What Is Sports Betting? A Beginner's Guide

Here’s a question for you: What sports can you bet on? 

Of course you can’t go wrong if your answer was football, basketball, and baseball, which are some of the most popular sports in the world. Likewise, you’d be right on the money if you went with horse racing, dog racing, and boxing, which are sports historically associated with gambling. It would also be a bullseye if you had set your targets on MMA (mixed martial arts) and e-sports, which are upcoming sports that bookmakers have now expanded to include in their offerings. However, did you know that there are even betting markets for niche interests like fantasy leagues and traditional bloodsport like cockfighting?

So, the actual answer to the question is: Pretty much every sport known to man. Today, you can wager on almost all professional and competitive sports. Read about the terms, types, and tips to get started on the play-by-play thrill of sports betting.

What is sports betting?

Sports betting is wagering on the future and uncertain results of sports competitions or any aspect of sporting events with the hope of winning money. Bettors pick the result of a sports event and stand to gain potential winnings based on odds determined by sportsbooks. Winning comes from making accurate predictions on specific outcomes

These days, there is a burgeoning popularity of live betting where bets are placed on ongoing sports events, an excitement made possible by technology that allows the viewing of real-time action. Gamblers can wager based on players’ performance as a match is unfolding.

Why is sports betting so popular?

The allure of sports betting arises from a few different factors that makes its popularity not much of a surprise:

  • Sports fans want to prove their in-depth knowledge of the sport and demonstrate their loyalty to a specific team
  • Sports fans are confident that they have superior knowledge regarding athletes and teams to be consistently profiting from bets
  • Bettors are supported to make informed decision by widespread coverage of sports in the media and online resources
  • Professional sports leagues and teams have strong marketing relationships with betting companies, bringing greater exposure to sports betting
  • In many countries, amateur sports are subsidized by lotteries and sports betting pools, leading the public to participate in betting in support of the sports
  • Legal sports betting generates high tax revenue, incentivising many governments to deregulate this form of gambling

What is sports betting like in the Philippines?

As with many forms of gambling in the Philippines, there are many legal avenues for gamblers looking to participate in sports betting. Bettors can choose from a plethora of sports betting sites and online casinos that are regulated by authorities in the nation. Permitted and legitimate bookmakers ensure that your bets are fair and your interests are safe, as well as contribute to the economy of the country.

Sports betting lingo

Naturally, learning what is sports betting must start with understanding some basic key terms:


  • Bookmaker, bookie, or betting agency that accepts bets on sporting events. They determine the odds as well as receive and pay off bets.


  • Customer who places a bet. Also called a “punter” (in the UK).


  • Represents the likelihood of an occurrence. Low odds signify high likelihood while high odds imply low likelihood.
  • Odds also indicate how much players will win on a wager. Betting on better teams pays less, while betting on risky teams pays more.


  • The team or player that is expected to win according to the odds.
  • Betting on the favorite is the less risky option but yields a lower payout when they win.


  • The team or player considered less likely to win according to the odds.
  • If the underdog wins, the payout is higher due to higher risk.


  • Artificial handicaps assigned to a team based on their expected win or loss by a certain margin.
  • Set by oddsmakers to make the matchup as even as possible

Types of sports betting

While there are many potential types of wagers that can made in sports betting, let’s start by understanding a few of the most common:

Moneyline bets

  • A simple bet of whether a team will win or lose, regardless of the score’s margin. This is the most straightforward wager in sports betting.
  • The catch is: The odds are based on each team’s likelihood to win, so your profit will depend on whether you pick the favorite or the underdog. 

Parlay bets

  • Combination of multiple bets (each is called a “leg”) in the same ticket to create a larger wager. This is a way to have a lot of action without betting too much money.
  • This increases the potential payout, as the more legs you add to a parlay, the greater the odds.
  • The catch is: All the legs must hit for the parlay to win. If you get one leg wrong, you lose the whole wager.

Future bets

  • Bets that will be decided in the future. Futures tend to offer greater odds and higher potential payouts.
  • The catch is: The odds you get when wagering never change but your bet may gain or lose value as the odds change throughout the season.

Over/Under bets

  • Also called “Totals”, referring to the combined points scored by both teams.
  • Bettors wager whether results will go “Over” or “Under” this total.
  • A popular side wager that focuses on the final score rather than the winner or loser, and that can be applied to almost any number involved in the match.

Prop bets

  • Short for “proposition”.
  • A type of side wager that focuses on aspects of a sporting event that may be unrelated to the outcome.
  • Can be based on specific players, game outcomes, team performances, and novelty events. This results in some very interesting props, such as the color of Gatorade that will be dumped on the winning coach; how long it takes the performer to finish the National Anthem, whether or not a streaker will run onto the field, etc.
  • Most online sportsbooks allow multiple props in a parlay.

Tips for sports betting

Now that you understand what is sports betting, remember some of these fundamental tips to get your first slice of the sports betting pie.

  1. Find the right bookie.

Browse around for the right bookmaking mobile app or website that offers a wide variety of sports markets, bet types, and fair odds. Ensure they have a license, reliable payment options, security measures, and accessible customer service.

  1. Track your bets.

Keep a standard spreadsheet to monitor your results. 

  1. Look up statistics.

Research is important to make sure you’re making smart bets.

  1. Bet on sports you’re familiar with.

Stick to sports which news you follow closely as odds adjust based on developments about players, teams, and coaches. How easy it is to predict a sport will come from your knowledge.

At the end of the day, what is sports betting if not about appreciating your favorite sports and athletes? Ultimately, you should bet on sports that you think you will enjoy the most.

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