The legalization of sports betting continues to spread across the United States. Now, it’s reached the Bay State. Sports betting in Massachusetts is here, so new bettors need a full understanding of the basics. Whether it’s the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB, there are sports betting odds available on every major sport. Bettors in Massachusetts can wager on just about anything, from point spreads and moneylines to prop bets and game totals.
Before you get into strategies and determine what type of sports bettor you will be, the first item every bettor needs to understand is how to read odds. On this page, we will take you through the basics of deciphering what the odds mean, with examples you might see when perusing a sportsbook app. We will also look at standard bets like the moneyline, point spread and over/under, and provide some general sports betting tips.
Sports betting odds in Massachusetts
Now that sports betting in Massachusetts is legal, understanding how odds and bet types work is crucial. Whether you are a first-time bettor or a seasoned veteran, you must know how to read the odds in order to effectively place your bets.
Each type of bet works in a different way. Moneylines are different from point spreads, and player props are different from game totals. Let’s take a closer look at how sports betting odds work and how to properly read them:
How do sports betting odds work?
Sports betting lingo and numbers have become a big part of the sports media discussion in a short time. Some of the major TV networks now feature betting odds on the bottom scroll throughout their entire day of programming.
If you’ve seen these but still have questions, this page is here to help. All of the information can look confusing at first, but as with just about anything, you will have a better idea as you get more familiar with the terminology.
First, let’s take a look at a few examples from some of the most popular sportsbooks in the United States. The screenshot below is from the Fanduel MA Sportsbook app showing the odds for an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.
To bet, you would select the wager you want to place and decide how much money you’d like to risk. If your bet wins, FanDuel will pay you based on the odds shown. We’ll go through the three columns from left to right:
- Point spread: The point spread is the first column. A positive top number indicates the underdog, and a corresponding negative number shows the favorite. In this example, the Celtics are favored by 7 points, and Chicago is a 7-point underdog. If you wanted to bet on the Bulls to cover the spread at +7, you would need them to either lose by 6 or fewer points or win the game outright. On the flip side, if you wanted to bet on the Celtics at -7, you would need them to win by eight or more points. If the Celtics win by exactly 7 points in this scenario, that is what is known as a “push.” When this happens, both Celtics and Bulls spread bettors would get their wagers back with no winnings or losses.
- Moneyline: Here, you are simply betting on which team you think will win the game. If you bet on the Celtics to win and they do, then you win your bet.
- Point total: The final column is the point total, also known as the over/under. For this bet, you don’t care which team will win the game or by how much. All that matters is how many total points the two teams combine to score. In this example, FanDuel has set the line at 225, and bettors can wager on the actual total score being over or under that number. Similar to spread bets, if the game total lands on exactly 225 points, then both over and under bettors would get their wagers back in a push.
As for the odds, understanding what they mean and how to calculate them is crucial. In the example above, the odds are listed in blue.
The odds for the point spread and point total are generally going to be around the same, roughly -110 on either side. With the spread in the above example, let’s say you wanted to bet on the Celtics -7 at -110 odds. Then, if Boston covers the spread, a bet of $110 would win $100 in profit.
In this example, a winning ticket on the Bulls would result in a higher payout than a correctly predicted bet on the Celtics. You would have to wager $290 to win $100 with a Celtics win, while a $100 bet on the Bulls would win $235 if they are victorious. However, you can typically make more money if you correctly bet on the underdog to pull off an upset than you would if you bet on the favorite to win the game. With Chicago at +235 odds, that means a correct $100 wager would result in a $235 profit.
Prop bet odds, futures odds and alternate lines
While the point spread, moneyline, and point total will dominate much of the sports betting discussion, there are plenty of other ways to wager on sports. Other common types of bets include proposition (prop) bets, futures, parlays, and alternate lines.
With a prop bet, think of it as a game within the game or somewhat of a mix between sports betting and fantasy sports. An example of a prop bet would be a wager on how many passing yards Mac Jones will have in a certain game. Oddsmakers will list a number, and bettors can wager whether Jones will go over or under that line.
A futures bet, meanwhile, lets you wager days, weeks, or even months in advance of the event on which you’re betting. An example of a futures bet would be who will win the Super Bowl next year, projected NBA win totals, or odds on the next Cy Young winner.
With alternate lines, bettors do not necessarily have to go with the numbers on the main page of a book’s betting board. If the Patriots are 2.5-point favorites with -110 odds, you could head into the game listing to find additional options. If you are extremely confident in New England, you could move the number to make the Patriots 3.5-point favorites. Your likelihood of a winning wager would decrease, but the potential payout would be higher.
Finding the best sports betting odds in Massachusetts
Sports betting odds can vary between sportsbooks. The odds listed on DraftKings may be different than the odds listed on FanDuel or BetMGM. Because of this, we recommend downloading multiple sports betting apps to your mobile device. This way, you can quickly and easily browse through all of the lines.
It is important to browse through multiple sports betting platforms in order to get the best available odds. This is known as line shopping. Line shopping is how you get the best chance at winning a bet and receiving the highest possible payout if your bet is victorious.
Odds and lines will move, and they can fluctuate all the way up until the specific game you are betting on starts. The changes in odds may not always be drastic, but every little bit makes a difference. When you do see odds changes, you can take advantage of the best MA sports betting odds by making an odds comparison across multiple sites.
For example, let’s say you wanted to bet on the New England Patriots in a matchup with the Buffalo Bills. If DraftKings Sportsbook Massachusetts is offering the Patriots as three-point favorites and FanDuel Sportsbook has them as 2.5-point favorites, you would want to place the wager at FanDuel. The smallest differences can be the difference between a win and a loss/push, so that half a point has a ton of value. It does not seem like a major difference, but small edges can add up in the long run. These advantages can give you the best chance at collecting a profit from sports betting.
How do parlay odds work?
Parlays are a fun way to potentially earn a bigger payout. With a parlay, you will need multiple outcomes to come true in order for your bet to win. For example, let’s say you have five wagers grouped together in a parlay. If all five are correct, your bet wins. If you get even one wrong, however, the entire bet is a loss.
The high potential payouts can be attractive, but with such long odds, parlays are extremely difficult to win consistently. That is why sportsbooks keep offering them. Many have even expanded to take parlay bets on events from the same game.
Sportsbooks love to market parlays and same game parlays. They will share how much money someone won on a small bet through a parlay because they know the odds are heavily in their favor for such wagers. When bettors hear somebody risked just $20 to win a $5,000 profit, it makes them more apt to place a bet like that, which is exactly what the sportsbooks want.
Because of the steep odds associated with them, we recommend trading lightly with parlays.
What are good odds in sports betting?
A lot of the most successful sports bettors will stick to the betting options with just two outcomes to choose from, each with roughly a 50% chance of cashing. For example, picking which team will cover a point spread is generally a better wager than something like who will win the American League pennant in baseball. With more outcomes, there is likely to be a higher payout, but safer plays like the point spread and total are much more likely to be profitable in the long run.
Live sports betting odds in Massachusetts
Live betting can be a thrilling way to bet on sports. This form of betting at the top Massachusetts sportsbook apps allows bettors to pull out their phones and bet on games as they’re happening live. So even if you happen to miss the start of the game, there is no need to worry.
Live betting features a ton of different betting options, including the main trio of the point spread, point total and moneyline. Live betting odds and numbers will move and adjust rapidly to reflect what’s happening in the game, so you will need to be quick in getting your wagers in if you see some odds that you like.
Vegas odds vs. MA sportsbook odds
Until recently, Las Vegas — and more broadly the state of Nevada — was one of the only places to legally bet on sports in the United States. Oddsmakers from Vegas would put out the numbers, and bettors in the area could enter a physical sportsbook and place wagers.
Now, things have changed. There is much more competition in the US legal sports betting market, and you can find legitimate and competitive odds in other states across the country. Depending on betting action and line movement, the odds at online sportsbooks in your state may differ slightly one way or the other from the ones in Vegas, but one isn’t inherently better than the other.
Overall, it is a good thing that bettors have more options when sports betting.
Why and how do betting odds move?
Regardless of the sport, numbers and odds will adjust for a variety of reasons, including injury news, roster movement, weather forecasts, etc. One of the major reasons is the oddsmakers making adjustments to what bettors are doing. With something like the point spread, oddsmakers would like for there to be roughly 50% of the betting action on each side. If the opening odds come out and 80% of the money is going to one side, oddsmakers will likely adjust things to entice bettors to start placing money on the other side.
For a sport like football, odds may come out a week in advance and sometimes more, so there is plenty of time for movement leading up to kickoff. When you place your wager, your bet is locked in at those numbers no matter how much the line moves later. Experienced sports bettors may have a sense of where the line will move, so they might aim to get their bets in as early as possible if they see a number they like.
This is another reason why it’s best to download multiple sports betting apps. This way, you will be able to quickly browse through each platform to find the best odds.