Skip to main content

Sports Gambling 101: What is a Futures Bet?

Our Gambling 101 series continues with an explanation of futures bets. What are futures betting options and how can they help bettors boost their bankroll?
  • Author:
  • Updated:

History of Futures Betting

Futures betting markets are an early form of wagering that first focused on politics and religion. For example, bettors in Italy wagered on who would succeed Pope Alexander VI way back in 1503. Prior to the Internet, political futures were offered by stock exchanges in the United States and United Kingdom. The first sports betting futures are credited to the 1896 Olympics in Greece, while UK bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill were leaders in online futures betting.

What is a Futures Bet?

Steadily growing in popularity, futures are offered on most sports and horse racing, plus politics and entertainment. A futures bet is any wager placed on an event that will take place in the future. Major championships, like the NFL Super Bowl and NBA Finals, are very popular futures options and bettors receive fixed odds on the eventual champion. Futures prices, like the Super Bowl 58 odds below, are rich during the preseason and will fluctuate as the season plays out.

Screen Shot 2023-06-30 at 11.28.31 AM

In the example above, Kansas City is a +550 moneyline favorite to be the first back-to-back Super Bowl winner since New England in 2005. Bettors needed to wager $100 to earn a $550 return if the Chiefs repeated as champs. Players are reminded that futures wagers tie up a portion of their bankroll, as they must be paid when a bet is placed. It should also be noted that futures odds change, leading up to an event, but the lines do not change once a ticket is purchased.

What Are The Most Popular Future Betting Options?

In addition to North American championship chases, bettors can also wager on the eventual winner of divisions and conferences in most sports. Global competitions, like the World Cup of soccer, or Grand Slam events like the Masters in golf or the U.S. Open in tennis, are also popular futures betting options. Horse racing fans can place futures bets on the exciting Breeders' Cup and Triple Crown championship races.