What is PointsBetting and How Does it Differ from Fixed-Odds Wagering?

Betting lines are displayed on a screen at Westgate Las Vegas. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

PointsBet has established itself as one of the most popular online sports betting sites in the United States over the past couple of years. It provides great bonuses, a polished mobile app and excellent customer service, but its main selling point is the breadth of betting options it provides.

PointsBet customers are presented with two distinct wagering categories: traditional, fixed-odds betting, and PointsBetting.

The latter is akin to financial spread betting. Sports spread betting was pioneered by companies like Sporting Index and Spreadex in the UK, and PointsBet – an Australian company with a shiny new headquarters in Denver, Colorado – has brought it to the United States.

What exactly is PointsBetting and how does it differ from standard sports betting?

PointsBetting Explained

When you place a sports bet at sites like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook, the odds are fixed. You know exactly how much you stand to win or lose.

For example, if you bet $10 on the Milwaukee Bucks to beat the New York Knicks at odds of +120, you will expect a $12 profit if they win the game, and a $10 loss if they are unsuccessful.

Likewise, if you bet $100 on over 209.5 points at odds of -110 in a game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Orlando Magic, you will expect a $90.91 profit if the total goes over, and a $100 loss if it stays under.

PointsBet offers fixed-odds bets too, but it also provides an option called PointsBetting.

PointsBetting differs from traditional wagering because nothing is fixed. The team will start off by making a series of predictions on a game. You can then guess whether the odds compilers have been too bold, or if they have gone too low.

For example, they might predict that there will be 208-211 points in that game between the Nets and the Magic. If you think it will be a high-scoring game, you can buy for 211 at the upper end of the spread. If you think it will be a low-scoring game, sell for 208.

If you buy at 211 for $10, and there are 230 points in the game, you will earn a $190 profit. Your stake (bet amount) is multiplied by the difference between the price you bought at and the final result. In this case, 230 –211 = 19, and 19 x $10 = $190. If there were 231 points in the game, you would earn $200 in profit. If there were 232 points, you would earn $210. Nothing is fixed, and it provides the potential to earn a large payout from a relatively small bet amount.

Pros and Cons to PointsBetting

PointsBetting can be very exciting. It includes lots of unique betting options, and it keeps you entertained until the end of the game.

For example, if you bet on over 209.5 points in that hypothetical game between the Nets and the Magic, you would be happy if the Nets took a 120-92 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but your interest might then start to fade. If you had instead bought at 211, you would still be hooked until the end, as every extra point scored would ramp up your profit.

However, you can also incur large losses when placing these bets. If you bought at 211 points, and there were only 200 points in the game, you would lose 11 times your stake.

The difference between the price you bought at and the result is also used to calculate losses when the bet goes against you.

The greater the divergence between the price you buy or sell at and the result, the greater your profit or loss. It is therefore important to be careful with the size of your bets when you are getting into PointsBetting.