The Cost of Betting Online vs. Brick and Mortar | Part 1: Line Shopping

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The information in this article is going to be an eye-opener for a lot of you and hopefully a money maker. It certainly was for me the first time someone pointed it out to me, and it changed the way I placed my sports bets. Now, before I get into the meat and potatoes of the article, I want to make sure you understand this information is coming from the right place. If you know much about me or have read any of my prior articles, you know I usually speak fairly highly of betting online versus betting at brick and mortar casinos. This is not for any ulterior reason. I really do feel that the benefits of online casinos far outweigh the crap you have to go through with books and brick and mortar casinos.

The reality is I’m a gambler first and a writer second. The reason I’m always so high on online casinos is through the use of technology they eliminate a lot of the issues and problems with brick and mortar casinos (physical buildings), and sportsbooks.

Now I could talk about the convenience factor: the fact that I don’t have to put pants on, the fact that I don’t have to deal with grumpy people and the fact that I hate lines. These are all huge perks of placing your sports bets online which we will touch on in future parts of this series. But what I want to talk about today trumps all of those. I want to talk about the effects on your profits from betting in each location. I’ve talked to too many sports bettors lately that don’t seem to take into account the perks or downfalls of placing some of their bets in different locations and cut into their profits.

If you’re shooting yourself in the foot before the games you bet on even start, you’re not going to survive long in this industry, and you’ll quickly see your money evaporate. Now for the main course.

Line Shopping

The number one tip that any sports bettor worth their weight will give you is that you have to line shop if you want to be profitable. What is line shopping? Line shopping is the practice of checking the betting odds at multiple sportsbooks to ensure you are getting the best odds on your bet. For a lot of people, it’s a wake-up call to realize that different sportsbooks will have different lines on the exact same bet. Sometimes the lines are very close, and sometimes they can be way different.

Here’s why. Sportsbooks do not like gambling. Well, they like YOU gambling, but they don’t like to gamble. If you’ve ever looked at an even bet (a bet that is a 50/50 toss up), each side will pay out at -110 usually. Let’s say you are betting the over under on a game with both payouts at -110.

Over -110

Under -110

If you bet $100 on the over, you will be paid a profit of $90.91.

If you bet $100 on the under, you will be paid a profit of $90.91. Exactly the same.

What the sportsbook is going to try and do is get the exact same amount of money on each side of the bet. Let’s say they are successful in this and five people bet $100 each on the over and five bet $100 each on the under.

If the over wins…

Sportsbook collects $1000 in total bets.

Sportsbook pays the five winning bettors their original $100 plus $90.91 in profit each.

Total payouts, $954.55


Sportsbook profits $45.45

If the under wins…

Sportsbook collects $1000 in total bets.

Sportsbook pays the five winning bettors their original $100 plus $90.91 in profit each.

Total payouts, $954.55


Sportsbook profits $45.45

If the sportsbook is successful in getting the same amount of money on each side, they profit NO MATTER WHAT happens in the game. This is their ideal situation. The reason for insanely spelling this out is to show you that sportsbooks only care about the bets at their sportsbook. They don’t pool their money with other sportsbooks so they couldn’t care less what the other sportsbook’s odds are. All they care about is getting the same amount of money on each side of a bet. This is 100% independent of what is going on at other sportsbooks.

The books achieve this by manipulating the lines to entice betting on the side they need more money on. Too much money on Team A? They adjust the lines so that a Team A win pays worse and a Team B win pays better. This dance continues the entire time the bet is available. As we hope you are starting to see, this means each sportsbook could have drastically different lines.

If you had the option to bet Team A at +125 or +250, which would you take? You’d 100% take the second option! The first sportsbook is paying you $125 for a Team A win and the second is paying you $250 for…the exact same thing. Even if it were $1 more at the second location, you’d be crazy to pass that up.

Online vs. Brick and Mortar

Line shopping used to be impossible unless you lived in Las Vegas or were down to waste a ton of time and gas. You would have to go from casino to casino or book to book to try and find a line you liked. Without the internet, this is still not possible for most people. Most people only have one casino or sportsbook close by (a lot don’t have any).  The problem too is if you went to a sportsbook and then went to another to find a better line and didn’t, you’d still have to go back to the first sportsbook and hope the line hadn’t changed while you were gone.

The internet changed all of this. How long does it take to open another browser tab and click to a different sportsbook? Maybe 5 seconds? With the use of online sportsbooks, you can shop lines at a bunch of different locations in a matter of minutes. This allows you to get the absolute best odds possible on every single one of your bets. If you’re not seeing the incredible value of this, you need to keep reading this article until it sets in.

Sports bettors that do not line shop are literally leaving potential profits on the table. It doesn’t cost any money to join multiple sportsbooks, and the effect it can have on your bottom line is huge. Since this technology exists and is readily available, it comes down to laziness and how bad you want to succeed. If you don’t want to take the few seconds or minutes to check lines each time before you bet, we can’t help you.

It’s up to you how seriously you want to take your sports betting. If you look at it with any degree of seriousness, this is a must do. I personally have a lot of friends that are recreational bettors only, and they all still line shop. Why? Because they don’t hate money. This is the same as driving an extra block to get some cheaper gas. Are you a professional driver? Probably not, but you still don’t like wasting money.

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