How Much Juice Is Reasonable? Exploring Industry Standards

Updated March 5th, 2020
Published November 20, 2019

Understanding Sportsbook Industry Standards: Download the Full Report

Many new sports bettors are surprised to learn that sportsbooks aren’t really in the business of betting at all. Unlike those placing the bets, online betting sites have found a way to turn a profit regardless of what happens at the conclusion of a given sporting event.

By attracting equal action on each side of every wager, bookmakers can guarantee themselves a profit from nothing more than the collection of handling fees baked directly into the betting lines. These fees are referred to as the ‘juice,’ ‘vig,’ or ‘vigorish’ and they’re an integral part of sports betting that every player needs to be aware of.

Once you’ve gained a basic understanding of vigorish and how to remove it from sports betting odds, it’s time to consider how it will affect your profitability over the long term. Betting on lines that have more juice will cut into your payout, meaning that you need to succeed more often to stay in the green.

Shopping around for the best odds is a great way to ensure you’re getting the best value possible on the picks you want to make. Doing so for each bet you place is ideal, but it can be impractical to make deposits at multiple betting sites and spend hours comparing lines for every game you want to wager on.

This guide compares the average juice charged by 12 popular online betting sites. Such a comparison provides a data-based indication of how much juice should be considered reasonable, allowing you to benchmark each sportsbook you’re considering against the industry standard.

Identifying Industry Standards

With a separate internal study suggesting that most sports bettors spend less than 30 minutes handicapping their typical wager, SBD is fully aware that most people don’t have the time to calculate and compare the average juice charged at online sportsbooks.

That’s why we collaborated with graduate researchers at a leading research university to dive into the data on your behalf. Our team compared the average juice charged at 12 popular online sportsbooks throughout the 2018 NFL season to identify an industry standard and help consumers identify the operators offering the best and worst value.

Juice was compared for both traditional, pre-game wagers and live, in-game wagers. Let’s start by looking at the average juice charged at online sportsbooks for the most popular types of NFL wager:

Industry Standards for Juice Charged

Wager Type Average Juice Charged
Pre-Game Moneyline 4.21%
Pre-Game Point Spread 4.61%
Pre-Game Totals 4.58%
Live Moneyline 3.66%
Live Point Spread 4.67%
Live Totals Not enough data available

Do Sportsbooks Charge More Juice for Live Bets?

Looking at the data as a whole, it’s clear that an industry standard exists around the amount of juice that can be reasonably charged at online sportsbooks. The betting sites we evaluated displayed a relatively small degree of variance across all wager types. This held true for traditional pre-game and live in-game wagers alike.

Comparing the average amount of juice charged on pre-game vs live-game betting lines revealed some surprises. Many sports betting media outlets have characterized live betting lines as a poor value, claiming that they include more juice than otherwise identical pre-game betting lines. The data in this study do not support that characterization.

After removing a single outlier, who charges an exorbitant amount on live wagers, the average amounts charged pre vs in-game are virtually the same on point spread and totals lines. The average juice charged on live moneyline wagers is lower than that charged on pre-game moneyline wagers.

Ultimately, the data suggest that there is generally very little variation in the amount of juice charged both between online sportsbooks and depending on when bettors place their wagers. Of course, small differences of just a couple percentage points can make the difference between long-term profitability or losses.

Betting with a sportsbook that charges slightly higher than average juice will slowly erode your bankroll over time. Act according to your own betting behavior when thinking about the significance of these fees. The extra juice will add up more the longer and heavier you bet. Reference the table below to identify the sportsbooks that are the best and worst value for your preferred type of wager:

The sections below provide a more specific breakdown of the data by bet type.

Average Juice on the Moneyline

The sportsbooks evaluated exhibited some variance in terms of juice charged on pre-game and live moneylines, particularly in comparison to the two other types of wagers evaluated.

Pre-Game Moneyline Juice Charged

Rank Juice Charged
1 3.61%
2 3.62%
3 (Tie) 3.90%
3 (Tie) 3.90%
4 4.23%
5 4.28%
6 4.35%
7 (Tie) 4.40%
7 (Tie) 4.40%
8 4.55%
9 5.04%
10 Data unavailable

Pre-game moneyline juice charged ranged from 3.61% – 5.04%. The average amount charged across all sportsbooks was 4.21%.

  • Four of 12 sportsbooks evaluated charged an average between 3.5% – 4.0% juice on the pre-game moneyline
  • Five of 12 sportsbooks evaluated charged an average between 4.0% – 4.5% juice on the pre-game moneyline
  • Two of 12 sportsbooks evaluated charged an average of over more than 4.5% juice on the pre-game moneyline

Live Game Moneyline Juice Charged

Rank Juice Charged
1 3.49%
2 3.55%
3 3.61%
4 3.93%
5 4.03%
6 (Tie) 4.24%
6 (Tie) 4.24%
7 4.50%
8 5.04%
9 7.40%
11 (Tie) Data unavailable
11 (Tie) Data unavailable

The majority of sportsbooks evaluated for this study offered live betting on the moneyline during the 2018 NFL season. The differences between books were more significant on live betting lines than those for pre-game moneyline wagers, although the average juice charged was slightly lower.

  • Four of 12 sportsbooks evaluated charged an average between approximately 3.5% – 4.0% juice on live moneylines
  • Four of 12 sportsbooks evaluated charged an average between 4.0% – 5.0% juice on live moneylines
  • Two of 12 sportsbooks evaluated charged an average of more than 5.0% juice on live moneylines

Average Juice on the Point Spread

The 12 sportsbooks evaluated displayed an incredible degree of conformity in terms of juice charged on both pre-game and live point spread lines.

Pre-Game Point Spread Juice Charged

Rank Juice Charged
1 4.53%
2 (Tie) 4.54%
2 (Tie) 4.54%
2 (Tie) 4.54%
3 (Tie) 4.55%
3 (Tie) 4.55%
3 (Tie) 4.55%
4 (Tie) 4.56%
4 (Tie) 4.56%
5 4.57%
6 4.85%
7 4.95%

The average juice charged on pre-game point spread is so consistent that only the highest-volume bettors are likely to notice a difference between these sportsbooks.

  • Three of 12 sportsbooks charged an average 4.54% juice on pre-game point spread lines: One narrowly edges them out with an average of 4.53%
  • Three of 12 sportsbooks charged an average 4.55% juice on pre-game point spread lines
  • Two of 12 sportsbooks charged an average of 4.56% juice on pre-game point spread lines
  • Two of 12 sportsbooks charged between 4.8% – 5.0% juice on pre-game point spread lines

Live Game Point Spread Juice Charged

Rank Juice Charged
1 4.13%
2 4.43%
3 (Tie) 4.46%
3 (Tie) 4.46%
3 (Tie) 4.46%
4 4.47%
5 4.50%
6 4.69%
7 4.77%
8 6.33%
9 8.24%
10 Data unavailable

Every sportsbook evaluated charged more to handle live point spread bets than moneyline wagers. Excluding one significant outlier, sportsbooks charged an average of 4.67% on live-game point spread wagers.

  • Two of 12 sportsbooks evaluated charged less than 4.45% juice on live point spread lines
  • Three of 12 sportsbooks evaluated charged the same amount of juice on live point spread lines at 4.46%
  • Three of 12 sportsbooks evaluated charged between 4.5% – 5.0% juice on live point spread lines
  • Two of 12 sportsbooks evaluated charged more than 6% juice on the live point spread

Average Juice on Totals

As with the point spread, the amount of juice charged on totals lines was remarkably consistent across the sportsbooks evaluated.

Pre-Game Totals Juice Charged

Rank Juice Charged
1 4.35%
2 (Tie) 4.54%
2 (Tie) 4.54%
3 (Tie) 4.55%
3 (Tie) 4.55%
3 (Tie) 4.55%
3 (Tie) 4.55%
3 (Tie) 4.55%
4 4.56%
5 4.57%
6 4.70%
7 4.95%

The amount of juice charged on pre-game totals lines ranged from 4.35% – 4.95%, with an industry average of 4.58%.

  • Seven of 12 sportsbooks evaluated charged the same average pre-game juice on totals lines as they did on the point spread
  • Five of 12 sportsbooks charged 4.55% on pre-game totals lines
  • Two of 12 sportsbooks evaluated showed a .01% increase in the average juice charged on totals vs point spread lines

Live Game Totals Juice Charged

Rank Juice Charged
1 (Tie) 4.52%
1 (Tie) 4.52%
2 4.58%
3 8.27%
4 (Tie) Data unavailable
4 (Tie) Data unavailable
4 (Tie) Data unavailable
4 (Tie) Data unavailable
4 (Tie) Data unavailable
4 (Tie) Data unavailable
4 (Tie) Data unavailable
4 (Tie) Data unavailable

Most sportsbooks evaluated did not have data available for live totals lines during the 2018 NFL season. That said, the relative lack of competition doesn’t seem to have much effect on the average juice charged at the limited number of books that do offer these lines. Three of four charged less than 4.60%.

How Much Juice Should You Expect to Pay?

The data and analysis outlined above is intended as a helpful point of reference for bettors trying to determine which sportsbooks offer the best value. Laying your wagers at an online betting site that generally offers lines with lower juice is one of the easiest ways to increase your profitability without adjusting your betting strategy.

That said, it’s important to remember that the juice is a fee for services provided. If you strongly prefer the service and features offered at a particular sportsbook, you shouldn’t think twice about paying a little extra vig to take full advantage. Shopping for an online betting site is just like shopping for any other digital service: compare quality to cost and make the decision that best fits your needs and budget.

Our online sportsbook reviews are a great place to learn more about the unique features of each site. Our approach at SBD is focused on going beyond the strengths and weaknesses of each site to provide an idea of what type of bettors its features are best suited to.

Explore More Sportsbook Industry Standards

The data included in this article is part of a larger study aimed at determining industry standards across a number of factors important to bettors. If you’re looking for more information about line movement and line release times, you can find additional reports in our research section.

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