In case you missed the headlines, the NBA is semi-suddenly pushing for legalized sports betting across the U.S. This is a big deal. It’s the kind of thing that gets talked about now and then, but for a major league – one with explosive popularity, incidentally – to get in on the action changes the equation a little bit. It doesn’t mean that legislative action will move quickly (ha) or that opposition to sports gambling will simply melt away. But it does put more momentum behind the idea than at any other point in recent history.
I might be jumping the gun a little bit here, but I’m reading this as the beginning of the end for sports gambling restrictions in the U.S. I think it’s time for American sports fans to get ready for sports betting, and that means learning/accepting/getting used to a few things.
You might not have ever really registered it before if you live in the U.S. and you’ve been unable to bet on sports. But a lot of writers and analysts actually already make “ATS” picks. For instance, The Athletic, one of the hottest up-and-coming sports coverage platforms that’s said to have a shot at succeeding where even companies like ESPN have failed, frequently makes ATS picks. So – what exactly are they?
ATS means “against the spread,” and it’s just a means of picking game winners with the point spread in mind. If the Patriots are expected to beat the Eagles by four or five points, the spread will be written ad “4.5,” or “Patriots -4.5” or “Eagles +4.5.” This basically means picking the Eagles gets you a 4.5-point cushion. You don’t have to bet on them to win, but you can bet “against the spread” on them to cover – meaning either win or come within 4.5 points. Typically, an ATS bet on the Patriots in this case means they have to win by more than this margin. This is a good place for American fans to start, because again, ATS picks are already out there.
Be Careful About Platforms
Just because sports betting may be legalized in the U.S. relatively soon doesn’t mean you can just start betting wherever you please. International sports bettors are used to the idea that some platforms are more trustworthy and reliable than others, and that will undoubtedly be the case in the U.S. as well. That said, if major leagues like the NBA are behind the push for this sort of activity, we could conceivably even see betting apps directly sponsored by those leagues, which would theoretically be well regulated and safe. Still, the idea here is to be safe.
Look Out For Free Bets & Promotions
The betting industry wouldn’t be what it is without plenty of fun perks and promotions. They make no secret about it: these things are basically marketing ploys aimed at keeping players interested (and spending money). But they’re still worthwhile if you’re going to be wagering on sports anyway. A “matched free bet” is the most commonplace of free bet types and promotions, and basically means that your deposits up to a certain amount will be matched with a credit you can use for more bets. Different platforms will run more specific promotions from time to time as well, but this is the sort of thing to keep an eye out for and take advantage of, if you can.
Betting might not be widely legal in the U.S. yet, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start practicing, if you’re interested. There’s actually a lot you can do to prepare yourself to be at least a somewhat strategic bettor (though there are never guarantees of success). You might consider starting a game with friends in which you all make ATS pick for your favorite sports every day or week. You might start listening to sports gambling podcasts. Or you might simply read some tips from some of the legendary figures who have succeeded in this area. The point is, go ahead and start educating yourself because this might really happen.
As a final note, I have to point out that betting is always a risk, and I’m not recommending anyone do it. It can certainly be fun, and in moderation it can enhance your enjoyment of a sport. But if the U.S. does legalize this activity and you wind up giving it a shot, always remember to be responsible about it. No one beats the house.