INDIANAPOLIS — According to the American Gaming Association, a record 46.6 million people were expected to bet on NFL games this season, including the Super Bowl.

That’s nearly 18% of all Americans.

Sports betting has exploded in popularity since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban in 2018.  

For many Americans, the Super Bowl could be their first experience with betting on a sporting event.  If that includes you, the Better Business Bureau has some tips and warnings to make sure you’re having fun responsibly.

The first step is to learn the terminology of sports betting.  Here are some examples of basic terms you should know:

  • Money line: A money line bet is a simple wager where you pick which team or player will win the game.
  • Point spread: Odds posted on a game in an effort to level the playing field.  The favorite team or player is given a negative (-3) point spread, while the underdog will be given a positive (+3) “head start.”
  • Prop bets: These are generally side wagers on things other than the outcome of the game.  For the Super Bowl, people often bet on the coin toss, individual player statistics, and even the color of the Gatorade shower at the end of the game.
  • Futures bets:  This is a general term for a wager place on an event that will happen in the near or distant future.  This practice dates back to long before the NFL.  In Italy, people in the 1500s were betting on who the next Pope would be.
  • Parlay: Also known as an accumulator or multiple, a parlay is a series of bets in which winnings from each transaction are used as a stake for a further bet.
  • Juice: The cut, or fee, a sportsbook keeps for taking your bet.

The BBB also encourages bettors of any experience level to set limits.  Basically, identify an amount of money you are prepared to lose.  When it’s gone, you’re done.  

You should also avoid high-risk gambling.  Don’t place wagers when you’re emotionally distressed or under the influence of alcohol.  And never borrow money to place a bet.

Be wary of “handicappers” and scammers.  Sports handicappers offer “sure thing” bets by claiming to have inside information on the outcome of whatever you’re betting on.  Some will offer money-back guarantees on your wager.  The BBB cautions against trusting such offers.  

The BBB also warns about other types of potential scams.

“Watch out for pop-up gambling ads, email spam, or text messages that take you to websites offering “risk-free” bets, exaggerated incentives, or deceptive bonuses,” the BBB’s website states.  “Bogus betting websites often use these tactics to draw in unsuspecting customers.”

If you ever suspect you or a loved one is dealing with a gambling addiction, don’t hesitate to contact the National Council on Problem Gambling for help.