Is Sports Betting Rigged? Exposing the Cold Hard Truth

Losing a bet is never fun, and while the old adage the house always wins is true, sports betting is far from a rigged game.
Becoming a winning sports bettor is hard, but the game isn't quite rigged against you.
Becoming a winning sports bettor is hard, but the game isn't quite rigged against you.

Ever lost a bet on a “meaningless” free throw at the end of a basketball game? Don’t worry, after 23 years of betting on sports, I feel your pain! Turn on any social media outlet these days and you’re bound to hear someone complaining about how sports betting is rigged.

After seeing loads of folks venting about this, you’re probably wondering if some of the outcomes of sporting events are fixed. Let’s take a look at whether or not sports betting is rigged.

We’ll dive fully into this subject so that the next time you suffer a last-second bad beat, you won’t be tempted to think that the fix is in.

Cold Hard Truth: Sporting Events Are NOT Rigged!

As difficult as this may be to hear, I’m giving it to you straight. Sporting events aren’t rigged, no matter how many times your bet has shown up on Scott Van Pelt’s Bad Beats segment on SportsCenter. It may comfort you to know that I’m having 2012 Belk Bowl flashbacks as I type this.

One reason why sports sometimes feel rigged is because of crazy things that sometimes happen at the end of a game.

For example, a college kid may commit a foul with 2 seconds left to play even though his team is down 7 points. A late missed or made free throw is all it takes to turn a wire-to-wire winning wager into a last-second losing bet against the spread.

If you’ve been betting on sports for longer than 5 minutes, you’ve probably endured more than a few of these bad beats. However, all it means is that you were simply unlucky. We all have to remember that this little endeavor we love is called gambling for a reason. There is Lady Luck involved and sometimes she just isn’t on our side.

Consider the Source

Here’s a little bet I’ll gladly make with anyone. Think about who it is that is claiming that sporting events are rigged. I’ll bet the ranch (pun intended) that 99.99% of people who gripe about sports being fixed just lost a wager due to unlucky circumstances.

We humans love to gripe and complain. It’s a sad fact, but a true one nonetheless. Sports bettors, especially those new to the craft, are notorious for whining about every penalty, foul, or call that doesn’t go in their team’s favor.

Alternatives to Dealing With Bad Beats

While you are more than welcome to keep complaining about bad beats in sports betting, I’d like to offer you some alternate solutions. While it’s tempting to howl at the moon because you lost your player prop bet by half a yard (it happened to me 3 times during the 2023 NFL season), you simply have to realize that the sportsbooks are just very good at their jobs.

Sure, I get that it’s hard to give the sportsbooks credit, especially since they’re often perceived as the enemy by most sports bettors. That being said, most of the handicappers working in the sportsbook risk rooms are working 60+ hours per week setting those point spread and player prop lines. They’re crunching numbers at a rate that would blow the minds of most casual sports bettors.

Lastly, one thing I like to do during a season is make a list of every wager that I shouldn’t have won but did! This way when the next inevitable bad beat happens, I’ll know that it’s simply the tide turning back the other way and not because some player is in on ‘the take’.

We humans are hard-wired to remember the bad beats and forget about all the times the breaks did go in our favor. Keeping track of the lucky wins is a way to combat this.

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