Sports Betting: What is the Money Line?

To understand what moneyline is in sports betting, first you need to know what sportsbooks are. Sportsbooks, bookies or bookmakers are people or a company who take bets and get a commission for it. Now sportsbooks get commissions only when a favorite loses. The favorite is the one generally expected to win the match, and the one expected to lose is the underdog.

Since sportsbooks make money only when favorites lose, they make fewer profits if sports bettors always bet on the favorites. This is why moneyline and its close relative point spreading were invented. These are a sort of sports betting handicaps that give an advantage to those who bet on the underdog of a match.

This is how moneyline works in sports betting: Say tennis player Lindsay Davenport is matched against an unseeded qualifier in the US Open. No one is really counting on an upset since Davenport has just won a tune-up event and seems to be on a roll. To entice sports bettors to wager on the underdog, the moneyline is given thus:

Lindsay Davenport -$300 / Qualifier +$240

What does this mean for the sports bettor? It means that for every $300 you wager on the favorite, and she wins, you profit by only $100. But if you wager $100 on the underdog, and she wins, you earn $240.

Obviously, the bigger a favorite a selection is (be it a player, horse, or team), the more money you have to wager to make a profit. And if you bet only a small amount on the underdog, you have a chance at a huge chunk of cash in case of an upset.

Of course, the sportsbooks profit too. They may not get a commission often, but when a big upset does come along, they make a killing. In this example, if Davenport loses to the qualifier, they pay $240 to the underdog betters and get $300 from the favorite bettors for a $60 gain. Imagine how much that will be if it's a monumental upset like Tiger Woods bowing out of the British Open on day one!

The moneyline is used for proposition sports like tennis, golf and car racing where a point lead isn't important in a win. It is also used in team games like basketball and football when bettors don't want to bother with the point spread.

Sports betting is big business, and moneyline makes it more competitive, exhibiting and profitable. In such major sports events as the World Cup, Super Bowl, Wimbledon and a world boxing championship match, you can bet a lot of wagering, winning and losing is going on.