Point Spread Betting in Ohio: What is It & How to Spread Bet?

Fact Checked by Joss Wood

There are a variety of ways you can wager on sports, but betting the spread is one of the most common and popular bets to make. Now that sports betting in Ohio has gone live, points spreads are one of many bets you can make. 

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Best Expected Betting Sites in Ohio for Point Spread Bets

What are the best operators to make a point spread bet in Ohio? The following are our recommended sites:

⭐️ BetMGM Sportsbook OhioBest overall for points spread betting
⭐️ Caesars Sportsbook OhioGreat NFL spread betting options
⭐️ DraftKings Sportsbook OhioCompetitive, but fair spread betting odds
⭐️ FanDuel Sportsbook OhioBest app to make a points spread bet
⭐️ PointsBet Sportsbook OhioTop Unique Spread Bet Feature: PointsBetting

How Are Point Spreads Used In Sports Betting?

The legalization of sports betting is changing the world as we know it. It's important to know what you’re doing. So what is point spread betting? In this article we’ll cover the basics of point spreads, what sports and actions you can bet on using spreads, and common terminology you’ll need to know like, ATS (against the spread), cover, push, and lay the points. Ready? Ok, let’s go. 

Point spreads are used to level the playing field. A point spread is set by a sportsbook to let you know how much better a team is than their opponent. For example, if the Ohio State Buckeyes are -10 favorites over the Michigan Wolverines, then the sportsbook believes that the Buckeyes are 10 points better than that "team up North." You will want to review the Michigan vs Ohio State odds before betting a point spread bet!

The idea behind point spreads is that by giving an underdog points, the sportsbook will get equal betting action on both teams.  When an oddsmaker releases point spread lines, early action by big bettors can move spreads up or down. If one side of a spread is heavily bet after its initial release, it could move in the opposite direction before a game goes live.

Can Promos Be Used to Make a Point Spread Bet in Ohio?

Unless the terms and conditions of Ohio sportsbook promotions say otherwise, you can use a promo to place an Ohio point spread bet. The benefit of doing so is that you get the opportunity to place one of the easiest bets using an low-risk or no-risk offer. New bettors also get the opportunity to test out their new skills and knowledge. You might say its a win-win.

Point Spread Betting Odds

Point spread betting odds can differ from the odds for moneyline bets. The industry standard odds for betting a team with the spread is -110. This means you need to bet $110 to win $100. The extra $10 is for the rake, vigorish, or juice which we’ll get into a bit later.

The Ohio sports betting app will take a cut for housing each bet to ensure they make money in the event that both sides of a game are bet evenly. On occasion, a sportsbook may offer odds between -105, -125 for spread bets, meaning there is quite a bit of action or liability on one side.

The Favored Team

There are many reasons a team could be favored to win outright in a game. It could be a better win-loss record, home field advantage, a long list of better statistics, or simply talent. With the exception of a pick-em (discussed later), there is a favorite to win every game or match. 

For example, if the Cleveland Browns are expected to win a game, the moneyline for them to win straight up might be -500, meaning you would have to bet $500 to win $100, and net $600. The point spread wager for this game might be -10 with odds of -110, meaning there are much more enticing odds for a bettor. 

The Underdog Team

When there is a favorite, there is also an underdog. The underdog is the team that is expected to lose. There are multiple reasons a team might be an underdog. Win-loss record, player injuries, or weaker talent are factors considered when giving a team points to level the playing field.

If the Cincinnati Bengals were playing against the LA Rams and star quarterback Joe Burrow was not playing due to injury they would be big underdogs and receive something like 12.5 points. If you were picking the Bengals you would pick Cincinnati +12.5. If the game ends LA Rams 34 - Cincinnati Bengals 22, your team covered the spread and you win! 22+12.5 = 34.5, a higher score than the Rams 34.

Even/Close Teams

We mentioned favorites and underdogs but what happens when two teams are evenly matched? In the NFL when teams appear equal, we’ll see spreads of three points or less, sometimes a pick-em (meaning no spread, just pick the winner).

In another situation, three points could be given to a team simply for home-field or home-court advantage. For example, if the Browns have a record of 4-4 and the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers have a record of 4-4 and the game is in Cleveland, you might see a spread of Browns -3.

Odds Movement

If you ever feel confident on placing a bet, do it early because the odds can change. The Cavaliers might be -1.5 favorites over the Heat but you and thousands of other betters think that line is too small. The Heat defense is bad and you believe the line should be -4.5 so you bet heavily on Cleveland to cover the -1.5 points.

Other betters feel the same way and as a result, there is heavy action on the Cavs at -1.5. The sportsbook has the right to move the odds in either direction so you will see the point spread change. The spread is moved from 1.5 points to 4.5 points. Your initial bet of Cavs -1.5 is locked in and not affected by this movement.

Outcomes On Point Spread Betting

Betting the spread for a game is pretty simple, you choose the favorite or the underdog. We have two choices to bet on the spread but there are three possible outcomes. Win, loss, or push. Let’s take a look at each.

  • Win A win is everyone's desired outcome. Say you bet the Cleveland Cavaliers -3 over the Miami Heat and they win by 4 points. This means you win your bet. Most of the sites will pay out winners quickly after the contest has ended and funds are immediately deposited into your account.
  • Loss Not the desired outcome, but it happens often. You bet the Cavaliers -3 over the Heat, but this time Miami outplays Cleveland. The Heat get revenge and beat the Cavs outright, so you lose your bet.
  • Push The third possible outcome is called a push.  This means the two teams tie after the spread is accounted for. For example, the Cincinnati Bearcats are -2 favorites vs. Xavier Musketeers in basketball, and the Bearcats win 74-72. They won the game by 2 points, making the spread a push. The financial result of this bet is a full refund. If the bet is part of a parlay, then that leg is removed and the rest of the parlay remains intact with odds for the remaining bets only.

Covering The Spread  

Covering the spread means a team wins a game by more points than the spread. For example if the Browns are 2 ½ point favorites over the Jets and they win the game by 3 points, 30-27, they covered the spread. If the Browns won the game 28-27, they won the game, but by less than 2 ½  points so they did not cover.

“Did they cover?” Is a common phrase you’ll hear with point spread wagers and usually refers to the favorite winning by more than the spread, but it can also refer to the underdog as well. An underdog can also cover a spread by winning a game outright or by winning a game after you add the spread to their total. 

What Does ATS Mean?

ATS is an acronym for Against The Spread.  ATS refers to a team’s win, loss, and tie record with the spread. ATS is a common statistic that experienced gamblers use in their research. For example, if the Browns cover the spread in 10 of their first 12 games of the season, their ATS would be 10 wins, 2 losses, 0 ties or 10-2-0 ATS. A good ATS record may push action towards one particular team regardless of the spread.


Vig is short for vigorish which is a fee bookmakers take for housing your bet. A vig is built into every betting line.  Like any business, sportsbooks want to make money and the vig makes sure they get something from each offered bet. For example, the Cavaliers vs the Magic has a 2 ½  point spread with odds of -110 for each team. Two bets were placed, one for the Cavs and one for the Magic, no matter the outcome, the sportsbook makes money.

Bettor A places $110 on the Cavs while bettor B places $110 on the Magic. The sportsbook takes in $220 and will pay out one winner, $210, leaving $10 profit for the book. The vig is crucial to a sportsbook especially during big swings when there is heavy action to one side of a bet that wins.

The vig is not always the same. Some money lines may appear as -105 or -115, times when a sportsbook may take a smaller or larger percentage fee. Rival sportsbooks may have the same spreads but with a different vig, so make sure you shop around to get the best spread bet odds. 

The Hook

The Hook is a betting term that refers to the half a point in a spread. The hook makes it impossible for a bet to result in a push, always producing a win or a loss. For example, if the Ohio State Buckeyes are -3 ½ point favorites over the Michigan Wolverines, the ½ a point is the hook.

If in the final score the OSU wins by 3 points then the hook influenced the winning bet. If you bet the Buckeyes to cover the 3 ½ point spread, you lost. If you bet Michigan +3 ½ points then the hook was on your side! 

Football Point Spreads

NFL and football point spread betting is the most popular bet to make and you may be familiar with it if you’ve played in a NFL pick 'em league with your friends or colleagues. NFL point spreads were created to level the playing field for an overmatched underdog.

For example, if the the 8-0 Browns were playing the 2-6 Steelers and all you had to do was pick a winner, everyone would choose the Browns. However, if the Browns had to win by 7.5 points, some bettors would take the points and the Steelers. Forcing a team to win by a certain amount of points typically results in more balanced betting.

Pick'Em or Even Odds 

A pick, pick’em, or PK, is when a game has two evenly matched teams competing. The spread may say PK instead of a number. The odds for these games are similar to spread betting and moneyline betting. A standard -110 is usually applied to both sides for a pick game. For example, the Bengals and Steelers are playing and the spread is a pick'em. You bet the Browns and if they win by 1 point or 3 points, you win the bet. If the Steelers win, you lose the bet. If you bet $110 on the Browns and they win, you profit $100. 

-7 and +7 

If the Bengals are favored by a touchdown over the Jets, the spread will be listed at seven points. The Bengals will need to beat the Jets by eight points or more to cover the spread. If the Bengals only win by six points, selecting the Jets +7 would get you a winning ticket. Victory by a touchdown is pretty common in the NFL and if a spread is seven points, a push could be the end result. 

-3 and +3 

The Bengals are now playing a home game vs the Kansas City Chiefs and are 3-point favorites. When the home team is favored by 3 points it usually means sportsbooks have the two teams pretty even. The visiting team usually gets 3 points to account for the screaming fans in Cincinnati that provide a home field advantage.

For example, if the Bengals win the game by 3 points on a last second field goal, the result for all bettors is a push. The Chiefs got three points added to their score resulting in a tie.  Chiefs +3 bettors and Bengals -3 bettors will both receive refunds on their spread bets. 

Why NFL Spreads are Lower Than College Football 

NFL point spreads on average are much lower than college football spreads for a few reasons. There are 130 Division 1 college football teams in the FBS that are eligible to compete for the National Championship. The NFL consists of 32 teams that compete for the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy. The NFL has a salary cap for each team creating a level of competitive balance, giving each team the opportunity to build equally talented rosters based on salaries. You can use a Caesars promo code for Ohio to be on some great NFL spreads.

College football teams attract talent from expert recruiting, conference money, school money, and path to the NFL which can create massive talent gaps between team 1 and team 130.  For example, Ohio State, who has won eight national championships and has a student population of ~66,000 could play Akron, who has only won one conference title since 1988 and has a student population of ~14,000. These teams played each other in 2021 and the spread was 48.5 points. Ohio State covered, winning 59-7. 

Basketball Point Spreads

Basketball point spreads can look much different than football because of the way points are scored. In the NBA, points can come quickly by one, two, or three. There are no 7-point shots, at least not yet. NBA point spreads can drastically change too, based on the absence of one player, similar to if the starting QB was out for an NFL team.

For example, if the Cleveland Cavaliers were -1 ½ point favorites over the LA Lakers at 4 p.m. and at 5 p.m. news broke that all-star LeBron James was ruled out for the Lakers, the line might jump from Cavs -1.5 to Cavs - 9.5. One player in the NBA can have a major impact in the outcome of a basketball game

Baseball Run Lines

Unlike football and basketball spreads, baseball has run lines. Baseball is a low-scoring sports that can end with a 1-0 or 2-1 result. A single action of a home run or a goal results in just one point. Yes, you can score four runs in baseball on one swing of the bat but three actions need to occur before to create the opportunity for a grand slam.

A 1.5 line typically appeals to bettors for baseball because there are lots of variables that can swing a game quickly such as pitching changes and power plays. If you bet on the Cleveland Indians at -1.5 runs, you need them to win by at least 2 runs for your bet to win.

Hockey Puck Lines

The point spread in hockey works much the same as it does in baseball. What's known as the run line in baseball is known as the puck line in hockey. 

The favorite will have their spread be -1.5 and the underdog will be +1.5. If you bet on the Columbus Blue Jackets -1.5 on the puck line, this means they need to win by two goals for your bet to hit. If you bet on the Blue Jackets, or any other hockey team for that matter, at +1.5, this means you need them to keep the score within one goal, or win.

Point Spreads and Moneylines

A point spread bet requires you to choose a team to win by a specific amount of points while a moneyline bet requires you to choose the winning team straight up. Since point spreads level the playing field for both teams the standard odds for an even bet is -110. You need to bet $110 to win $100.

Since a moneyline bet does not level the playing field for the two teams the odds for picking either team vary.  For example, if the Ohio Bobcats were -6 point favorites over Marshall you would get -110 odds for betting the Bobcats with the spread. The Bobcats moneyline odds might be -350. You choose the Bobcats to win the game outright and you need to bet $350 to win $100. 

Point Spread Betting Ohio FAQ


Tim Speros is a veteran content creator for DFS and sports betting. He has over 20 years of experience in the sports industry working with ESPN, Fox Sports, Monumental Sports, the NBA, and the Golden State Warriors.

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