Why Are Odds Different in Store and Online Sports Betting?

The difference in odds is one of the first things that will pop up when you search for betting odds on Bing or Google. But what exactly is the difference, and why do online sportsbooks have such huge odds while lottery tickets have such small odds? Let’s dive in and find out more about this phenomenon.

Understanding The Odds Of Winning

Perhaps the most confusing aspect of sports wagering are the odds. When you place a wager, you will almost certainly be presented with odds that you can’t easily understand. So let’s start from the beginning and develop a common language for discussing odds. First, understanding the concept of winning or losing is important. Consider a simple example in which you bet on the first four games of the 2018 MLB season. If you bet $100 on each game, then that’s $400 for four straight days. You would win $400 if your team won all four games, and you would lose your $400 wager if any of the games went the other way. In this example, you’re betting on a sure thing—you’ll never lose $400. But the odds of you winning $400 are actually very slim, 0.25% or 4 in 100.

Another way of looking at it is that you’re receiving $400 for every $1 you put in, on a 4 in 100 chance of winning. For every $1 you put in, you’re funding 10 bets, and the profits from those 10 bets are what you’ll be showing as your earnings on your account.

The True Odds Are More Complicated

The odds that you’ll lose $400 on sports are not always that simple to compute. Consider this example in which you bet the Super Bowl on the NCAA’s top-rated team, the Minnesota Vikings. The lines opened with the Vikings as 10.5-point favorites over the New England Patriots. If you were to bet $100 on each team, then you would be investing $1,050 for the chance to win $1,100. The true odds of the game are much more complicated than simply lining up the pointspread and adding up the total. For starters, the line for the Super Bowl is always listed as a three-way difference, which means that there is a residual chance that the game could be a push. In fact, the line could even be reversed and there’s a chance that you could win $100 rather than lose $100.

To further muddy the waters, not all bookmakers will give you the same odds. If you’re betting on horse racing odds that are more commonly used in Europe and the United Kingdom, you might find that the European odds—that is, the odds that you’ll win or lose—are not as simple to figure out as you’d expect. This is because the European odds for horse and dog racing are usually computed depending on the finishing position of the contenders, rather than how much they’ve spent. This means that the odds for a first-place finisher are usually higher than the odds for a last-place finisher, even though the money is the same. So if you want to understand the true odds of winning or losing, you’ll have to look at the position that your chosen teams are in in relation to the competition.

When You Compare Games That Are Not In The Same League, You May Find That The Odds Are Different

Even if you want to bet on a sure thing, you must remember that the odds of that sure thing happening will change when you compare it to another game or event. Consider this example in which you bet $100 on the New York Yankees to win the World Series. The line for the Yankees-Red Sox game was 3.5-point favorites, and you’ll notice that the odds of the Red Sox winning the Series are twice as high as the odds of the Yankees winning the World Series. In this case, the Red Sox were not a sure thing. You might have gotten your money back if they lost the Series, but it certainly would not have been a sure thing.

This brings us to the next point. When you compare the odds of different games or contests that are not in the same league, you may find that the odds are different even when the line is the same. The closer the teams are in relation to each other in terms of competition, the greater the difference in odds. For instance, college football is much more predictable than the NFL, and the odds of picking the winner of a given game are usually much lower. This is because the games are more dependent on team effort rather than individual skill, and so it’s more likely that the team you backed will cover the spread. Some sportsbooks will even give you additional odds should one of the teams from your country of residence be involved in any sort of international competition, like the World Cup or the UEFA Champions League.

This brings us back to the point above about comparing the odds of games that are not in the same league. Depending on how far the teams are in their respective leagues, the closer they are in relation to each other, the greater the difference in odds. For example, the Oakland Athletics are in the Major League Baseball and so are the Kansas City Royals. However, the Athletics are in the far less competitive AL West, and so the odds of them winning the World Series this year are only 1.3% while the odds of the Royals winning the World Series are 26.7%—that’s a difference of 25 percentage points. (See the below table for more details.)

Line Moves And The Betting Public Is Varying

The fact that odds change depending on where you look and what you are looking for makes them difficult for bettors to keep track of. If you are a traditionalist and want to bet on the games that you’re accustomed to, you may need to visit several different sportsbooks to find the best lines. Or worse, you may find that the line has moved after you’ve put in your bet and are now presented with worse odds than you originally were presented with. This is why it is important to check the latest lines before you bet.

More Money Flows Toward The Most Popular Games

In general, people will bet on the more popular sports and events. Consider this example in which you want to bet $100 on the 2018 World Cup final. You could easily find odds of 3.5-point favorites or 4-point underdogs, but those are the most popular lines. If you scroll down to the smaller odds categories, you’ll see a wide array of choices that are much more attractive to bettors. One thing that you’ll notice is that the more expensive the ticket, the more attractive the odds become. If you want to bet $100 on a sure thing, you’ll have to look for cheaper options, otherwise, you’ll have to settle for the odds that are presented to you.

What Is The Appeal Of Online Sports Betting?

As we mentioned above, the appeal of online sports betting is that you can access odds that are much more favorable to the bettor. This appeal is evident in the much larger volume of sportsbooks that operate online vs. those that operate in person. Additionally, the ease with which you can access information is another major appeal of online sports betting. You can access odds and lines in real time, and so there’s no reason for you to miss out on any important information because you were busy taking a nap or eating dinner. (Or worse, reading the newspaper.)

At the end of the day, there’s no denying that odds are one of the most confusing aspects of betting on sports. But once you develop a bit of an understanding of how they work, it’s not that hard to keep track of. Additionally, if you know how to properly leverage the information that you retrieve, you may end up making a lot of money. For example, many sportsbooks offer a tool known as a calculator that allows you to quickly figure out the results of your various wagers. If you’re an organized sports fan who likes to keep track of everything, then the odds that you’ll love this tool are almost certainly greater than those of you who dread having to keep track of everything, especially since it seems like the calculator always knows what you’re doing and suggests the appropriate bets for you.