The NBA is considered an absolute behemoth when it comes to online sports betting. Indeed, basketball in and of itself is quite entertaining to wager on, and to this day, the NBA remains the sport’s largest league in the world.
At bookies, you will typically have the opportunity to choose between the likes of moneyline bets, parlays, spread bets and the like, and you will also be met with a variety of prop bets to pick from. Proposition bets are especially popular when wagering on NBA events since individual players tend to receive lots of attention.
As for an audience, there is no shortage of fans in the US, as is to be expected. However, when it comes to sports betting, you are still more likely to find punters outside of the United States who like to partake in NBA betting simply because the legal situation for gambling on sports is quite complex in the USA. In some states, it is now possible to wager on sports events without breaking the law. Elsewhere, however, the practice is still strictly forbidden.
Nonetheless, the NBA is by no means a niche league, even if we factor in how the pandemic affected the viewership negatively. It remains one of the most sought after leagues you will find at bookies, especially when it comes to in-play.
History of The NBA and NBA Sports Betting
The NBA’s origins date back to 1937 and 1946 when the National Basketball League and the Basketball Association of America were established. Although basketball had gained relevance and significant popularity thanks to the NBL, it was not until the BAA was founded that games began to take place in large arenas in major cities. In 1949, the NBA and the BAA merged, forming the National Basketball Association we know today. From thereon, the sport continued to evolve, and a pivotal moment in increasing the widespread appeal of the sport was the introduction of the shot clock rule, which significantly sped up the game. The shot clock rule dictates that a team must attempt to score within 24 seconds of getting the ball. If they fail to do so, they must give the ball to the opposing team. As one might imagine, this did wonders to the excitement factor of games that would otherwise stall.
The NBA continued to gain popularity in the US throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, and players like Michael Jordan became legends in the history of sports as a whole.
|Best NBA Players of All Time|
|Shaquille O’Neal||1992||Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics||28,596||13,099||2,732|
|Michael Jordan||1984||Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards||32,292||6,672||5,633|
|Larry Bird||1978||Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers||21,791||8,974||5,695|
|Wilt Chamberlain||1959||Harlem Globetrotters, Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, San Diego Conquistadors (coach)||31,419||23,924||4,643|
|Bill Russel||1956||Boston Celtics, Seattle SuperSonics, Sacramento Kings||14,522||21,620||4,100|
All of this made the league tempting for bettors, but US punters could not legally enjoy wagering on sports as the practice as a whole was frowned upon and against the law. Thankfully, efforts have been made to improve the situation in the US, though the process has not been without hiccups.
A 2007 scandal further soured the NBA’s views of the practice. Tim Donaghy, an individual who had been a referee for over a decade, was convicted of partaking in sports betting and providing professional gamblers with inside information regarding players. Although he did not spend much time in prison, the damage to his own reputation and the NBA’s image as a whole was significant and fueled the league’s anti-sports betting stance.
In addition, many people had expressed concerns regarding how gambling would affect spectators. The NBA is no stranger to violence, and a notable example is a brawl dubbed the Malice at the Palace, which took place in the early 2000s. According to those against the legalization of sports betting, there was a risk of fans turning violent and more incidents occurring should a game result in them losing a bet. This also contributed to the practice remaining completely illegal in the US until recently.
It was not until Adam Silver, the NBA’s current commissioner who assumed his position in 2014, that things started to change. He had expressed on multiple occasions that sports betting required regulation, which meant that the practice was no longer taboo for the league. Then, in 2018, a bill was passed that let individual states legalize sports betting within their borders, and some American punters are now able to wager on NBA games.
It is worth noting that international gamblers have been betting on NBA events for a long while now. Bookies outside of the US tend to cover NBA events very thoroughly, in fact, which is why the league is well-liked among punters around the world. In other words, a legal sports betting scene did exist for the NBA prior to the 2018 bill. This, however, does not take away from the fact that many US punters were finally able to safely try it out for themselves.
NBA Bet Types
Bookies do not shy from offering basketball fans an excellent variety of bets to choose from. Providing its users with bets is the entire point of a bookmaker, after all, and numerous bet types do make for a great and entertaining gambling experience.
In terms of how sought after it is, basketball does not fall behind the likes of football or volleyball, and the NBA is always present among the lists of leagues when in season.
Although we would all like it if all events were exciting by default, in reality, there are many boring games where the winner is practically pre-determined due to a team’s lack of skill or other circumstances. Spread betting is perfect for such situations because it allows bookmakers to make things far more exciting for punters. With spread bets, you do not just wager on who will win or lose, but you also factor in the point difference between the two teams.
Let us take a point spread between AS Monaco vs Fenerbahce as an example:
AS Monaco: – 4.5 10/11
Fenerbahce: +4.5 10/11
As evident, the odds are the same, but the spread is different. We can see that AS Monaco’s point spread is -4.5. This means that if you place a bet on this outcome, the team must win by 5 points for your bet to be successful. On the flip side, if you wager on Fenerbahce and they lose by 4 points or less, then you would win.
In some cases, it is possible for the exact number listed in the point spread to be achieved. Situations like that are considered a push, and both sides have their stakes returned.
Moneyline bets are also referred to as the handicap. Here is the moneyline option for the game we focused on previously:
AS Monaco: 11/20
This type of bet is popular due to how simple it is. Moneyline bets basically reflect who is more likely to win according to the bookie, and you bet on the team you believe will be victorious. Unlike spread betting, your team must actually win for your bet to be successful, which does make these bets a bit more risky. Additionally, betting on the favorite is generally safer, but offers a smaller payout. In contrast, wagering on the underdog can be far more lucrative if they are to win, but you are also taking a higher risk.
Over/Under bets are quite easy to grasp since you are simply betting on whether the combined team score will be over or under a certain threshold. Once again, we will use the game between AS Monaco and Fenerbahce as an example:
Over: 155.5 10/11
Under: 155.5 10/11
An over bet will win if the end score is 160 or more, while an under bet will win if the end score is 155 or less. All in all, over/under bets are fairly simple, and they are also a bit less risky than moneyline bets. This makes them a very tempting option for both new and experienced NBA bettors.
Proposition bets are very interesting. They are named as such since they do not really fall into any of the traditional bets like win or lose. We can differentiate between two types of NBA prop bets, however, which are skilled and unskilled bets.
This distinction is important since unskilled bets are more of a gamble and quite fun, while skilled bets are more reliable. Do note, however, that bookies themselves will not separate prop bets like this. You will thus need to learn to discern between them, which thankfully is not all that difficult. Skilled bets require being knowledgeable about the game. Unskilled bets, however, rely on chance.
The following examples are some of the prop bet types you are likely to find at your favorite sportsbook: Will there be overtime? How many fouls will there be? Will X player score over 20 points?
The last type of bet is especially popular since the NBA naturally lends itself to player-based proposition bets. This is all thanks to how individualistic the sport is in terms of coverage, and basketball players will often have a celebrity status among fans.
Parlay bets, also known as accumulators or “accas”, are exciting and well-liked among punters. Parlays allow you to combine several bets into one, and the payouts are quite generous. For a parlay bet to be successful, however, all of your bets or “legs” have to win.To give an example, you might have a parlay consisting of 4 winning selections, and 1 which was a loss. That 1 leg will cost you your win. This adds an added layer of difficulty to parlay bets, which means that they are great for skilled and experienced punters, but less suitable for new bettors.
Teaser bets allow you to move the point spread or totals for your chosen potential winners. This comes at a cost, however, since teasers behave similarly to parlays. You will need to make a bet that consists of multiple selections, and two are usually the minimum. All legs must win for your teaser bet to be successful. Moreover, your odds will also be lower as you are effectively increasing your chances of winning.
Many seasoned bettors will agree that few things can compare to watching a game and wagering as the action is in full swing. Sportsbooks know just how exciting such an experience can be, which is why pretty much all online bookies offer in-play, and live streaming is becoming an increasingly popular feature. This contributes to the sheer accessibility that NBA live betting enjoys nowadays, especially since it is available to punters on the go as well.
In addition, there is no shortage of live bets to pick from. Totals, odd/even bets, and proposition bets such as overtime are just some of the live markets punters will come across. Punters will also be able to enjoy period bets like who will win or lose the 4th quarter, for instance. Other bet types include winning margin bets, match winner, handicaps, etc.
All in all, it is evident that live betting can be very entertaining for those looking for a more thrilling wagering experience. If you wish to try it out, it is definitely worth it. Just make sure that you have done some research prior to the event, and that you are diligent in observing the game as it is taking place. This is all essential for making educated decisions when you wager.
NBA Betting Odds
Although the types of bets are quite important when it comes to sports betting, the odds are just as integral to the very act of wagering on an event. They dictate how much a bet will win you if it were to succeed and how much of your own money you will stake for the chance of that happening.
With that in mind, it is definitely a good idea to learn how to recognise good odds from underwhelming ones, which is where the odds formats come in. There are three that see a lot of usage by punters in the West: decimal, fractional and American odds. There are also Asian odds such as the Indonesian, Hong Kong and Malaysian odds which are all popular within their respective countries, but they do not see much use in western jurisdictions. Below, we can see an example of how the odds would look like at a bookmaker:
|Format||Los Angeles Lakers – to win||Dallas Mavericks – to win|
All of them essentially visualize the same thing, but some punters will consider certain formats easier than the others. Regardless, we do recommend you get used to using two of the three formats popular in the western world. You might occasionally run into a sportsbook that does not provide all of them as options, so it is good to be prepared.
Popular in the UK, this format represents the odds through fractions, and it is not too difficult to get the hang of. For example, Unibet lists the chances of the Toronto Raptors winning against the Charlotte Hornets as 8/11.
This means that if you bet on the Toronto Raptors and they win, you will receive $8 for every $11 you wager. If you wish to calculate your exact profit, all you need to do is multiply your stake by the odds. In other words, if we were to wager 100$ on the Toronto Raptors, our potential profit would be around $72. As for the total payout, by adding our stake back, we can see that the result is a payout of $172.
Decimal odds are also well-liked, although they see more usage among Europeans. As suggested by the term, these odds show the odds as decimals. The same odds of the Toronto Raptors now look like this: 1.72. Multiplying your stake by the odds will give you the total payout this time, which will, as expected, be $172 again.
Also known as Moneyline odds, this format is a bit unique. A plus before the number shows how much you will win if you make a $100 bet, while a minus shows how much money you need to bet if you wish to win $100.
Back to the Toronto Raptors, their odds of -138 show that getting $100 can be done provided you place a $138 bet and win. If you wager on the Charlotte Hornets, however, you can win $120 if you place a $100 bet according to the +120 odds.
NBA Betting Techniques
Sports betting in and of itself is practically ancient. This means that, throughout the years, bettors have come up with various betting techniques that can help them in their wagering endeavors, and the worldwide web has further aided punters’ creativity. Such techniques can be quite beneficial to bettors, and, naturally, NBA fans can also take advantage of such knowledge.
Although the ones we are about to cover are disliked by sportsbooks, rest assured that none of them are against the law. So long as you are old enough to partake in sports betting, you will have no legal issues.
Before we get into arbitrage betting, there are two terms punters should first become familiar with. The first one is the term back, which means to place a bet on something to happen. The second term is lay, which is basically the opposite, i.e. to wager that something will not happen.
Arbitrage betting involves placing both a back and a lay bet on the same outcome of a game or event. Doing so is beneficial because it guarantees that you will always make a profit so long as you factor in the difference between the odds of your bets. The back odds should be higher than the lay odds, and this discrepancy is referred to as the arb.
As one would imagine, this practice is frowned upon by sportsbooks which is why it is important to place your back and lay bets at different sportsbooks. The lay bets, in particular, will typically be placed at a betting exchange. When the lay bet is also placed at a bookmaker, however, the technique is called dutching.
In addition, you will typically earn a small profit with each bet, which means that getting a lot of money this way is not a quick process. With dedication and placing lots of arb bets on a daily basis, however, they do add up.
Matched betting is similar to arbitrage betting in the sense that it also takes advantage of back and lay bets. The difference between the two is that with match betting, bettors make use of the free bets offered at bookmakers. This means that instead of two bets, punters who use this technique will need to place four. One to cover the free bet requirement, a second for its corresponding exchange lay bet, another back wager placed with the free bet and, last but not least, the lay bet to match their free stake.
Since matched betting can involve complicated math, punters tend to use calculators and software that allow them to find opportunities quickly. This is essential for both matched and arbitrage betting, as opportunities can quickly come and go.
Value betting is a simple concept. Typically, the higher chance an outcome has of happening, the lower the odds. However, if a bettor notices that the odds of an event are higher than they are in reality, this is an opportunity to take advantage of a value bet.
In short, this technique takes advantage of the fact that sportsbooks are not always perfect in determining the odds. The nature of this technique means that it is not exactly easy to find this type of bets, as sportsbooks do whatever possible to avoid such scenarios. Still, comparison between bookies can do a lot to identify such discrepancies. There are also pieces of software that can come in handy in such situations, and it is how punters typically find such bets.
When it comes to profitability, value betting can be useful to punters in the long-term, so long as they manage to avoid getting caught by sportsbooks.
Things That Can Affect a Game’s Outcome
Although basketball games typically take place in closed spaces, and thus things such as the weather will not affect them, there are still some things you should keep in mind when you consider betting on an NBA game.
Namely, make sure to stay as up-to-date as possible regarding players’ health. An injury can have a large impact on a game even when sports such as soccer are concerned, where each team consists of 11 players. With basketball, the players on each team are only 5, so the stakes here are even higher as one would imagine. As for how to stay informed, health reports are your best bet, but you should also stay vigilant during press conferences and note any mention of injury.
Another thing that can affect players, and make some teams more susceptible to losses, is scheduling. Some teams will need to play games back-to-back, with no chance to rest properly between events. This can lead to exhaustion and push the odds in favor of the opposing team.
Situations such as this are not exactly common, as the NBA has taken steps to avoid back-to-back events whenever possible. Regardless, it is a good idea to stay vigilant. Making use of such opportunities will give you a higher chance of placing a successful bet.