What is a “welcome bonus”?

A “welcome bonus” is a deal designed to attract new users to a sportsbook. Such bonuses typically provide new users with “free bets” or a monetary bonus relative to the size of their first deposit. They come with a ton of fine-print and stipulations, however, so don’t expect a bunch of free cash, no strings attached.

Welcome bonuses are only available once. In order to make the most of yours, read our guide on sportsbook bonuses here.

Is online betting safe?

Every sportsbook that MTS rates has years of experience in the business, reliably protects bettors’ sensitive information, and has a solid track record of paying out money owed. Every sportsbook is also licensed with a remote gaming licence in its jurisdiction, which adds a layer of protection for bettors. In the very rare instance that an issue arises, you can bring your grievance to the commission directly.

Do I have to input my bank information to create an account, or can I just pay with a credit card when placing my bet?

Possible deposit methods vary by which sportsbook you sign up with, as well as which country you are betting from. Each book should have at least one deposit option that doesn’t require providing your bank information (like Bitcoin, eWallets or prepaid credit cards). However, if sharing personal information is not something you want to do, know that you will be required to submit some personal identification in order to create an account, plus a billing address if you ever want to withdraw funds.

You can find more details on signing up and potential deposit methods here.

 

What do the odds mean? How do I know what my bet will pay out?

There are three different ways sports odds are listed/displayed, and you can learn how to read each of them here. The good news is, reading odds isn’t necessary to find what an event will pay out. Every sports-betting site will show you the potential winnings of a bet when you fill out your betslip. You can enter any wager amount, and it will automatically calculate what the return on that bet would be. If you don’t like that bet, simply remove it from your betslip. You can play around with a betslip at most sites even if you aren’t logged into an account, so you can get a feel for how the odds work.

Can I change my bet after it’s been placed?

Once a bet has been placed it cannot be cancelled by the bettor. However, a few sportsbooks do offer an “edit bet” option which allows you to add, remove or swap out selections from a wager you’ve already placed. You won’t be able to alter the amount you have wagered, though, so be very careful when filling out your betslip: one typo could result in betting more or less than you intended.

If you’re really desperate to get out of a wager, you can use the “cash out” feature. The sportsbook will let you cash out your bet before the event has taken place, but the cash-out amount will be less than your initial stake.

How much should a beginning bettor wager?

This really is a matter of personal preference, based on how much money you have available at your disposal and how much risk you are open to. The biggest thing to remember when gambling is that it is for entertainment purposes, so never bet more than you can afford to lose.

How do I find out if my bet won?

Winnings will be credited to your account within minutes of a game concluding, so typically, finding out if you won is as easy as checking to see if your account balance increased. You can also see a recent history of bets you’ve placed in your betting history; checking that will also show if the wager in question won or lost. Some sportsbooks will offer to email you alerts when a bet you have placed wins.

What is a spread?

Not all sports teams are equal, so to counteract that imbalance and create “even” matchups, sportsbooks set a spread, which is a number of points the favored team has to win by. The spread allows you to get better odds when betting on a dominant team like the New England Patriots or Golden State Warriors, but now those teams may have to win by a certain number of points (say, 10) for your bet to cash. Point spreads are most common in basketball and football, and you can learn all about spread betting here.

What does it mean to “bet the over”?

For any game in which you can bet on a winner, you can also bet on the total number of points scored. Called “game total” betting, sportsbooks will set a number at the total (like 42.5 for an NFL game) and you can bet over or under. If the number of points exceeds the total, the over wins.

Total bets are also a popular way to present props, like: “How many points will LeBron James score in Game 1 of the NBA Finals: over/under 29.5.”

Whenever you hear someone say they “have the over,” they are expecting a higher number for an event than bookmakers have set. The over is a far more popular bet for beginners, since you are cheering for scoring, rather than absence of scoring. But the under is often the best play, so be sure you think critically.

Is there a minimum amount of money that I always have to have in my account, or can I just put money in when I want to place a bet?

As we cover in our walkthrough of making a deposit, each sportsbook will have a minimum amount of money you are required to deposit for each transaction, based on which payment method you choose. However, there is no minimum for how much money you need to have in your account at one time: your account won’t be shut down if you have a balance of zero dollars. If you choose to withdraw all your money after football season, and keep your account empty until next NFL season, you can do that.

If I win, how do I get paid?

Whether you’ve won, lost, or are just tired of playing, you can withdraw your funds (though not bonus money) at any time. Your options for withdrawal will differ based on what country you are in and what sportsbook you’ve chosen. We have a full walkthrough of how to withdraw funds here.

Why was my bet ruled “no action”?

Sportsbooks void bets if an event fails to meet certain standards set beforehand. For example, while a football game doesn’t have to be played in full, it may have to go at least 55 minutes before wagers against the spread have action. If a game is cancelled or postponed before that mark, games will be called no action and bets will be returned in full. Read your sportsbook’s rules before betting to know when and why they will rule a game no action, as the policies will vary by website.

What is the best sport to bet?

It all depends on your preferences. In the U.S., no sport is more popular to wager on than NFL football. However, because of it’s popularity, it is also the toughest sport to find any value in, as professional bettors are often jumping on point spreads and game totals they think are too high or low.

Instead of worrying about which sports offer the most value, start by betting the sports you are most interested in. Sports betting is always best when you actually enjoy and know a lot about what event you’re betting on. Even though kickboxing might not offer a ton of betting options, if that’s the sport you’re really in to, you should start by wagering on that.

We have guides to some of the major sports here: NFL Football, MLB Baseball, NBA Basketball, NHL Hockey, and MMA/Boxing.

Can I make wagers on non-sports too?

This is something you will have to take into consideration when selecting a sportsbook. Beyond horse racing and casino options, some of the sportsbooks we rate have extensive offerings for politics and entertainment betting. You can wager on elections around the world, who will win the Oscars, and even some reality shows like Dancing with the Stars and Big Brother.

These types of bets aren’t guaranteed to be available though, so if political betting interests you, be sure to check that a sportsbook offers it before signing up.