With multiple betting sites available where wagering on sports is legal, there is no reason not to spend time line shopping. If you have a bet that you feel strongly about, it makes sense to get the best deal.
Many sites offer similar spreads or over/under lines, but regional locations and other factors influence their betting bases. They adjust their lines in reaction to the bets made on their sites and need to mitigate risk. This results in a difference in lines between sites that might be enough to end up in a win.
The Differences Aren’t Much, Right?
Sportsbooks have at least three ways to adjust the lines on a game. They can adjust the point spread, the odds on the points spread, and the moneyline odds. The most visible indication of betting disparity is the point spread.
For a Week 7 NFL game, the New Orleans Saints are favored over the Carolina Panthers. Depending on the sportsbook, the spread currently varies between seven and nine points. That is a significant difference considering the Panthers average about 23 points a game.
That’s why line shopping is so important. How many times have you lost by the narrowest of margins?
You’re probably thinking that taking the spread that is more advantageous is a no-brainer. However, the disparity in the spread generally, but not always, comes with a difference in odds.
In the Saints-Panthers game, Carolina’s +7 has odds of +100, and the Saints -7 carries -120. The higher point spread of nine flops the odds.
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For Carolina, you can get more points but give up something on the odds side. Instead of getting +100, the +9 points wager pays -131.
In many cases, there are no variations in the spread, but there is in the odds. On all of the sites that I examined for this piece, Cleveland is a three-point favorite over Cincinnati. The odds vary enough to make it worthwhile to shop around for the best deal.
The odds for a Cleveland bet range from a low of -130 to a high of -105. For Cincinnati, it varies between +100 and -115.
For moneyline bets, the bettor is only concerned with the winner of the game. The odds range from +145 to +160 for Cincinnati and -165 to -182 for Cleveland.
The Business of Betting
Why do different top sportsbooks have such different odds on the same game? The goal of sportsbooks is to make money, just like any other business. They operate independently of each other and have to manage their own risk.
The least risk is assumed if they can balance the wagers on either side of a bet. That means that the odds for each sportsbook are adjusted depending on the betting patterns for their own bettors.
Line Shopping Works … Period
At some point, they would rather give up a bet that increases their risk. The same bet may be just what another operator needs to balance their risk.
This ultimately works in favor of the bettor who has a sound wagering strategy and the time to shop around. It definitely makes sense to consider line shopping around for the best lines because they’re out there.