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American, fractional and decimal odds explained

DEPENDING on what opinion you listen to on the many laws relating to gambling in the USA, some will tell you it is actually illegal to gamble on sports online.

Others will say it is not.

What is a fact is no one has ever been charged with betting on sports online in the country and, if you stick to the reputable bookies, you should be safe as houses.

The betting market in the USA is monstrous and worth billions and it is the home of the biggest sports in the world.

Whether it is the NBA, NHL, NFL or MLB, the best players play for the best teams in the world at their respective sports and that makes them very attractive to punters.

Some of the minor stuff, like Major League Soccer and NASCAR racing can also be wagered on outside of the country.
But often the odds can be confusing.

Most reputable online bookmakers based in America will provide punters with an option to view odds as American or decimal, making it easier for Aussies to take advantage.

Here we take at the different odds formats to help clear up any confusion punters might have.

American odds explained

SO you want to make a foray into the American betting market, but have no idea what +1200 means when it comes to odds? Let us break it down for you.

American odds will be presented with a plus + or a minus – symbol ahead of the number.

This all pertains to the figure of $100.

Those bets with a – next to their figure indicate how much you must bet to make $100 in profit from your wager.

So, if say the Golden State Warriors are -200 to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in game one of the NBA Finals, you will need to wager $200 to win $100, meaning you will get a $300 return.

By contrast, if the wager has a + symbol ahead of the number figure, this will tell you how much profit you will make on a $100 bet.

Let’s say the San Francisco 49ers are +320 to defeat the New England Patriots in an NFL match, it means you’ll get $320 in profit from a $100 wager ($420 in total return). If you look at that in decimal odds, it would mean the Niners are $4.20 outsiders to defeat the Patriots – sounds a bit short, given the way they are going.

These are often called money line odds.

Fractional odds explained

The old school punters’ bread and butter and a favourite of the Poms. They are often called British odds and If you don’t get fractional odds, they can be very confusing.

As the name suggests they are presented as fractions and are based on the return you will get for your stake.

In simple terms, let’s use the example of a horse paying 5/1 to win the Melbourne Cup.

You say five to one and it is exactly how it suggests. You will get $5 profit for every $1 you stake. So say you have $20 on your horse at 5/1, you will return a profit of $100, plus your original stake of $20 ($120 in total).

On the reverse, if your horse is a hot 1/5 favourite, you’ll only get $1 for every $5 you stake.

So, taking the same $20 bet, you will only make $4 profit, plus your original stake of $20 ($24 in total)

Decimal odds explained

Why sports books the world over don’t just adopt decimal odds is beyond us at

Decimal odds are simple, clear and easy to follow.

They are presented at the odds for a $1 bet.

So if you’re jumping on the San Diego Padres at $3.00 to beat cross town rival San Francisco Giants, you will get $3 back for every $1 that you spend.

So, using the $20 example again, if you dump it on the Padres and they manage to get their flip flops going and win the game, you will get $60 back.

There is no worrying about working out profit or working out where your stake comes into it.

It is simply set, bet and forget, then count your money.

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