Futures Betting: How Sports Betting Futures Work

Futures bets are for sports bettors who don’t want to make weekly bets. If the thought of analyzing new games or sporting events each week isn’t pleasant, you should consider making a future bet. Future odds focus on events, outcomes, and awards weeks or months into the future. If, before the NFL season begins, you want to make a bet on who will win the Super Bowl, then you want to make a futures bet.

Those who want to bet on the winner of March Madness before the NCAA tournament starts also want to make a futures bet. Futures bets focus on events like wagering on the Masters champion, the World Series champion, the NBA Finals champions, or some other major sporting event. But it’s more than that. Read our guide to futures betting to learn everything you need to know.

What is Futures Betting?

Most sports bets focus on point spreads, moneyline bets, or over/under point totals. These are rapid-fire bets that happen throughout the course of a season. Some bettors prefer to bet on the outcome of the whole season. Thus, sportsbooks post futures odds on the champions of sports leagues or the outcome of awards ceremonies, tv series, or political events.

If you’re certain who’s going to win the Stanley Cup Finals or next year’s Oscars for Best Picture, you’ll want to make a futures bet. The downside is you tie up a bankroll for months at a time. Thus, anyone who engages in futures betting should have a bankroll strategy before they do so.

Futures Betting Pros & Cons

Every bet has its strengths and its drawbacks. Futures bets are no different. With that in mind, here are the pros and cons of futures wagers.

Futures Betting Pros

Futures Betting Cons

Large Payouts Ties Up Bankroll for Weeks or Months
Easy to Understand Odds You Get Better Odds Later
Bet on Entertainment Not Every Event is Available
Bet on Politics (in some states) Wildly Unpredictable Betting Events
Show Your Fandom, Show Your Skill
Easy to Parlay Bets
Hedge Your Bets Later

How to Read Futures Odds

Often, futures odds come in the form of a long list. The yearly Super Bowl futures odds have a list of 32 NFL teams. Even the lowliest NFL franchise of the moment receives odds to win the Super Bowl. In all sports, fans make futures bets on their home team to win it all.

The advantage of futures odds is the payouts are pretty high even for the favorites. The Kansas City Chiefs currently are +550 favorites to win the 2024 Super Bowl. If you put down $100 on the Chiefs and they win Super Bowl 58, then you’ll win $550.

Further down the list, you’ll see the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals with +20,000 odds to win the Super Bowl. If either team went on a historic run to win Super Bowl 58, the bettor who put down $100 would win $20,000.

Futures Betting Example

For example, let’s take a look at the latest MLB baseball futures. The question is who will win the 2023 World Series. The following list includes the top 3 favorites (Braves, Rays, Astros), a second-tier futures bet (Yankees), a middle-tier team (White Sox), and the team with the worst odds (Athletics).

MLB Team

Futures Odds

Atlanta Braves +500
Tampa Bay Rays +650
Houston Astros +700
New York Yankees +1500
Chicago White Sox +15,000
Oakland Athletics +100,000

How are Futures Bets Paid?

Sportsbooks pay futures bets in a straightforward way. When the futures bet event takes place, the sportsbook pays. If the odds are 7 to 1, the bookmaker pays you $700 for every $100 you wager.

These bets are not paid out for a long time, because they’re never paid out until the winner is known. Wait until the end of the season. If you bet on the Academy Awards, you won’t be paid until the Oscars are over. If you bet on a TV series finale, you won’t be paid until the tv event is past. The same goes for political elections.

  • NFL Futures Bets: NFL futures include more than the Super Bowl. You can bet on the NFL MVP, NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and NFL Defensive Player of the Year. You can bet on who will lead the league in rushing, who will lead the league in passing, or who will lead the league in sacks.
  • NBA Futures Bets: Similarly, you can bet on the winner of the NBA Finals, but also the NBA MVP, the Sixth Man of the Year, and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. In NCAA Basketball, you can bet on the winner of March Madness.
  • MLB Futures Bets: In baseball, you can bet on odds to win the World Series. Also, you can bet on who wins the Cy Young Award, the American League and National League MVPs, the batting title, the home run title, or the strikeout title.
  • Golf and Tennis Futures: When the calendar flips every year, you’ll see futures odds for who will win the four major tournaments in pro golf and pro tennis. You can bet on the ATP and WTA competitors who will win the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.