Parlays: The Increasingly Common — and Increasingly Dangerous — Way of Betting on Sports

As new ways to bet arrive on the market, more people are drawn to making parlays. These multi-leg bets promise bigger payouts and add excitement to the betting experience. But despite their allure, parlays come with significant risks that can outweigh the benefits. Are you sure you’re aware of the risks you’re taking? Let’s break them down.

What Are Parlays?

A parlay is a single bet that links together two or more individual wagers for a high payout if all bets win. For example, betting on multiple games in one ticket means each game must be successful to win the parlay. This type of bet can cover various sports events, outcomes, or even different sports, making it versatile and appealing. The catch? Each bet within the parlay must win for the bettor to collect any profit — lose just one, and the entire bet fails.

This all-or-nothing aspect makes parlays particularly risky. While a simple straight bet offers a lower payout but a higher chance of winning, parlays entice with potentially massive returns that rarely materialize.

What Are Same-Game Parlays?

Same-game parlays allow bettors to combine multiple wagers from a single game into one parlay bet. This could mean betting on the outcome, total points, player performance, and more within one game. Bookmakers promote same-game parlays heavily, partly because these bets can seem easier to predict due to being within one event. However, they still carry the same inherent risk as traditional parlays.

The appeal lies in the perceived control and familiarity with the game. Fans often believe their knowledge of the sport gives them an edge, leading to overconfidence. This false sense of security can drive bettors deeper into risky waters. Same-game parlays may seem like a savvy way to leverage insights, but they often result in compounded losses rather than the anticipated windfall.

What Are the Risks of Parlays?

Parlays are enticing because they offer huge potential rewards from relatively small stakes. However, the risks are greater. The return on investment (ROI) for parlays is typically much lower than expected. In fact, research shows that parlays have an average ROI of -15% to -30%. This means the house edge in parlays is significantly higher compared to single bets.

The complexity and difficulty of hitting every leg of a parlay make it a losing proposition for most bettors. The odds are stacked against you as each additional bet is added to the parlay. While the lure of a big payday is strong, the reality is that consistent losses are much more likely.

Why Hedging Your Bets Are Dangerous

Hedging involves placing bets on the opposite outcome of your original wager to guarantee some return regardless of the result. In parlays, bettors might hedge to minimize losses if several legs have already won. While this can seem like a strategy to manage risk, it’s fraught with pitfalls.

Hedging can lead to more complex and larger bets, increasing exposure to risk. Bettors may end up placing more money than intended, chasing the illusion of reduced risk. Parlays already encourage risky behavior by combining multiple bets; adding hedging to the mix only amplifies this risk. The temptation to protect initial winnings through hedging can spiral into even greater losses.

Should Parlays Be Avoided?

Given the high risks and low probability of success, avoiding parlays might be the wisest choice for many bettors. The allure of a big payout is hard to resist, but the reality is stark: parlays are designed to benefit the house. The odds are not in the bettor’s favor, and the likelihood of consistent wins is minimal. For those committed to responsible betting, focusing on single wagers with better odds is a safer path. This approach minimizes risk and promotes a healthier betting habit. While parlays can add excitement, they often lead to disappointment and financial strain.

Get Help Today

If you find yourself struggling with making parlays or any other form of problem gambling, help is available. 800-GAMBLER offers resources and support to guide you. Reach out to our 24/7 Confidential Helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER for immediate assistance. You can also find help meetings and explore CCGNJ research to better understand problem gambling and industry changes.

Taking the first step towards help can make a significant difference. Don’t hesitate to reach out and break the cycle.


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