We took many of your common questions to those who work with bettors every day.
While working on this section for the site, members of the BCSlots team, including Brian himself, visited sportsbooks in a number of states, asking some questions that came up during our research. Here we’ll share those with you, and will update periodically with common questions we get from those new to sports betting like we were when we got started!
You can pretty much go right up to the start time and place bets on a particular game. In some instances, you can even place bets on a game that’s in progress, although the types of bets you can place will certainly shrink and evolve as a game gets going.
One of the people we spoke to said it depends on your risk appetite. The longer from the starting point of a game you place your bet, the more unknowns that will exist. Players can get injured, teams can change line-ups, external factors can get in the way, all of which can change the odds of how a game will go. The closer you are to the start of a game, the more firm the odds will be as there will be less unknowns.
So if you like having things pretty buttoned up, waiting until a bit before the game starts is generally advisable. But if you’re a gambler, and just want to bet on an outcome well in advance, you can place that bet early if you want. Your chances of winning may improve or get worse after your bet is placed. But once your bet is in, it’s in.
No – that’s an important thing to realize. Once a bet is set, it’s set. If things improve for you, or get much worse for you, the bet that locked in is what’s still in play.
Of course, if something happens like a game is cancelled, bets may be refunded as a result of circumstances outside of anyone’s control. But otherwise, don’t expect to be able to return and cancel your bet if something changes and you’re no longer happy with your wager.
It can be nearly instant for basic bets like who won or lost a game to be resolved and able to be cashed in if you won. Prop bets and more complex wagers can take a bit longer. But usually it won’t take long at all.
At all of the sportsbooks we visited, paper bets placed on kiosks were handled at the sportsbooks, and bets placed on the apps were handled on the app. This delineation could be that many of the sportsbooks were operated by casinos that were different than those who operated the app, and so that delineation was important for things like who makes what money on which scenarios.
We didn’t notice differences in the odds offered between the two, so that was probably harmonized and coming from the same sources. But if you place your bet in casino, be prepared to return to that casino (and not a casino owned by the same company in another state) to cash in those wagers.
However, you have time to cash in a ticket if you can’t back for awhile. We saw one year most frequently as the amount of time available to return. You can also send in a ticket for redemption if getting back in time just isn’t looking viable, and as long as the amount won isn’t too much (we’re talking thousands) you should be able to redeem via mail with little to no difficulty.
In at least one instance, bets placed in person could be checked on the app first, so you know if it’s worth heading over to pick up your money. Like a lottery app that can check scratch tickets, it’s also nice piece of mind to verify a ticket before throwing it out.
We’ve written elsewhere on the site about why it’s a good idea to avoid parlay bets, especially when you’re learning about this process, and this was reinforced by those we asked, who noted many players don’t get how difficult it can be to win a parlay bet, since all the decisions have to resolve in your favor for the ticket to win anything at all.
Our guides said football is the easiest game to bet on; indeed it’s the most popular sport to bet on, and with the limited number of games per year, it can be easy to focus in, learn more and make a judgement call about who you wish to bet on. Tennis tends to draw bigger bets, we learned; many of our questions were shared during the U.S. Open and that definitely drew some bigger bettors to play as we were in our various sportsbooks.