Sports Betting » Sports Betting Guide » What is a Spread Bet?

Most people that partake in sports betting usually just bet on a winner. However, spread betting is a way to up the ante of a moneyline bet. Here we break down what spread betting is, how to place a spread bet and which sports you can do this on.

Spread Betting Explained

A spread bet is a number that is made by sportsbooks. The spread is a handicap between both teams in a game. This is done to make odds more competetive by effectively granting the underdogs with more points and the favorites with less.

Understanding Spread Betting Odds

Spread betting odds can sometimes be confusing for several reasons. Let’s break down exactly how to read the odds.

Minus Odds (-3.5)

Just like in all cases of American sports betting, a (-) means that the team is the favorite to win the game. The 3.5 points next to the minus in terms of a spread bet means that bookmakers think the team is likely to win by 4 points or more. Therefore, because a -3.5 spread bet effectively takes away 3.5 points from the final score, this means that in order for this wager to win, the favorites need to win by at least 4 points. This would then cover the spread.

Plus Odds (+3.5)

The (+) symbol means that the team is the underdog to win the game. The 3.5 points next to the plus means that bookmakers think the team will lose by 4 points or more. Because a spread bet adds these points to the final tally of a teams score, in order for this bet to win the team would either need to win outright or lose by 3 points or less.

How to Place a Spread Bet

Follow our three step guide to start spread betting on your favorite sportsbooks in your state now!

Create a Sportsbook Account

First things first, you need to have a sportsbook account in order to wager. If you don’t yet have one then you can take advantage of some huge welcome bonus bets as part of the sign up process.

If you’re in DC, Maryland or Virginia, why not try one of the best sports betting platforms in your state! BETMGM and Caesars are the highest rated operators in the US. If you sign up for both, you can claim up to $2,250 in bonus bets right now.

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Decide What Game to Bet on

In the image below, there is information about a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. In the first column, you can see the spread odds. The Lakers are underdogs with a +5.5 handicap. The Nuggets are favorites with a -5.5 handicap.

This means that if you bet on the Lakers spread and they win outright or lose by 5 points or less, you will win the bet. If you bet on the Nuggets, they must win by at least 6 points in order for you to win your bet.

Spread Betting Odds

Place a Spread Bet

After selecting the Denver Nuggets spread, it will automatically be added to your bet slip. From here, you will need to enter the amount you want to wager. As you can see, a $100 bet would return a total of $186.96 with a profit of $86.96.

Once you’re ready, you will need to press the “Bet Now” button on your bet slip to lock in your wager and have it confirmed by the sportsbook you’re using. Congratulations, now you know exactly how to bet the spread on any game!

Placing a Spread Bet

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Which Sports Use Spread Betting?

Tons of sports leagues in America have spread betting as an option on all of their games. Here is the stance of some of the biggest leagues in the US and if they have spread betting.

NFL Logo

NFL The biggest football league in the world has spread betting options at every sportsbook. This makes an already thrilling sport that much more enjoyable to watch.

NBA Logo

NBA Every basketball game in the league has spread betting numbers that you can wager on. The high scoring action is perfect for everyone that loves betting the spread.

NHL Logo

NHLAlthough ice hockey is usually a much lower score than other sports, spread betting is still available as a way to wager on these games. You can start wagering on all the action at every sportsbook in your area.

MLB Logo

MLB All games throughout the baseball season have spread betting options. This makes the games much more exciting! Start betting on the world’s premier baseball league now.

Why do Spread Betting Odds Change?

No matter what bet is out there, the odds always change in the lead up to a game. Sometimes by a small amount and other times by a big margin. Here are some of the reasons as to why spread betting odds can change.

Team Selection

Sometimes coaches can decide to bench a player an hour before a game starts. This may be for a different reason than an injury or suspension. Either way, it still has an effect on the spread odds.


If breaking news of any magnitude occurs, this can impact the odds. Especially information such as news that a player is injured and has to miss some or all of an upcoming game.


If a key player is suspended before a game, this will change the spread betting odds due to their team being hindered by their absence.

Spread Betting FAQs

Is spread betting worth wagering on?

Spread betting odds are much better than standard moneyline odds. This is because there is a handicap between teams, making it more difficult to win a spread bet.

What does a -1.5 point spread mean?

That means the favorites must win by 2 points or more.

What does a +1.5 point spread mean?

This means the underdogs need to either win outright or lose by 1 point.

Which sportsbooks have spread betting available?

All major sports betting platforms, as well as smaller ones have spread betting as an option for users to wager on.

Other Sportsbook Bets

Find out more about all the different types of bets you can place at sportsbook thanks to our great sports betting guide.

Moneyline Guide

Moneyline Betting Guide
Learn more about moneyline betting in our helpful guide.

Futures Betting Guide
Not sure what a futures bet is? Click here to find out.