Line Betting Explained

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Updated on:

Feb 19, 2024, 2:05 pm


Line betting is a form of margin betting you place at online bookies. The wager considers which team is the favourite and which is the underdog and lets you bet on either side via a handicap wager.

The line and odds are set in advance, and you can decide if the betting lines are better value than the moneyline odds or other betting markets. Read on to learn how to place line bets on an upcoming sporting event at a leading Aussie sportsbook.

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What Is Line Betting?

Line betting is when the bookie gives the competing teams a handicap. For example, the line in an AFL match might be set at 14.5. This means the bookie believes there is a 14.5-point difference between the two teams.

As a result, you can place a stake on one team to win by more than 14.5 points or the other team to lose by fewer than 14.5 points. In sports betting lines, the plus indicates how many goals or points the team can lose by, while the minus indicates how many goals or points the team must win by.

How Does Line Betting Work? Line betting explained

Rather than placing a game outright wager that’s settled by the winning team, a line depends on the number of points scored by each team. In any game, you can place a real money stake on the line that the bookie sets.

Let’s look at an AFL line betting example to see how it works.

Port Adelaide (-14.5) vs. West Coast Eagles (+14.5)

If you bet on Port Adelaide to cover the line, they will need to defeat the underdog, West Coast, by at least 15 points for your bet to be successful. 

However, if you fancy West Coast Eagles to cause an upset, your bet will win if they don’t lose by more than 14.5 points.

As such, you can understand a line bet as a way of levelling the playing field, making things more interesting when betting on heavy favourites.

The reason for the half-point is to prevent what is known as a push bet. A push bet occurs when the final score is on the line, and as half points can’t be scored in most games, it’s an easy way for the bookie to prevent pushes.

Line betting is a really popular method of sports betting in Australia. If you’re a fan of American sports, you can place a line bet on many matches and fixtures, including an AFL game, NRL final, basketball playoff, or even an NFL game.

Thanks to the points or goals handicap, line betting is a good opportunity to make more money while placing wagers on your favourite team. You can check the potential returns before placing a line bet on an event, which can help you determine the value of the odds.

Which bookmakers offer line betting?

You can place betting lines at many trusted and licensed online bookies in Australia. The likes of Ladbrokes, Neds, Bet365, and Unibet are good options for placing a line bet and offer a broad range of markets and great value odds as you bet on your favourite sports throughout the season.

You can use sign-up bonuses exclusively available to new bettors, which provide additional funds for your bets, but be mindful of wagering requirements before signing up.

Line Betting NRL Example

The NRL is the biggest rugby league competition in the world and is a huge draw for Aussie bettors. Whether you’re keen to back the favourite team or underdog, you can place line bets at online sportsbooks each NRL game week.

Let’s look at a couple of NRL example bets so you can see how the points handicap works:

Example 1: Broncos (-6.5) vs. Sea Eagles (+6.5)

Let’s say you fancy the Broncos in this upcoming NRL match. The bookie has set the line at 6.5 and has the Broncos as the favourites in the contest.

Therefore, if you back the Broncos to defeat the Sea Eagles in a line bet, they must win this game by a margin of at least seven points for your bet to be successful.

Example 2: Panthers (-9.5) vs. Bulldogs (+9.5)

In this game example, let’s assume that you think the Bulldogs will give the Panthers a close contest. Now, they don’t necessarily need to win for your bet to be successful.

As long as the Bulldogs aren’t defeated in their match by a margin of more than nine points, your line bet will pay out. So, for instance, if the match finishes 26-20 in favour of the Panthers, you would win your line bet.

Line Betting AFL example

You can also bet on your much-loved footy team at your chosen online bookie, and there are lots of line betting markets available to AFL fans. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Example 1: Collingwood (-19.5) vs. Gold Coast Suns (+19.5)

Assuming you agree that Collingwood will defeat the Gold Coast Suns in this AFL game, you can place a line bet to improve your odds when backing them as favourites.  

If the game finishes 14.13 (97) vs. 8.10 (58) in favour of Collingwood, you will win your bet as their margin of victory is higher than 19.5 points. Remember, most AFL lines are tied to the total final score.

Example 2: Melbourne (-14.5) vs. Freemantle (+14.5)

In our second head-to-head game example, you might fancy Freemantle to push Melbourne all the way and lose out by a narrow margin. 

If the final score finishes 11.17 (83) vs. 12.10 (82) in favour of Melbourne, you would win this line bet, as Freemantle’s margin of defeat is only one point.

Remember, one of the distinctions of AFL line betting is that you’re not necessarily betting on a team to win. Rather, you’re betting on the points scored and the difference between the totals for each team at the end of the game.

Different AFL line markets

The most popular way to place a line bet on the AFL is to go with the final score of a game. However, some bookies also offer line betting options for goals and behinds, so it’s worth checking your wagering options if you’re keen to break the scoring down even further.

Other Sports You Can Bet On The Line: American Football, Soccer, Basketball, and Others

As well as those already introduced, you can place line bets on rugby union, which is a great opportunity to back the Wallabies at the World Cup and other international tournaments.

Line betting is also popular in the United States, particularly in American football (NFL) and basketball (NBA). You can even place line bets on baseball (MLB) and ice hockey (NHL).

In American betting parlance, betting on the line is commonly known as the point spread. A point spread gives the underdog a head start on the favourites, as in sports betting lines.

Line betting is used often by soccer bettors, whether you’re betting on domestic A-League fixtures or Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham Hotspur side in the English Premier League.

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FAQs on What is Line Betting?

Are the lines the same at all sportsbooks?

No, betting lines aren’t always the same at all bookies. The sportsbook sets the line based on how it sees the differences between the two teams, and it might vary from site to site. Therefore, it’s a good idea to calculate your potential winnings at multiple bookies if you’re looking for the best value odds before placing a wager.

What does a +1.5 line bet mean?

A +1.5 line means that the team in question must not lose by more than one goal or point. 1.5 lines are popular in lower-scoring games like soccer but aren’t particularly common in NRL and AFL fixtures.

What is a negative betting line?

A negative betting line indicates how many points the team must win by for your bet to be successful. If the negative betting line is set at -4.5, the team must win by at least five points or goals for the bet to pay out.

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Current Version
Dec 7, 2022
Written By
Lisa Cheban
Edited By
Simon Young