NBA Basketball: Sports Betting Odds Explained
Online Casino Betting
Girl sitting in coffee shop making bets online on bookmaker’s website.

Once unique to Nevada-based casinos and offshore online sportsbooks, NBA wagering has come mainstream as more than a dozen states have legalized sports gambling. Legalization has brought much-needed regulation to the industry, allowing for a safer betting experience.

Furthermore, the increased competition amongst sportsbooks allows bettors to leverage NBA odds comparisons across several different platforms. Getting the best odds and not overpaying allows participants to compete on a more level playing field against the bookmakers.

How to legally bet on NBA games

Point Spread Betting

The most popular form of basketball wagering is point spread betting. Bettors wager on the margin of victory in games adjusted by a point spread set by the bookmaker. Point spread betting usually features a favorite, who gives points, and an underdog who gets points. The difference is known as the point spread.

A -10 favorite needs to win by eleven points or more to cover the point spread. Conversely, a +10 underdog needs to lose by less than eleven points to cover the point spread.

Money Line Wagers

Money line wagering requires bettors to pick the winner of the game, but bookmakers adjust the payouts according to their odds. When betting on the favorite, you lay your bet, risking more than you expect to win back. When you bet on the underdog, you receive more back than your original bet.

Money line odds are represented in hundreds. A minus number indicates the favorite, and a positive number the underdog. To wager on a -400 favorite, the bettor will need to lay $400 for every $100 he hopes to win in return. Conversely, betting on a +400 underdog would yield $400 for every $100 bet.

Points Totals Bets

Also known as the over/under, points-totals bets allow bettors to choose whether the total number of points scored by both teams added together will be over or under the bookmaker’s predicted total. An example of an NBA total might be 225.5, meaning bettors can wager whether the combined score ends with over 222.5 points or under 225.5 points. NBA totals usually but do not always end with half points. This is largely done to avoid ties.

Parlay Bet

A parlay bet is a type of NBA basketball wager that combines multiple individual bets into a single wager. Parlay bets combine at least two wagers into one bet but often combine three or more. The payout odds increase as more bets are added. You can combine point spread betting with totals and money line wagers to increase returns.

For a parlay bet to win, every individual bet within the parlay bet must win. The only exception is in the case of a tie within the parlay, known as a push. If one of the games on the card pushes, that wager is removed from the parlay, and the odds are adjusted.

Futures Betting

A sports futures bet is a wager on a series or an award that will finish in the future. Different than wagering on a single game, futures bets are often placed on the results of the entire season. Bettors wager on how many games a team might win during the season, and bets are settled at the conclusion of the year. Other futures bets include if a team might win a championship or even their division, or whether a player wins a major award such as MVP or reaches a specific milestone such as winning a scoring title or leading the league in rebounds.

Proposition Betting

Proposition betting is commonly known as prop betting. Most prop bets are not tied to the final score or outcome of a game, but to individual events. Props are considered novelty or exotic bets since they can deal with anything from the result of the Super Bowl coin toss to an individual player or team game or season milestones.

Prop bets are usually very simple, of the yes-or-no, over-or-under variety. An example might be if Russell Westbrook will score more than 25 points in a game, or if LeBron James will record a triple-double.