Is It Better to Bet on Sports or Play Casino Games for Real Money?

Casino Games Vs Sports Betting

Are you trying to decide between gambling on sports or playing casino games for real money?

This post offers some pros and cons for both sports betting and casino gambling for you to consider.

A lot of your decision making when it comes to something like this has to do with your personal preferences, but it’s also important to make educated decisions.

If you don’t understand how casino games work and how sports betting work, you can’t make an educated decision about which activity you prefer.

And, of course, you might decide you’re down for both. Sports betting and casino gambling aren’t mutually exclusive activities.

Casino Games All Come with a Built-In House Edge

When you play a casino game in any casino, the casino makes money.

But how?

The house edge is their engine for driving revenue.

And it varies from game to game.

When you place a bet, you have specific odds of winning that bet. You also have payout odds for that bet. These 2 numbers are almost never the same in a casino game.

For example, you might place a bet on black at the roulette table. You might think you’re getting even odds to win that even-money payout, but you’re not.

Roulette Wheel Landing On Black

That’s because there are 38 numbers on the roulette wheel, and only 18 of them are black.

The odds of winning are 20 to 18, or 10 to 9.

Since the casino pays this bet off at even money, in the long run, they’ll win an average of 5.26% of every bet you place.

Some games have a higher house edge, and other games have a lower house edge, but all real money casino games involve a clear mathematical advantage for the casino.

Sports Betting Also Has a Built-In Edge for the Bookmaker

The oddsmakers set the lines for sporting events in such a way that you have an even probability of winning your bet. The point-spread is what determines this.

For example, if the Cowboys are playing the Redskins, and the Redskins are a 7 point favorite, they need to win by 8 points or more if a bet on them is going to pay out.

Redskins Beatting Cowboys And Celebrating

The Cowboys can lose the game, but if they lose by fewer than 7 points, a bet on the Cowboys still wins.

The oddsmakers are VERY good at determining what kind of point spread will result in a 50% probability for either side winning.

Sounds like a bet where the house doesn’t have an edge, doesn’t it?

But the bookmakers require you to risk $110 to win $100. If you win $100 half the time and lose $110 half the time, you’ll eventually lose all your money.

This difference in the amount you’re risking and the amount you stand to win is called the “vig,” which is short for “vigorish.”

Some bookmakers charge more or less vig than that. You might find a bookmaker who only wants you to risk $105 to win $100. Another might want you to risk $120 to win $100.

This means that you must win more than 50% of the time to just break even.

But if you win a high enough percentage of bets, you can have a long-term profit.

The average sports bettor, though, just like the average casino gambler, faces a mathematical disadvantage.

Savvy Casino Gamblers Can Get an Edge Over the Casino

The first step in getting a mathematical edge as a casino gambler is choosing a game where a mathematical edge is possible. Most casino games don’t present that opportunity, but a couple of games do.

An example of a game where you can get an edge is blackjack.

Blackjack Game In Play Table Overview

But just playing with perfect basic strategy won’t get you a mathematical edge in blackjack. The best you can hope for is a house edge

To get an edge at blackjack requires you to use some kind of strategy that will get you an edge. For most blackjack players, this means learning how to count cards.

Video poker offers some games with paytables that are so good that an expert player can get a small edge over the casino – as long as they combine that strategy with the rebates and comps that accrue from being a member of the slots club.

Games like slot machines and roulette, though, offer no means of getting an edge.

Savvy Sports Bettors Can Also Get an Edge Mathematically

The great thing about being a sports bettor is that you’re not required to bet on every game. You can pick and choose which games you want to bet on.

If you want to get an edge over the bookmaker, you have to choose games where the lines are off.

You see, even though the oddsmakers are really good at setting the point spreads, they’re not always right.

Man Looking At Sportsbook Lines

In fact, sometimes they’ll set the lines in such a way that they don’t offer a 50% probability just to generate more action on the other side of a game.

After all, the bookmaker’s goal is to generate a more-or-less guaranteed profit.

They do that by getting 50% of the bettors’ money on each side of the game and relying on the vig to guarantee their profit.

But professional sports betting is a tricky thing for various reasons.

What Are Your Goals When Gambling?

If your goal is to make as much money as possible, a quality sports betting strategy offers bigger opportunities to make large profits without a lot of risk.

This doesn’t mean there’s no risk.

Bookmakers will limit the amount of action they accept from a gambler if they identify that gambler as a “sharp” – someone who can pick winners more than 50% of the time and generate consistent profits over time.

Some bookmakers will even refuse your action.

There are ways around this. Some sports bettors bring so much action to the table that they use runners to place bets on their behalf.

Runners Betting At Sportsbooks

Also, you need to be good enough to win a high percentage of the time.

If you can win 55% to 60% of your sports bets, you can get rich from betting at online sportsbooks – and you can do so relatively quickly.

On the other hand, if you don’t like sports, or if you’re satisfied with smaller winning amounts, being an advantage gambler or card counter might be a more appropriate choice for you.

Being a card counter has its own drawbacks, though.

For one thing, counting cards isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Doing so without getting caught by the casino is harder still.

What About Recreational Gamblers?

If you’re just gambling for the pure joy of it, you should choose the gambling activity you enjoy more.

Some people love to shoot craps.

Others love to have money riding on the football game.

Your job, as a savvy gambler, is to choose the activity you’re going to enjoy more.

How do you do that?

First, if you’re not a sports fan, you probably won’t start enjoying sports betting more just because you have money in action. You might, but you probably won’t.

If you do enjoy watching sports, though, try putting some money on a game or two and see how you feel about it.

Did it increase your enjoyment of watching the game?

Excited People Watching Football

If so, did it increase your enjoyment of the game enough to make it worth doing on a regular basis?

The other thing to do is try the various online casinos to try the different games available and gauge how much fun you’re having playing them. This will help you gauge your interest in a particular casino game or not.

Give the roulette wheel a spin. Roll the dice at the craps table. Learn basic strategy and play some blackjack.

Every gambler I know has his favorite game.

But you won’t know until you try the different games.

3 Things to Avoid Regardless of What Kind of Real Money Gambling You’re Doing

I don’t judge gamblers or their predilections, but I do suggest avoiding 3 things:

Don’t Play Slot Machines

Real money slots are so expensive for the average gambler that I suggest avoiding them altogether. You’d have to enjoy the slots far more than the average gambler to make slots worth your while. If you like gambling machines, stick with video poker. You’ll lose less money in the long run and have just as much fun.

Don’t Gamble on Anything You Don’t Understand

No matter what, as a gambler, your job is to make educated decisions. This means avoiding bets on activities you don’t completely understand. Don’t bet on sports that make no sense to you. Don’t play casino games if you don’t understand the games.

You’ll lose too much money, and you won’t have as much fun.

Don’t Gamble at All If You Have a Gambling Problem

How do you know if you have a gambling problem?

Do some serious thinking about whether you’re enjoying the activity.

If you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be gambling at all.

The only reason people participate in gambling they don’t enjoy is because they have a compulsion.

That kind of compulsion will ruin your life if you’re not careful.

I’d like to spare you that, and you should love yourself to avoid that fate, too.


Is it better to gamble on sports or play casino games?

The answer varies based on what kind of gambler you are.

Spend some time thinking about your goals and preferences and decide based on that.

Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

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