Pro football may be the most popular overall betting option at sportsbooks, but bettors have plenty of other places to shift their focus. In many legal markets, the NBA is the clear second choice among the betting public.
Pro hoops has quite the following on this side of the border, starting with the Toronto Raptors but also expanding to the rest of the league as a whole. As online sports betting expands in Ontario and elsewhere across the nation, interest will only climb even further.
Betting on the NBA may be different from wagering on the CFL or NFL, but the same familiar bet types and promotional opportunities are readily available. From pregame betting lines to player props, futures, and more, you’ll have plenty of options to consider.
Here’s a complete look at how to bet on the NBA online where it’s legally available in Canada, including the latest live game odds and the best places to get in the game.
Latest NBA odds
The NBA season is a lengthy one with a steady stream of games to consider. It can be challenging to stay on top of the odds at legal online sportsbooks as a result, but we make it much easier to do so with our live odds feed. Down below, you can check out the real-time odds from all of the top shops for all of the big NBA bet types.
How to bet on NBA games in Canada
When you visit an online sportsbook, many of the top operators have a dedicated link or icon for the NBA. You can also scroll to the basketball link on the menu of available betting markets to find the upcoming games.
The standard NBA game listing will have the odds for the big three pregame bets. It’ll look something like this.
|Over 216.5 (-110)
|Under 216.5 (-110)
For the above contest, the odds are listed out in the American format. When reading the moneyline numbers, the favourite in the game has negative digits while the numbers are positive on the underdog side.
You can also view the odds in decimal form, in which case the lower of the two values indicates the favoured side. Let’s take a closer look at how all three of these bet types work.
The moneyline bet is one of the simplest on the board to understand. The goal for bettors is to pick which team will win the game outright. There will be odds for both sides which help to identify the favoured and underdog side.
The closer the range between the odds, then the tighter the oddsmakers are expecting the matchup to be. If there’s a wide span, we can interpret that to mean that a paper mismatch is on tap, whole odds that are exactly the same on both sides indicates a toss up.
If we look at our example, the Raptors are slight favourites over the 76ers. For a winning $100 bet at odds of -125, we can expect back $80 in profits. The same stake at odds of +105 would bring back $105 if the 76ers win the game.
For each NBA game, sportsbooks set a spread. It’s basically like an estimated margin of victory or a means of levelling the field between two sides. You can bet on the favourite minus the points or choose the underdog plus the spread.
In order to win, the side you pick has to cover the spread. For example, a bet on the Raptors at -1.5 means that they have to win the game by two points or more. If you bet on the 76ers plus the points, they need to keep the margin to a single point or win the game outright.
Part of the appeal of spread betting is that the odds are typically right in range on both sides. For a winning $100 bet at odds of -110, you can expect back $90.90. To receive back a full $100 on winning wagers at the same odds, you’d have to bet $110.
Also known as an over/under, totals betting is incredibly popular for high-scoring NBA games. Sportsbooks will set the bar with an estimated total. Bettors then get to make the call on whether the total points will go over or under that amount.
For our example game line, the total is set at 216.5 points. To win on the over, you would need the two teams to combine for 217 points or more. Meanwhile, under bettors are hoping that the clubs combine for only 216 points or less.
The odds for totals are typically in a tight range. In this case, the odds are -110 on both sides, so bettors on either the over or under can expect the same amount back. The pregame bets are top options, but there are several other key ways to bet on the NBA.
NBA prop betting
For each NBA game on the docket, there are dozens of different props to choose from. A prop is a bet on something that may happen during the game or by its conclusion. Several of them revolve around the game as a whole or individual teams, while many have to do with the individual players. Options include:
- Player to score the game’s first basket
- Over/unders on various stats – points, rebounds, assists, etc.
- Betting on quarters and halves
- Team races to X points (20, 30, etc).
- Exact winning margin
To find the available props for upcoming games, you simply click through the main contest listing and browse the available options. Player props are perhaps the biggest draw as they share a lot in common with fantasy sports. Bettors who also have experience in that realm will find that the skills translate well.
A futures bet is a long-term wager on an outcome that won’t be known until a later date. For the NBA, you can bet on how the season as a whole will play out in several different ways. The most popular NBA futures markets include:
- NBA Finals winner
- Conference and Division winners
- Over/under on team win totals
- Player award winners – MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc.
- League leaders in major categories – scoring, etc.
Futures odds come out in the offseason and remain active from there. The basic idea is to find the picks that you want at the most appealing odds. If you make the right call, you win. Many futures bettors like to spread out the risk by making multiple selections.
It’s important to remember that this is a wager that requires a long-range view. Futures bets can’t be settled until the outcome is known, so your stake will remain tied up. Be sure to budget accordingly as you plan out your futures strategy.
NBA live betting
Once the games get underway, the betting action doesn’t stop. Live betting has been one of the top innovations for online sports betting through the years. This is wagering in real-time with odds and offerings based on what’s currently happening on the court. The exact options will vary based on what’s going on, but here are some examples of what you’ll see.
- Updated odds for moneyline, spreads, and totals
- Betting on individual quarters and halves
- New player, team, and game props
- Team races to a certain number of points
- Game stat leaders and player comparisons
Live betting markets move incredibly fast. Mobile apps from the top sportsbooks are built for the task. Once the game gets started, you simply log in on your device and keep an eye on the small screen for appealing opportunities. Live betting can be treated on a standalone basis, but it can also be useful for hedging opportunities against your pregame wagers.
NBA alternate lines
The main spreads and totals will bring in plenty of betting volume, but bettors also like having other options to explore. Alternate lines provide you with other choices to consider. The odds will be adjusted based on how far they’ve shifted from the original numbers.
A traditional point spread could be listed at -2 with odds of -110 on both sides. Thanks to alternate lines, you can move the spread up or down to your liking. If you completely flipped the script to +2 on the favourite, you might see odds of +150 on that side and -150 for the original underdog.
For totals, it’s the same story. On the original line, you’ll see odds in the range of -110 on both sides. If you move the number up or down, then the odds will be adjusted accordingly. Alternate lines can be great options for the games that you have a fantastic read on.
NBA betting strategy & tips
As mentioned earlier, betting on the NBA is different from betting on the CFL or NFL in many ways, but the same research skills and general wagering knowledge will certainly give you a head start. While you work towards finding some consistency and long-term success with NBA betting, the following tips can help you get there.
Line shopping for the best odds
As a sport that runs on a daily basis for several months out of the year, the NBA betting odds board is incredibly active. You can use that to your advantage by shopping around and comparing the numbers at multiple sportsbooks before placing your bets. What appears to be a small difference on a spread, total, or the odds themselves can add up to a lot when all is said and done.
Pick your spots with games and bet types
The NBA schedule can be a grind for both players and bettors alike. When you plan to bet on a slate, pay close attention to any rest and travel advantages, as well as late-breaking lineup news. When it comes to bet types, there’s no need to try and master everything at once. You can keep it simple and zero in on player props and appealing moneyline bets before diving into spreads and totals, for example.
Have a plan and budget in place
Having a plan aligns well with picking your spots. You’ll want to have an idea of how often you plan on betting on the NBA, which games you’d like to key in on, and more. Most importantly, you should place an overall betting budget in place and stick to it no matter what. Sports betting should be fun and entertaining. It’s most likely to remain that way if you remember to always bet responsibly.
Best NBA sportsbooks in Canada
As regulated betting expands in Canada, bettors will have plenty of different options to explore for betting on the NBA and other sports. The NBA is a featured offering at all of the industry’s top shops. Here’s a quick peek at some of the best in the business.
1. DraftKings Sportsbook
DraftKings has become the go-to spot for scores of bettors in a number of legal markets. The platform is incredibly slick and efficient, and it works really well with NBA live betting. Other top highlights include a fantastic layout of available player props, and betting pools where you can compete for prizes against other bettors.
- Pros: Platform layout, betting menu, promotional offers.
- Cons: No live chat as part of customer service.
2. Caesars Sportsbook
Caesars continues to make massive strides in the world of online sports betting. The betting platform is on the simple side, but it’s easy to use and filled with all of the NBA betting options that you could ask for. Caesars is also known for having regularly competitive odds and a steady stream of promos including daily odds boosts that can rival any other site out there.
- Pros: Regular odds boosts, competitive odds, huge betting menu.
- Cons: Application lags and closes without warning
3. BetMGM Sportsbook
BetMGM has a huge menu of available sports, but careful attention is paid to all of the featured offerings, including the NBA. This is another site that does a great job of displaying available props for each contest. Among the other top features is the edit my bet function, an easy parlay builder, and regular promotional offers for new and ongoing players.
- Pros: Big menu of options, lots of props, recurring promos.
- Cons: Navigation can be a little quirky.
4. BetRivers Sportsbook
BetRivers delivers on a number of fronts including the betting menu and offering deals such as profit boosts for various sports including basketball. There’s a wide range of NBA betting options to explore, plus promos and rewards for regular players. BetRivers also provides research tips like stats and trends right inside of each game listing.
- Pros: Rewards program, prop betting options, research tips.
- Cons: Mobile app needs improvement.
5. PointsBet Sportsbook
PointsBet has quickly grown its online sports betting presence since entering North America in 2019. For NBA games and other sports, one of the site’s top calling cards is a massive betting menu that includes exclusive markets and generous pricing for bettors, plus ongoing promotional offers that can be taken advantage of while betting on the Raps or your team of choice.
- Pros: Competitive odds, name a bet feature, futures markets.
- Cons: No PointsBetting feature in Ontario
6. FanDuel Sportsbook
FanDuel is one of the top operators in the sports betting industry. That’s not something that has happened by accident. The betting platform is incredibly user-friendly, and there are plenty of intriguing features tucked inside. FanDuel’s same-game parlays, huge selection of player props, and exclusive basketball markets have been big hits with NBA bettors.
- Pros: Player props, same-game parlays, user-friendly.
- Cons: Could use some more recurring promos.