Betting On American Sports – NFL, NBA, NHL & MLB
In the past, you might have struggled for example to place a bet on the Super Bowl from the UK but things have changed significantly in the last few years. US Sports are more and more popular in the European continent and this is thanks to a number of factors like for example the rise of the internet and the increased TV exposure.
With the arrival of online betting more and more people in the UK started to watch and bet on US Sports and this has pushed betting sites to deliver a much better service as far as American sports are concerned.
Nowadays you can place a bet on all major American Football, Basketball, Baseball and Ice Hockey with a growing number of UK bookmakers and in this guide, we have suggested some we believe are offering the best value when it comes to betting on US sports. We will also take a close look at what types of bets are available, how to bet and what offers to watch out for during major events.
Top Online Bookmakers For US Sports Betting
As mentioned, betting on US Sports is more and more popular however this doesn’t mean that every betting sites are offering the same level of service in this regards. Some bookmakers are significantly better than others in regards to odds, market depth and promotions and it is important to select the best ones in order to have an enjoyable experience when betting on American Sports.
Betway – Best Value US Sports Bookie
Betway is one of the best bookmakers to consider if you are keen to bet on sports that are not the mainstream ones like football (soccer), horse racing and tennis. Without any doubts, Betway is one of the best betting sites if you are looking to bet on US Sports.
Simply by looking at the different sports available, you will notice that Betway have a sensational market depth for sports like baseball, basketball, ice hockey and American Football.
Odds are very competitive and around big games, we have noticed that there are some interesting enhanced odds lines which deliver even further value to members. As if this wasn’t enough, on Betway you will also be able to take advantage of a section dedicated to statistics, tips and news: those information will help you select the best bets.
On Betway you will also find great US sports offers like money back specials, free bets and accumulator bonuses. When compared with other operators we have seen that Betway’s value tend to be significantly better (ie. money back is normally up to £50 instead of £25) and terms are more relaxed. When you have opened a new account with Betway make sure you visit their promo section where you will find at least three dedicated US Sports offers. Betway Full Review.
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Coral – Best For US Sports Enhanced Odds
Coral has some greatly enhanced odds offers and market depth, especially around the biggest US Sports events. Their trading team is very creative and we have seen Coral coming up with new types of odds and new odds line that other bookmakers have never had. So if you are looking for good value and something a bit more different and fun for your US sports betting then visit Coral.
Coral is one of the biggest betting sites in the UK and it is not surprising to see that they are able to provide great depth of markets and competitive odds across a huge number of American sports. A clear advantage of betting with a bookmaker of the size of Coral is that you have the opportunity to bet online on in the shop with just one account: so if you are on the move and don’t have an internet access you can always pop in a Coral shop and place your bet, without losing the rewards and offers dedicated to loyal existing customers.
Coral is regularly running accumulator and money back deals: for example, on NFL they are normally providing a refund if your bet was winning at the two-minute warning but then went on to lose.
This betting site is a great choice if you are looking to bet on US Sports and especially on American Football. Coral have recurrent offers so make sure to add them in your portfolio of bookmakers to check before placing any bets on US Sports. Coral Full Review.
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Betfred – Touchdown Bookie
Betfred is a major bookmaker able to provide great markets with very competitive odds. If you are looking to bet on US Sports make sure you check this betting site before placing your bet.
Let’s be honest Betfred is not our favourite betting site as far as US Sports is concerned: having said that, we have to make a big exception for American Football touchdown bets and US Sports acca insurance. They are completely leading the pack with those two and you will regret if you don’t take advantage. Betfred is extending their famous double delight and hat-trick heaven promotion also on NFL. This promotion has delivered wonders for customers who have taken advantage: in a nutshell, you will get double winnings if your touchdown player will go on to score two and treble the odds if they will score three.
If you are regularly placing touchdown bets then make sure to consider Betfred as you will be increasing your winnings over time. In addition to that, Betfred are also offering regular acca insurance, money back and other free bet offers that do normally extend also to US sports. Betfred Full Review.
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Ladbrokes – Best For US Sports Price Boosts & Odds
Ladbrokes is an institution when it comes to online betting and it is not surprising to see that they are offering great betting solutions also on US Sports. Ladbrokes is, therefore, a good place to go for nearly every bet you want to place, either in their sportsbook (fixed odds) or in the exchange.
A great thing about Ladbrokes is that they are offering price boosts on US Sports especially around big events: in some cases, there are several enhancements to choose from on every single match. With those offers, you can enhance your odds of around 20-25% which means you will be getting the best possible value on those lines. Our strong suggestion is to visit Ladbrokes frequently to see if they are enhancing the selections you are about to pick: taking advantage of such offers will get you better returns over time and ultimately it will increase your winnings.
Similarly to Coral, Ladbrokes should be in your US Sports betting portfolio and you should always check out what they have to offer before placing your bets elsewhere. Ladbrokes Full Review.
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Red Zone Sports – Specialist US Sports Site
If you take your US Sports betting seriously then you cannot ignore a specialist. Red Zone Sports is the new UK facing betting site that is completely focused on American sports betting. As you would expect they cover extensively everything ‘stars and stripes’ so they have a huge market depth and also cover sports like drag racing that you won’t find elsewhere. They are keen to attract new customers and in order to do so they are operating with very low margins and they do promise the lowest commission on US Sports bets. If you are betting regularly on American Sports this bookmaker would deliver additional value in the long-run. Although Red Zone Sports is clearly focused on US Sports you will still find others traditional UK markets so you can also use them for others bets types.
William Hill – Full Coverage
Everything we have said about Ladbrokes also applies to William Hill. Due to their gigantic size, this is not a betting site that can be ignored as they do run regular promotions and also have great market depth.
In addition, to have competitive odds in the US Sports they also provide other services such as news features, statistics and even live streaming. Finding the US Sports markets might be a bit tricky but once you do, you will be amazed by the number of betting lines that are available. William Hill is also leading the way as far as ante-post opportunities are concerned as they come up with markets well in advance of most betting sites. William Hill Full Review.
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How To Bet On US Sports
Betting on US Sports is very similar to other sports betting although some terminologies might be a bit different: the principles, however, are the same. In this section, we will be looking at the most common types of bets available, how you can place them and also how to get the most from the offers. If you want to know more about how bet types work check our betting guide.
As you might predict the winner of the Premier League in football in the same way you can predict the winner of the Super Bowl or any other league or tournament. To do so you simply need to place a single odds line that can be win only or each-way depending on the type of competition you are betting on. In the same way, you can also bet on the highest touchdown, goal, run scorers etc: in short, everything that you can bet on over a whole event or season.
For this type of bet, you should be able to get very good odds as the vast majority of bookmakers will compete for this line. If you decide to place these bets before the season you should be able to get very good additional offers that will add additional value: for example, bet £25 on a team to win the Super Bowl and get £5 free bet every time they win.
Before placing outrights bets make sure you are comfortable you are getting the best odds and promotions so check first with the top betting sites.
This is the equivalent of match betting. In this situation you are predicting which team is going to win in a single game of it will be a draw (if applicable).
In European sports, the outright result is usually the most popular bet type, but this is not the case with US Sports. The reason is that the majority of US Sports are high scoring and this tends to give a significant advantage to the favourites: this is why odds usually are very low on the favourite, and it is not worth backing them: only rarely the outsiders win. For this reason, spread or points bets are the most common wager. Ice Hockey, however, is a bit of an exception as it is also a low scoring sport similar to football.
Money line bets are normally good when you have a money back offers and free bets around it. In those situations, it might be worth a cheeky punt on the outsider even if you have little chances of winning: you have little to lose as you will get a refund anyway. It is important to notice that money line bets are not restricted to the overall match result and can be placed also on the result of the 1st / 2nd half or 1st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th quarter and so on.
Due to the tactical nature of US Sports normally the favourite tends to win overall. This is the reason why the most popular bet type is a form of handicap bet that is called spread lines: thanks to these prices lines are closer to evens and this is a much more attractive proposition for punters.
What the spread does it gives each team either a positive points handicap or negative points handicap. You will notice that higher scoring sports like for example Basketball tend to have the largest spreads (normally in the region of +/- 10) while low scoring Hockey has the lowest spreads (from +/- 0.5). As you can easily understand, the closer teams are matched the lower is the spread that will be offered.
So the Spread brings the lines as close to evens a possible but as with any handicap bet you can always bet on any spread you like if you wish to find longer odds. Similarly to what we have seen before, spread bets are not limited to overall results but you can place on half, quarter, period result and so on.
It is rather difficult to find offers for those lines but you can easily combine them into multiple spread bets and get covered with an acca insurance or acca bonus.
Over / Under Points
This is a simple and very popular way of betting that is also common in European sports. With this bet, you are predicting that a team will score over or under a set number of goals, runs, touchdowns, passes and so on. Similarly to the spread bets, these lines are made to create more equal odds, however, betting sites do still offer great market dept so you will have plenty of over/under options to choose from some with very large odds. As we have seen before these bets can be placed on the match result but also on any other period of the game.
2-Way And 3-Way Bets
The vast majority of betting on US Sports is on the winner. This is also called a 2-way bet. The lines are designed either to take away the draw (for example by setting the spread as a half number like +9.5) or to give the money back when there is a tie.
If you are allowed to bet on the draw then it is called 3-way bets and in those cases, you can have 3-way money line, spread or over/under bets. It is weird that 3-way bet is a lot more popular for European’s betting on US Sports compared with Americans: maybe in Europe we just like when the spoils are shared!
Since 3-way bets are not as popular as 2-way odds can be lower in value so make sure you are not getting caught. If you are placing an accumulator with an offer make sure that 3-way bets do count towards the deal you are getting.
If you are looking for other types of bets you can normally find them under what is called ‘alternative’ tab. By how many alternative lines are available you can gauge how good is the depth of market offered by a bookmaker. If you look at Coral, for example, you will find a huge amount of alternative lines that will suit any betting taste.
Since there isn’t a massive amount of competition on alternative lines it is important to understand that the bookmaker margin could be bigger. So we are not saying not to place those type of bets but make sure you are aware of this and only use a betting site that you trust is giving you good odds. If you are using alternative lines as part of an offer make sure that they do apply as in some cases they won’t. If you want to know more about how bookies are making odds and their margin check our guide.
With those bets, you are predicting specific outcomes. Always pay attention with these bets as normally large markets like this tend to give poor value in terms of odds prices as the competition tend to be lower. Having said that, proposition bets tend to attract lots of offers and this can really bring the value up: for example, there is usually money back offers available (something like getting a refund if your 1st scorer scores 2nd, double odds if 1st touchdown in first 15 minutes and so on).
Parlays / Accumulators
Parlay’s are very popular in the US even more than in Europe: the vast majority of those bets are placed on spread or handicap lines where the odds are normally around evens. By combining few predictions you can really get a big increase in the overall odds.
Same things we have said for Accumulators also applies to Parlay. The betting sites margins are higher and the more selections you add the less value you will get. This is the reason why bookmakers are giving out a lot of offers like accumulator insurance and acca bonuses: so if you are planning to place a ‘Parlay’ make sure you are taking advantage of the offers so to reduce the bookmaker margin on this type of bets.
Similarly to European markets you can also place full cover, conditional and forecast bets on US Sports. In most cases, though those won’t be available in the betting sites you would need to ask customer service for it. You can find more in our bet types section.
American Odds Format
If you are betting on US Sports with a European bookmaker you should get offered odds in fraction and decimal. However, if you are stuck with American odds it is not a big problem as they are easy to understand and can be converted quickly. To know more about bookie odds check our betting odds guide.
Positive odds (evens or higher) show how much you would win if you were to place a 100 bet on that line. So Odds of +100 are equivalent to evens: you bet 100 and you get 100. Negative odds (which are less than even) are different and reflect how much you would need to wager to win 100. So if you have odds of -200 you need to bet 200 to win 100.
Live In-Play Betting And Steaming
US Sports is great for betting live in play. If we do exclude Ice Hockey, American Sports are very tactical do there are long pauses, field rests, timeouts and more so there are huge opportunities to consider and place bets in play. The flow of the game also tend to change quickly and you can capitalise if you spot it in advance.
The vast majority of betting sites will have a huge range of live betting opportunities for all the major US and European leagues: most pre-match markets and others will be provided in play.
To get the best live betting experience we strongly advise to use a betting site that has the right interface and that is intuitive to use and compatible with the device you normally bet with. Everyone knows that betting in play with live streaming is even a better experience and the vast majority of NFL/NBA/MBL and NHL events are widely available in Europe with betting sites.
In cases where the live streaming is not available, you can also get audio commentaries: those are particularly useful if you are based in Europe since matches are not available on the radio. Many bookmakers do provide this including William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes and Betfred.
News, Results And Statistics
Players form is really important in US Sports and therefore having very good news, statistics and results at your disposal can really help you making the right decision when it comes to betting. The best betting sites do provide those services completely free to take advantage of those features.
William Hill – this bookmaker has surely one of the best US Sports statistic services. William Hill will provide you with a full database for CFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAAB, NCAAF, NFL and WNBA with full defensive/offensive stats, game logs, previews, injury lists, schedules, transfers, standings and leagues, and a lot more. The information is organised by team and by an individual player. If you want to study your bet you have come to the right place.
Coral – here you will find a dedicated section with statistics, results and news. It is very easy to navigate and easy to digest so if you are looking for something that will quickly answer the most important questions about a player or a team then this is the no-frills service you might want to use.
A lot more online bookmakers also have news and result services although the ones we have listed above are our favourites.
History Of American Football And The NFL
American Football has evolved in the United States from football and rugby which both came from Europe. The game is similar to rugby as the teams need to advance the ball down the field by running and passing.
The first American Football match was played in 1866 and it was between Princeton and Rutgers colleges. It was played between teams of 25 and they were using a round ball. Carrying the ball was not allowed. In the late 1800’s there were different rules between colleges and it was down to the home team to decide which one would apply.
In 1873 Yale, Princeton and Columbia decided to create a set up of standardised rules with teams of 20 players. In 1880 a Yale player called Walter Camp proposed a new set of rule to reduce the numbers in the team from 15 to 11 and remove the scrum in favour of the snap. He is considered the real founder of the sport.
Over the next years, there were some others changes in the rules which have set the sport apart from rugby and have defined its own identity further. For example rules such as limiting each play to three downs or tackles to advance ten years were created and with this also came the 10-yard gridiron lines which are synonymous with the sport. The pitch size was also reduced and the ball shape was set. The points system was set up with 6 points for a touchdown, 2 for a safety and 3 for a field goal.
The forward pass was legalised in 1906 and the National Collegiate Athletic Association was created (NCAA). Even if the sport started in colleges over time professional paid players started to emerge. Since this was not legal in colleges the National Football League (NFL) was created in 1920.
The NF game placed more emphasis on passing and this is marked the main difference from the college game. It was after the Second World War tough that American Football became very popular: in 1958 a Championship game between New York Giants and Baltimore Colts was watched by millions on the newborn television. After two years a rival league emerged, the American Football League (AFL).
The rivalry between the AFL and NFL was fierce and it pushed new rules changes in order to make the game even better for the growing TV audience. In 1966 the two leagues merged and a single championship game was created, the Super Bowl.
Since 1970’s American Football has become one of the most watches franchises in the world. This sport is conquering more and more continents and recently the NFL has been playing some games in London at Wembley and Twickenham with the intent of growing popularity in Britain and Europe.
Rules And How To Play American Football
An American football pitch measures 110 meters in length and 49 meters in width. There are goal lines, a centre line and sidelines mark out the pitch with 10-yard lines running horizontally (the gridiron). Goal posts are positioned 3 meters over the ground and are just above 5 and a half meters in width. The ball has similar size and form of the rugby’s one (oval) and has to have a determined pressure.
The teams are made of 11 players which will face each other over 60 minutes. The match is divided into four 15 minute quarters and there is a longer break for halftime after the second quarter. The game is 2 to 3 hours long due to stoppages with each stoppage that can last up to 40 seconds.
A play begins with a snap (or free kick) with the centre that passes the ball to the quarterback though his legs. It is the quarterback that will then define the play. The aim is to either throw the ball to a player that can then go in search of a touchdown, kick the ball to achieve a field goal or pass and run with the ball so to move forward 10-yards. Every team has four chances to advance ten yards (also called downs). If the offensive team don’t do this then the defensive team takes over the play. If the defensive team gets possession of the ball then they become immediately the offensive team. If the offensive team manage to move 10 yards this resets and another downs are given.
There are no limits in the substitutions and in most case have players that form either offensive or defensive units. There is also another type of unit that is called a special team unit and it is utilised for free kicks, field goals and punts.
If a team is not going to advance 10 yards the quarterback normally punt the ball down the field so that at least they need to start their play from further down the field. If they are close they can even try a field goal.
Touchdowns are the most crucial type of points (6 points). To score a touchdown, a team need to carry or receive the ball in the end zone (which is the area behind the goal). Teams can then kick for a one-point conversion or play from the 2-yard line trying to score a try which is worth 2 points.
Field goals can be scored when the ball is placekicked or drop kicked between the goal posts. Field goals are worth 3 points. A team can score safety points when they are tacking ball-carrying players in their own end zone. In this case, the defensive team is awarded 2 points and the opposing team will then need to kick the ball to the defensive team.
There are eight officials during a game: a referee, an umpire, a head linesman and a back, side, line, field and centre judge.
Major American Football Leagues And Tournaments
National Football League (NFL)
The NFL is the most important league of the game and was set up in the 1920’s like the professional alternative to the college leagues.
The league consists of 32 teams that are separated into the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). Every team plays 16 games over 17 weeks which goes from Labor day to the week after Christmas. After that six teams from each conference play in a playoff to reach the Championship game, also called the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the NFL Championship game. It was called the Super Bowl after the merger of the NFL and the rival AFL in the late 1960’s. The ‘Super Bowl Sunday’ is like the Thanksgiving, and the whole nation stops to watch (well more than 115 million US viewers). It is a sort of unofficial holiday for the Americans.
The Super Bowl is not just a game, but it is an entertaining show: it is famous for its halftime show that usually features vast celebrities.
There are a vast amount of betting markets available during the Super Bowl, and this is not surprising considering that it has a potential audience of around 1 billion people. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched sports events in the world after the Champions League final and the El Clasico.
National College Athletic Association Of Football (NCAAF)
The NCAAF regulates College Football which is divided into the Football Championship Subdivision and the Football Bowl Subdivision. Teams are promoted and the champions are playing in a four-team playoff.
The NCAAF has the control over College Football in the US: Football is the most important sport in the US after professional basketball and baseball. There are around 1.2 million high school boys that play the game, so the leagues are fed at a college level by tens of thousands of new players every single year.
It is now possible to bet on nearly every NCAAF games but make sure you check payout limits as they tend to be lower than NFL games. If you are using NCAAF as part of an offer make sure those leagues are included in the promotion.
CFL And Other Worldwide American Football Leagues
There are a considerable amount of American football leagues all over the worlds. The popularity of the sport has increased notably since UK major stadiums have hosted some NFL games.
The Canadian Football League (CFL) is the biggest in the world outside US: you can bet on this league with all the bookmakers we have suggested in this page.
The European Football League (EFL) is the European version, and it also has its own Eurobowl. The European Federation of American Football (EFAF) also has a competition that is called the EFAF Cup and other cups like the Challenge Cup and the Atlantic Cup. With some of the largest bookmakers you can bet on these games but be aware that the depth of market is limited and also payouts are lower than NFL games.
History Of Basketball And The NBA
Even if basketball is not just a US sport, it was invented in the United States. It was 1891 when a Canadian games teacher called James Naismith was taking his weekly gym class at Springfield’s (Massachusetts) YMCA (today called Springfield College). The weather that day was terrible, so he was trying to find games to play indoors. He started to quickly write down some rules and put a basket used for peaches on top of a ten-foot pole. Basketball was born!
Initially, the game was played with a round football, and after a while, the bottoms of the baskets were removed so that the game could be played at a faster speed. In the beginning, only a point was awarded for a basket and the game was therefore low scoring. The first official game of basket was played at the New York YMCA in early 1892 on a court of around half the size of today. The game ended with just 1-0 from a 25-foot shot. In the beginning, the game was played mostly indoor in the winter and there were 5 players per team.
The NCAA took over and started to promote the game within the collegiate system. Outside of colleges, the National Basketball League (NBL) was created in 1898 as the first professional league.
It was in 1937 that the National Associate of Intercollegiate Basketball tournament was formed and in 1938 the NCAA competition, the National Invitation Tournament began. In the first 50 years of the 20th Century, a vast number of professional leagues were created alongside the NBL. After the interruption for the WWII, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) was founded in 1946. The first official game was then played between the Toronto Huskies and New York Knickerbockers in November of that year.
In 1949 the BAA and NBL merged into the National Basketball Association (NBA) was formed. Professional basketball has continued to develop in America, and it is now seen as the most popular US sport to play worldwide. Despite the USA remain dominant on the international stage there are very competitive teams around the world.
Rules & How To Play Basketball
Basketball success outside of the US is maybe because it is straightforward and also it can be played both inside and outside. The primary objective of the game is to outscore the other team on points. The basketball court is 28 meters long (29 in NBA) and 15 meters wide and made of wood (usually maple). The hoop is 46 cm across, and at 3 meters off the ground, a backboard surrounds the basket.
There are two teams of 5 and unlimited substitutions. A single match it is played in four quarters which are 12 minutes each in the NBA. If the game is a draw, then a 5 minute overtime periods may be played. Teams change ends at halftime, and there are three referees.
When the ball is not in play the time does stop so the game last a lot more than the 50 minutes. Coaches can also call timeouts during the game so that they can discuss the strategy with players: the timeouts usually are 100 seconds in the NBA and some cases they last as long as a TV ad break takes!
Players cannot carry the ball; they must dribble or pass. There is a time limit on how long a team can hold the ball in their half (8 seconds for NBA) and how long they have before they need to take a shot (24 seconds). The ball cannot be kicked or punched as this will be a faul and the ball will go to the opposition. Players can try to block the other team’s players but cannot interfere with the different shots.
Around each basket, there is a three-pointed arc which has a diameter of 7.25m (NBA). From outside the arc, a shot into the basket is 3 points while a shot within the arc is worth 2 points. A basket scored from a foul is just 1 point.
Major Basketball Leagues And Tournaments
National Basketball League (NBA)
The NBA is the most crucial league of basketball and was born in 1949 after the merge of two professional leagues. It is by far the wealthiest and most watched basketball league in the world.
The NBA is currently made of 30 teams (28 from the USA and one from Canada) that are divided in an Eastern and Western Conference. Each conference is then divided into three divisions of 5 teams each. The season is vast with 82 games to be played (41 home and away). Teams are playing teams in their division for four times. Every team then plays each of the teams in the opposite conference twice (30). The NBA is also famous for it’s Christmas Day games that have been played since 1946.
At the end of the long season, the three division winners and top runner-up are getting 4 places in the playoff, and the others four best runners-up are getting four lower seeds. These eight teams will face each other in a play-off. Every playoff series is played at the best of 7 knockouts. The winner for each conference then plays each other in the NBA finals in a final best of 7 games.
Other National And International Basketball Leagues & Cups
Basketball is very popular around the world, and every country has a professional basketball league. You can watch and bet on the majority of these. Those are the most important ones and the titles available:
- National College Athletic Association of Basketball (NCAAB) – This is the United States college league and it is enormous as there are 32 conferences with 351 teams only in division 1.
- FIBA Basketball World Cup – This is the World Cup organised by FIBA and it is played every four years with the first edition that was in 1950. 32 FIBA teams are taking part, and it is similar to the football World Cup.
- The Euroleague – The Euroleague is the kind of champions league of association basketball in Europe. It is played between the best 16 teams in Europe.
- Euro Cup – This is by importance the second European elite cup.
- FIBA Americas League – This is the South American equivalent of the European elite cup.
- EuroBasket – This is a competition played by European teams
- FIBA America’s Championship – This is the South American equivalent of the Euro Basket.
History Of Baseball & MLB
There are different theories in regards to the origin of Baseball, but the game was first played in England and the first reports of the game date back to 1744. Instead of bases, there were posts, and it was a triangular rather than a diamond formation.
We believe that this game was imported to Canada with the early British and Irish migrants in the 1750’s and it was then carried to America.
The first reference to baseball in America is from 1791 in a Pittsfield (Massachusetts) when the game was banned around the towns meeting house. In 1796 a German student, Johann Gutsmuths, called the game Base-ball in which two teams were playing and the batter had three chances to hit the ball from ‘home’ with only a single out needed to end the game.
It was however in 1845 that Alex Cartwright wrote down the first actual baseball code also called Knickerbocker Rules as he was a member of the New York Knickerbocker Club. The ball is not allowed anymore to be thrown at players, and although there were still lots of differences with today’s game, this was the first thing that looked like something similar to the modern baseball.
In 1857, 16 New York clubs decided to get together and form the National Association of Base Ball Players. The Cincinnati Red Stockings (which were then called Boston Red Sox) was the first thoroughly professional team in 1869. A negative from the sport at that time was the banning of African American which continued for around a century.
In 1876 a National League was created: the one bounce rule was removed and in 1884 overarm pitching became legal. By 1893 all the modern baseball rules were made. Softball also started to become more and more popular as a gentler version of the game that was particularly suitable to be played indoors during winter.
At the turn of the 20th Century, two rival leagues competed with each other: the National League and the American League. In 1919 the Chicago White Sox fixed the World Series, and as a result, a Major League Baseball Commissioner role was created to have better controls. Since the blacks were banned, the leagues were dominated by white Irish Catholics.
In the 1930’s the game become a lot faster and high scoring. New rules were introduced to avoid ball tampering and also better materials, and bigger hitters improved the game. Babe Ruth was the first big hitter that changed the fortuned of the game at this time.
After the World War II, the African American’s started to be allowed into the game: Jackie Robinson was the first black professional Major league player s it was signed for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
In 1958 the Major League Baseball Players Association was formed while the game was becoming more and more popular around the country. In 2000 the American League and the National League were merged into the Major League Baseball (MLB).
Baseball is a real US sport, but it is also popular in many other countries like Canada, Cuba and so on. In Europe there are leagues in Italy and Holland since the 1950’s.
Rules & How To Play Baseball
A baseball game is made of two teams of 9 players that take turns either batting or pitching. One round of batting and pitching is called an Inning, and the game consists of 9 innings. The away team bats typically first (top of the inning) and the home team second (bottom).
The primary objective is to score more points than the other team. The batting player will try to score by running around four bases that are set in a formation of the form of a diamond. The player bats and then run counter-clockwise around the field to 1st, 2nd and third base and then it goes back to home. The defensive team will need to limit the number of runs and ‘out’ players in the same time.
Once all the three players have been eliminated it is the turn of the next team that will bat from the other side of the innings. If the game is a tie after nine innings, then another inning is played. Players need to striker the ball into the diamond-shaped area for the ball to be live: if they struck outside this area, the play is a foul. The space inside the bases is called infield, and the area outside is called outfield. The pitcher will send the ball from the middle of the infield on a raised mound.
The fielding team has a pitcher and a catcher. Batters will attend to hit the ball, and if they do make contact, they need to abandon the bat and run to reach the 1st base. When the ball reaches a defensive player on a base before the batting player gets there that player is eliminated. If the ball is captured inside the field without touching the ground the player is also out. If the player hits the ball beyond the outfield boundary, then he gets a home run and can advance around all bases with any other batting players currently on a base.
Batting players can try three times at hitting a ball pitched and if they do not succeed they are out.
As you can see baseball is a very tactical sport that has complex rules. It is also worth noting that it is not time-limited, unlike any other popular US Sports. The team that will win the game is the one that has the most points when all is over regardless of how long it takes to finish it. It usually lasts three hours or more.
Major Baseball Leagues And Tournaments
National League Baseball (MLB)
The MLB is still claiming that it had existed since 1869 when the first professional baseball team was created. In reality, the early days of baseball were a bit of a mess with a lot of rival leagues and some dodgy antics. For a long time only two major leagues survived, the National League (NL) and the American League (AL). The leagues did play in parallel with a National Agreement, but it was only in 2000 that the two leagues were dissolved and the MLB was formed.
The NL and the AL do not exist anymore, but the game is still pretty much organised based on the original structure. Every league is made up of 15 teams and has three divisions which are made of 5 groups each. The MLB regular season is very long and has 162 games, and it goes from April to October. Teams do play between 5 to 7 days each week. If you like to bet frequently, then baseball is an excellent choice!
When the regular season is finished, the teams that have topped the 6 division and the four runners-up face each other in a playoff depending on the seeding. Every team will play a best of 7 series which will start with the two wild cards from every league that start with a one-game winner takes all contest. The remaining eight teams will then play in a knockout structure until the winner is found.
Other Baseball Leagues
Baseball is a truly US sport. There are some professional leagues around the world, and there are some betting opportunities, but these don’t even come close to the quality of the MLB. Baseball has also been in the Olympic games a number of times, but the reality is that this is mainly an American sport that has struggled to pick up outside the US.
History Of Ice Hockey And The NHL
Ice Hockey shouldn’t be called a US Sport as eventually, this is a Canadian sport considering both origins and popularity. Ice Hockey is also played consistently in eastern Europe and in other nations that are situated at North like Scandinavia and Russia. Since, however, the majority of the bets made on this sport are on the US Ice Hockey we have added this sport in this American Sports betting guide.
There are signs of hockey way back in the history as sports involving hitting a ball with a stick since the times of the Greeks. In the middle age, there are reports of a game played in Holland and Scandinavian countries where the aim was to hit a ball made of leather with a bat to get to a target with the least number of strokes similar to golf.
The first real evidence of Ice Hockey tough goes back to the late 1700’s. A letter from William Pierre Le Cocq described a game on ice similar to the modern ice hockey. There are also pictures from the time that show winter festivals with people that are on skates and are using sticks to knock balls on frozen rivers or lakes. The popularity of the game might have also increased during what was called the ‘little ice age’ which happened from the late 16th to the early 17th century. During this time the major European rivers and lakes were usually frozen during the winter, and this might have facilitated the diffusion of this winter game.
Many migrants and soldiers moved from the United Kingdom to North America at this time, and many could have taken their stick and ball games with them. By the mid-1800’s the game was already referred by British soldiers as ‘hockey on the ice’, and it was a popular pass time. At the time there weren’t specific rules, and lots of different variations were in existence.
The first official game of Ice Hockey was played in 1875 in Montreal, Canada: it was played indoors at the Victoria Skating Arena, and the contestants were two teams made of 9 individuals each from the McGill University. Instead of the bung, they used a circular piece of wood, and the objective was to hit the disc into an 8-foot goal.
By 1876 the game was being played across the country according to the ‘Hockey Association’ rules: this was the body that also regulated field hockey in the UK. In the next few years, some small changes were made to the rule of the game with teams that were reduced from 9 to 7 players. The popularity of the sport increased massively, and by 1893 there were hundreds of teams that were playing Ice Hockey in the modern form of the game in the Montreal area alone. At this time also the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup (which was the precursor of the Stanley Cup) was first played.
In the USA another version of this game was played and was known under the name of ‘ice polo’: it was using a ball instead of a puck. It was in 1893 tough that leading American universities like Yale started to adopt the Canadian form of the game: 3 years later the first US Amateur Hockey League was created.
With all those changes the game was then re-imported back into Europe by Lord Stanley, and in 1910 the first European Championship was played which was won by Britain. The sport became popular also in Europe despite there was a real problem in making artificial ice at the time: for this reason, it was more widely played in countries with more prolonged and harsher winters like Russia or Scandinavia.
The Western Pennsylvania Hockey League was the first league that started to employ professional players in 1902. That league was quickly joined with teams based in Ontario and Michigan, and as a result, the International Professional Hockey League was created in 1904.
Rival Canadian leagues also turned professional immediately after: the National Hockey Association was created in 1910, and there were also some rules changes that came with it. The game was split into three periods of 20 minutes, and two types of penalties were introduced. The League was also reorganised again in 1917 and became the National Hockey League (NHL) which also extended into the US.
Even if a lot of professional leagues are existing across Europe and in Russia, it is still the NHL that is the most watched and bet on ice hockey league in the world.
Rules & How To Play Ice Hockey
Since there are some rules variations especially in some minor leagues, we will base our guide on the NHL rules given that this is the most popular league for betting on. Ice Hockey rules are rather simple and field hockey has similar rules. Ice Hockey, like football, is a low scoring sport and for this reason, there are a lot more upsets during a season than the other US Sports we have seen in this guide.
Hockey is played on a hockey rink that is 61 meters and 26 meters (200×85 feet) with 3.4 meters of space just behind the goal line.
Teams are made of 6 players that are on ice skates and have the objective to hit a puck with an ice hockey stick and score as many goals as possible. Every goal scored is a point, and to win the game, a team need to score more goals than the opposition. Even if the stick is used to direct the puck players are allowed to use any part of their body to hit it, but they cannot hold the puck. Since 1930 forward passes are also allowed, and the off-side rule also applies.
Teams are typically made into a defensive live of two players plus the goalkeeper and three forwards. Substitutions can be made at any time and are unlimited, and also players can also come on and off many times. The teams are restricted to 18 players and two goalkeepers in a match.
Players can use the boards of the rink in order to rebound the puck. Players are also allowed to use the boarding to ‘bodycheck’ their competitors. The game is made of three 20 minutes periods, and teams are swapping ends at the end of each. If after the final period the game is tied then there is a knockout match played: this is an additional 20 minute period and if a goal is scored the game ends there and then. In some leagues if at the end of the extra period the situation is still tied then the overtime continue to run until a winner is found. In other leagues, there might be a penalty shootout to decide.
In Ice Hockey, there are two forms of the player penalty during a match: major and minor. Minor penalties involve that the player leaves the field for two minutes: this is awarded somewhat regularly with things like delaying the game, tripping, use of elbows, etc. Major penalties are 5 minutes long and are awarded for severe misconduct. Also, a penalty shot can be granted if a player is stopped from scoring: the penalty consists in a free shot with online the goalkeeper on the ice.
Major Ice Hockey Leagues And Tournaments
National Hockey League (NHL)
The National Hockey League was born in 1917. In the beginning, it was made up of Canadian teams, but in 1924 the Boston Bruins were accepted. The NHL is now made of 31 teams of which 24 are from US and seven from Canada and has its headquarters in New York.
The league is divided into two conferences (Eastern and Western), and each of those is split into two divisions based on location. The regular season is from October to April and each team is playing 82 games with the majority of games against their local oppositions. Each team will play another team in the league at least twice.
At the end of the regular season, the top 3 teams from each division (i.e. six teams from each conference) with the two best runners-up from each conference will qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup is taking the name from Lord Stanley of Preston who had the role of British governor in Canada back in the 1800’s, and it has the responsibility for introducing the game into Europe. Lord Stanley gave a large silver rose bowl that is given to the winner of the top Canadian hockey team every year. This tradition is continuing, and the winner of the NHL Championship is given the Stanley Cup.
Other National And International Hockey Leagues
Ice Hockey is also very popular in a lot of countries outside the US and Canada. There are many European leagues in European countries like Switzerland (National League A), Germany (Deutsche Eishockey Liga), Sweden (Swedish Hockey League) and many more. An important league is the Kontinental Hockey League which is a league that has 22 Russian teams and teams from 7 other countries. America also has some lower leagues like the American Hockey League (AHL), and the NCAA that is running the college league.
Champions Hockey League was established in 2015 and it is a competition that is made by the winners of various national divisions that play against each other to conquer the honour of best team in Europe. The format is not too different from the Champions League in football.
You can bet on all those leagues and tournaments with a bookmaker that has a particular focus on Ice Hockey but be careful as payout limits might be lower compared with NHL games.
Odds And Payouts
The vast majority of European bookmakers are covering top American and European leagues for American football, ice hockey, baseball and basketball. It might be a bit tricky however to get good odds for the lower or college leagues, so it is worth considering this when betting.
Since American sports are increasing in popularity, there are lots of US sports offers and enhanced odds promotions that will give your wagers additional value. Don’t rush to place a bet with a betting site but make sure you have firstly visited competitors sites and our betting offer section as you don’t want to miss out on a significant amount of value.
To avoid making mistakes when placing a bet on US Sports ensure you familiarise yourself with the terms that can be different from the ones we use in Europe (i.e. for example in regards to the accumulator, spread, money lines and so on).
Payouts on US Sports are more or less in line with sports like tennis in most bookmakers. Some betting sites that are mainly geared towards American Sports also go up to £500,000 for most significant events. Payouts for lower leagues are generally at £50K or £100K. It is essential however that you always check payout limits if you are placing a large bet or if you are going for a big accumulator.