The NFL is the most popular sports league in West Virginia as a passion for football runs deep across the Mountain State. Its burgeoning sports betting industry was keen to launch just in time for the start of the 2018 NFL and college football seasons, and that ensured it enjoyed a flying start. Wagering on football is sure to be the most popular form of sports betting in West Virginia going forwards and the state’s new regulated sportsbooks have worked hard to create a strong offering.
Football is also the most popular sport at West Virginia University and more than 40,000 fans regularly pack into Milan Puskar Stadium to watch the Mountaineers do battle with teams like the Baylor, Texas Tech and Iowa State in the Big 12. Some states that have rolled out legal sports betting do not permit wagers on college football, but that is not the case in West Virginia. Its people love college football, and they were not to be denied the pleasuring of betting on it.
The NFL is also extremely popular in the state and the most popular franchise is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh has had a strong roster for the last few years, and it is often among the favorites to seize conference and Super Bowl glory, so hope springs eternal for its fans. There is also some love for the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens to the east of the State, particularly in the eastern panhandle. West Virginians are blessed with a number if big teams in the near vicinity to follow, and betting on them will be huge going forwards. Here are the key betting categories to bear in mind when considering a wager on football:
This is a long-term bet that does not focus on one particular game, and the most popular futures option is backing a particular team to win the Super Bowl at the end of the season. Before the start of the 2018 season, Pittsburgh was the +1000 joint second favorite to go on and win the Super Bowl. A plus sign in a set of odds tells you how much you stand to win if you lay down $100. A $1000 bet at +1000 would generate a profit of $1,000. Sometimes you will see +1000 rendered as 10/1 (fractional odds) or 11.00 (decimal odds).
Before the season began, only the New England Patriots had shorter odds than Pittsburgh. Tom Brady and co were +600 (6/1 or 7.00), meaning a $100 bet would generate a $600 profit if they won. The Steelers were next in the betting, along with three other teams – the Rams, the Eagles and the Vikings. The odds change over the course of the season, depending how well each team is playing and any injury concerns. By the end of Week 6 of the 2018 season, an under-performing Pittsburgh had drifted out to +1800 (18/1 or 19.00), while an on-fire Rams team has become the clear +300 (3/1 or 4.00) favorite after making a great start to the season.
Other futures bets include predicting who will win each division and conference, and player markets like who will be named offensive rookie of the year. You can also bet on how many wins each team will secure over the course of the regular season.
This is a straightforward wager on which team will win a particular game. The sportsbooks assign each team a set of odds depending on the gulf in quality between the two of them at the time, taking into account injury concerns, home and head-to-head records. When the New England Patriots recently faced the Bears in Chicago, New England was the -150 (67/100 or 1.67) favorite to win the game. A minus sign in a set of odds tells you how much you need to bet in order to earn a $100 profit. A $150 bet at odds of -150 generates a profit of $100. When your bet is a winner you get your stake back, so you would be returned $250. The Bears were the +130 (13/10 or 2.30) underdogs to win the game. If one team has a plus in its odds and the other has a minus, the team with the minus is deemed the favorite as it is said to have a better chance of winning the game.
Spread betting is much more popular than moneyline betting when it comes to football. This involves giving the favorite a handicap to even things out, and to make both teams an attractive betting prospect. In that New England at Chicago game, the sportsbooks made the Pats the 2.5-point favorites. That meant you could bet on New England -2.5 or Chicago +2.5 and the odds on each outcome were -109 (23/25 or 1.92). If you were to bet on New England to cover the spread, it would need to win by three or more points for you to be paid out. If you bet on the Bears to cover the spread, they could either win or lose by one or two points and you would be paid out. In a high-scoring game like football, spread betting becomes much more compelling than simple moneyline betting. It is fiendishly difficult to predict, but it is a lot of fun.
In each game the sportsbooks will set a total points line and you can bet on the cumulative score of both teams either going over or staying under that total. When the Cowboys and the Redskins recently locked horns in the nation’s capital, the total points line was set at 41.5 and you could get -109 (23/25 or 1.92) on either over or under. Sometimes you will see alternative points lines that skew the odds.
These are special betting options that hone in on a particular event within a game. Sensible and common prop bets on a football match include first touchdown scorer, first field goal and how many passing or rushing yards (over or under) a quarterback or running back will record. When the Super Bowl rolls around, the props become pretty ridiculous, as you can bet on what color hat the singer will wear or how many times the POTUS will Tweet during the game.
This option allows you to roll multiple selections into one bet in order to earn far more attractive odds. You could, for instance, bet on New England -2.5 versus Chicago, Washington -1.5 versus Dallas and Pittsburgh -4.5 versus New Orleans. All three would have to prove correct for your bet to win, but the potential rewards are great, ensuring a far higher payout than if you had simply divided your bankroll in three and placed separate bets on each game.