Basketball is one of the biggest sports in the United States and is second only to football in terms of how much betting action the sport receives. Each year, billions of dollars are wagered on the NBA during the regular season, the NBA Playoffs, and the NBA Finals in addition to college basketball games and the NCAA Tournament during March Madness.
If you’re interested in betting real money on basketball, then we want to make sure you don’t get hit with a technical or have your bet get beaten at the buzzer. We want to provide you with our reviewed list of online sportsbooks and assist new bettors with our beginner’s guide to basketball betting. For the opening tip, let’s run down the lane of legal information.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA has suspended its season and the NCAA has canceled the remainder of its season (including the March Madness tournament). The sportsbooks listed below offer other betting options including poker, casino games, and live dealer games as an alternative until these sports resume.
Best USA Basketball Betting Site
Legally Licensed And Regulated
Betonline is one of only a few top shelf online sportsbooks still operating in the USA market today. They've been around for ages and have gained a fantastic reputation in the industry by offering players a very robust betting software platform, a great variety of wagering types and live and mobile betting options. They also offer some of the easiest and fastest ways to deposit and withdrawal around. As a matter of fact they recently added Bitcoin for both deposits and withdrawals which is a huge attraction to United States players.
Where Betonline really shines is with their bonus offerings. New players can enjoy a fantastic 50% bonus up to $1000 on their initial deposit. And if that doesn't get you excited, then their 25% reload bonuses for life should. That's right, Betonline is the only 5-star sportsbook that offers this big of a reload bonus. Trust me, it really helps fatten your bankroll if you go on a bad run.
Is It Legal To Bet On Basketball In The United States?
Yes. There is no federal law in the United States that prohibits the act of betting real money on basketball at licensed offshore betting sites. Additionally, after PASPA was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2018, states have begun the process of legalizing state-licensed sports betting in their respective jurisdictions. To see the current outlook for your state and all the laws surrounding sports betting in the U.S., check out our legal page for more information.
Are Online Sportsbooks Safe?
Each of the online sportsbooks featured on our site has been vetted by our staff to ensure that each site is 100% legal, safe, secure and payout all winning bets. We can’t guarantee that every site you find online will be safe, but we can guarantee a fair shake at the sites on our list, which is why we strongly advise only betting at the online sportsbooks we recommend.
Betting on the NBA
The National Basketball Association is the highest level of basketball in the world. For the latest information on which team has the best odds to win the 2019 NBA Finals, all important dates for the 2018-19 NBA season, and more, visit our NBA betting page for an in-depth rundown and betting advice on this season.
Betting on College Basketball
The game of basketball was born at the collegiate level in 1891 when Dr. James Naismith invented the sport in Springfield, Massachusetts. If you’re more interested in NCAA Division I men’s basketball, then check out our NCAA basketball betting page where we cover how to bet on games during the season and detail how to improve the results of your March Madness bracket.
Basketball Betting Guide for Beginners
Basketball season lasts from October to June for the NBA and November to April for the NCAA, so for roughly 9 months out of the year, there is a chance to make a profit — almost every night, too — from betting on the odds and lines on either the pro or college basketball.
With that being said, consistently making a profit on NBA or NCAA basketball wagers is not an easy task and will require a decent amount of work on your behalf. However, here are some beginner tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Love The Game
If you aren’t a fan of basketball, then you probably shouldn’t expect to turn a profit when betting on the sport. You need to enjoy watching and learning about NBA and college basketball and share a passion that rivals the players who take the court.
Tip #2: Don’t Be A Fan
Loving the game of basketball and loving a specific team is two entirely different things and the latter is something you need to leave out of betting entirely. No, the college you went to isn’t always the best and no, your favorite pro team is not #1. You must keep an objective view on all teams because the team you should be rooting for — above all else — is the team that can win a bet. If you still want to root for your favorite teams, then avoid betting on them since personal bias will skew your perception in the long run.
Tip #3: Be Knowledgeable
Basketball is a sport where the “meta” — aka the game within the game — is constantly changing and knowing how the sport got to where it is today and how to properly view stats from the past when compared to today’s stats is vital when looking at the history of the game. The future is impossible to predict, which is why basketball handicappers frequently analyze numbers and trends from the past to make an educated wager.
Tip #4: Make A Projection Model
Determining how good a team can be before, during, and after the season is a big part of predicting how well your wagers will perform over the course of a season and into either the NBA Playoffs or March Madness. Basketball teams tend to go on streaks and slides and predicting when one could happen can be profitable and help avoid losses as well. Models can help see trends like “How teams play during a 4-game road stretch in February” and although models aren’t required to be profitable, your bet will be all the better for it.
Tip #5: Manage Your Bankroll
Not a single basketball handicapper — or any sports bettor for that matter — has a 100% win rate. You’re going to win and you’re going to lose, so learning to properly manage your bankroll is arguably the most important aspect of betting. This means only depositing what your financials allow so it doesn’t negatively affect your daily life. Then, never bet more than a small percentage (1-5%) on any line and limit the amount you bet per week to only a portion (10-20% max) of your total bankroll. Doing this allows you to analyze any mistakes and minimize your losses, which in turn, will increase your chance to make a profit over time.
Tip #6: Use A Trusted Sportsbook
This goes without saying but using betting sites that you know are safe, secure, and will definitely payout is a no-brainer. This is why we strongly recommend using any of the licensed online sportsbooks found on our site since each one has been thoroughly vetted to verify that they are legal, legitimate, and pay out winning bets 100% of the time. We can’t guarantee what other betting sites will do with your deposit, but we can guarantee that these sites are well-established and always play fair.
Tip #7: Know Your Betting Options
There are several types of bets you can make on both NBA and college basketball, and we’ve defined each of the options you regularly see at an online sportsbook.
- Point Spread: A bet where the favorite is expected to win by a set number of points over the underdog. To win a bet on the favorite, the margin of victory must be more than the set number. To win a bet on the underdog, the margin of defeat must either be less than the set number or the underdog can win the game outright.
- Money Line: A bet on which team will win the game outright, and the odds determine the chance a team has to win. A bet on the favorite requires more investment to win less money, and a bet on the underdog requires less investment to win more.
- Total (Over/Under): A bet on whether the total number of points scored by both teams will go over or under a set number.
- Futures: A bet placed on odds either weeks or months in advance and typically involves which team will be the season champion.
- Prop Bets: A bet on whether something will occur that is not directly related to the outcome of the game itself, such as team or player stats.
- Parlay: Putting two or more bets together to increase the payout, but should any of the bets be lost, then all of the bets are graded as a loss.
- Teaser: Also known as “buying points” to bring a set number more toward your favor.
- Live Betting: A bet on any set of odds when the game is currently being played. Typically done from a smartphone or tablet.
Tip #8: Learn to Read Odds
Question: What does “Warriors (-450)” mean? Answer: It means the Warriors are favored and they have a roughly 80% chance to win the game, according to the oddsmakers. Before betting on any line, it’s important to understand how odds work since it will determine the investment and payout. We’ve also included formulas below so you can take any set of American odds at a sportsbook, determine the implied probability, remove the juice (aka vigorish), and see the true probability that a team is being given.
- Positive (+) Odds: Indicates that something is less likely to happen, usually given to an underdog. Formula: 100/(P Odds + 100)
- Negative (-) Odds: Indicates that something is more likely to happen, usually given to a favorite. Formula: (-(N Odds)/(-(N Odds)) + 100)
- True Probability: To remove the juice from the odds, use the implied probability from either the positive or negative odds and dividing by the combined improbability of both. Formula: P or N Implied Probability/(P + N Implied Probability)
Tip #9: Find Value
You should only bet on a line when you think the odds are in your favor, and this includes betting on teams you think will lose since finding value is the most important aspect to long-term profitability. The key is finding discrepancies between the odds at a sportsbook and your implied probability (from your model). Additionally, consider having an account at multiple betting sites so you can shop around to find the best value for your wager.
Tip #10: Check Roster/Injury Updates
And finally, this often overlooked by several new bettors, so it’s definitely worth mentioning. Back in the day, it was harder to find basketball information and was typically limited to the “insider” crowd, but with the internet, accessing all injuries and roster information prior to the game can be done in a matter of second. Additionally, following teams and athletes on social media is a great way to get an idea for how a particular player might be feeling prior to tip-off.
Now the ball is in your court. It’s crucial to be well-informed when real money is at stake. Yes, you can make a profit from wagering on basketball, but it requires patience and practice — and yes, we talkin’ about practice. Because in the end, practice may never allow you to make the perfect wager, but it will make you a better bettor in the long run. And just remember, the more knowledge on the past you can gather, the better prepared you will be to bet on something in the future.
Here are some useful sites to assist with projection models and staying updated on the latest news. Basketball Reference is a statisticians’ paradise, and ESPN is great for checking the news on injuries and roster moves along with broadcasting a good number of games for free. Just avoid advice from the analysts and talking heads, since they don’t have any skin in the game like you on the other hand.