The U.S. Supreme court has voted to legalize sports wagering and now states across the country are quickly pushing bills through their governments to get the sportsbooks up and running.  If you live in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware then you are in luck as sports betting is legal in your state and you can head to your local sportsbook and make some wagers.  If you live in New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Mississippi then your state has recently passed bills to legalize sports betting in your state but have not yet officially opened any sportsbooks.  In total 25 states have either legalized, passed or proposed legislation for legalized sports betting.  With this sudden legalization of sports betting there will be plenty of people making their first ever sports wager.  To make that wager you need to understand what exactly you are betting on.  The most basic question when going to place a bet is whether to bet the money-line or the point spread.  Not sure the difference between the two or what they are in general?  Well let me break it down for you.

Betting the Money-Line

When betting the money-line you are placing a wager on the outright winner of a contest.  For example, in Week 1 of the 2018 season we have the Houston Texans at New England Patriots.  You think the Patriots are going to win this game and therefore you place a money-line wager on the Patriots.  If the Patriots win you win.  Now, there is a catch with the money-line and that is whether or not you are betting a favorite or the underdog.  Back to this example between the Patriots and Texans.  When you look at the betting sheet you will see something like the following:

Patriots -290

Texans + 245

What this means is that in order to win $100 when betting the Patriots, you will need to bet $290 as they are the favorites to win this game.  If you believe the Texans are going to win then your $100 bet would net you $245 if they ended up winning.  The higher the -/+ next to a team the bigger the favorite or underdog that team is in the contest.  Money-line bets are generally less risky and thus the reason you typically need to wager $200-$300 to win $100.

Betting the Spread

The point spread is what is commonly refereed to as the handicap.  Going back to the Texans vs Patriots example from above you will see something like this on the betting sheet:

Patriots -6.5 (-110)

Texans +6.5 (-110)

What we have here is the +/- 6.5 point handicap.  In basic terms, this game begins with the Texans up 6.5-0 to begin the game.  If you bet the spread on the Patriots then you need them to cover that 6.5 point spread meaning they need to win by seven or more points in order for you to win your wager.  If you decide to go with the Texans in this matchup then you are not so much worried about whether or not they actually win the game outright, but you are rooting for them to keep the game within six points if they are in fact going to lose to New England.  As you can see, when betting the spread there is also a money-line attached to that wager.  On most spreads that are under seven points you will see a money-line of -110 which means that you need to wager $110 to win $100.  As the spreads increase you will see the money-lines adjust accordingly.

So that’s the difference between betting the money-line and betting the spread.  This is just the basics of sports betting however as there are wagers that allow you to manipulate both in order to increase your profits at an increased risk of course but having a basic understanding of what the money-line and spread is what will help get you on your way.