Sport is a national obsession in the US, and the country can boast four of the world’s leading professional leagues with the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, along with a thriving women’s sports scene, college competitions and the fast-improving MLS soccer tournament.
Of all those competitions, however, it is the NFL that has captured the world’s imagination like no other. Every year billions around the world follow the action of the NFL and those viewing figures go through the roof when the play-offs start, building to one of the world’s most popular sports events: the Superbowl, which determines the NFL winner in late January every year.
Can I Bet on NFL Games Online Legally?
For a long time, betting on the NFL within the US was heavily restricted. This led to the situation that saw sports betting fans in Europe and other parts of the world betting freely and legally on NFL games, while NFL fans in the US were unable to do so.
That situation started to change in May 2018, when the Supreme Court struck down the 1992 PASPA Act; a decision that led to a wave of sports betting legalisation throughout the US. New Jersey led the way, launching their sports betting industry in the summer of 2018, and over the last two years, the majority of states in the US have either introduced legal sports betting or are actively considering it.
In many cases, this legal sports betting still has to be done physically at sports betting venues, as the rules around online sports betting are complicated by widely differing legal frameworks and the Wire Act. At the time of writing, it is possible to bet online on the NFL in New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Iowa, Indiana and West Virginia, but many other states are pushing for online betting legalisation and the situation is changing across the country.
Where to Bet on the NFL?
The sports betting revolution in the US has led to a dramatic growth in the range of betting options for NFL fans. In states where sports betting is legal, there are multiple locations to bet. These range from sportsbook facilities to casinos. In order to offer NFL betting to US fans, many US based operators, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, have entered partnerships with well known European betting operators, including William Hill, 888 Sport and Flutter, to provide a variety of NFL betting opportunities, and the number of bookmakers applying for licenses is growing all the time.
What is the Money Line in NFL?
The majority of NFL betting is done on the Money Line. This is the term used to describe the basic match winner’s market. Odds will be offered on two teams in a game, with the bookmaker’s margin added, and NFL punters have to choose which team to bet on.
Odds for a typical Money Line bet on the NFL may look like this:
- New England Patriots -150
- New York Jets +250
Here the New York Jets are the favourites and their Money Line odds tell you that if you bet $100 dollars on them to win the game, you would win $250. Alternatively, if you want to bet on the New England Patriots, you would have to bet $150 in order to win $100.
The Money Line bet is usually only found in US-facing sportsbooks, but if you’re comparing prices and want to convert the Money Line odds into traditional Fractional or Decimal odds, there are multiple odds conversion tools online to help you do so.
What is the Spread in NFL?
The other main NFL betting option is the Spread. This is based on the Money Line odds, but provides a different option. With Spread betting, you are effectively betting for or against a points handicap. The favourite team is given a points handicap and you have the option of betting against them or with them. The Spread is added to the final score of the game to calculate winning and losing bets.
For example, in the above game, the Spread betting market may look like this:
- New England Patriots -8.5 -105
- New York Jets +8.5 -105
If you bet on the Patriots and they win the game by 9 points or more, you will win your bet, however, if the Jets win the game, or lose by fewer than 9 points, you would lose your bet. The Spread is usually set in such a way as to put both teams on a theoretical level playing field, with similar odds. It is also usually quoted in a half-point format to avoid the ‘tie’ situation.
Is it Better to Bet Money Line or Spread?
Most NFL betting is done on the Money Line, which is usually the best option in games that aren’t one-sided. Spread NFL betting is most popular in games where one side is a short price to win on the Money Line, and punters are looking for another angle on the game. It can be a useful alternative in games where you suspect the favourite may not be at their best, or where they are up against a strong defense, in which case, they may still win, but by a smaller margin than expected.