It feels like a distant memory these days, but there was a time when the only place you could legally bet on sports in the United States was in Las Vegas. It was the be-all and end-all for sports bettors.
As you’re likely aware, times have changed. Shifts in the legal landscape and advancing technology mean that, in many states, we can carry a sportsbook in our pocket. And the number of states where you can do this is growing, with Ohio on its way to being such a location. Each of those legal online sportsbook apps comes with its own odds. Because of that, Vegas odds have diminished in importance.
Are Vegas betting lines still worth looking at compared to online sportsbooks in your state? How much do you need to know about them? Are Vegas odds still the benchmark for the sports betting industry? Read on for more information.
What exactly are Vegas odds?
Vegas betting odds are exactly what they sound like: betting lines that come directly from Las Vegas-based sportsbooks.
A crown jewel in the betting industry, Las Vegas carved a name for itself in the deserts of Nevada by being a destination for gamblers of all sorts. While the city still remains extremely popular for tourists and gamblers alike, it has become much less important in the larger scope of sports betting.
Online odds vs. Vegas odds: What’s the difference?
While Vegas lines are the OG of the industry in the United States, the rapid growth of legal sports betting in the country — including here in Ohio — has made the need to travel there obsolete in most cases.
But do these new online odds hold a candle to those from Vegas? In many cases yes, they do.
In both situations, physical sportsbooks in Vegas and their online counterparts elsewhere use professional oddsmakers to determine the odds and lines they present to you. These oddsmakers use vast arrays of data sources to put together their predictive models, and they set the odds based on exhaustive research.
Because of the nature of the internet, information flows rather easily throughout the world, so it doesn’t matter where your oddsmakers are actually working because they have access to the same data as those who call Las Vegas home.
In many cases, neither set of odds will be better or worse than the other. Of course, you can find value in the differing odds at various sportsbooks by shopping around. The differences you’ll find among the odds available to you at online sportsbooks in Ohio are very close to what you’ll find at Vegas sportsbooks.
How to read odds
While they may look confusing at first glance, American odds — the default format at Ohio sportsbooks as well as Vegas — are actually pretty easy to understand once you get the hang of them. Here’s what odds at an online sportsbook may look like:
|Cleveland Browns||+7.5 (-110)||+140||Over 46.5 (-110)|
|Green Bay Packers||-7.5 (-110)||-155||Under 46.5 (-110)|
First, you see this is a game between the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers. The first column after the team names indicates the point spread and affiliated odds. For Cleveland, +7.5 (-110) indicates that the Browns are the underdog and that you need them to lose by fewer than eight points or win outright to win your bet. For Green Bay, -7.5 (-110) means the Packers are the favorite and you would need them to win by at least eight points.
On either side of the wager, the odds are at -110. In that case, a bet of $110 would pay $100 in profits for a successful point spread wager.
The next number we see for each team — +140 for the Browns and -155 for Green Bay — is the moneyline. The numbers you see are the odds for each team to win outright. The Browns, with positive moneyline odds, are the underdog.
The final set of numbers shows us the total, aka the over/under. You can bet on the Browns and the Packers to combine to score either over or under the sportsbook’s line of 46.5. Once again, the odds are -110 on each side.
For odds, negative numbers show you how much you’ll need to wager to win $100 in profit, while positive numbers show you how much you’ll profit on a winning bet of $100. You don’t have to wager that exact amount if you don’t want to, though. The payout will depend on how much you are betting and what the odds are at the time you place your bet.
How accurate are Vegas odds vs. online sportsbook odds?
Just because legal online sportsbooks are newer than many Vegas books, that doesn’t automatically mean that the odds will be worse. The oddsmakers at both are experienced and reputable professionals.
That doesn’t mean that every set of odds is equal, though. In the section below, we discuss analyzing betting odds as well as shopping for the best sports lines in order to maximize your bankroll.
How to analyze betting odds
When you’re looking at odds, you can determine the perceived gap between the two teams. The closer that the favorites’ and the underdogs’ numbers are to zero, the less of a gap in the perceived skill level between the two teams. The farther apart the numbers are, the more likely it is that the favorite will dominate.
For example, if the Ohio State Buckeyes football team is at -265 odds against Rutgers’ +235, you can assume that oddsmakers are expecting Ohio State to handle its opponent with relative ease.
On the other hand, suppose the Toledo Rockets odds are -120 odds against the Dayton Flyers at +110. You can see that the Rockets are still the favorite, but not by nearly as much.
When you’re placing a bet at an online sportsbook, you should always take the time to look over lines from multiple sources. This lets you find the best odds available to you for the team you are betting on. Why reduce your potential return if you can maximize it by simply doing a little line shopping?
Vegas NFL odds
Vegas odds used to be the only odds that really mattered. Sports betting was illegal in most of the US, so Las Vegas was the destination for those looking to place bets on NFL games.
When people wanted to see predictions for upcoming games, all they had to do was look to Vegas. These days, those NFL betting lines at Vegas sportsbooks are still a good source of information. But odds at other sportsbooks — including once they launch in Ohio — aren’t inferior by any means. You’ll likely find that the lines are similar to those at in-person sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
In addition to line shopping, signing up at multiple online sportsbooks will allow you to peruse and claim more promotions. Many sportsbooks use such promotions, like odds boosts, to attract and retain customers. Because of the availability of online sportsbooks in many legal states, you may be able to find betting bonuses and promotions to help you get better odds than you might find in Vegas.
Vegas Super Bowl odds
There is no doubt that Las Vegas does a good job when it comes to making the Super Bowl a special occasion for you to wager on. While the standard game lines can be important, it is with prop bets that Vegas has truly learned to shine. Back when the Chicago Bears were favored to win the 1986 Super Bowl in blowout fashion, the sportsbooks in Vegas were seeing a lack of betting action. To amp things up, they offered a prop bet on whether William “The Refrigerator” Perry would score a touchdown.
The prop bet proved to be extremely popular, and a new Super Bowl betting star was born. These days, you’ll find hundreds of possible prop bets for the Super Bowl at both online and Vegas-based sportsbooks.
While Vegas does have a great history in setting popular odds for the Super Bowl, online books do a good job, as well. From moneyline bets to props and futures and more, legal online books will have competitive odds compared to Vegas. Remember, as we mentioned above, you should always shop around for the best lines so you can increase your potential profits during the NFL playoff frenzy.