Why Do They Have Plus and Minus Lines in Football Betting?

When someone thinks about betting on football, images of goal-lines and bookmakers’ odds instantly come to mind. But have you ever wondered where those symbols come from?

Whether you’re a seasoned sports bettor or someone who just enjoys placing a wager on the biggest games, you may be wondering about the origins of goal-line betting and the plus and minus symbols that appear on sportsbooks’ odds. So let’s dive into the history of this fascinating niche segment of the sports betting world.

Early Beginnings Of Goal-line Betting

Modern day football goal-line betting can be traced back to the nineteenth century, when the concept of the goal-line was first developed. The idea was that a football team would score a certain number of goals, and if they didn’t, then they would lose. There were no ties in those days, so the game would end in a zero-sum fashion as both teams got their tickets punched.

As an alternative to the goal-line, some sportbooks in the 1800s began using a field goals vs. safeties line. This line took its cues from the early days of football, when players scored by kicking a round ball between posts. If you’re scoring at the time, you would want to kick a field goal. But if the other team’s quarterback led you to believe that they were going to score a touchdown, you might opt to go for the less-than-optimal goal-line option and place a bet on that instead.

Most bookmakers in those days tried to stay a little ahead of the curve, and they were usually the first to offer lines that revolved around the actual rules of the game. For instance, several bookmakers offered a minus-1 goal advantage to Harvard students, since their team had to start their next play with a backward pass.

Origins Of The Plus And Minus Symbols

While early bookmakers experimented with goal-line betting and field goals vs. safeties lines, the real plus and minus symbols did not appear until the 1960s, mainly because those involved in the gambling industry did not want to appear to be taking a big risk by offering these kinds of wagers. These days, the odds-makers will list each team’s total combined points (rushing yards + passing yards + extra points) and give you the option of either choosing to bet on the over or the under, based on your personal preference. So if you think that your favorite team will score more points than the other, then you could potentially win big by betting on that team.

The actual symbols themselves do not represent any kind of mathematical difference between the two teams; they’re simply used as a shorthand way of communicating the different options to you, the bettor. If you’re unsure of what to choose, the plus and minus symbols will help you make a quick decision. For example, you could choose to bet on Ohio State simply because they are the plus symbol, or you could opt to bet on Michigan because they are the minus symbol.

Back To The Future

If you’re looking to place a bet using goal-line or field goals vs. safeties lines, but don’t want to risk missing the opportunity because it will disappear once more books close, there are options available for you. Betting exchanges like Bet365 allow you to lay down a bet with a credit card, securely keeping your money in the account until the game ends. After the game, you can request for your winnings to be deposited in your account.

So in the end, you may find that you were right in the first place about your favorite team based on the odds you were presented with. This is why it’s always a good idea to check a bookmaker’s odds before you make a decision, so you know what to expect. And as more and more people begin placing wagers using their mobile phones, online bookmakers have started to appear, promising fast payouts and an overall better experience for mobile bettors. If you are looking for a place to wager from the convenience of your smartphone, then take a look at some of the best online bookmakers now offering football odds.