Professional sports bettors seldom achieve a long-term winning percentage of more than 55 percent, and it is sometimes as low as 53 or 54 percent. However, some professional sports bettors do very well for themselves over time, particularly if they find a way to get odds that are too good to pass up on.
The majority of sports bettors will never become rich by betting on sports. It's a hard business to break into, and the potential rewards are not great enough to make it worth while for most people. However, if you're willing to put in the work and don't mind being wrong sometimes, then it is possible to make money betting on sports.
In fact, according to research done at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, most professional athletes would make more money if they didn't play sports. The study found that only 12% of pro athletes actually made any real money playing their sport.
The reason why so few sports stars make a living out of their sport is because they often have contracts that limit how much they can earn from sports betting. Professional athletes' contracts usually contain clauses that prevent them from making any kind of gambling appearance, this includes betting on sports events and games.
It's not uncommon for some people to win 60% to 80% of their sports bets. Billy Walters, a millionaire, made his fortune in this manner. Most people, however, do not win by such percentages, at least not frequently. Having stated that, every professional gambler's goal is to win more and lose less. The more skilled you are at predicting winners and losers, the better your chances of success.
In general, yes, you can make a living wage betting on sports. It all depends on how much risk you are willing to take and how skilled you are at judging games. If you get paid out 75% of what you bet, then no, you cannot live off of it. However, if you get paid when you win and don't have to share any of your profits with anyone else (your bookmaker or someone else), then you will be able to save some money.
The most important thing to remember about making a living wage betting on sports is that there is no such thing as luck in sports gambling. Every game has an expected outcome based on statistics, so if you know how to use them, they are not going to deceive you. What may surprise some people is that statistically speaking, over/under bets tend to come up even more often than line bets.
Most professional sports bettors follow a rule of thumb of risking no more than 1-2 percent of their bankroll on any wager. So, if you could lose $1,000 betting on sports and still pay your mortgage and put food on the table, you'd be happy betting $20 or more every game. However, some people like to risk more than that - they are free-staters - but you should understand that if you go over that limit you can end up with a negative balance and need to start saving money to cover those bets.
The most common way people lose money when betting on sports is through greed. They want to win so badly that they will risk more than they should for a single game. For example, let's say you bet $10,000 on one football game and you lose. That would leave you with a deficit of $10,000 in cash needed to cover your bets.
Some people also lose money because they fail to take advantage of available discounts. For example, if I were to place a $100,000 bet on one team to win the Super Bowl then I would need to find a bookmaker who would take such a large amount of money on a single bet. Most places wouldn't accept that kind of cash deposit so I might have to partner up with someone who has enough credit with other bookmakers to afford my odds.
Given that there are just a limited number of authorized sports betting alternatives in the United States for 2021, their published numbers—while enormous—represent only a minuscule percentage of the real handle turned by US sports bettors each year. Over 60% of US citizens identify as sports aficionados, although not all bet on sports. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Research, in 2017 the total amount wagered on sporting events in the United States was $9 billion. That's equivalent to about 1% of GDP.
In fact, the vast majority of Americans gamble on some aspect of sports. A 2018 study conducted by the University of New Hampshire found that almost half of American adults gamble with something other than money, most often on games of chance such as lottery tickets, slot machines, or poker. The study also estimated that the annual economic impact of gambling in the United States is $37 billion.
Of course, not all sports fans will bet on sports events. Some people choose not to wager for religious, ethical, or political reasons. Others may prefer to place bets with bookmakers instead of engaging in illegal activity. But for those who do want to bet on sports, there are places where it's easy to do so legally.
In the United States, you can find bookies operating out of backrooms and across the street from casinos who are willing to take your money for odds on any game, event, or outcome.