Tennis is one of the most bet-upon sports in the world thanks in part to the sport’s international appeal and the many thousands of tennis matches that are held every year both at home and abroad. According to some estimates, online tennis betting alone is worth nearly a billion dollars a year at the international level.
The widespread legalization of sports betting in the United Sates, which could very well become the world’s largest market in due time, has the potential to even further propel tennis betting handle to new highs. Thus, it is no surprise to see the nation’s first legal sportsbooks debut with a healthy selection of tennis betting options.
Best Tennis Betting Sites in the USA
In addition to discussing the best tennis betting sites, we will also be digging into the sport’s relationship with betting, recap recent developments in the fight against corruption and explain how the most popular types of tennis wagers work. In short, you can consider this your official guide to betting on tennis.
States with Legal Tennis Sportsbooks
The US sports betting market is still very much in a growth phase as of today. Multiple states have already legalized and more are set to join the fun over the next few years. The map below shows where tennis betting is already legal and we will keep this map up to date as legislation advances in other states.
States with legal sports betting
- Blue states: Online, mobile and in-person tennis betting is legal
- Green states: Land-based sportsbooks legal, no online betting yet
- Red states: Online/mobile betting only
- Orange states: Sports betting laws have been passed, but additional legislation or regulations needed before betting may begin
Although it may be tempting to consider offshore sportsbooks if you live in a state that has not yet legalized online sports betting, we urge readers to be patient and stick with what is strictly legal wherever you live.
Offshore betting sites operate contrary to US law and subject your money to serious risks including payment processing issues, hostile legal actions from US regulators and lack of regulatory oversight.
A better alternative for people who do not have access to legal sportsbooks is daily fantasy sports (DFS). DraftKings Fantasy in particular is our number one pick for tennis. DraftKings tennis contests give you a virtual salary of $50,000 which you then use to draft a team of players slated to compete in an upcoming tournament.
After drafting your team, you can sit back and enjoy the tournament as your players earn points for winning games and sets, serving aces, winning by retirement and so on. Each contest lasts for a single tournament round and then real money payouts are awarded based on the number of points earned by each contestant’s fantasy lineup.
The money that can be won playing in daily fantasy online can be just as significant as straight-up sports betting. DraftKings tennis contests, for example, occasionally award upwards of $100,000 in prize money to the top finishers. Most importantly, fantasy sports are legal in most US states.
The Tense Relationship Between Professional Tennis and Sports Betting
Of all the major sports leagues around the world, the ATP has perhaps the tensest relationship with sports betting. Tennis has been hit by a number of highly-visible betting scandals over the past decade or so, yet still has trouble getting a handle on the situation.
Some of the issue may result from tennis being a victim of its own success. When we think of professional tennis, the world’s biggest names and highest-profile tournaments come to mind, but remember tennis is very much an international sport with professional players scattered across the globe.
Professional tennis matches at the lower levels held in far-flung locations around the world are ripe for corruption. Those matches still generate considerable betting interest, but the players at that level are not compensated very well and many of those matches are held without the same anti-corruption measures found at higher-profile events.
The highest levels of tennis have had their issues and fair share of suspicious circumstances, but independent reviews commissioned by professional tennis have found corruption risks are the greatest at the lower professional levels where there is still significant betting interest.
Wherever you have a lot of betting activity surrounding events played by poorly-paid professionals, you run the risk of uncovering corruption when you take a closer look. That’s exactly what the Independent Review Panel (IRP) discovered over the course of a £20 million investigation that spanned three years.
The review determined that corruption is a “very significant” problem at the “lower and middle levels of the sport,” which were described as a “fertile breeding ground for breaches of integrity.”
Of the more than 3,200 professional players surveyed during the review, 464 respondents said they had “first-hand knowledge of match-fixing.” The report did find evidence of some issues at higher levels of play, but not at nearly the same rate as potential integrity breaches discovered at the lower levels.
To add to that, the solo nature of tennis competition makes it more susceptible to corruption than team sports such as football or baseball. To completely rig a tennis match requires the complicity of just a single player, while achieving the same effect in a team sport would require a conspiracy involving numerous players.
That’s not to say team sports have a perfect track record. Betting scandals do not discriminate and certain types of bets in team sports, such as wagering on the outcome of a certain player’s next two free throws in an NBA game, can also be corrupted by a single player. In fact, that risk is why some leagues have lobbied in favor of legislation allowing them to prohibit certain types of wagers they deem susceptible to corruption.
Additionally, this is not an indictment of tennis betting as a whole. The vast majority of tennis matches are played fairly and tennis is overall a clean sport. The fact that the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), ATP, WTA and ITF are so transparent in their findings is a good sign, but that same transparency also tends to put tennis’ issues in the limelight more than problems that exist in other sports.
We should also remember that tennis has a much more developed system of tiered competition than most other sports. While betting on other sports is generally relegated to the highest levels of play that are subject to the greatest amount of scrutiny, tennis betting is popular at all level of competition.
The Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis issued an interim report in April of 2018 and included estimates of the worldwide tennis betting market. Although there are significant challenges in accurately gauging just how much money is wagered on tennis throughout the world, the report estimated that:
- The value of the total tennis betting market around the world is worth roughly $1.27 billion per year
- The value of online tennis betting around the world is roughly $920 million per year
ATP Stance on Sports Betting
In light of everything discussed above, the ATP has not surprisingly taken several positions on sports betting. The organization as a whole is generally pro-gambling as we can see with the sponsorship deals signed between numerous ATP World Tour events and gaming companies that have been reached over the years.
For just two examples, the Mercedes Cup counts gaming company LeoVegas among its premium sponsors while the Generali Open is sponsored by Interwetten. A handful of other ATP events are also supported by similar agreements with gaming companies.
However, sponsorships of ATP events by betting firms could come to an end at some point in the near future. The SportsBusiness Journal reported in mid-2018 that the ATP World Tour had told tournament organizers to stop accepting sponsorships from gaming companies as recommended by an independent review into tennis integrity.
Some tournaments still feature betting companies among their lists of sponsors as of this writing, but that could be set to change as various agreements near their expiration dates. Professional tennis has almost certainly benefited over the years from the increased viewer engagement legal sports betting generates, but the sport’s first priority has to be maintaining a clean image so that people can confidently enjoy a sport they know is actually competitive.
The Future of Tennis Wagering Amid Integrity Concerns
Further changes are also likely coming down the pipeline now that the Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis has completed its investigation. The final report was issued in December of 2018 and has provided regulators with a lot to consider moving forward.
The review, which was commissioned by the ATP, WTA, ITF and the Grand Slam Board, conducted a comprehensive study of integrity concerns related to tennis betting and issued numerous recommendations that the leagues have said they will seriously consider.
The recommendations section of the report is lengthy and goes into great detail, but some of the key recommendations that are likely to have the greatest impact on tennis betting include the following:
- Impose limitations on the supply of live betting data for lower-level competitions: The review specifically suggests not allowing the ITF World Tennis Tour $15k developmental tier to supply in-play betting data to sportsbook operators. The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) should also be able to block the supply of live data in particular circumstances at all levels of the sport (such as events involving players who for whatever reason are often associated with integrity concerns).
- Prohibiting ATP and WTA tennis betting sponsorships: The review made the point that the ITF already prohibits betting sponsorships for its events and those events still manage to find the funding they need for prize money. Therefore, the report suggests that ATP and WTA events would also be able to survive just fine without such sponsorships.
- Restructure lower levels of tennis competition to make up-and-coming professionals less susceptible to corruption: This recommendation could result in a significant shakeup of how the lower levels of tennis are managed. The review notes that lower-level pros are poorly compensated and sometimes lose money just traveling to compete even if they win.
- Improve international cooperation between the TIU, law enforcement, other organizations and even other sports: The review recommends taking steps to ensure the TIU can combat corruption at the international level by effectively cooperating with local law enforcement, various national tennis organizations and with other sports that also have systems in place to combat corruption.
Note that these are just a handful of the many recommendations made by the Independent Review. The specific recommendations detailed above simply have the greatest likelihood of spurring changes that will be immediately visible to bettors.
Other recommendations made by the review cover a wide range of ground including player conduct, the organization of the Tennis Integrity Unit, expanded education for players and officials, independent audits and much more.
Best Tennis Betting Sites
The legalization of online sports wagering in the United States has done much to level the playing field when it comes to ranking the best tennis betting sites. Prior to legalization, players were left comparing offshore sportsbooks run by questionable providers and powered by questionable software.
The legal betting landscape in the United States looks completely different because today’s licensed sportsbooks are not only subject to strict regulations, but also work with big-name software suppliers that previously avoided the US market altogether due to legal concerns.
Most importantly, new regulatory oversight eliminates many of the safety and security concerns that still plague illegal, offshore sportsbooks. Licensed sportsbooks are now governed by US law and are closely supervised when it comes to maintaining adequate funding, paying out customers in a timely manner and dealing with disputes in a transparent manner.
Nearly any licensed sportsbook in the United States will have you covered when it comes to safety and integrity. States such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania now have entire divisions dedicated specifically to overseeing the online wagering industry. If you play at a site that is licensed in your state, you have little to worry about concerning the safety of your funds and fairness of your experience.
You can visit our big states archive here to see a list of licensed sportsbooks in your area. Alternatively, you can also visit your state’s gaming control website to see a list of sites that hold active licenses.
Well-known software providers have also gained access to the US market, which in turn has greatly increased the overall quality of betting sites that are accessible to US residents. All states that have legalized online betting so far have also implemented licensing systems for software providers.
With companies such as William Hill and Bet365 now entering the US market in addition to major domestic companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings now offering sports betting, you’ll find they all offer a wide range of tennis betting options.
As a result, the majority of ranking factors come down to personal opinion and preferences. Just about every licensed sportsbook in the US today covers tennis to an extensive degree with betting options on tournaments big and small hosted around the world.
You can see our top picks near the top of this page, but know that you won’t be in bad hands as long as you stick with sites that are legal and licensed in the USA.
How to Bet on Tennis Online
Online sportsbooks intentionally make it as easy as possible to place wagers, but the one thing you need to know first is how the odds work. Once you have a grasp on what the various odds mean, you’ll be able to apply that knowledge to the many different types of tennis bets out there.
So, we’ll start with a quick rundown of the basic moneyline wager. The moneyline odds format is used for all different types of wagers, but the most basic of these is a straight up bet on which of two players will win their upcoming match. It’s similar to betting on which team will win a football game, except in this case we happen to be dealing with tennis.
A typical tennis moneyline wager between Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray will look something like this no matter which sportsbook you visit:
- Rafael Nadal: -190
- Andy Murray: +155
The odds listed next to each player’s name essentially tell us how much we stand to win for backing each player. In most cases, one player will be priced as the favorite and one will be priced as the underdog.
Rafael is priced as the favorite in this match with odds of -190. The negative sign always means you’ll be risking more than you stand to win. In this case, Rafael Nadal is widely viewed as more likely to win the match, so you’ll have to pay a premium to back him.
To be specific, the -190 price means you’ll need to risk $1.90 for every $1.00 in potential winnings. Thus, a $190 wager on Nadal Rafael would set you up to win $100 in net profit if he does win. Your total payout on that $190 wager would be $290 (your original $190 wager plus $100 in winnings).
Andy Murray is widely viewed as the underdog and his price has thus been set at +155. This tells us we stand to win more than our original wager if we back him. Every $1.00 you risk on Murray has the potential to return $1.55 in winnings. Therefore, a winning $100 bet on Andy Murray would return $255 (your original $100 wager plus $155 in winnings).
Sportsbooks set the odds in this manner in an attempt to make both sides of every bet somewhat appealing despite any discrepancies in player skill. In this example, the sportsbook has made it reasonable for you to take either side of the bet: you can back the player who seems to have the best shot of winning at the cost of risking more, or you can back the player who is the consensus underdog in return for receiving a better potential payout.
Other types of tennis wagers also rely on this principle. Once you have the basic idea of moneyline odds down, you’ll find it easy to understand how other types of tennis wagers work.
Other types of tennis wagers include:
- Tournament outright: A simple wager on one player to win the whole tournament. You only get paid if your player finishes in first place, but the payout will likely be significant due to the difficulty of accurately predicting which player will win the tournament.
- Totals: The sportsbook lists a total number of games or sets a match will last, and you attempt to predict whether the actual total will be higher than or lower than that number. Who wins the match or what the final score is are both irrelevant for this wager; the only thing that matters is whether or not the match exceeds the posted total.
- Tennis spreads: A spread bet is similar to the basic moneyline wager explained above but is usually priced at odds much closer to even money. Perceived disparities in skill are instead accounted for by requiring the favorite to win by X number of games. For example, Rafael Nadal may be priced as a -3.5 game favorite. In this case, he would have to win by at least four games (say with a final score of 6-4, 6-4) for wagers on him to be counted as winners.
- Winning margin: If you’re especially confident on how an upcoming match will go, you can bet on not only the winner, but also by how many games he or she will win the match. This wagers only pay if you get the winning player and the winning margin correct, but pay better than regular wager on who will win.
- Correct score: Similar wager to the winning margin – you are attempting to predict the final score and stand to win more money than simply betting on who will win.
- Tennis props: This is a catch-all category that involves all sorts of other side bets not directly related to who will win. Examples of tennis props include betting on whether or not an ace will be scored in a certain game, if there will be a tie break, who will win the first set, total aces and much more.
In-Play Tennis Betting
In-play tennis betting operates in the same basic manner as standard betting with one key exception: you can place bets during matches as the game progresses. This means instead of making sure you have all your wagers placed before the match begins, you can tune in to watch the action live and place short-term wagers throughout the match.
Tennis is a natural fit for in-play betting due to frequent breaks in action that give you a chance to assess the action and the sheer number of things that happen during a typical match. In-play wagers allow you to bet on who will win the current set, who will win the next game and so on.
In-play tennis betting has proven quite popular in Europe, fueled in part by the large number of matches that are held every year. Online sportsbooks operating in the European market have also secured broadcasting deals that allow them to stream live video while also offering in-play markets.
In 2018, FanDuel CEO Matt King predicted tennis in particular stands to benefit from in-play betting in the United States due to the many short-term opportunities that manifest during a match.
“The beauty of tennis is that you could literally bet on every single hit in the match – every single point – and so it creates a lot of opportunity for people to engage in the sport,” he told CNBC.
He also noted that early cashout features, which allow customers to close their bets early during a match, will further fuel the popularity of in-play tennis betting.