Is it smarter to bet on sports or in a casino?

It’s becoming increasingly common for sports betting sites to include a casino as part of their service, and vice versa. Betting sites in general know that someone who is keen to bet on one thing is probably more likely to bet on something else. Sports bettors may busy themselves with a few hands of blackjack if there’s no sport around that they really want to bet on, while casino bettors will often be attracted by the idea of betting on a cup final or a big horse race like the Grand National.

This does raise the question: which form of betting is the most likely to offer you a decent return – or any return at all? Many people who believe that sports betting is a perfectly reasonable pastime have more of an issue with casino games. There will, by the end of 2023, probably be a total of at least 40 of the 50 US states that offer some form of online sports betting. The number of states that allow online casino betting is stuck at six, and isn’t expected to rise by much, if at all, this year. So is sports betting really the smarter way.

Well, that depends

The thinking goes that sports betting is smarter, somehow more legitimate, because you can have a decent idea whether a bet is going to win. If you know enough about sport, you can minimise your risk. And that is true to a certain extent – if England are about to play Malta at football, you can be very confident that England will win, so there is very little risk in betting that that will happen. But if you bet £20, you’ll be lucky to win £1 on the bet, because the odds are adjusted accordingly. To make good money from a sensible stake, you need to make a higher-risk bet, and naturally, there is less chance of that coming off.

You actually have more control in a casino

The house always wins when it comes to casino betting – or does it? The answer is “Well, sort of”. In any given day, a casino will take in more money in losing bets than it pays out to winners. But in a game of You vs The Casino, you will win sometimes. And while you have next to zero chance of controlling a game of slots, you can have a significant impact on how a game of blackjack turns out. Plus, in a casino game, you can get ahead and walk away when it suits you. While you can cash out your bet on a sporting event, you can only do that when it looks like it is going to win – and doing so will cut your profit significantly.

So is it smarter to bet on sports or casino gaming?

For someone to win in betting, someone else has to lose – and it’s rarely the house in the long term. But that point should be remembered, because if it is smarter to bet on sports then that means the people running the sportsbook must be less smart than those running the casino. But they’re usually the same people! In truth, the fact remains that betting on either, if you want to win a significant amount of money, is going to involve taking on significant risk. And while sports betting offers the illusion of control, you don’t really have it unless you’re on the pitch, on that horse, or swinging that bat.