Sports Betting Loss Rate Much Lower Than Most Casino Games

When done responsibly, sports betting offers one of the most inexpensive forms of entertainment. Sports betting is a unique way to gamble. The house edge on bets may seem high when compared to casino games. However, if you play responsibly, you can make your sportsbook bankroll last longer than it would playing casino games. With mobile and online sportsbooks, it can also be a simple way to play without needing to leave the house.

Studies show that the average online sportsbook wager is between $10 and $25. A sporting event tends to take about three hours. This can provide cheap entertainment for players who are able to keep their bet sizes within their bankrolls. 

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Computing the hourly expected loss when betting on sports

A straight bet usually has a -110 price on it. This means that a player lays $11 to win $10 on these types of bets. The house edge is 4.55%. 

An $11 straight bettor is giving up a theoretical loss of $0.50, assuming the player has average skills. That is typical of a sports bettor in this range of wagers. If a game lasts three hours, the player is entertained for about $0.17 per hour in theoretical losses. 

A $22 bettor loses $1 on average. This hourly loss rate is $0.33. There are few entertainment options in this price range. 

According to the study linked above, about one in six players bets between $25 and $50. Using $44 as a typical straight bet in this range, the expected loss is $2. That is only $0.67 per hour during a three-hour sporting event.

Even at $110 per bet, the expected loss over a three-hour period is only $5. It is $12.50 on a $250 bet. 

Parlays and teasers add to the expected loss

Parlays and teasers have much higher house edges than straight bets do. This is part of why there are so many parlay and teaser cards, as well as the big push by online sportsbooks for players to build same game parlays. These types of bets are where the sportsbooks make most of their money.

The house edge on a typical two-team parlay is round 10%. It goes up a little on a three-team parlay. Four and five-team parlays typically have a house edge over 30%.

A two-team parlay theoretically loses $1 for every $10 wagered. Even at $100, the $10 juice comes out to just over $3 an hour over a three-hour span. 

This becomes worse as the number of teams on the parlay ticket increases. A parlay with a 30% house edge will lose $3 for every $10 wagered. That $100 parlay now has a $30 expected loss, which starts to become more expensive. 

The house edge is difficult to determine on teasers. First, the payouts can vary greatly from one sportsbook to another. There is also the quality of the teaser built. Picks that cross key football numbers like 3 and 7 will have more value than teasing ones that do not, or totals, which usually offer little value in a teaser. The house edge tends to mirror parlays, so the calculations above mostly apply here for the average bettor.

Comparing sports betting theoretical losses to casino games

The average sports bet loses $1 or less per hour. This is much better than any casino game, with the exception of 100% video poker and 100 times craps. Here are some typical hourly losses at other games. 

The dollar amount in the lists is the average bet. The other number is the hourly expected loss. It covers blackjack, roulette, craps, and video poker. The numbers below assume 70 hands per hour at a table game and 700 hands per hour at video poker and slots.

3:2 six-deck blackjack with double down before and after splitting

  • $10: $4.41/hour
  • $25: $11.03/hour
  • $100: $44.10/hour

6:5 blackjack

  • $10: $14/hour
  • $25: $35/hour
  • $100: $140/hour

Single zero roulette

  • $10: $18.90/hour
  • $25: $47.25/hour
  • $100: $189/hour

Double zero roulette

  • $10: $36.82/hour
  • $25: $92.05/hour
  • $100: $368.20/hour

Craps pass line, no odds

  • $10: $4.20/hour
  • $25: $10.50/hour
  • $100: $42/hour

Full pay Jacks or Better video poker (perfect play, five coins bet at each denomination)

  • $0.25: $4.03/hour
  • $0.50: $8.05/hour
  • $1: $16.10/hour

8/5 Jacks or Better (perfect play, five coins bet at each denomination)

  • $0.25: $23.63/hour
  • $0.50: $47.25/hour
  • $1: $94.50/hour

Slots with a 10% house advantage

  • $1 bet: $70/hour
  • $2 bet: $140/hour
  • $5 bet: $350/hour

Stay within your sportsbook bankroll

As you see in these instances, casino games have a much higher hourly expected loss than most sports bets. The best way to stay in the sportsbook game longer is to play within your bankroll. Don’t risk more than 2% on any single event. As long as you do that, you will increase your chances of winning. No matter what, you will stay within your budget and in the game longer. 

Last Updated on March 24, 2024 by John Mehaffey