What Is A Futures Bet?

Have you ever thought that you knew who was going to win the upcoming NBA championship? Now that legal sports betting is coming to Ohio, you will have a chance to test your prediction prowess. Many sports bets allow you to predict — or attempt to predict — what will happen far into the future. These futures bets are some of the most popular in legal states like Ohio.

Sports are unpredictable, and betting on events so far into the future can be difficult to do correctly. However, many futures bets also offer tempting odds if you can make a pick correctly. This guide will cover the key aspects of placing futures bets in Ohio. From how the odds work on these bets to a few specific tips. Continue reading for the complete guide to futures betting in Ohio.

Most popular futures bets

Many wagers fit under the umbrella category of “futures bets.” While most sports have their own futures, many of the major North American team sports offer similar bets due to their format. In addition, most futures bets are relatively self-explanatory as they focus on big-picture ideas. Here are five of the most popular futures bets that you will see across multiple sports:

To win a championship

This may be the most basic futures bet to grasp. Betting on a team or player to win a championship is one of the most popular futures bets in every sport. This type of bet will be available all year, for everything from tennis tournaments to the NFL.

To win MVP

Wager on the player who you think will win a league’s MVP award. While that’s often a sport’s most popular award bet, you can also wager on other individual winners like betting on the Cy Young Award in MLB or the Vezina Trophy in the NHL.

Season win totals

A season win total bet is a wager on how many games you think a team will win during the season. Sportsbooks will release gambling lines before the start of the season, and you can bet on teams to win over or under their posted number. This can be a fun bet if you want to bet on a team without the all-or-nothing aspect of picking a championship winner.

Division/conference winners

Almost every professional sports league is split into conferences and divisions. Betting on which team will end up on top of these groups can be an alternative to betting on who will win the championship. Because you’re picking from a smaller group of teams, it can be easier to win the bet, though the return will be smaller.

Group winner

While not common in North American sports, many tournaments use a round-robin stage to determine seeding. In these cases, teams or players are in groups, and you can bet on who will come out on top. This can be an option for betting on the Champions League in European soccer.

Futures bets by sport

While many futures bets are similar across sports, you’ll still see some variation. Here we will go over all the major sports and list a few examples of popular options at Ohio online sportsbooks:


The most popular futures bets for the NFL include betting on the Super Bowl, division winners, the MVP and other major individual awards. You could, for example, bet on the Cincinnati Bengals to win the Super Bowl or on Joe Burrow to win the MVP award.

Check out our NFL MVP odds, NFL most passing yards, and Super Bowl odds pages for more NFL sports betting futures.


The futures bets available in the NBA are similar to those in the NFL. Betting on the eventual NBA champion is popular, as well as wagering on the major individual awards, like betting on the NBA MVP or rookie of the year. You can also bet on how far you think a team might go. For example, you could bet on the Cleveland Cavaliers to make the playoffs.

Visit our dedicated pages for the latest NBA playoff odds and NBA MVP odds.


Betting on which team will win the World Series is very popular. You can also place statistics-based bets, like wagering on which player will lead the league in home runs. Picking a team to make the playoffs is another popular option. Fewer teams make MLB’s playoffs than in other major sports, so the odds are usually solid, and it can make for good entertainment all season long.

Find World Series odds,  CY Young odds, and MLB home run leader odds here.


Because golf doesn’t use teams or a season format like the other sports on this list, golf futures are a bit different. You can bet on the winners of all the major upcoming tournaments or place a wager on who you think will lead the PGA Tour money list. You can also bet on whether a player will finish within a certain milestone at any of the major tournaments or what country the champion for a tournament will be from, for example.

College football and college basketball

College sports are another option for futures bets. Like all team sports, betting on which school will lift the championship is a popular option. However, betting on conference champions is a way to find a smaller pool, as it can be difficult to predict the champion from hundreds of schools.

The fluctuating odds of futures bets

One of the most important things to understand about futures sports betting is that the odds are fluid and will change frequently. While all odds change, because futures bets are on the board for such a long time, there is usually a bit more variation in the odds.

For example, a team that is heavily favored to win at the start of the year can see its odds drop quickly due to injuries. Other examples of events that can cause the odds to move are a big trade, a team firing its coach or a team playing better than anyone expected. In all of these cases, you can be sure that Ohio sportsbooks will be quick to adjust the odds.

This means that placing your wager at the right time is a crucial skill when betting futures. Of course, it’s impossible to know when a player might get hurt or when a big trade is about to go down, but there are a few general rules we can follow to improve our chances of betting at the right time.

Because futures odds will change based on how people are betting — for example, odds weaken on selections that receive lots of bets while they get better on selections that don’t get as much action — try to judge if your bet is going to be popular with the public. If you think many people are going to make the same bet, it can be a good idea to place it early before the odds shrink as money rolls in.

How to bet on futures in Ohio

If you’re betting online in Ohio, most sportsbooks will group their futures bets for a particular league or sport under the same subheading on that sport’s page. If you’re betting at a brick-and-mortar casino, the approach is mostly the same, but you can do it in person with a teller.

The odds for most futures bets will appear as positive numbers. In the American odds format, positive numbers indicate how much you can win from a successful $100 bet. The potential returns are so good because of the greater uncertainty that comes with most futures bets.

For example, let’s say that you wanted to place a bet on the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA championship. You may like the team’s chances, but it’s still only the preseason, and it’s hard to tell if the Cavs will be among the top contenders. You check the odds and see that a sportsbook has them listed as +1500 to win the title.

Using this hypothetical, let’s say that you bet $200 on the Cavaliers. If they do go all the way and win the title, you would receive a total return of $3,200 — $3,000 for winning your bet, plus your original stake of $200.

Tips for betting on futures

If you’re new to betting on futures, or if you’re looking to try something new or improve your success rate, here are some betting tips to consider:

1. Keep track of your bets

Keeping track of your bets is good advice no matter what types of wagers you are placing. Creating a simple spreadsheet where you record your bets and how they turned out will allow you to get more insight into your habits. For example, you might be able to see which sport you do the best at when placing futures bets. Another benefit is that, by recording your bets, you are likely to be more intentional in your decision-making.

2. Be wary of popular picks

Super-popular teams (like the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Lakers) often have weaker odds compared to their probability of winning because sportsbooks know that the public will bet on them anyway. This is why it’s best to be careful when placing a bet on a large favorite or one of these popular franchises. This is not to say that you shouldn’t do it, just that you should consider carefully before making such a bet.

3. Manage your bankroll

Good bankroll management means not betting too much of your bankroll on any one game. Instead, try to implement a system that helps you decide a consistent size for your bets. Too many bettors will wager massive amounts of money after a loss to try to get back to even. This is risky behavior. Instead, research bankroll management strategies and try them out to see which one works best for you.

Downsides to futures bets

While futures bets are fun because you may get to follow along for an entire season, there are a few downsides, as well. The biggest issue is that your money can be locked up for a long time. This means that you won’t be able to wager, and potentially grow, that money while you wait to see how your bet does. If you’re betting on something like the winner of the Super Bowl, this could potentially be a very long time.

Another downside to betting on futures is that they can be very difficult to win. It’s tough enough to predict what will happen tomorrow in any sports league. Predicting events up to months in advance is even trickier. This means that many experienced bettors will only place futures bets occasionally.

Last but not least, the lines for futures bets often have more vigorish baked into them. Vigorish, aka the vig, is the house edge that sportsbooks add to the line to help ensure that they profit. This can be quite large for futures bets because of the greater uncertainty.