You may not know it from the coverage it receives in the USA, but soccer is the world's most popular sport, and by a long shot. It's not even close, really; soccer dominates the landscape abroad, where it's referred to as "football" or "futbol." In the USA, football means the NFL or the collegiate men's D football leagues. Though America certainly isn't the center of the world, and soccer is worshiped around the globe in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa, as the go-to sport. It's also the world's go-to sport for betting. While betting on the Super Bowl might rake in the billions, you have to understand that this is everyday stuff for soccer. With half a dozen popular leagues in dozens of nations, soccer betting is always popular. While it peaks tremendously during the World Cup, to insane levels of cash that most people can't even compute, this sport is doing billions of dollars per season, per league, on the regular.
At USA Sportsbook Sites, we're all about providing you with an accurate, reliable, up to date resource for all things betting. Obviously this includes soccer betting. So, below we have worked up a guide that will help you bet, from figuring out where to go to bet legally to understanding the lines and ultimately placing your bets. Of course, if you already know how to navigate your way around a soccer field, in terms of betting, then this guide isn't for you. But if you're a beginner here and need to know how to bet, we have a definitive guide that will illuminate the subject for you. To start out, let's tackle the legal issues people deal with in the USA.
Best Online Soccer Betting Site
For USA Players
Betonline is one of a handful of reputable sites that still accept American players. They are one of the largest and most trusted site around, and offer some of the best perks for loyal players. Their soccer betting lines are some of the best in the industry and offer players an incredible amount of different wagering opportunities.
However, where Betonline really stands above the rest is what they offer players in the way of bonuses and perks. All new players can claim a 50% bonus up to $1000 free on their first deposit. And if that's not enough, they extend a 25% offer on every single deposit for life. I don't know of any Vegas site that will bump you an extra $250 bucks on every $1,000 buy in. So trust me, it's a strong perk and why even the sharp bettors that live in Vegas choose to bet offshore at sites like Betonline.
Is Betting On Soccer Legal In The United States?
The first thing we'll say here is that betting on sports is actually legal if you live in the United States. You just have to find a site that will allow you to bet, and one that's set up offshore so you don't have to worry about any potential legal hassles with America shutting the site down. Yeah, if you don't know a lot about the genre here, you may think that's false information. You may be well aware that technically sports betting is illegal USA, so you're wondering why we're saying otherwise. Well, there are two parts to consider here:
1. It is actually illegal for any sort of business or entity to accept money for gambling wagers. If you're attempting to offer gambling as a business, accepting money for fixed odds or games of chance, you will be in violation of three separate federal laws, and probably also some state laws. This is because the United States seeks to punish those who make a business out of gambling.
2. Gambling on your private time is a different story entirely. Think of it this way: Does the government stop you from buying lotto tickets? Does it stop you from visiting Las Vegas or Atlantic City? No; the government doesn't care if you gamble. They will allow you to gamble, with the only caveat being that you need to find a legal place to do so. They crack down on the business of offering gambling, not the act of participating in gambling.
3. So, as you can see, it's pretty straightforward stuff. If you are trying to offer sports betting as a business, that is illegal. If you are just a player betting, there is nothing illegal about that. The only reason we say that you need to find an offshore site is that things can get messy playing in the USA, if you're a resident of Nevada, Delaware or New Jersey. While these three states do allow for online gambling, and residents of those states can bet using in-state sites, you never know when the federal government will again pull the rug out. So, say you live in Nevada and have an account with a sportsbook. Then say Marco Rubio gets his wish to make gambling illegal in all 50 states. When that site shuts down, you don't get a refund. You get your money taken and will be locked out permanently. This is why it's best to deal with offshore sportsbooks, where no matter what the federal government of the USA does it will not affect the site.
Federal Laws And Regulations USA Players Need To Think About
In the United States of America, those 50 independent states sure do make enough laws to keep people busy, but it's actually the US federal gambling laws that sting worse with gambling. This is because a state can only govern itself. For instance, West Virginia cannot tell Virginia whether or not it can offer gambling. But the federal government can decree that all 50 states must cease and desist offering gambling to its citizens. It's unlikely that they would ever do that to all 50 states, but they can. After going through the DOJ and Supreme Court, they might have to roll their decision back, but their decree will be infallible law until which point that happens. So we're going to speak a bit about the big three anti-gambling laws the federal government has on the books.
PASPA stands for the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Basically, government officials decided that they needed to do something on a federal level to protect the integrity of sports, and so they ruled it illegal to bet on sports, whether amateur or professional. They did leave four states exempt from PASPA, but only because they had existing sports lotteries and would have raised Cain with the DOJ and SCOTUS, so the feds decided to let a few slide by. Oregon, Delaware, Montana and Nevada were exempt, but all other 46 states had to cease and desist with sports betting immediately. This is one federal act that the government isn't letting go of any time soon.
Federal Wire Act
The Federal Wire Act actually dates all the way back to 1961. It arose at a time in the USA when state A and state B didn't know how to handle their interstate gambling issues. For instance, say someone was living in California but made a wager in Arizona. Which state had jurisdiction? Could it be called illegal if it was illegal in Cali but not AZ? These issues led the federal government to decree that anyone, in any state, accepted gambling wagers via a wired transmission would be in violation of a federal act and could wind up in prison. And if you think the Wire Act has died down over time, think again. It was actually the framework for the newest federal regulation against gambling, the UIGEA, which we will discuss below.
The UIGEA stands for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. While George W. Bush was blamed for this, and rightfully so, he was really only responsible inasmuch as such an act needs the signature of the sitting President to be legitimate. But Bush not only signed it, he was also championing going after overseas funding for gambling, fearing that it might support terror. Of course, Bush saw the fabled "Axis of Evil" in his sleep, and it was actually House and Senate Republicans who fought hardest to make online gambling illegal to offer in all 50 states. Since '06, the DOJ has ruled that states actually have the right to offer online gambling if they so choose, but to date only Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey have went against the UIGEA. All other states seem to either agree with it or be scared by the government. Long story short, this act is why you need to go offshore to gamble.
You can learn more about all of these regulations in our US sports betting laws section. We go into great detail on the specifics of each law and what players need to consider if they are going to bet online.
Your Definitive Beginner's Guide for U.S. Soccer Betting
Now that we have that legal mumbo-jumbo out of the way, let's get into some better stuff; or some betters' stuff, as it were. Let's dive into this guide and start talking about betting on soccer. Before you can bet, you should know which types of lines are available on which you can place wagers. Knowing the line types allows you to better research what's going on and to make bets that have a much higher likelihood of paying off. The lines below are some of the most common you're going to find in a soccer section of a sportsbook.
Types of Soccer Betting Lines Found At Popular American Online Bookmakers
Yes, they have have point spreads in soccer, they're just relatively small and will not be available for all match-ups. With a sport like football or basketball, you're going to see a point spread for every single game. Broncos +5, Heat -7, etc. With soccer, these lines a lot smaller and are certainly a lot more hit or miss in how they come out. You may see a line like Arsenal -1.5, or Man U -2, but don't expect to see anything much higher than that. Soccer is a relatively low-scoring game, and it's not unusual at all for a match to end in a 0-0 tie. So to the extent you do find point spreads, they're not spread out very far at all.
Full Time Results
You will find a couple of separate betting options in the category of a sportsbooks' soccer section. The first you might see is the "Full Time Results" bet. This is basically a way to place a flat bet on one of three potential outcomes. You will be betting here on either a home win, an away win, or a draw. Simple enough to understand, but potentially hard to hit if you don't put in your due diligence. Understand that these sorts of bets aren't handicapped at all. If you pick an away win, for instance, then all the away team needs to do is win. There's no amount by which they need to win, and no final score that will trip you up. So you're basically picking a flat result here. (A quick tip before we continue: Don't be afraid to bet draws. They're a lot more common than you may realize in soccer.)
The next result here you'll see is the over-under of the game (O/U). This is basically a baseline put on a final score. For instance, you may see an O/U line of 2.5. This means that, if you take the over, both teams need to combine for 3 goals; whereas if you take the under, both teams cannot combine for more than 2 goals. These bets are simple enough to grasp, but you also need to understand that oddsmakers are picking a relatively mid-road, benign score prediction that will induce bets from both sides. So there's still some work here from your end that needs to be done. You cannot simply take the under every match and expect to win. Look into how teams are playing and how they historically score against certain teams and certain goalkeepers.
Props and Live Betting
Prop bets are proposition bets, and these bets are more or less community bets that take place outside of the regular lines. For instance, you may see a prop bet line that says Ronaldo will score a goal in a game, or that a certain goalkeeper may have multiple saves. You might see one that gives you a certain time frame in which a goal will be scored. These bets are typically added for fun, but they can be rather lucrative depending on which you take and how many you ultimately win. Live betting, on the other hand, is when the lines change based on the action. So, say you're late into a game where it's Man U vs. Arsenal, and it started out with you betting that the away team, Man U, will win. However, with 20 minutes left in the match, it's Arsenal 4, Man U 3, a relatively high-scoring game. So you find a line that allows you to leverage your bet by placing it on the opposite team, or you might find much better odds doubling your bet with the same team for a comeback. Regardless, live bets change during the course of the game, and experienced gamblers can use these bets to hedge their original bets for leverage and end up winning either way. (Stay glued to our resource site here, as we're bound to have some intermediate to expert tips for soccer betting, which will teach you how to leverage and win.)
A Step-by-Step Template for Betting
This is where we really delve into the heart of the matter. This is our step-by-step guide for soccer betting. Remember, this is a guide that's geared specifically toward beginners. If you already know what you're doing, then you're probably well aware of most of this information. This is the sort of stuff people need to know when they don't yet have any soccer betting knowledge.
Step 1: Pick the Right Site and Set Your Budget
We're combining a couple of steps here because they sort of bleed in together. For starters, you want to pick the right sportsbook with which to bet. You want a site that's offshore, because if it's located in the US it might be shut down and leave you unable to get your money. You also want a site with a good reputation, good bonuses and promotions, plenty of lines on which to bet, solid software, etc. In fact, just let us point you in the direction of a winning site here at USA Sportsbook Sites. Then once you find a winning site, budget yourself out and place some money into your account. Don't start off placing a lot. If you have $100 ready to go, that's a strong number, as most sportsbooks will give you 50-100% matching funds on that deposit and you'll eventually have even more to play with. Though by filling up your account with a lot of money, the temptation to chase losses is too great and you may end up broke.
Step 2: Decide on Which Matches to Bet
Now that you have a site, check out which matches to bet on. This shouldn't be too difficult, but you do want to put in your research. For instance, don't just bet as a fan. So, you love Manchester U, and you think they can smoke any team in front of them. Well, they're not going to go undefeated. There are teams that will be better and will win. So the aim here is to bet with a level head based on research. Find out which teams are doing well and which matches are actually mismatches. Betting with the best odds pans out a lot more often than it doesn't, and as a gambler the best you can realistically aim for is to be over .500; e.g. winning more than you lose. If you stick with the best odds, this can be a reality.
Step 3: Figure Out Which Line Looks Best
After picking your match (but don't put it in stone yet; we have some more advice below), it's time to see the lines. Check out which line looks the best to you and which line gives you the best shot at winning. For instance, let's say the last five times Chelsea and Arsenal have met that there have been at least 5 combined goals, and the O/U is 3.5. Now, in this instance, taking the over might be a smart play. Use this sort of logic with every line you're looking at. For instance, if team B has trouble winning at team A's home pitch, then take A for the straight home win. The odds should be in your favor. Looking at a variety of line options will allow you to deduce which line is best to bet on.
Step 4: Use Math to Guide You
Math is your friend here! Let's say that you're researching the matches and find a power index for teams and matches and the like. So, you see that team A has a 62% chance to win over team B. Now, in no way is this a guarantee. But the thing about these sorts of odds is that they're going to pay off much more often than they don't. So, sure, you're going to lose a few and win a few, but if you win, say, 7 out of every 10 by taking the favorite to win a game, and you put down $20 a pop, that's a $60 profit you made by simply following the PI for soccer teams (or football clubs, FCs) Again, this isn't a guarantee, but your mathematically probabilities are much higher.
Step 5: Don't Over-Extend Yourself
As someone just starting out with soccer betting, it's a good idea to only bet on one or two matches at a time. As we mentioned above, we will have literature available about more advanced tips and strategies, but simple is the way to go for right now. Until which point you really get the hang of things, you want to keep things as contained as possible. The trouble with betting on a bunch of matches is that you're going to be tempted to do so again if you need to cover losses, or even to bet on even more in the event you win. Then if you lose while so over-extended, you can lose everything in your account and end up having to walk away broke or putting more money into your account. So keep things as simple as possible to start out.
Step 6: Don't Be Afraid of Lesser Known Leagues/Matches
MLS, Serie A, La Liga, Dutch, Primeira, Champions, Premier League, League 1, and many more; these are all different soccer leagues that feature different teams. The thing about the right sportsbook is that you'll be able to bet on any of these leagues and any of these teams. Now, we mention this so that you might do a little cross-league research. For instance, you might find a much better line and better odds to win in a Serie A match than you find with the PL, or you may end up finding more info about MLS matches than a La Liga league match. So before you make any final decision, check out alternative leagues and see if you can find something that sings to you there.
Step 7: Research Rosters and Player Lineups
Betting blindly is just a slower way to give your money away. You always want to know what's going on in the games so that you can make the most informed decision possible. For instance, let's say Arsenal is playing but Joel Campbell and Alexis Sanchez are both out with injuries. What if you didn't know this yet still bet on them to win? You could end up losing badly. Though there's a flip-side to this. Let's say you were doing your research and found out about those Arsenal players out, so you bet on the opposite team to get an away win. Now, by using this roster information, you have given yourself a much better chance to win.
Now that you have these steps under your belt, the last step is to place your money down at one of the USA soccer betting sites we recommend. On a final note here, we recommend never betting more than 10% of your stack on any one game. You have to be able to eat a loss in the betting world; it's inevitable. No one always wins. So be careful, use the guide we have written for you, and always do your research and bet on soccer responsibly.
Other Soccer Betting Options For USA Players
UEFA Euro Cup 2016 Championship - A complete betting guide for US players who are interested in betting on the Euro Cup 2016. We list the top rated sportsbooks that offer betting lines on the UEFA tournament.
2018 World Cup - Your comprehensive look at the 2018 World Cup, relevant teams, betting options and where USA players can legally place their bets.