NBA Betting in Illinois

Mobile sports betting is now legal in Illinois, meaning that you no longer have to go to sportsbooks to wager, but can place bets straight from your mobile device. This means big things for sports bettors, as they now have access to live betting. The NBA is a huge market for sports bettors, particularly because it is a great sport to live bet on. Now that mobile sports betting is legal in Illinois, it is important for sports bettors to understand how to make the most of their NBA bets. This article will break down the different types of NBA bets, discuss betting systems, and more.

Get started betting on basketball games

Betting on NBA games is pretty similar to betting on other sports markets. There are some differences and special bets for basketball that we will get into in a little bit. As previously stated, Illinois is a fully legal state that allows in-person, online, mobile app, and even live betting. This means that you can wager on NBA games at any time, as long as you are within state lines.

Currently, Illinois has made it illegal to wager on non-professional teams based in the state. This basically means you cannot wager on any college team that is based in Illinois. Luckily, the NBA is a professional sports league; therefore, you can wager on all NBA games. Illinois sportsbooks offer a wide variety of different wagers for users to gamble on, like point spread, totals, and prop bets. We will break down these types of wagers and all the other popular ones in the sections below.

When did NBA betting become legal in Illinois?

In 2018, New Jersey challenged PASPA, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Once there, the Supreme Court ruled that sports betting was up to individual states on whether or not it should be legalized. Since the ruling, 25 states and Washington DC have passed legislation legalizing some form of sports betting. Illinois legalized sports betting in June 2019 and took its first legal sports bet in March 2020. Illinois legalized mobile sports betting in June 2020 and is one of the twelve states that allow online and mobile sports betting. All of this means that, yes, NBA betting is legal in the state of Illinois.

How to bet on NBA games online in Illinois

If you are new to sports betting, the actual process of placing wagers can seem confusing. Luckily, Illinois has some great sportsbooks operating legally that makes placing wagers simple.

Sportsbooks are relatively simple to sign up for. You typically just go to the preferred sportsbook website and follow the signup instructions. It is also important to note that almost every legal sportsbook offers a mobile app that you can find out how to download on its website.

It’s crucial to understand the differences between legal sports betting sites and illegal offshore sites. They can appear similar, as they both have a website that allows sports betting. They both also often offer live betting. You can usually tell an offshore sportsbook because it will have a non-US web address. They will also offer odd payout methods that include bitcoin, wire transfers, and money orders. Typically, you can deposit money to your account with a credit/debit card or banking information with a legal site.

It is important that you only use legal sportsbooks rather than illegal offshore sites. Legal sites are regulated and are safe, while offshore sites can take your money and never pay you. While there are plenty of options in Illinois, here are some of the most popular legal sportsbooks in the state.

DraftKings Sportsbook

DraftKings is one of the premier sportsbooks for all NBA bets. This is because it offers highly competitive odds on a simple-to-use site. It also has an excellent mobile app that makes wagering on NBA games easy. If you are looking to get into sports betting, you can’t go wrong with DraftKings Sportsbook.

FanDuel Sportsbook

FanDuel is another highly popular sportsbook in Illinois. FanDuel Sportsbook offers odds boosts, that allows sports bettors to get increased odds on certain NBA games. FanDuel also runs a blog called The Duel that provides solid gambling analysis and previews for almost every NBA game.

William Hill Sportsbook

William Hill is a European-based sportsbook that is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. William Hill Sportsbook provides competitive NBA odds on a smooth website. William Hill is one of the oldest sportsbooks in the world. That makes it a reliable sportsbook for newcomers and experienced sports bettors alike.

PointsBet Sportsbook

The Australian-based PointsBet has been making waves in the US ever since sports betting was legalized in 2018. What separates PointsBet Sportsbook from the competition is its PointsBetting feature. PointsBetting rewards users the more their bet covers by. This system also penalizes the user the further their bet misses. Regardless, PointsBetting is an innovative new way to wager, and is highly recommended to at least check out.

BetRivers Sportsbook

BetRivers is another excellent option for new and experienced sports bettors. Its online sportsbook is one of the smoothest available. BetRivers Sportsbook also has an excellent rewards program called IRush. IRush is BetRivers’ VIP program that rewards users for placing wagers for using its sportsbook. The benefits of the IRush program can be great, so you should check it out.

Do these IL sportsbooks have apps?

Mobile betting apps make it easier to place wagers on the go. All of the above-mentioned legal sportsbooks have mobile apps. To learn how to download and use them, simply use one of the above links to the sportsbooks website and follow the instructions. The mobile betting apps make it easier to place wagers on your phone. While you can use the online sportsbook on your phone, it is designed for a computer and can seem more complicated on the phone. The mobile apps are designed to work with your phone to make wagering on NBA games simple. The NBA betting apps also offer every feature that the online sportsbook offers.

Different types of basketball bets

Betting on NBA games can a lot of fun. It can also be somewhat confusing if you have never wagered on an NBA game. This section will break down all of the most popular methods of wagering on NBA games.


Moneyline bets are the most basic type of bet, as you simply choose who will be the outright winner of a game. This form of betting is not concerned with points whatsoever; it just matters who is the winner when the final buzzer goes off. Moneyline bets always have a favorite that will have negative odds. They also always have an underdog, that is represented by positive odds. These odds are never even and can have bad odds compared to other types of wagers. Essentially, betting on a favorite usually has bad odds, and betting on an underdog has great odds.

Ex. Detroit Pistons (+280) vs. Chicago Bulls (-340)

Point spread

Point spread betting is a form of betting that attempts to make Moneyline betting more “fair”. Point spread bets will take points away from the favorites’ total and add them to the underdog. This is designed to even the game out and make betting for either side more appealing. Unlike moneyline bets, point spread bets are concerned only with points. The outright winner of the game does not matter — what matters is the final score. These bets will almost always have odds set at -110.

Ex. Dallas Mavericks +7 (-110) vs. Chicago Bulls -7 (-110)

In this example, for the Bulls to win the bet, they would have to win by more than seven points. On the other hand, the Mavericks would need to lose by less than seven points to win the bet.

Totals (over/unders)

Totals betting is an extremely popular form of betting on NBA games. Totals betting allows you to not worry about which team wins, but instead, you only wager on the total points scored in the game. This way, you don’t have to pick a winner or even guess the teams’ differences in points. Totals will set a number for a game, and sports bettors simply choose whether the total score will be over or under that number. These odds are almost always set at -110.

Ex. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls Total: 215 over (-110)/under (-110)


While every other bet covered so far has been a straight-bet, parlays are multi-bets. This means that parlays combine multiple bets into a single wager for increased odds. Most sportsbooks will let you make parlays up to 15-plays, but the more plays, the riskier the bet. Parlays allow you to combine multiple straight-bets and/or prop bets together. Parlays can be a lot of fun and offer great odds, but they are some of the riskiest bets that sportsbooks offer. It is recommended to never place a parlay with more than three plays, as your odds significantly decrease after that.

Ex.       Chicago (-210)

Chicago -7 (-110)

213 Total: Over (-110)

Total Odds (+438)

As you can see, when you add plays together, the odds increase. This is because it is harder to hit multiple bets rather than just a single bet.


Futures bets are different from every other sports bet mentioned in this section. Futures bets allow sports bettors to wager on events that will happen far in the future. You can wager on things like MVP, NBA Champion, and others. Futures bets can have great odds, and odds also come out far before the season even begins. It is important to get your picks in early, though, because as the season progresses, these odds change and usually become worse. Futures betting will be discussed in more detail below.


Prop bets are a fun way to wager on games without worrying about the actual game. Prop bets focus on smaller aspects of the game and things like individual stats. Prop bets can consist of who will win tip-off, first to score, and individual player totals stats. Prop bets can be a lot of fun and will be discussed in more detail below.

NBA betting lines explained

For new sports bettors, odds/lines for NBA games can seem confusing, but once you have it down, it’s simple. Essentially, odds are the positive/negative number that represents potential payouts for $100 bets. Lines for point spread and totals are based on the moneyline odds, and they can shift leading up to a game. Several factors can make lines move, like injuries and storylines.

The main reason lines move is that sportsbooks can’t have everyone bet the same side of a play. For instance, if enough people played Chicago -2, the sportsbook may move the line to Chicago -2.5 or -3 to get people to bet on the other side. Sportsbooks do this so they can lower the risk of losing money. Sportsbooks are a business first and need to operate as such. This can make for some great plays, though, and this is why it is important to shop around at different sportsbooks for the best lines/odds.

NBA live/in-game betting

Live betting has gained much popularity since sports betting was legalized. It is especially popular in states that have legalized mobile sports betting. This is because live betting allows you to wager on games while they are actually happening. With mobile betting apps, you no longer have to be at a physical sportsbook or even at a computer to place live bets. Live betting allows you to place any single-bet or parlay on a game that is currently being played. It is important to note that odds constantly change during a game, and you may only place wagers during timeouts/commercials.

NBA futures & prop betting

NBA futures and prop bets can be some of the most exciting plays available at sportsbooks. While we have already covered the basics of what these types of wagers are, this section will detail some particular bets of each type:

NBA win totals

NBA win totals is a futures bet that lets sports bettors gamble on how many total wins an NBA team will have in a season. This wager is formated like a totals bet, as there is a number set, and sports bettors can choose whether the win total will be over or under that number.

NBA awards

NBA awards is a futures bet that lets sports bettors wager on the end of season awards like MVP, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Defensive Player of the Year, and Coach of the Year. This is formatted as a typical futures bet, and you will be able to choose from many different players. It is important to place these wagers either before the season, or early in the season. This is because the NBA betting odds will become worse as the season progresses, especially for favorites.

NBA finals

NBA finals appearance and winner are both futures bets that let sports bettors wager on what teams will be in the NBA Finals and which team will win. Like the NBA awards, this futures bet provides odds for every NBA team. Every team will have positive odds through the season, but they will decrease for the favorites as the season progresses.

NBA Christmas Day games

Christmas is the NBA’s holiday, as they have a few games scheduled on Christmas day every year. The NBA usually schedules some of the best regular-season matchups of the year on this day. Because of the holiday, there are usually some fun prop bets you can find on sportsbooks for Christmas.

NBA props

NBA prop bets are available for every NBA game. They usually focus on individual stats like Zach LaVine’s total points, Colby White’s total assists, and Wendell Carter Jr.’s total rebounds. These bets are set up as totals bets where a number is set, and sports bettors can choose if the stat will be over or under the target number. There are also prop bets like who will win the tip-off, and the player to score the first basket.

Essential NBA betting tips

Now that we have gone over the basics of NBA sports betting, it is important to know how to wager successfully. Whether you are trying to become a professional NBA handicapper or just want to wager casually, these tips will help you find success.

1. Bet on teams you know

This is not to be confused with betting on your favorite teams just because they are your favorite teams. This tip refers to placing smart money on smart plays. That is easier to do when you are actually familiar with the teams you are betting on. It seems simple, but watching NBA games and keeping up with what’s going on around the league, will help you make smarter bets.

2. Start with the basics

With almost anything, you should always start with the basics and work your way to the more advanced bets. If you are just starting out betting on NBA games, you should try some moneyline, point spread, and totals bets before you move on to props and parlays. This will help you get a feel for betting on NBA games and will make you a better gambler overall.

3. Stay up to date on information

This tip refers to keeping up with the intangibles of NBA games. When betting on games, it is important to use analytics and statistics to place bets, but you should also be aware of all the other factors surrounding a game. This tip refers to keeping up with things like injuries, fatigue, motivations, storylines, and much more. Understanding what’s at stake in a game, or what has happened leading up to a game, can give you a whole different insight beyond stats and analytics.

4. Use analytics/statistics

This is by far the best tip that can be given for betting on NBA games. If you want to bet on NBA games, you have to do your research and study analytics and statistics. You have to do this, and if you don’t, you shouldn’t place a wager on a game. Success in sports betting happens by finding bad lines. The only way to really know if a line is off is to do your proper research. There are plenty of sites available that offer all the stats and analytics you will ever need for research.

5. Shop lines

Another important tip is to always shop for lines. We discussed earlier how lines change and how they can differ between sportsbooks due to different factors. This is where you find the bad lines and are able to exploit them. Before you ever place a bet, you should check the lines on every sportsbook that you have an account with. You never know if a half point is the difference between a win or a loss.

Common NBA betting mistakes to avoid

Tips for betting on NBA games are important, as they can help you develop a routine and betting strategy. Equally important, though, is recognizing and avoiding certain betting mistakes.

Here is a list of common betting mistakes:

1. Betting too much/betting every game

This is a problem for new and experienced sports bettors alike. There are several NBA games on every night during the season, and the board can be huge. It is important to remember you don’t have to bet every game. You should only bet on games that you have properly researched and are confident the play will win. Another big mistake is betting too much on games. This is the fastest way to deplete your bankroll. A common rule of thumb in the gambling community is to wager a max of 1%-5% of your total bankroll per play.

2. Betting with your heart instead of using stats/data

This is another mistake that can be difficult to avoid. If you are betting on the NBA, you are probably a fan of the NBA and most likely have a favorite team. You have to bet using stats and analytics and never bet with your heart. It can be difficult to bet against your favorite team, even if it is a solid play. It is recommended not to bet on any games involving your favorite team unless, of course, it is a research-backed pick.

3. Always betting the favorite

This is an easy trap for new sports bettors to fall into. You know the favorite is the better team, and you want to bet on them. While this works sometimes, it will not always win. The NBA has 82 games in a season, and even the greatest team of all time will not go 82-0. Always betting the favorite can be especially damaging if you bet moneylines — you can lose a lot of money with this system.

Proven NBA betting systems

Sports betting is all about strategy and research. When betting on NBA games, both of these things are extremely important. Luckily, NBA betting has been around for a long time, and there are several already established strategies that are proven to work. This section will briefly describe some of the most popular NBA betting strategies available.

The high totals system

The high totals system is a system that has been around for many years now. The basic principle of this system is that it aims to exploit sportsbooks’ low projections for non-conference games totals bets. It was found that sportsbooks typically underestimate how much non-conference opponents will score against each other in a game. The strategy in this system is simple: take the over in any non-conference matchup that has a total of 220 or lower.

The blowout system

The blowout system is another highly regarded system for betting on NBA games. The idea of this system is to exploit sportsbooks that overestimate a team coming off a blowout win. It was found that teams that won their previous matchup by 15 or more points typically lose against the spread in the following match. The strategy in this system: If a team wins by 15 points or more in their previous game, bet the Point Spread against them.

The bounce back system

The bounce back system is essentially the opposite idea of the blowout system. This system aims to exploit sportsbooks that post low totals lines for teams coming off a poor offensive performance. This is the NBA, though, and everyone playing is a professional. So, after a poor offensive performance, teams are highly likely to bounce back and perform much better in their following game. The strategy for this system: When a solid team shoots under 40% in their previous matchup, bet the over on total points.

The three in four system

The three in four system is a system that is less likely to be utilized in today’s NBA, as the number of back-to-back games has been cut in recent years. It does still happen around the league, though, and it can be exploited. For teams that have played three games in four days, sportsbooks typically predict low-scoring totals. It is actually the opposite, and teams seem to hit the over more than half the time. This is likely due to fatigue causing less defensive hustle. The strategy for this system: When a team has played three games in four nights, hit the over on total points.

NBA betting FAQ

Q: What is against the spread betting in NBA games?

A: Against the spread (ATS) betting in NBA games refers to point spread betting.

Q: How do spreads work for NBA games?

A: Spreads are designed to make bets “fairer”. This is done by subtracting points from the favorite team’s total score and adding them to the underdog’s total score. The spreads for NBA games are determined by sportsbooks.

Q: How do totals betting work in basketball?

A: Totals betting is where the sportsbook sets a number for total points to be scored in a game. A sports bettor is then able to choose whether the total score of a game will be over or under the target number.

Q: What happens if the total score is exact?

A: When a total score is exact to the line set by the sportsbook, the bet is considered a push. A push is not a win or a loss. The sportsbook will return the money you wagered, and it’s considered a tie.

Q: What happens to my totals bet if the game goes to overtime?

A: This may vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, but typically, points scored in overtime will count towards totals bets. If they do not count, the sportsbook will typically have a note stating this on the bet slip.