Sports betting is illegal throughout most of the United States, common throughout much of Europe, and an everyday part of the gambling industry in Nevada. It's difficult to figure out how much money is bet on sports in the United States since the majority of it is done illegally, but experts estimate a "handle" of more than $200 billion annually [ref].

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Simply placing a bet can be a confusing affair -- sports books have their own lingo, and the systems vary. Figuring out how to bet well enough to make some money is another matter entirely. How are the odds determined? Who sets the line? What percentage of the time do you need to win to break even?

In this article we'll explain the important elements of betting and odds making, trace the history of betting in the United States, and show why betting on sports almost always results in losing money in the long run.