Sports Betting Terminology

The Basics of Sports Betting

Point Spread: aka “The Line”, The predicted scoring differential between two teams in a game, used by bettors to pick a side in a game. Bettors will traditionally bet either on the point spread or the moneyline odds.

Moneyline: A number representing the odds that a team will win a contest as well as the amount that a bet on a team will pay out.

Over/Under:  aka “The Total”, The predicted total amount that two teams will score in a game, combined.

Wager:  The amount you choose to risk on a single bet.  To keep betting fun, it’s important to establish an overall budget at the outset and only wager a small percentage on each bet.

Handle:  aka “Turnover” or “Drop”, The total amount of money bet on a game or event. Handle does not represent the amount won by the house or the public.

Hold:  A sportsbook’s winnings after payouts to successful bettors, but before taxes and other deductions.

Legal Market:  The re4gulated, legal market consists of sportsbooks that are licensed in the US on a state-by-state basis.


Moneyline v. Point Spread Betting


A point spread is expressed in plus (+) or minus (–) with the favorite, the team “giving” the points expressed as “–” and the underdog, the team “getting” the points expressed as “+”.

For example, in this line Baltimore is favored by 4 points over Oakland:

Baltimore (-4)  Las Vegas (+4)

A bet on Baltimore would pay out if they won by more than four points, while a bet on Las Vegas would pay out if Las Vegas won, or if they lost by fewer

than four points. If Baltimore won by exactly four points, the bet would be a push.

While point spread bets require a certain margin of victory, money line bets are straight bets on the winner of the contest. For example if Baltimore were listed as –200, a player would have to bet $200 on the favorite, Baltimore, to win $100. Meanwhile, if the underdog Las Vegas were listed at +175, a $100 bet would pay out $155. In some locations, most notably Europe, moneyline odds are expressed as fractions or decimals.

Thank you to the American Gaming Association for this example.  Please check out the AGA’s Have a Game Plan.