aiming for an offshore sportsbook or a regulated one that's available within your state lines (assuming that option is available), much will depend on your personal needs and drivers.

Is it legal, and what are the laws around betting on sports?

There's a pretty noticeable divide nowadays between those states where various forms of online gambling have been regulated and those where regulatory laws are yet to be passed.

This disparity might seem like a problem to some, but it's not. It has created a situation where bettors in regulated states can choose between operators that have navigated the licensing process and offshore betting sites. Bettors without access to licensed operators can still go offshore to get their bets on.

But isn't betting with unregulated sportsbooks illegal?

No, it's not. Any US bettors aware of the Federal Wire Act might think its contents make it against the law to bet on sports for real money online. However, the Wire Act targets the providers of sports betting services, not those USA residents who might use them. We're punters and can assure you there's no way you could get in legal trouble by using any offshore operators we've highlighted.

The providers of those services do run a risk however. But it's a calculated risk. The law seems straightforward, but trade agreements already in place that the U.S. authorities signed invalidate these statutes. Hence, offshore sportsbooks believe they are acting within the framework of the law. To all intents and purposes, they are.

From a regulatory perspective, progress continues across various states to bring sports betting into a licensed and regulated framework. Some state residents or visitors have already had two or three years of being allowed to gamble with licensed sportsbooks, some have only recently taken the step, some are considering it, and there are a few where it may never happen. At the time of writing in the second quarter of 2023, there are 30 states which have “legalized” sports betting, of which 21 extend to betting activities online.

It's worth noting that some regulations can be standard across different states, and some differ. In general, you need to be a registered resident of any specific state or at least be within state lines to place any wagers. Plus, you'll need to be of legal age to partake in any form of gambling. For a subject that's essentially relatively straightforward – have a betting account, identify bets, place your wagers, and hopefully collect the winnings – betting on sports in the USA has its complexities.

Current status of regulated sports betting in U.S. states

As of April 2023, the states offering regulated sports betting include:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington DC
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Legal vs offshore betting operators

You may often see attacks from within the regulatory bodies suggesting that your risks are increased by betting with sites that are not licensed on U.S. soil. The reality is that many of these operators based outside the USA have been running online gambling operations for many years – indeed, far longer than some of the sites you may encounter within a regulated state.

Age and a lengthy operational history don't mean everything, of course. But it's a fact that trust plays a huge part in the online betting industry. And there's no better way for an operator to build trust than to repeatedly and consistently show that they can provide high-quality betting services while, at the same time, ensuring your cash is safe and secure.

Understanding betting odds

You won't get too far in sports betting without at least a basic appreciation of the different types of odds. Indeed, that's the case with any form of betting, including playing successful poker or casino games.

We'll cover the basics here, and we'll start with a definition of odds in case it's not clear:

The odds on offer for the outcome of any event are the probabilities that sportsbooks have determined for that event occurring. Essentially, they're the payout ratio you can expect as applied to the unit stake you've wagered.

You'll be placing bets using one of three main odds variants - fractional (British) odds, decimal (European) odds, or the money line (American) odds system. They're each different presentations of the same chances of an event occurring, and the rewards for a successful bet would be the same whichever one was used. 

Explanation of British and Fractional Odds

In Great Britain and Ireland, fractional odds (sometimes known as “British” odds, “U.K.” odds, or “traditional” odds) are widely used. Most often, a slash (/) or hyphen (-) is used in the odds representation.

If the odds are 4/1 (four-to-one) on a successful bet, then you win $4 for every $1 you bet and also receive your original $1 stake back. 

European and decimal odds

Bettors in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, as well as much of continental Europe, prefer using decimal odds (sometimes known as “European” odds, “digital” odds, or “continental” odds). These are pretty straightforward odds representations.

For every $1 bet, the decimal odds indicate how much money will be won. In the case of decimal odds, the figure indicates the payout rather than the take. To rephrase, you'll see the entire payment represented in the decimal figure since your stake is already included. 

If the odds are displayed as 4.00 and you wager $1, the payout will be $4 in total; hence, a profit of $3.

The basics of American Money Line odds

In the United States, bettors and sportsbooks have traditionally used money line odds (sometimes known as “American” or “U.S.” odds). With betting on a favorite, the odds are shown with a negative sign (-) next to them, indicating the amount of money you must wager in order to get $100 in return. On the other hand, the underdogs' odds have a plus symbol (+), indicating a potential return for every $100 wagered.

In all circumstances, the winnings are added to the winner's original stake. As the likelihood of a victory for the favorite grows, the spread between the two teams' odds widens.

Let's have a look at an example:

The following money line odds may be posted by an operator for an NFL matchup between team x (+475) and team y (-665).

By stating team x as +475 odds, the sportsbok is indicating they believe team x has a considerably smaller potential to win the game. Team x is the heavy underdog. So, if you want to win $475, you need to bet $100. 

To earn $100 betting on team y, you would need to wager $665. If team y won, you'd get a payout of $765 (your original wager of $100 plus your profit of $665).

What sports can I bet on?

The level of interest in any specific sport varies from country to country.

In the U.S., some of the most popular kinds of online sports betting are on NFL football, college football, soccer, tennis, horse racing, MLB baseball, NHL hockey, and basketball. In the UK, you might be more interested in football or rugby betting, and UK horse racing fans love to bet on their sport. Australian betting fans will be keen on cricket, horse racing, rugby, and Australian football. Canadians are often drawn to wagers on ice hockey contests.

All of the Sports Available to Wager on at BovadaYou can Wager on Plenty of Different Sports at Bovada

But really, any sport in every country around the world has the potential for betting in one way or another. That brings sports like archery, badminton, hockey, swimming, tennis, and volleyball into the equation. Some might even consider playing poker games a sport, and the explosion of interest in eSports and eSports betting is a good indicator of how that area will grow.

Esports Betting

One area of sporting events experiencing tremendous growth is Esports, or sporting contests based on various forms of video gaming. So it won't be surprising to learn that there is a rapidly growing market in esports betting, with the operator Fans Unite perhaps being the most well-known name in this sphere.

Video game tournaments and contests, known as “eSports,” include a wide variety of titles, from first-person shooters to strategy games. Most eSports have teams of players competing against one another for a reward in multiplayer online games.

The eSports Betting Menu at BetOnlineBet on and Watch Live eSports Events at BetOnline

Some events use a leaderboard/score-based system, while other tournaments use an elimination-based system, making eSports betting quite comparable to many other conventional sports. Betting in eSports used to be highly specialized with just a select few bookies offering odds on events. Even so, many sportsbooks now include a wide range of wagering options.

Fantasy sports

Fantasy sports are contests in which players assemble a team of real-life athletes or figures from other fields of endeavor and compete against other teams in a sport, with the cumulative points of the athletes based on their statistical data determining the winner.

They can be either season-long, daily competitions, or throughout a specific series of games or a tournament.

While a season-long contest centers around pre-season drafting and monitoring of performances, daily fantasy sports (DFS) give a player a chance to create and manage teams in competition against others in that same day. There can be some great real money prizes for winners.

Of course, these forms of betting are all carried out on professional-level sports, teams, and players. But there are also ways to bet on college sports, particularly football.

Betting on major sports events through the seasons

There are certain times in the world of sports when things align perfectly. During the fall, college football combines with the end of the Major League Baseball season and the beginning of both basketball and hockey.

In the winter, things get even better. Right at the beginning of the year, sports fans get to fire up a wide range of different interests. There are so many sports on television that it can be difficult to know what to watch next. The good sports fan always stays organized and knows what’s coming down the pipe.

During the middle of winter, college basketball truly heats up. Out-of-conference play in college hoops can drag on for what seems like forever, but when teams get into conference play, there is seemingly non-stop action. Six nights per week, sports fans are treated to some of the best games from around the country. Whether it is the Big Ten, ACC, or PAC 12 you support, this is one of the best times in sports. Early winter brings bits and pieces of what we can expect to happen in March when the best sporting event under the sun comes to television.

The NBA is also on its way during the early part of the year. Sports fans typically tune into the NBA once the league gets close to the All-Star break. By that time, things have sorted out to some extent. It is clear who will be in the playoff hunt, and it is even more apparent when there have been disappointments.

January is the perfect time for sports fans to start to get interested in the NBA as the race for the number one seed heats up in both conferences. More than that, NBA All-Star weekend provides excellent entertainment, even for those who don’t love the game.

Hockey has roared back over the last five years, with rule changes making it more popular and watchable than almost ever before. The great thing about hockey is that the season ebbs and flows. The games are more intense than basketball, and the players seem to care more during the regular season. The early part of the year brings us hockey teams starting to find a rhythm.

The NFL playoffs linger on in January, with the Super Bowl coming up in February. This is a time when sports fans begin to lament the end of another football season while anticipating the season’s biggest game.

The NFL provides sports fans and sports talking heads with an almost constant topic for discussion during these weeks. Even while games are going on in other sports, many sports fans want to talk about football. It is a testament to football’s place atop the sports world that fans continue to follow the game well into January.

Finally, the sporting year brings about tremendous opportunities to enjoy alternative sports. Tennis, for instance, gives us a sequence of betting opportunities through the year via the Australian, French, Wimbledon, and US Open tournaments. Likewise, the golf season is getting going, and though the Masters won’t take place for a few months, many enjoy watching Tiger Woods and the rest of the field take to the course in some of the early-season events.

Betting markets and types of bets

Having plenty of options for selecting and making a bet on your terms is a significant feature that determines the class of a sportsbook. The bets available can vary wildly and sometimes depend on the sport.

Overall, however, the types of bets available are reasonably consistent, and the best betting sites will have a comprehensive list detailing the types of bets they permit. This list can range from accumulators, singles, doubles, conditional bets, full cover bets, system bets, handicaps, and forecasts.

Giving bettors a choice when placing wagers is the sign of a good betting site, and almost all the top sites will deliver on this.

The list of most popular bets in the US includes spread bets, moneyline, totals, parlays/teasers and halftimes, prop bets, and futures. Let's take a look at a handful in more detail:

Spread Bets

In both major league and college sports, just like the NFL, one of the most popular wagers with gamblers is the spread bet.

Betting on the underdog means taking the spread while betting on the favorite means giving up points. Betting on the favorite with the spread offers greater odds than doing so with the moneyline.

Point spreads often provide slightly negative odds or even odds compared to a moneyline bet, which offers less reward for the favorite and greater risk with the underdog. Betting on the point spread requires careful consideration to guarantee that your chosen team will win and “cover” the points. This implies that the underdog must lose by fewer than the number of points they were given in the spread, while the favored team must win by more than the number of points they surrender.

Spread Bet Slips at Bovada and BetOnline Side by SideSpread Bets at Bovada and BetOnline Side by Side


Moneyline wagers predict the game's outright winner. In sports betting, the odds on the favored team are negative, while those on the underdog side are positive.

Moneyline payouts are reversed for heavy favorites and heavy underdogs, respectively. It is not as frequent for the underdog to win as it is for the favorite to do so, but underdogs sometimes pull off an upset. Betting the underdog with the moneyline may result in a large payout if they win, but it requires research on the teams' past performances to determine whether or not the underdog has a realistic shot.

Moneyline Bets at and Everygame Side by SideMoneyline Wagers at and Everygame Side by Side

Over/under or Totals bets

Over/under wagers are another popular and easy betting strategy. The over/under wager predicts whether the total number of points scored will exceed or fall below a specific target.

Totals Wagers at Bovada and BetOnlineTotals Wagers at Bovada and BetOnline Side by Side


When placing a parlay bet, you combine the chances of each game you're betting on with the odds of the games you're adding together to get a new total.

A multi-game parlay bet might include wagers on both the spread and the moneyline for each game. In a two-game NFL parlay, you could, for instance, bet the moneyline on one contest and the spread of a different game. In horse racing, you'll be rolling up the odds on multiple horse races.

Two Parlay Bet Examples at BetOnlineTwo Parlay Wagers at BetOnline

A teaser bet allows you to select certain spreads or bets and combine them into a parlay that is more likely to win than a standard parlay. For instance, you could benefit from an additional 7 points when you combine NFL games into a teaser.

If the team you wanted to bet on was listed as a -7 point favorite, then you could utilize a 7-point teaser, and your team would only need to win instead of covering 7 points.

Be careful when betting on teasers, though, because the adjusted odds can create a bit of overconfidence, and players may misjudge their odds of winning.

In-Play Betting

In-play betting, commonly known as live betting, is now a standard offering at almost every online bookmaker. If you want to wager on your favorite sports while they're happening, you may take advantage of “in-play” betting. You can place wagers throughout some sporting events by using the site's designated live betting feature.

Live Betting Interface at BetOnlineIn-Play Betting Options at BetOnline

Although football is one of the most popular in-play betting sports due to the abundance of quality live betting options it normally provides, bettors may also place wagers in real time on horse races, tennis matches, and a broad range of other sporting events.

Betting on those events while they're still in progress may be made more exciting by the addition of live wagers. If you see a trend developing in a game or match that you believe will result in a rapid profit, these situations can provide excellent possibilities for making a nice windfall.

Prop Bets

Props are a common kind of supplemental side bet you can place on an event. The most popular are player props which might be minus, even, or positive. Your bet is based on a prediction of how a player will perform in a game. Counts of throwing yards, running yards, touchdowns, or field goals are all good examples.

Betting on the Move: Mobile Sportsbooks

Betting sites can no longer succeed just via their desktop websites. The use of mobile phones is as ubiquitous in gambling as it is in many other forms of entertainment. So the operators take great steps to ensure their mobile capability gives an experience that's on par with that of their desktop versions.

Mobile Sportsbook InterfacesMobile Betting at Bovada and Everygame

As long as you have access to the internet and a valid account, you can log in to that betting account from any location with a mobile phone.

Live bettors, in particular, may find that downloading mobile apps is the best method to monitor betting markets and stay informed of any breaking news. Betting companies have capitalized on the lucrative app development field by catering to clients' growing need to place wagers on the move.

Most mobile applications have the same features as the desktop version of a betting site, and in some instances, the UI is even more user-friendly. Account holders can utilize sportsbook applications on their smartphones to place wagers in a flash, manage accounts, make payments and withdrawals, and keep tabs on the latest odds and markets.

Bonuses and promotions for sports bettors

Gambling is a hugely competitive industry, with operators constantly battling to get new bettors on their books. Hence, nearly all betting sites offer lucrative bonus deals and promotional offers. The sportbooks offering online sports betting need to find ways to attract new account holders, and the great news for all of us is they do this by offering various types of incentives to either make a first deposit or maintain an existing open account.

These promotional offers can range from conventional welcome bonuses designed for customers registering a new account to free bets and other promotions as perks for existing customers.

Welcome bonuses vary wildly between operators and the best way to find the latest deals is to check out the list of USA sports betting sites here on ProfessionalRakeback.

But this world of bonuses and other promo offers can be a complex one. It's not hard to see how you can use them to the best advantage, after all, it's free money right?

Well....not exactly. There are some pitfalls to be aware of. We cover the subject of betting bonuses extensively elsewhere, but here's a summary of the different promotional offer types.

First Deposit Match Bonus

Probably the most common type of offer – and virtually every online sportsbook has one – is the new user bonus promo. If they're not displayed prominently, you can often find them in a section titled something like sportsbook bonus features. They'll match the value of your very first deposit up to a certain percentage amount occasionally as high as 100% and sometimes for a greater amount.

Sportsbooks Welcome BonusesWelcome Bonuses Available at Bovada,, BetOnline, and Everygame

Note that some sportsbooks might require you to enter a bonus code to claim the offer, and some need no code. If one is required, just search the term “use bonus code” on any website you visit to identify valid codes to use.

Remember as well you're not only limited to registering with just one sportsbook. You can have accounts spread over different books and that way take advantage of multiple different offers.

So all of this sounds great, right?

Well, it is, and bonus promos are always well-touted. But you have to remember that there are drawbacks, Most often, these will be spelled out in the terms and conditions. To know if that's the case, you need to see if the words t & cs apply appear under or near the offer.

The most common conditions of bonuses are:

  • No cash won by playing with bonus money can be withdrawn until you have played through (or in our case, wagered) the amount of the bonus value a specified number of times. Often these playthrough requirements can be very high, increasing the chances you'll lose your bank before meeting the requirement.
  • There can be time limits applied where if you haven't wagered the required amount within a certain time, you won't actually be awarded the bonus at all.
  • Some types of wagers might not count toward the rollover requirement. For instance, bets with odds below a certain value or season-long props may be excluded from contributing to the playthrough requirements.

The strong advice here is to always check the fine print to be sure of what you're getting.

Risk-Free Bets

As an incentive to sign up, some bookmakers will allow you to place a risk-free sports bet. In other words, if you lose, that lost money is re-credited to your account. Note that when using the free bets incentive, the amount ca \not normally be withdrawn, and you need to use it on another bet.

This free money is effectively the same as a bonus, but you'll be using it as bet credits. You'll normally see an option to use free bet money in your bet slip as it's populated, and you can usually choose whether to use it or not.

Free bets do normally have some restrictions. You'll have to pay attention to the terms and conditions to ensure you could withdraw winnings without having to meet wagering requirements, and typically your stake is not returned if you're on a winner with free bet cash.

No Deposit Bonus

As the name implies, these are offers of fully free cash placed in your account just for signing up. They're rare - and often for fairly low amounts - but still worth watching out for.

Reload Bonus

After your initial deposit - and if you've lost it and want to keep betting - you'll need to add more funds. This is where reload bonuses enter the picture, with some books offering extra bonuses for second or third deposits.

Odds Boost

Normally seen on individual matches or contests, an odds boost does exactly what it says - it enhances the odds of your selection by a specified amount. Don't expect massively enhanced odds; we're only talking about small values. But still, if you were going to bet on that selection anyway, then you've lost nothing and maybe gained a few dollars in winnings if you're successful.

Odds Booster Bets at BetOnlineDaily Odds Booster Wagers at BetOnline

Insurance Bets

Often seen in parlays, these are bets where a parlay wager is refunded if all of your teams win except one. There's normally a rule that this only applies to parlays containing at least four selections, and normally teams that are big favorites and consequentially at very low odds are excluded.

Special Events

While all the promotional offers we've mentioned have value, the best promotions often come in the form of special events. These might be tournament style competitions or sweepstakes.

VIP reward programs

Some operators will let you place bets where you'll also earn points in the VIP rewards program. Generally, the more you wager, the greater the rewards in the form of cash, points, hotel stays, or other prizes.


Cash back offers can also be valuable. They're similar to those cashbacks you'll see in general shopping offers.

Winning money at sports betting - Basic betting advice for punters

You can't influence the results of the games or competitions you wager on, but you can influence the impacts on your bankroll by carefully considering the odds and oddsmakers before committing any real money.

Finding value and knowing where and when to make the most efficient bets, alongside having the ability to research and analyze sports data, are just two of the many skills necessary to turn a profit when betting on sports.

It doesn't stop there. There's luck involved too, and you also need a healthy bankroll to start so that you can ride out the inevitable losing streaks without missing out on any potential winning bets. Finally, you need patience, self-discipline, and the strength of character to wait for the perfect opportunity, as well as the conviction to follow through on your bets.

Finding sports betting advice

No matter what kind of gambling you're interested in (horse racing, football betting, picking lottery numbers, etc.), you won't have trouble finding a website, magazine, text message service, or newspaper ad that promises you the moon if you just follow their betting recommendations.

It's possible to find selection strategies for betting on various sports and, in certain cases, expert advice on picking winners.

But be sure to pause for a minute before joining up for a service that offers betting advice of this kind. if it's that good, why are they selling it? Why wouldn't they just keep it quiet and make the cash from the winning bets themselves?

The obvious response to questions like this are that the vast majority are hoaxes of some kind.

You should be suspicious of many of them, but the ones that stand out as potentially workable are those that either rely on insider information or give information that you can use to develop your own opinion and use your own knowledge and expertise.

Using your own sports knowledge

When you put in the time and effort required and discover an angle that few others have discovered or noticed, that's when you have a good chance of making a winning bet. If you can identify a winning opportunity where the probabilities of it happening are higher (and in the best circumstances, substantially higher), you will obtain value in such scenarios.

As an example, in the United Kingdom, a novice hurdle race for female horses solely was held not too long ago. The starting line for the event included perhaps a dozen or so competitors. Research on my part has shown that mares' races are not always competitive, often producing long shot winners. Based on their pedigrees, which indicated they may be better than they'd demonstrated so far, I reduced the field down to three long-shot underdogs.

Against all odds, the third contender prevailed. The payout on the markets on the Betfair betting exchange was almost 800 to 1. The result was a nice profit, but it pales in comparison to the satisfaction I received from knowing I was among an exclusive group of people who realized, or at least thought, the horse had a shot.

The rewards for using your own expertise to make successful bets are substantial. Long-term, stable profits are possible if you put in the time and effort to research, learn from your errors, maintain a level mind, and keep trying.

Understanding Probabilities

In every kind of gambling, knowing the probability of anything occurring is crucial. You could say that understanding probabilities is more applicable to playing poker and casino games than sports betting, but it will still pay to keep in mind.

Depending on your level of interest, probability has the potential to be a deep and involved topic. We'd need a good few pages to cover the subject satisfactorily, but for a good read you could do a lot worse than the best book I've found: “Taking Chances : Winning With Probability.” This book is widely available at Amazon online stores.

Analyzing Statistics

Clever analysis of opportunities supplements the previously discussed strategies of relying on one's own expertise and seeking out betting advice in order to identify prospective wins. You may find statistics recorded and shown on a variety of websites, either in pre-formatted displays or searchable databases.

One salient point to remember is that occurrences and sequences of events that have happened in the past may happen again if the conditions under which they initially occurred are recreated.

Once again, horse racing serves as a strong illustration. You may find, by statistical research, that all the progeny of a certain sire have a 1 in 3 winning rate at a certain distance and on soft ground conditions. These findings will often have been collated over a substantial time frame, ruling out the possibility that they are one-off occurrences. If the odds of winning a race are more than three to one, betting on every runner from that sire is a good investment statistically. The results may be considerably greater if you waited for a select group of long-shot runners.

Football betting, like betting on any other sport, is open to the same theoretical and statistical research around the teams involved in a match.

Placing Bets Effectively - Finding Value

An excellent betting strategy, as I've discussed before, is to seek value bets. That entails looking for wagers with higher chances of paying off than the current odds suggest. Finding instances when a favorite's chances are better than they should be based on your assessment of their genuine likelihood is another angle.

When you learn how to find value in sports betting, you'll have an easier time making accurate predications. It's easier to predict the outcome of a game if you know more about the sport or team. Focus on one sport or league to learn the intricacies of the odds.

Learning how to find value in sports betting is not an overnight process, and you'll need to take your time. However, it's well worth the effort. It's important to be patient. Sometimes you'll get stuck or make mistakes, but by following many of our other strategies, over time it will become second nature to look for and identify the value bets.

Using Patience & Self Discipline

The difference between long-term success and failure hinges on a person's ability to exercise patience and self-discipline in addition to the other qualities listed above.

In many respects, they are interchangeable. Patience is the self-control to wait for favorable circumstances to present themselves. Without self-discipline, it's easy to make foolish wagers based on feelings rather than facts. When that occurs, it's more probable than not that you're depending on sheer chance rather than well-considered betting strategy.

Seeking no-lose bets

We'll finish with a strategy that you could argue is more of a desire than a way of winning - the prospect of placing bets that can't lose.

You think it's impossible?

Well, there are definitely ways to place no lose wagers. That's another big subject for in-depth coverage on another day, but the most popular is known as arbitrage - essentially a way of betting on all the possible outcomes in an event at odds that mean you'll win whatever the result.

Who can bet on sports?

There are two main considerations determining whether you're eligible to place wagers on sporting events:

  • You'll need to be over the minimum legal age.
  • You'll need an account and a method of funding it.

But what about the legality?

Well, as we've already noted, it's not illegal for people to place bets. It's illegal for the offshore operators to allow it. Although even that is in question.

So, legality isn't a concern. Anyone with an account, a method of funding it, and of legal age can choose to place a wager. The question is whether that's with an offshore sportsbook or with a state-regulated sportsbook.

What are the risks?

There really are two fundamental points to sports betting:

  • As a way of increasing enjoyment of a game or contest you're watching. And hopefully win some cash at the same time.
  • To win money with your wagers, pure and simple.

If you can keep your betting under control, not get addicted, and in general not allow it to cause some form of harm either to you financially or emotionally, or indeed to anyone associated with you, then in theory, either of these approaches wouldn't carry significant risks.

That's not to say everyone who can should consider sports betting as a means of making a few extra bucks. There's always the risk you could lose money, but as long as you're wagering sensible amounts and only what you can truly afford to lose, then it's likely you'll be able to accept that risk.

What is more insidious is the threat of addiction, and the risk of becoming addicted to the thrill of trying to win that money or the thrill of the involvement in the sport.

This thrill factor is a very real danger, and one that any bettor should always be aware of. In particular, watching any sport while you have money riding on the outcome does add an extra dimension - especially if it's on a team, player, or animal that you have an emotional involvement with. It's very possible to become addicted to that thrill or indeed get pulled into chasing losses.

Creating a betting account

Registering an account is normally as straightforward as anything else you do online. It'll be the same in any state from Arizona to California, and New Jersey or New York.

There are two ways of registering your first account - via a sportsbook website or via a mobile app. Clearly if you've decided to use a mobile app, you'll usually need to download it first, but some sites are fully responsive to mobile phones, and you won't need an app, while desktop registrations are pretty straightforward.

Whichever device you're using, the first step will be to look for the link or button that says “create account” or “new user.” Once you've found that, you'll normally have to enter personal information such as:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Email and phone number
  • Last four digits of Social Security number (this will verify that you are over 21)
Sportsbooks Creating AccountsCreating an Account at Bovada and BetOnline

Once you’ve created an account, you'll need to choose a funding option. And when money has been transferred in, you'll be all set to place your first bet.

Deposits & Payouts/Withdrawals - Online Payment Methods & Banking Options

Unless you've been able to snag one of the free bets offers with no deposit that are occasionally offered by the sportsbooks, it's a certainty that at some point, you'll need to deposit cash to place your wagers. Most definitely, you'll be keen to know the easiest and safest ways of getting winnings out. So, let's take a look at what's involved with deposits and withdrawals for the purpose of sports betting.


You'll find all of the accepted deposit methods by our preferred sportsbooks on the individual review pages. However, most offer the same options, the most popular of which are:

  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Play+ pre-paid debit cards
  • Bank transfer
  • E-wallets like PayPal, Neteller, or Skrill
  • PayNearMe
  • Debit and credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover) will mainly work, but you may find that some banks still mistakenly fail to handle these types of transfers


Withdrawals can be transacted in multiple ways and will rarely raise any form of concern.

Of course, the sportsbooks prefer to see bettors putting money into an account than taking it out, so you'll find there's a lot more focus on withdrawals. The operators will need to be sure you are the account holder. You may sometimes need to provide extra verification like a drivers license, while another occasional issue is they often won't process a withdrawal back to a credit or debit card.

The fastest ways of cashing out some or all of your bankroll are nearly always achieved by banking in cryptocurrencies, where a transaction can sometimes be completed within hours.

Bovada Withdrawal MethodsThere are Plenty of Withdrawal Methods Available at Bovada

So, it's easy to see that using crypto for banking has some great benefits. Indeed, we now rate crypto as the number one banking method for any form of online gambling.

In general, using credit cards might result in declined transactions while using forms of cash transfer can subject you to low deposit limits and sometimes unrealistically high service charges.

You can avoid these drawbacks by depositing in Bitcoin or another popular crypto coin and get the added benefit of avoiding fees when transferring out your winnings. You can learn much more about how gamblers can use bitcoins in a specially commissioned article exploring how to set up Bitcoin for online gambling

All of the sportsbooks noted on this page accept BTC for deposits and will pay out via the same. Most will convert coins into USD, and that's how you'll see your balance in your betting account. If you would prefer to do everything in bitcoins – deposits, withdrawals, and actual betting – then there's at least one bookmaker that has you covered: Nitrobetting.

Problem gambling - How to get help with betting problems

The first step in getting help if you think you're becoming a problem gambler is to recognize you have a problem. Sounds obvious, but many punters find exceptionally hard to actually see that the problem is real.

Try studying these questions. If you answer “yes” to more than two or three, there are signs you may be wise to do some hard thinking:

  • Do you bet with more money than you can really afford?
  • Do you think you enjoy the experience of betting more if you risk greater amounts?
  • Do you believe that chasing losses can end up with a positive end result?
  • Are you gambling with money you received illegitimately or you had to trade some valuable item to receive?
  • Are you aware of any physical or mental health defects or challenges that could be caused by your gambling gambling?
  • Has anyone else ever noted that you gamble too much?
  • Have you or anyone close to you ever had a bad experience as a result of your betting activities?

The good news for anyone experiencing problems with gambling is there are several ways to get help. Virtually all respectable sportsbooks will have responsible gambling sections on their sites. They'll be clearly marked, easy to get to, and will often contain names of helpful organizations that are skilled in supporting gamblers through troublesome times.

Alongside those third-party support organizations, there will be ways you can limit your own betting and keep it under your control. That means there are ways to self-exclude, set deposit limits, and even set time limits for how long you can remain logged in to an account.


This brings us to the taxation that can affect all U.S. gamblers, and the specific FAQ ''Will I get taxed on winning sports bets?''

The answer is yes, winnings are classed as taxable income. That's true whether you’re betting in a regulated state or with an offshore sportsbook. You should be declaring all winnings, though you'll only need to pay taxes on wins of over $600. State-regulated betting operators are also supposed to notify the IRS, but offshore bookmakers don't comply with this requirement.

But what about losses?

Sports betting losses can actually be tax deductible if you itemize your deductions and keep detailed records of wins and losses. But the losses you deduct cannot exceed the winnings, so if you won $1,000 on one bet but lose $2,000 in another stretch, only that first $1,000 is tax deductible.

Financial industry information

Money plays a big part in sports betting - the money that we as bettors are wagering and trying to win, which drives the profits for the sportsbook operators, and the money that goes to the federal government in the form of taxes on our winnings. In states with regulated sports betting, some of it also goes into state coffers as a result of the taxes and may be used for good causes within the state.

In this section, we'll look at how the cash is distributed from both these perspectives.

Financial Obligations of Sportsbook Operators

With respect to regulated and USA-licensed operators, all sportsbooks need to pay fees towards agreeing, setting up, and maintaining those licenses. The fees are set by the regulating authority. This is largely transparent to any gamblers, and covers the costs the regulator incurs with preparation, various investigations, documentation, and license agreement discussions.

What is more important though is the tax those operators need to pay. This is money that ends up benefiting the state in various ways. This tax rate on the operators will be different across the regulated U.S. states.

We can take NJ as an example. In New Jersey, the rate depends on the source of the gross revenue generated.

Gross revenue from casino sports pool operations, including mobile operations, is subject to an 8.5% annual tax, which shall be paid to the Casino Revenue Fund. Additionally, an investment alternative tax of 1.25% will be used exclusively for tourism and marketing programs for Atlantic City.

Customer support quality at sports betting sites

Customer support services are a primarily overlooked feature worth bearing in mind when choosing a top betting site. Strong customer support is a crucial feature for every customer. You never know when you’re going to need help with a transaction, a failed bet or payment, or just a straightforward account query.

When selecting a site where you’re risking your money on bets, it is wise to choose one with reliable and reputable customer services. You'll want to be watching for some signals that the operator concerned takes its customer support responsibilities seriously.

Keep an eye open, especially for live chat. Speaking to a support agent live is always the quickest way to solve a problem or gain additional information.

If live chat isn't an option, then at a minimum there should ideally be 24-hour support and the ability to contact them via email or phone. Indeed, the wisest approach is to test out the support from any operator before you deposit cash and bet. This pre-emptive request for support is pretty easy to do, and could alert you to potential problems or delays before they happen.

Sports betting alternatives

Many of us who bet on sports are pretty focused on the task. There's not much need to look outside of a sporting event for some entertainment or the chance to win some cash. Indeed, outside of some gambling games where skill can influence the outcome, sports betting is one way of gambling where you can get an edge with in-depth knowledge.

But, of course, there are other forms of gambling that can act as a good alternative to betting on sports.

The reality is that these alternatives are almost too numerous to mention. But the most popular will be by playing online poker or chancing to luck by playing casino games in online casinos. Indeed, many online casinos also run a sportsbook from the same website and many top sports betting sites offer online casino games too.

It's all gambling and is often interchangeable.

Both poker and casino games are subjects that we've covered extensively elsewhere on ProfessionalRakeback.

More Info & Valuable Resources

There are several places to get extra info on sports betting, many of which are what are known as affiliate sites where you're going to see advertising in different forms for the main sportsbook operators. That's in no way a problem or drawback since many of them offer valuable info alongside the advertising.

Some of the sportsbook operators' sites also hold good and helpful info, though they're focused more on offering odds and making it easy for you to place a bet.

The third and fourth most useful ways of getting sports betting info are through forums and videos. There are a handful of very good and well-trafficked forums where - if you dig deep enough - you'll find some very useful advice and perspective.

Finding an active, well-used sports betting forum can be similar to stumbling on a gold mine. The best of them will have sections that cover betting on all types of sports. You'll get tips, views, strategy sections, and systems explanations.


There are plenty of legal betting sites for sports bettors that serve up excellent combinations of all the features you need to make your betting experience a good one. As with any gambling product, some betting operators are better than others in a few key areas, but overall, many sites are worthy of investigation if you’re looking to set up a sports betting account.

We’ve seen the names of some of the strongest bookmakers throughout this analysis, so you’ll only need to scan through to identify a few that you may want to investigate deeper.

It's obvious that interest in regulated sports betting will perhaps be to the fore of any considerations for gamblers in those states where regulation has been implemented, but remember that the offshore operators will be generally available to residents in those states and other unregulated ones.

In addition to a wide selection of sports on which to bet, there are also some valuable incentives offered by any online sportsbook to sign up.

It's no surprise then that use of betting sites and mobile sports betting apps is experiencing an upwards surge in popularity. The only way from here is upwards, and the current online sportsbooks are likely to be joined by others new to the game.

If you want to get involved in sports betting, there are plenty of options on the table.

Just be cautious.

Keep to using trustworthy sportsbooks, and above all, be very careful with your money. There are opportunities to win, and it is possible to make some bucks. It's equally possible to lose some.

Betting should be enjoyable. Only bet what you can reasonably afford to lose.

Good luck with any sports bets you place, and please feel free to let us know about any good wins!

Frequently Asked Questions

After a pretty extensive analysis of sports betting for USA bettors, it's likely we've already covered many questions you may have had. But there could be a few stragglers that can help clear up one or two points, so let's tackle those here.

Yes, it's legal for ordinary residents to bet on sports. In states with regulated online gambling, there's no question as long as you are of legal age. For offshore betting in unregulated states, it's the operators that may be providing betting services outside of the strict letter of the law, but that doesn't legally prevent you from using those services.

As long as you stick to using either regulated sportsbooks or any of the offshore operators listed here on Professionalrakeback, you can be as sure as possible that your personal details and your cash are safe.

Odds and lines differ between sportsbooks because they are all running businesses where their odds are set so as to generate a profit for the sportsbook.

So if, for example, one operator has accepted multiple high-value bets on one specific sporting outcome, they may drop the odds to limit their losses. Equally, they may offer higher odds than another sportsbook as an incentive or even a loss-leader to gain extra customers. These are just two examples; there can be multiple other reasons for differing odds.

Any betting operator knows how to balance their books. They will construct odds on all outcomes in any sporting event such that they'll normally win overall whatever the outcome. In the rare event that they lose overall on any specific market, the profit from all other markets will cover those losses easily.

A risk free bet is a bet where if you win, the bet will be settled at the odds stated. But if you lose, the stake will either be returned in full as cash or a bet credit that you can use to place another wager.