Betting during March Madness? Know the terminology before placing bets

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Sports gambling was made legal in Ohio in January 2023 and is allowed on professional sports, college sports and esports, including auto racing and golf, but the law keeps betting on horse races confined to established pari-mutuel betting at racetracks.

Before stepping up to the betting window at a local racinos or at kiosks in bars, restaurants and businesses, it’s a good idea to know the correct terminology. You can’t make a wager without understanding how it works.

Some gambling apps offer free betting money just for signing up. But bettors need to be cautious and read the fine print before moving forward to avoid any risk.

Here are five tips to make your wagering more enjoyable: Making it profitable is up to you.

1. Favorites vs. Underdogs: Oddsmakers in Las Vegas, the betting capital of the world, spend hours on computers trying to figure out which team should be favored, which team should be the underdog and by how many points.

The favorite is the team expected to win the game. That team will get a minus sign next to its odds. The underdog will get a plus sign.

2. Spreads: The spread is the number of points a team is expected to win the game.

For example, let’s say in a football game of the Bengals versus the Browns, the Browns are favored by one point. You’ll see -1 next to the Browns name and +1 next to the Bengals.

If the spread stays the same and you bet the Bengals, after the game add one point to their score, and if you bet the Browns, subtract one point from their score.

Point spreads can change throughout the week based on factors such as key injuries and inclement weather. If you bet a team that is favored by five points on Tuesday, and that point spread jumps to eight by Sunday, you get the five points.

3. Moneylines: Unlike betting the point spread of a game, if you bet the moneyline, you just have to pick the winning team. While that sounds easy, you also have to bet larger sums of money. For instance, if you’re betting a -200 favorite, you need to risk $200 to win $100, or $20 to win $10, $2 to win $1.

But if you bet an underdog team that is +170, you win $170 for every $100 you wager, $17 for every $10 and $1.70 for every $1.

Basically, the larger the point spread, the smaller the payout if you bet the favorite, and the opposite if you bet the underdog.

4. Over/Under: If you’re not sure who will win the game, another possible bet is over/under, where the object is trying to predict the total points scored. Oddsmakers set a total number of points scored in a game by both teams.

For instance, let’s say the over/under in a Cincinnati Bengals game is 49.5 points. If you think the offenses will score a lot of points, you may want to bet the over. But bet the under if you think it will be a low scoring game dominated by the defenses.

Let’s say the Bengals win 24-23. That’s a total of 47 points so those who bet the under would win.

5. Here’s how sports books make money: You have to wager $11 for every $10 you want to win. That extra 10% is called the “juice.”

So one person bets $110 on the Bengals to cover the spread and another person bets $110 on the Browns. Regardless of who covers the spread, the sports book makes $10.

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