Michigan Sports Betting: A Beginner’s Guide

Online Sports Betting launched in Michigan in January, and so far it’s been a rousing success. The popularity of sports betting and the growth of sportsbooks in the state have attracted many new gamblers.

This guide will introduce new gamblers to online sports betting, and can be used as a reference as you enter this fun activity. 

Your Michigan Online Betting Resource Guide:

Betting Terms Glossary

What Is A Point Spread?

The point spread tells you how many points a team needs to win by. For example:

  • -1.5 means the favorite to win has to win by at least two points. 
  • +3.5 means the underdog has to lose by less than four points. 

The point spread evens things out for those who want to bet on underdog teams, and makes it interesting for bettors who wish to place bets on the better teams. 

What Is A Favorite? 

The favorite is the team in a matchup that is expected to win. Favorites are always marked with a minus (negative sign, for example -2.5 or -300 on a moneyline bet). The lower the odds, the more likely the favorite is expected to win.

What Is An Underdog?

In any sporting event, the underdog is the team not expected to prevail. The underdog betting lines are marked with a positive sign (such as +3.5 or +400 for a moneyline bet). When betting on an underdog, you “get the points” against the favorite. 

For example, if you take the Lions as +3.5 underdogs to the Packers, the Lions need to win the game, or lose by no more than three points for you to win your bet.

What Does It Mean When a Team Covers?

This is when a favorite wins by more than the required number of points in a point spread bet.

What Is A Moneyline Bet? 

A moneyline bet is a wager on who will win, in the simplest terms. The “moneyline” is the amount you will earn if your choice wins. Moneyline bets are indicated with a minus (-) sign for the favorite and a plus (+) sign for the underdog.

Here’s an example for an NFL Game between the Lions and Chiefs:

  • Detroit Lions +125
  • Kansas City Chiefs -140

With the Moneyline at +125 for the Lions, a $100 bet on the Lions would pay $125 if they won. At -140 odds, a bettor would need to bet $100 to win $140 on the Chiefs to win.

What Is The Over/Under? 

When you bet the over/under (“totals”), you are wagering on the total points that will be scored in a game. Bettors are gambling that the two teams will score more or less than the sportsbook predicts.

For example, for an NFL game, the sportsbook may offer the following over/under bet:

  • Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears (O/U 45.5)

This means the Bears and Lions will need to combine for a total of 46 points or more to win the “over” bet or less than 45 points for you to win the “under” bet.

Totals are typically set at -110, which means betting $110 on the over would earn $100 if you win your wager.

What Is A Futures Bet?

Sometimes you don’t want to wait. That’s what a futures bet is all about: letting you bet today on a sporting event that will take place in the future.

A futures bet is a wager on an event that will take place in the distant future, maybe even a full year away. (A bet on next week’s NHL game is not a futures bet, for example).

With a futures bet you’re wagering that a team (or individual depending on the sport) will win a championship or a tournament, typically before that season even begins. For example: you wager $500 that the Detroit Pistons will win the NBA Finals on the eve of the season. To win your bet, the Pistons will need to make the playoffs, win their conference, and be triumphant in the NBA Finals. If so, you win big in your futures bet.

Payouts are higher on futures bets the further out you are from the results.

What Is Live Sports Betting?

Live sports betting is gambling that takes place while a game is being played. For example, a sportsbook may offer the chance to bet on who will score the next touchdown in the game between two rivals. Or what the combined score will be at the end of the third quarter in an NBA game.

Live sports betting (via a sportsbook website or app) is an exciting way to interact with a sporting event as it unfolds. It can offer good odds and a chance to win money outside of the result of the game itself.  With live sports betting, you can win money on a game before it is completed.

What Is A Parlay?

Want even more fun? A parlay bet combines several bets into one wager that can pay off big. Parlays typically consist of as few as two and as many as 10-15 bets, with the possible payout increased with the more wagers you place within your parlay. 

For example: if you bet on four Sunday NFL games and win them all, your payout could be as high as 10-to-1 or more. Much larger parlay bets (with a dozen bets wrapped inside them) could pay out to 500-to-1 or 640-to-1. (Payouts for parlay bets vary on the bet and odds for each contest, depending on the sportsbook. These are estimated scenarios).

Parlays typically mix point spread, moneyline, and totals bets. While they can be complicated and are longshots to pay off. If you win a parlay, your payout will usually be significant. 

What Is The Payout?

The amount of money paid on a winning bet.

What Is Even Money?

This is a proposed wager that would pay out exactly what is staked. An even-money bet is represented as odds of +100.

What Is A Prop Bet?

A prop bet is a novelty bet that gives odds on a specific event happening, usually within a contest, game, or season. Examples of prop bets in sports betting:

  • Betting on who will score the first goal in a hockey game
  • Betting on which team will have the most turnovers in a football game
  • Wagering on which pitcher will have the most strikeouts in a game
  • Wagering on what minute the first yellow card will take place in a soccer match

Prop bets can make sports betting more enjoyable, and allow you to remove yourself from the focus of choosing a winner of the contest.

How To Place Online Sports Bets in Michigan

Where Can I Place A Bet? 

Since placing bets is integral to sports betting, bettors should know how to find sportsbooks. Many states list licensed sportsbook operators either on the Department of Revenue website or the Lottery Division website. (It depends who runs sportsbooks in that state.) Bettors can also search for sportsbooks at casinos or find sportsbook websites and apps in states that allow online wagering. Michigan bettors can find a full sportsbook app guide right here on MichiganSharp.

The list of states with legal online sports betting is growing by the year. Currently, almost two dozen states have legal online sportsbooks or are in the process of launching sports betting. 

What Is Live Betting? 

Betting on sports games is one thing, but betting during them can be exhilarating. Live betting allows bettors to make wagers during a game. Sometimes, teams will have a rough start, but bring it together in the end. Other teams have a great start then finish poorly. (Broncos anyone?)

Live betting lets bettors take advantage of these changing odds. It tests a bettor’s ability to guess how the game will change during play. It’s a fresh challenge for bettors who pick the basics up quickly. 

What Sports Betting App Offers The Best Odds? 

It depends. Some sportsbooks offer strong odds on the favorite, the underdog, certain sports, or offer so many boosts and promotions that they beat the competition. Here are some common trends: 

  • FanDuel: Competitive odds on underdogs
  • BetMGM: Bet boosts that can improve odds over other sportsbooks
  • DraftKings: Competitive odds on favorites

No sportsbook will have the best odds every time. The best way to bet on sports is to understand your own preferences, then find a sportsbook that matches them.

How Much Should I Bet? 

No more than you’re willing to lose. Learn how to bet on sports one at a time, first. Then you can make a few wagers at a time. Eventually, bettors will be able to put several wagers on one bankroll. Professional bettors know how to distribute their bets so they can balance wins against losses. They begin to run their bet slips like sportsbooks run books.  

What Are The Most Common Betting Mistakes?

Betting on your favorite team instead of the best team is the best way to burn through your money. If you keep losing wagers, don’t keep trying to make the same strategy work. Chasing losses doesn’t work in Vegas, and it doesn’t work on DraftKings. Failing to learn and adjust will hurt new bettors more than most things they can do. (It’s as true on the field as it is off the field.) 

Understanding sports betting means understanding that feelings can’t be part of your wagers. Deliberate strategies beat feelings over the lifetime of a sportsbook account.  

Sports Betting Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Legal To Bet On Sports Online In Michigan? 

Yes, online sports betting was launched in Michigan in January of 2021.

How Old Must I Be To Bet On Sports In Michigan? 

In Michigan, you must be 21 years old to legally wager on sports online.

How Do I Start Betting On Sports In Michigan? 

Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert to wager on sports online. You can select a sportsbook and start slow. In fact, that’s the best philosophy when you’re starting out.

Pick a licensed sportsbook (see a list here), create your account, and start betting. When you first begin, you’ll likely receive bonuses from the sportsbooks. These are called “welcome bonuses” and they are available only to first-time online gamblers. These bonuses make it easier (and less risky) to bet on sports. 

Be cautious when first starting: don’t wager more than you can lose, and set limits until you become more accustomed to the sportsbooks. It’s a good idea to try one or two sportsbooks at first, before trying to spread your bets across multiple sportsbooks.

Is It Safe To Bet On Sports Online? 

Licensed sportsbooks in Michigan are regulated by the Michigan Gaming Control Board to make sure they adhere to all applicable laws. In order to operate in the state, sportsbooks’ websites and/or mobile apps must utilize end-to-end encryption to ensure safety of transaction data. d

About the Author

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes has written three books about sports. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He enjoys writing, running, and lemon bars. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters and usually has an orange cream soda nearby.