SPORTS BETTING: Quick course on sports betting

Here are rules that typically apply in a state that legalizes sports betting, based on the regulations adopted in New Jersey and elsewhere.

Where can you bet?

Race tracks, casinos and online. Off-track betting centers do not offer sports betting yet but will at a later date.

What sport can you bet on?

Each location will specify sports including pro sports — baseball, basketball, hockey, football soccer and golf — and college sports. Exceptions will be games involving teams from that state or that are taking place in that state.

How old do you have to be to place a bet?

Bettors must be 21.

What lingo does a bettor need to know?

New bettors often wonder what all the numbers and symbols mean. While most sports fans are accustomed to a point spread, they don’t necessarily know how it applies to gambling.

A point spread is the “number” (points, goals, runs, etc.) that odds makers use as a median between two teams or sides in an effort to generate betting interest on both of them. When you check out NFL odds for the week and see the point spread in the New England Patriots vs. New York Jets game, it will look like this:

New England -12.5 (-110)

New York Jets +12.5 (-110)

The “favorite” team is always associated with a minus (-) value, so in this example the Patriots are favored by 12.5 points. The underdog, the Jets, are shown with a plus (+) value, which means they are 12.5-point underdogs.

Based on the point spread, one would bet on the Patriots if you believe they can win the game by 13 points or more. If they win, 34-17, then the team not only wins by 17 points but also covers the spread. However, if the Patriots win by 12 or fewer, they haven’t covered the spread and the Jets, despite losing, “covered” because they stayed within the spread.

The “-110” on either side is like paying a commission to the sports book for placing a wager. Bettors usually pay 10 percent, known as “juice” or the “vig,” in what is essentially a fee for brokering the wager. So “-110” indicates that a bettor must risk $110 to win $100.

If you win the bet, you get back your original $110 plus the $100 you won … for a total of $210. If you lose, you’re out $110 and the sports book makes an extra $10. And, if there’s a tie, also called a “push,” the sports book refunds your money.

Another popular team is called a “Pick ’em,’ which means that the matchup is so close there is no favorite. Whichever team you pick simply has to win the game.

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