If you want to know how to make money sports betting, you start by understanding a couple of things. The first is that betting on sports is not either of the things the average person believes it to be. It isn’t a scam perpetrated by organized crime that rips off customers and influences professional sports.
But it’s not an easy way to get rich quick, either.
People who make money sports betting do it through a combination of experience, research, line shopping, intuition, and luck. Few sports bettors become professional, deriving their living from wagers at the sportsbooks.
But you don’t have to be a pro to make money betting on sports.
Some sports bettors make money at offshore gambling websites.
Others visit sportsbooks in Vegas on vacations or business trips, or place bets by phone.
Still others take part in private or informal sports betting markets, like Super Bowl squares or fantasy sports leagues with cash prizes.
You don’t become a top-notch sports betting sharp overnight.
But you can make money on a small scale and eventually scale up through placing sports bets, even without decades of daily sportsbook wagers or reams of statistical analysis.
This post offers a guide to all the ways people make money sports betting.
Make Money Betting at Brick & Mortar Sportsbooks
The US is home to 300 or so land-based sportsbooks in 20 different states. Not all of these are created equal – the 20 books on the Vegas Strip offer a different product compared to a racino in Delaware, for example.
Real money winning is the driving force behind the sports betting industry. Legal and regulated sports betting companies, most of which are in and around Las Vegas, exist primarily because bettors think they have some insight. Or they think they’ll hit some lucky streak and win a bunch of money.
Yes, there’s something to be said for the added excitement that betting brings to a sport.
But the real reason for the market’s existence is the addictive idea of that big prize just over the horizon.
My best advice for making money betting at a traditional land-based sportsbook is to stay sober, stay level-headed, focus on as few games as possible, and tip everybody that helps you. If you do those things, you’ll stand the best chance of winning money and having a good time.
An example of a live sportsbook where you can make money betting on sports is the Westgate LV Superbook just off the Vegas Strip. The book is 30,000+ square feet with the biggest LED video wall in the world, a massive visual field of 4K screens showing every sport imaginable. It’s a smoke-free book that’s known for playing fast and loose with drink tickets. Not only is it the biggest sportsbook in the world, but it also has the widest variety of available bets of any American book.
Make Money Betting on Daily Fantasy Sports
The launch of FanDuel to a wide audience in 2009 kicked off a new market in sports betting. Daily fantasy sports betting is basically fantasy sports played for real money over a short period of time. Rather than determining outcomes over an entire season, DFS bets pay off multiple times a day.
How does DFS work?
Players put up money and set a roster to compete against an opponent. The performance of the players on each bettor’s roster in the real sports world determines their performance in the fantasy world. Bettors score points for different performance benchmarks – the bettor with more points at the end of the DFS period for that bet is the winner.
A common question I hear – is daily fantasy betting legal?
Sports betting and the law is a sensitive subject in America. It’s understandable that people would have concerns or need to have misconceptions cleared up.
Here’s a quick word on the legality of DFS bets:
In seven US states, bettors are restricted from the most popular DFS sites. Those states are:
If you live in any of the other 43 US states, you have access to some form of legal and fully regulated DFS sports betting.
Why should bettors consider DFS betting?
Daily fantasy cash games are usually run on what’s known as a 50/50 system – meaning the players with the 50 best rosters split the prize pool evenly. That’s a big advantage, since you’ll claim prize money even if you have the 49th worst roster.
In fact, you’ll earn as much money for that mediocre performance as the player who wins outright.
For some bettors, DFS is a profitable way to keep sports entertaining and to enjoy their sports betting hobby in a more competitive atmosphere.
Make Money Betting at Offshore Sportsbooks
Most American sports bettors are placing bets remotely in some way. Yes, the US has hundreds of retail sites that offer some form of sports gambling, but their client bases are outnumbered by those of offshore sportsbooks and gambling providers.
I’d like to clarify another common question I get when discussing how to make money placing sports bets offshore – “Is offshore gambling legal?”
Here’s a brief guide to the legality of offshore sportsbooks:
American gambling law is focused almost entirely on providers of illegal gambling and the people and entities who support that operation. Bettors placing wagers on an NBA game or filling out a DFS roster aren’t part of the scope of the US government’s anti-gaming operations.
That’s not to say that people aren’t committing crimes when they do business with offshore gambling groups. They are, to be sure. But this is “breaking the law” in the same way that cutting in line at the DMV is “breaking the law.”
Nobody is coming to get you because you dropped $50 on the Super Bowl at an online sportsbook. The government, using the Wire Act and a seemingly obscure law known as the UIGEA, is way more interested in the millions of dollars in fines they can take in from illegal gambling providers.
You’re a small fish in a huge pond.
Placing a bet at an offshore sportsbook is risky in the sense that you won’t have legal recourse if you feel a book has done you some wrong. Then again, breaking any law carries some risk.
If a person chooses to speed on the highway, they’re at risk for a serious traffic fine, right?
Making money at online sportsbooks is no different from making money at land-based books, except that it’s more convenient and easier to access. If you do your due diligence in finding a legit regulated offshore book to take your bets, you should treat those wagers as no different from bets you’d place in a book in Vegas or parlay ticket retailer in New England.
Making Money on Sports Bets without Betting
Don’t forget that you can make money on sports betting without actually placing a bet.
Some writers are professionals in the sports betting industry whether they place bets or not. They earn their living by analyzing the market, writing content related to it, and selling that material on the open market. Several may only place a few bucks on sports each week, but their income from the sports betting industry supports their families. It’s easy to see them as people who make money based on the sports betting marketplace.
If a bettor gets good enough at analyzing, handicapping, or finding value, they can easily create resources online or put them up for sale in some other format. Endless magazines and blogs post this kind of strategy stuff, and a Regular Joe can easily earn side-hustle level income by sharing tips and tricks. The market determines the value – better tips and better writing make the product more valuable.
Don’t overlook the sportsbook employees who keep our bets running smoothly. From tellers and admins to waitstaff, cooks, bartenders, etc. – it takes a village to run a sports betting marketplace. Working in a land-based sportsbook, or working for a company providing daily fantasy bets, is another way to earn income from sportsbooks without wagering.
Conclusion – How to Make Money Sports Betting
If you’re venturing into sports betting because you believe it will guarantee you’ll make money, you should reconsider.
Gambling means risk, regardless of your perceived skill, familiarity with a game, or even player-friendly game rules. Betting on sports is gambling, and when you’re risking something of value for an unknown outcome, you have to accept a level of associated risk.
Making money is certainly possible in the sports betting industry. Writers make money through sports bets – so does the staff member preparing and serving your drinks at the sportsbook. Yes, bettors win bets, sometimes big ones.
But the real appeal of a sports betting hobby shouldn’t be a constant stream of profitable bets. It should be entertainment.
If you’re lucky, and you learn a little about the industry, and you stick to it, you may find yourself a winning sports bettor someday, maybe even with regularity. But understand that gambling on sports bets is still gambling. There’s no such thing as a sure thing in sports, particularly not a sure profit.