NBA Betting 2021

The mantle for which sports league is most popular with Americans outside of football is still up for grabs, but there’s a good case that it’s the NBA and basketball.

That, in turn, translates into pro hoops being one of the most popular sports to bet on. Betting on professional basketball is now legal in a growing number of states across the country.

Read on for more information about NBA betting, where you can wager on NBA games, and more.

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Where you can bet on the NBA in the US

Once upon a time, the only place you could bet on the NBA was in Nevada. Sportsbooks have been legal there for decades, and online sports betting has been legal for the better of a decade.

But betting on the NBA is now legal in a variety of states, and its list is growing rapidly.

Here is where you can legally bet on NBA games currently:

StateIs sports betting legal?Is online sports betting legal?
DelawareYesYes, launch undetermined
MississippiYesYes, on-property only
New JerseyYesYes
New MexicoYes, at multiple tribal casinosNo
New YorkYesNo
North CarolinaYes, pending launchNo
Rhode IslandYesYes
Washington DCYes, pending launchYes, pending launch
West VirginiaYesYes

In some of those states, you have to visit a physical sportsbook in order to bet. But online basketball betting is becoming more common. Here’s a look at where you can bet on NBA games via an app or website:

NBA betting in New Jersey

Betting on pro hoops is significant business in New Jersey. There are several teams that NJ residents root for: the Philadelphia 76ers, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets.

New Jersey has an advantage over a lot of other states, as well: easy access to the New York City market. New York has legal sports betting only in upstate casinos, and no sports betting online yet (though it is coming). That means NJ sportsbook operators have access to people that live or work in NYC.

Here is a sampling of NJ sportsbook apps available:

NBA betting in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is the biggest state in terms of population that has legal sports betting apps. The Sixers are the main game in town here, and after years stuck in the bottom of the heap of the Eastern Conference, interest in the team has been on the rise.

Here is a sampling of the current sportsbook apps available in PA:

NBA betting in Michigan

Michigan launched its legal sports betting market in January 2021 and already boasts 12 apps alongside a slew of retail sportsbooks in Detroit and across the state at tribal casinos.

Just like its neighbors, Michigan has its favorite team with a huge fan following. And that’s despite a decade of rough times with the Detroit Pistons. Its proximity to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois means those NBA teams get a lot of attention, too.

More info: Michigan sports betting apps

NBA betting in Illinois

Illinois has both retail and online sportsbooks in the state, but new online users are required to visit a casino to complete registration.

The Chicago Bulls reign supreme in Illinois, but the state is not too far away from Indiana and the Pacers.

More info: Illinois sports betting apps

NBA betting in Colorado

Colorado boasts as many sportsbook apps as New Jersey, or at least the potential for that outcome. Retail betting is available at several casinos centralized in Black Hawk, Century City, and Cripple Creek.

The Denver Nuggets are the NBA team of choice in Colorado.

More info: Colorado sports betting apps

NBA betting in Tennessee

Tennessee launched its sports betting industry in November 2020 as an online-only market.

The NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies moved to the state 20 years ago, and maintain a huge following.

More info: Tennessee sports betting apps

NBA betting in Virginia

FanDuel Sportsbook was the first app to launch in Virginia in January 2021, just a couple of days before Michigan kicked off its sports betting market. The state also plans to have retail sportsbooks at the new casinos that are in the works.

Virginia does not have an NBA team to its name, but the Washington Wizards based in DC has its fan following.

More info: Virginia sports betting apps

NBA betting in Indiana

Indiana has both physical sportsbooks and sports betting apps available around the state.

Basketball of all types is big business in Indiana, from college to the NBA, with the Indiana Pacers in the state and the Chicago Bulls nearby.

More info: Indiana sports betting apps.

NBA betting in West Virginia

There aren’t any NBA teams in West Virginia, but the state is still hoops crazy because of West Virginia University. That should lead NBA betting to come in No. 2 behind the NFL in terms of the amount wagered in the state.

More info: West Virginia sports betting apps.

NBA betting in Nevada

Betting has been legal online in Nevada for nearly a decade, and as such, betting on basketball is already well established.

While there’s no NBA team in Sin City, there’s usually heavy action on the two nearby Los Angeles teams: the Lakers and Clippers.

Beyond that, the NBA is usually the king of betting in the city when football is not going (and outside of March Madness in college hoops).

More info: Nevada sports betting apps.

NBA betting in Iowa

If you want to bet on the NBA legally in Iowa, you’re in luck. The state has both physical sportsbooks and online betting options.

Sports betting currently isn’t legal in any of the surrounding states, so NBA fans from beyond Iowa could make the pilgrimage to bet. (Illinois has legalized wagering, but it’s not yet live.

More info: Iowa sports betting apps.

NBA betting in Oregon

The first state with legal sports betting on the Pacific Coast was Oregon, as of 2019. The Oregon Lottery offers a sports betting app in collaboration with SBTech.

Without top-level teams in most of the major pro sports leagues, the Portland Trail Blazers get an outsized amount of attention in Oregon. Betting on them could be the most significant single sector for online wagering in the state.

More info: Oregon sports betting apps.

NBA betting in Rhode Island

There is just one app in the state, via the Rhode Island Lottery, to use for betting. Like much of Rhode Island, fans look north to Boston for their fandom and usually root for and bet on the Celtics.

More info: Rhode Island sports betting apps.

Legal NBA betting options vs. offshore sportsbooks

The states above all have legal sportsbooks, albeit of varying levels of competition and quality, for NBA betting. There are also a variety of options offshore, from companies that flout both federal and state laws to serve the US market.

As a bettor, you often don’t have to worry about legal issues regarding an offshore sportsbook, but legal sports betting does offer several advantages:

  • If there are issues with a sportsbook on a bet or getting paid, you have recourse to state gaming regulators.
  • Payments are safe through large companies and American banks.
  • Revenue and tax money helps Americans and state residents.

Two of the states have monopolies on sports betting, meaning bettors in the state have only one option. Despite that fact, those sportsbooks, in Oregon and Rhode Island, are at least competitive with offshore sportsbooks.

NBA betting at sportsbooks vs. betting apps

If you want to bet on an NBA in states with legal sports betting, you have a couple of options: Head to a sportsbook near where you live or wager online. In the early days of the expanded US betting market, we know that about 80% of wagers for NBA and other sports come online, a percentage that is only going to rise.

Why? For many people, betting online is more convenient. With an app, you can bet wherever you want, including at home while watching a game. You could even bet while at a sportsbook if you wanted.

A sportsbook is a different type of experience. You make bets before you watch a game; then you sit and watch how the game turned out, and perhaps have some drinks and food. As more NBA games start, you could place more bets. You get a communal feel betting and watching at a sportsbook, as people are rooting on their favorite NBA teams, and their bets.

The significant advantage of betting online is live betting (or in-game betting), which is difficult to do or outright impossible, depending on where you live.

NBA sportsbook apps vs. websites

If you made the decision to bet on NBA games online, you usually still have a choice to make, but this one often isn’t hard either.

US sportsbooks typically offer NBA betting both via a website and an app. The most convenient way for more bettors to get a wager down on the NBA is via a dedicated app. Apps will provide an experience that is tailormade for a mobile device, letting you bet anywhere you go.

Sportsbook apps are available for both Android devices (like the Samsung Galaxy) or iOS (iPhone and iPad). You can download Android apps from sportsbook websites; they are not available in the Google Play Store. For iOS, apps are always available in the App Store.

Sports betting sites are certainly convenient if you are near or on a computer, but betting on a phone is generally more accessible and can be done anywhere.

How to bet on the NBA

Every state where it is legal will take action on the NBA. While some states have limitations on college basketball, those are nonexistent for the major pro sports in the US.

There are several common ways to bet on NBA games:

  • Moneyline Bets on the NBA: Here, you pick a winner. The moneyline will be designated by a negative or positive number. The team with odds that have a negative number is the favorite; the positive number is the underdog. If a team is -120 on the moneyline, you would have to bet $120 to return $100 in winnings. For a +120 underdog, a bet of $100 would return $120 in winnings.
  • Point Spread Bets on the NBA: You bet on whether a team will cover a point spread set by the sportsbook. The favorite must win by more than the set number of points, and the underdog must win or lose by less than the spread.
  • Over/Under Bets on the NBA: You bet on the total number of points that will be scored in a game. It is either under or over a total set by the sportsbook.
  • Parlay Bets on the NBA: Parlay betting means linking two or more bets together for an increased payout. You could bet the point spread in multiple games, and get a much larger return on your wager. These are usually much riskier than any of the straight bets above.
  • Proposition Bets: Prop bets are usually of the yes-or-no variety, such as whether LeBron James will score more than 30 points in a game, or if Joel Embiid will have more than 15 rebounds.
  • Futures Bets: You bet on future events, such as the winner of the NBA Finals, or how many games a team will win in the regular season.
  • Live Betting: You can bet on any number of things while games are going on, including moneylines, point spreads and props.

To bet on the NBA at US online sportsbooks, you need to have a way to deposit online. Several options are available, depending on where you are, including PayPal, Neteller, e-checks, Play+ cards, and credit and debit cards. The options vary by state and by sportsbooks.

If you’re betting at a physical sportsbook, you will usually have to use cash to wager.

NBA live betting

One of the fastest-growing segments in NBA betting is live betting or in-game betting.

One upon a time, the only way to bet on NBA games was before they happened, or if you were placing a futures bet. Now, those limitations have been eliminated, at least in states with online betting.

NBA futures and pro betting

Here is a sampling of what you can bet on at some legal US sportsbooks:

  • Bet on who will win the NBA title.
  • Bet on NBA division winners.
  • Bet on if a team will make the NBA playoffs.
  • Bet on NBA win totals.
  • Bet on NBA MVP / Rookie of Year / Defensive Player of Year / Coach of Year / Sixth Man.
  • Bet on the NBA All-Star game.
  • Bet on the NBA 3-point shootout.
  • Bet on the NBA dunk contest.
  • Bet on the NBA draft.
  • Bet on the NBA lottery.

NBA Betting FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about betting on the NBA:

Is it legal to bet on the NBA in the US?

Yes, you can bet in several states, including:

  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Indiana*
  • Iowa*
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada*
  • New Mexico
  • New Jersey*
  • New York
  • Oregon*
  • Pennsylvania*
  • Rhode Island*
  • West Virginia*

* Online betting is allowed statewide.

It will be legal in more states in short order.

How do NBA spreads work?

Sportsbooks will set a number of points that one team will win by; for instance, the Lakers could be favored over the Sixers by 3 points. If you bet on the Lakers (-3), they would have to win by 4 points or more. If you bet on the Sixers (+3), they have to either win the game outright or lose by 1-2 points. If the Lakers win by 3 points in this situation, bettors will get their wagers back.

How does over/under work in basketball?

For an over/under bet, also known as a totals wager, sportsbooks will set the number of points that will be scored in a game. You can bet over or under that total. For example, for a game between the Lakers and Sixers, the total could be set at 240 points. If you bet the under, you are saying the combined points will be under that total. If exactly 240 points are scored, the bet is a “push,” and a sportsbook will refund your money.

How are NBA spreads and odds created?

Sportsbooks will set initial lines, sometimes days before a game takes place. They will do this based on how they rate the teams involved, or perhaps by the early lines set by other sportsbooks. Sportsbooks will then take bets on the games, and they could move the line on the game based on how much money is coming in on one side or the other.

For instance, in a game where the Lakers are favored over the Sixers by 3 points, a sportsbook might move the line to 4-5 points (or perhaps more) if a lot of money comes in on the Lakers to cover.

Can you bet on the NBA draft?

Well, it depends on where you are. Different states have various regulations about whether you can bet on things other than the outcomes of games. In some states, you can place limited wagers on when players might be drafted. Betting on the draft is a fairly limited form of wagering in the US.

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