An Explanation of Sports Betting Terms

Betting letters written on wooden cubes

Sports betting was outlawed in 1992 through the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which made it illegal in most places other than Nevada. Despite the ban, the industry still managed to rake in an estimated $150 billion in illegal bets every year.

In May 2018, the Supreme Court overturned the 1992 ruling and sports betting, or sports gambling, is now legal in 11 states -opening the doors to legal sports betting throughout the US. The industry is growing rapidly as a result and more Americans are getting involved than ever before.

If you’re new to the sports betting scene, but want to try to win some cash on an upcoming game, there are a few things that you need to know. To help you better understand how to bet on sports, we’ve put together the most common sports betting terms.

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Common Online Sports Betting Terms


Accumulator (or Parlay): One wager that covers a variety of selections. All selections must win for the wager to be successful.
Action: A wager or bet of any kind.
Against the spread (ATS): Betting on the point spread, as opposed to straight up.
Arbitrage: Where the odds available mean you can buy and sell and make more than one bet and guarantee a profit due to unequal prices.

Banker: A sure thing, also known as a lock.
Bankroll: How much money you have available to bet with.
Betting exchange: Where you bet against fellow bettors rather than a bookmaker.
Bettor: A punter or a person who has a bet.
Bookmaker or Bookie: The individual or organization that takes the bets.
Buck: A $100 bet. Also called “a dollar”.
Buying Points: Also known as “moving the line”. When a bettor pays an additional fee to receive half a point (or more) in their favor when doing point spread bets.

Chalk: The favored team.
Circled Game: Where for some reason, the bookmaker has limited the betting action on a game.
Combination bet: Any bet combing more than one selection.
Cover the Spread: To win a bet placed against the spread.

Dime: A $1,000 bet.
Dog: The underdog or least likely to win a game/event.
Dog Player: A bettor that usually bets on the underdogs.
Draw: When there is no winner and the game falls exactly on the spread. Bettors receive their money back.
Drifting: Odds that are lengthening or getting bigger.

Each Way: A wager split in two. Half the bet is on the selection the win, the other half is to finish in the top few places.
Edge: To have an advantage.
Even Money or Evens: Odds that are 1:1.

Favorite: The team/individual most likely to win a sporting event.
Field: All the participants in a sporting event.
Fin: $50 bet.
Fixed odds: Odds agreed when the wager is placed, and won’t change regardless of changes in future odds.
Fold: The number of selections in an accumulator or parlay.
Futures: Wagers placed in advance of the start of a sporting event.

Grand Salami: An over/under wager on the number of goals/runs scored across all games in a specific league in a day.

Handicap: Another term for point spread.
Hedge: To place a wager on the opposite side of another bet to reduce risk or guarantee a profit.

Juice: The commission or tax changed by the bookmakers.

 Sports betting table

Key Numbers: The most common margins of defeat in games such as football, where teams normally win by a multiple of three or seven.

Lay: When bookmaker takes a bet they are laying that bet.
Lay the Points: Wagering on the favorite in a point spread bet.
Lay the Price: Betting on the favorite in a moneyline bet.
Line: Odds and/or point spread for a sporting event.
Lock: Same as a banker. A sure thing.

Middle: When you bet on both sides and have an opportunity to win both due to the score.
Moneyline: A bet on a participant or team to win an even with no point spread. Common in soccer and hockey, etc.
Moving the line: The same as buying points.

Nap: A single selection that is tipped as the best of the day.
Nickle: Bet of $500

Odds: How much you will receive from a successful bet. Determined by the bookmaker.
Odds Against: Odds that are longer than evens.
Odds on: Odds that are shorter than evens.
Off the board: A game or sports events that bookmakers won’t allow bettors to bet on.
Over/under bet: Same as the totals bet. A bet on whether the total number of points/goals will be over or under the bookmaker’s number.

Parley: A single bet covering multiple selections. All of the selections must win for the wager to be successful. Same as an accumulator.
Picks: The same as tips. The recommended bets.
Point spread: Points/goals allocated by the bookmaker to even the playing field.
Prop bet: Also known as the proposition bet.
Proposition bet: A wager on something other than the outcome of the sporting event. Can include over/under bets or total passing yards by a particular player, etc.
Public Betting Percentage: Also known as public betting trends; these are the numbers placed by bettors at sportsbooks that are used by bookmakers with their betting against the public philosophies. Push: Same as a draw or tied wager.

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Real-Time Odds: Live updates as and when bookmakers/sportsbooks adjust their lines.
Return: The money won on a successful bet.
Return-On-Investment: A measure on how successful an investment will be.
Run Line: Equivalent of a spread for sports like hockey or baseball, where you can add runs to the underdog or minus from the favorites.
Runner: A person that places bets on the behalf of others.

Single: A straight bet on one selection.
Special: Same as a proposition bet.
Sportsbook: A company that takes bets/wagers from the public.
Spread: Short for point spread.
Spread Betting: Don’t mix this up with the point spread. It’s where the winnings or losses are determined by the amount of which a wager is correct or incorrect.
Stake: The amount of cash placed on a bet.
Steam Move: A very sudden, uniform movement across the entire sports betting market place.
Sucker Bet: A bet that is in favor of the bookmaker.


Teaser: A point spread wager where you are allowed to adjust the point spread or total. The more you spread, the lower the payout becomes.
Totals Bet: A wager on if the total number of points/goals in a game is more or less than the bookmaker’s number. The same as an over/under bet.
Tout: Someone who sells their picks or betting expert opinion to others.
Treble: A single bet with three selections, all of which must win for the wager to be successful.


Underdog: The team or individual in a sporting event that is expected to lose. This is often shortened to “dog”.
Units: We report betting wins/losses as units won or lost. The usual recommendation is that you bet one unit per game, which is normally between 2 – 4% of your bankroll. This is an easy way to calculate your earning, by multiplying your units earned with your standard betting units. For example, if your system has won 10 units over a season and you have a standard betting unit of $30 dollars, then your earnings over the season for that system will be $300.

Vigorish: Often shortened to “vig”. It’s the same as juice and refers to the commission or tax charged by bookmakers.


Wager: Any type of bet.

Sports Betting Online

You don’t have to physically go into a casino to try your hand at sports betting. In fact, more people are choosing to learn sports betting in the comfort of their own homes and the online sports betting industry is seeing unprecedented growth. This is why we are dedicated to ensuring that sports betting terms are explained to give beginners to the industry the best possible chance of walking away with satisfactory winnings.

Now that you know more about the ins and outs of the industry lingo with our explanation of sports betting terms, you should be more confident to enter the sports betting world. Borgata Sports Betting is a digital platform that is part of Atlanta’s most renowned hotel and casino. The online option gives the public the opportunity to become part of the growth of the well-trusted brand and it was launched shortly after sports betting was legalized in New Jersey in 2018.

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If you’re looking for an established, licensed and user-friendly platform to get started with, then we are the perfect starting point. Sign up to our Borgata Sports Betting platform and you’ll become an experienced hand in the exciting world of sports betting before you know it.