What Does the Money Line Mean?

The money line is often considered the most basic of all wagering propositions. At its most simplistic, it is the chance (or odds) to win money based on the outcome of an athletic contest. But the money line can encompass so much more than that, which is why it is considered both the cornerstone and the mystic vail of sports wagering.

The money line is one of the sports industry’s most resisted wagering propositions. For instance, you would be hard-pressed to find a bookie willing to take your money on the money line for any game, regardless of the sport.

Why is this? The money line is essentially a 50/50 proposition, which is to say that the odds are evenly matched. Because of this, and perhaps the fact that people consider the line to be so simplistic, it is widely considered to be one of the least exciting and most risky ways to wager. In addition to being generally undesirable, the money line is also one of the most difficult propositions to profit from, as you would need to bet nearly exclusively on sure winners for your winnings to add up. As a result, you can usually find fewer sportsbooks offering the line than you can count on one hand.

History Of The Money Line

The money line has a fascinating history, one that is all the more complicated because it involves the rise (and fall) of more than one bookie operation in the 19th century. One of the first instances of organized betting on organized sports occurred in the late 1870s in the United States, where ‘pools’ of money were established by individuals and small businesses for the purpose of taking part in bouts of tennis and golf. These pools were entirely legal at the time, but they were ostensibly for the purpose of fun, and for that reason, they were frowned upon by the popular press and government. Despite this, and the fact that the pools were very much against the spirit of the age, golf and tennis remained popular sports in the United States for many years to come.

In the early 20th century, New York State legislated that individuals could not establish pools for wagering purposes. But this did not prevent New Yorkers from establishing pools for the purpose of having some means of entertainment while gambling. With no legal formalities to obstruct them, these ‘social pools’ for wagering became common, especially with the introduction of television, which provided people with a new way to follow sports events. In addition to establishing pools, New Yorkers also learned to use bookies to set up bets on all sporting events, and the need for bookies (as well as the idea of sports pools) spread to other states. 

One of the first legal sportsbooks opened in the United States in Brooklyn, New York in 1916. Three years later, a New York State court ruled that establishing a bookie operation was legal, but only for gambling purposes. And so the birth of the modern sports book (and the establishment of legal gambling in the 1918 removed the risk of prosecution for setting up these pools and betting on sports).

The 1920s were a golden age for sports bettors, and this was thanks to wagering on both college and professional sports. College sports, in particular, became hugely popular in the 1920s, and this was primarily because of the new Midwestern universities that sprouted up around the time of World War I. These institutions had a substantial impact on all sport betting in the United States, as they brought with them a distinctive culture of sports enthusiasts and gamblers. The wild days of the 1920s saw wagering on every sport, and this was especially the case for college sports where bettors would back a single team all the way from the minor leagues to the national championships. This is considered one of the greatest periods for sports bettors, and this was largely because of the availability of information on sports and the progress of modern technology. 

Current State Of Affairs

To this day, the money line remains one of the most basic and fundamental of all wagering propositions. The sports industry has evolved a bit since the 1920s, but the fundamental structures of wagering on sports remain the same. 

Today, because of the internecine wars that the sports books face every year, betting on sports is a bit more complicated than it used to be. But even now, when compared to the high roller and parlay sports books, which operate on a limited basis, the simplicity of betting on a single game or series of events remains the same.

What Does The Future Hold?

Over the past century, the money line has always been regarded as the most basic of all the sports wagering propositions. This simplicity and fundamental nature of the opponent and the event have made the money line one of the most popular and sustainable ways for sports betting. Because it is such a simple and straightforward proposition, many people have questions about how to use it for success, and this is partly why I love the money line. It is such a pure play, and because there are so many variations on the money line, there is always a way to win.