What is the vig?

The vig explained

The vig in sports betting refers to the vigorish, which is how a sportsbook guarantees profit from offering sports betting odds. It is also often known as the juice or a margin in sports betting circles.

Put simply, the vig is the cut that the sportsbook takes from every losing bet. The cut is reflected in the odds offered as bettors place their wagers, and includes a percentage that automatically goes to the house in the event of a losing bet. Different sportsbooks set the vig at different levels based on a variety of factors, including the bet type, the popularity of the market, and the sportsbook’s experience in dealing with a particular market.

Some leagues are considered riskier for sportsbooks than others, particularly if a sportsbook is offering odds on a league or sport for the first time or doesn’t have the same level of oddsmaking experience in that field as they do for other sports. In cases like these, the sportsbooks may increase the size of the vig to offset their margin for error when setting the odds.

Sportsbooks also use the vig to manage their risk if one side of a bet is receiving an unexpectedly large amount of betting action. In order to help spread the risk, they can either tweak the point spread or adjust the vig. This could mean increasing the vig for the popular pick, or a reducing the vig for the less popular pick.

Sportsbooks can also reduce the vig as a means of attracting betting action on a big event. Typically, the big sportsbooks tend to offer very similar odds on the major events, but a time-limited reduction in the vig could attract crucial additional action that helps to earn additional revenue.

How does the vig work?

The simplest example of the vig in action is a point spread bet on an event such as an NFL game. The odds would typically look something like this:

Team and spread


Los Angeles Rams, -4.5


Cincinnati Bengals, +4.5


The point spread is designed to even the matchup, meaning the true odds should be +100 for both teams. But, in this case, the sportsbook has applied a vig of 10%, making the odds -110 for each. It means that the book is slanted in favor of the house to help secure profit on the market, regardless of the final result.

To learn more about how to read the odds, or point spread betting, make sure you check out our comprehensive betting guides.

Removing the vig gives you the true odds

If you want to know the real odds on an event, first you have to remove the vig. For a coin toss, the odds should be +100 each for heads and tails, but a sportsbook would likely offer odds between -110 and -120, depending on how large a vig they wanted to include.

Point spreads turn games into coin-flips, so the difference between +100 and the odds offered represents the vig. It also applies to other markets where the sportsbook sets a stats mark, such as total or over/under bets.

It’s also worth remembering that the vig doesn’t have to be the same for both teams in the same game. If one team is receiving significant betting interest, a sportsbook may increase the vig to reduce its liabilities. Alternatively, a sportsbook may reduce the vig in order to attract betting interest on a specific market or individual outcome.

Tips on how to judge the vig

Shop around for the best vig

Sportsbooks are in constant competition for your money, so make sure you do your homework and shop around to see if there are reputable sportsbooks offering smaller vigs for your chosen bet, especially for live in-game betting.

This can be particularly beneficial when betting on major sporting events, when sportsbooks invest in bonuses and enhanced odds to attract more business.

Watch out for fluctuations

Sportsbooks have the freedom to adjust their spreads and odds whenever they like. It means that a site that offers a competitive vig one day may not offer the same vig the next day.

One example for this could be due to one team receiving significant betting support on the spread. If you see a good opportunity, it pays to grab it before sportsbooks get inundated and adjust their vig accordingly. The Dolphins could be a -6.5 favourite at -110 before a ton of public money came in on them. If the sportsbook doesn't want to adjust the line, it will adjust the vig, possibly to -120.

Don't forget about the spread

While it pays to keep a close eye on the vig, it’s equally important that you keep a close eye on the point spread. A sportsbook with a larger vig may still be the best value betting opportunity if the spread is more favorable to your chosen team.

Shop around, keep tabs on the vig, the odds and the spread, and take the best opportunity you can find.

The vig is everywhere

While it may be easiest to spot the vig from point spread bets, it’s important to know that sportsbooks apply the vig to all of their major markets.

Moneyline bets typically have a 20-cent vig, while futures bets can have much larger vigs due to the larger betting field and the more sizable odds on offer.

The vig FAQs

Is the juice the same as the vig?
Does every sportsbook have a vig?
Do sportsbooks apply the same vig to all markets?

All betting guides on BET.CA are written by in-our house team, who have over 40 years’ experience in the sports betting and gaming industries, and have worked and written for several of the world’s leading sportsbooks. They possess in-depth knowledge of betting markets and strategies, as well as an understanding of what is important to bettors, meaning you can read on with the confidence that they will help improve your betting.

BET.CA staff
BET.CA staff