How Do Sports Betting Sites Make Money?

Eddie Griffin

Written by: Eddie Griffin

Last Updated:

Read Time: 3 minutes

Every now and then, you will hear about the sportsbooks “taking a beating” as the result of a promotion, an upset, or a wild day in a particular sport.

For example, when the first score of the Super Bowl XLVIII matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos was a safety, sportsbooks had a day that they may never want to repeat.

While those headlines are certainly true, it has to be said that the sportsbooks have many, many more good days than bad days.

But how do sportsbooks make money?

1. Books receive commission from bets.

The main way that sportsbooks make money is through the built-in commission that they receive from bets. This is called vigorish, which is also known as vig or the “juice.”

This is why you will see -110 odds for many NBA and NFL spreads and totals, for example. Setting the odds in this manner means that the book is guaranteed to pocket something, as opposed to if they were to set the odds at +100.

2. A balanced sportsbook is a happy sportsbook.

As pleasing as it can be for a sports bettor to see a line moving favorably in the leadup to an event, it’s just as beneficial to the sportsbook.

Line movement helps oddsmakers ensure that they have a balanced book, which means that the sportsbook should make more or less make the same amount of money no matter what the outcome is.

Line movement in one direction can help dictate the level of action that goes to one side.

Do they want to drive more action to the favorite or drive action away from the underdog? If they are getting equal action on both the favorite and the underdog and the underdog wins, they will come out on the losing end. Therefore, the lines may get moved in a way that drives more action to the favorite to ensure that they won’t take a big hit if the underdog wins.

A balanced book isn’t always the goal, as there are instances where an imbalanced book helps generate more profits. But the more balanced a book is in most instances, the better it is for their bottom line.

3. Sportsbooks capitalize on who most sports bettors are.

Sure, if you are searching for free sports picks or premium sports picks, you will see plenty of seemingly successful sports handicappers. Or if you take a look on social media, you will see a lot of people with winning picks and winning records.

But the reality is that there are very, very few sports bettors who turn a profit long term.

Many sports bettors bet with their hearts, not their heads, and that includes even many of those you see with winning records.

Sportsbooks know who most bettors are, and they are able to benefit from that in a major way. They can have a rough week in the NFL one week, and the next week they can recoup their losses and then some.

That may be a sobering thought as a bettor, but the best way to counter that is to do your research and be a responsible bettor. You won’t be able to control the outcome, and sportsbooks are going to make their money, but you will have the best possible chance to have your own individual success in the short and long term.

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