As legal sports betting spreads across the US, you can now bet on the NHL at retail sportsbooks, online sportsbooks and sports betting apps licensed by gaming commissions in more than a dozen states.
Below is a complete look at where you can bet on the NHL online and answers to the most frequently asked questions about NHL betting in the USA. We also provide a guide to NHL betting and Stanley Cup betting strategies you might want to try out this season.
All states with legal sports betting allow sportsbooks to offer single-game NHL wagering, including futures and prop bets.
If you’re of legal age and inside state lines, you can bet on NHL games and the future prospects of players and teams at licensed retail and online sportsbooks.
Online NHL betting is legal and already live in several states across the US including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and Colorado. See all your current sports betting options in those states here:
Mississippi also offers online and mobile NHL betting, but only on the property at licensed sportsbooks.
The same NHL betting opportunities you’ll find at retail sportsbooks are also available online in these states.
Here’s a quick state-by-state look at the top apps that offer sports betting, including on the NHL. All of the betting apps are available for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android mobile devices.
1. DraftKings Sportsbook: DraftKings Sportsbook launched as the first online and mobile sportsbook in New Jersey and continues to expand across every state that regulates sports betting. It offers excellent bettor-friendly software and competitive lines on all sports and games. New players can claim $25 in free bets+ up to $1,000 in bonuses. DraftKings Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, CO, PA, WV, IN, NH, IA
2. FanDuel Sportsbook: FanDuel Sportsbook grew quickly into NJ’s top-grossing online and mobile sportsbook. User-friendly Flutter/IGT software and competitive lines are the reason why. New players get a $500 risk-free bet upon sign-up. FanDuel Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, CO, PA, WV and IN
FanDuel Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, CO, PA, WV and IN
3. BetMGM Sportsbook: Just like the other two apps, BetMGM has harnessed its popularity in NJ to hit the ground running in other regulated states. The platform is slick and easy-to-use and all features and betting markets can be found on the iPhone and Android apps. Get up to $500 risk-free bet at BetMGM. BetMGM Sportsbook is legal in: NJ, CO, IN and WV
Online sportsbooks offer a desktop version you can access either on your computer or smartphone, or fully downloadable apps for iOS and Android.
While you can navigate the online sportsbooks on your phone as well, the app version is specifically tailored to work optimally for your iPhone or Android device.
Navigation and functionality are optimized for swiping/tapping, and financial transactions are equally secure. You also have full access to all of the NHL lines, odds and bets through the app.
The NHL has announced its Return to Play plan for 2020 which will involve 24 teams returning to the ice to play down to a 2020 Stanley Cup Champion. Some details are still to be determined, including which two “hub” cities will host the games, but here’s what the format will look like:
The rest of the playoff format is still TBD but conference finals and Stanley Cup will be best-of-7 series. Here’s how that new structure has affected futures bets on the NHL at BetMGM sportsbook, for example:
Here’s how the odds for winning the Stanley Cup have shaken up after the announcement as listed at DraftKings and FanDuel (as of June, 2020):
Odds for each individual play-in series are also now posted. Check your sportsbook for the current odds.
Licensed sportsbooks across the US offer the following basic bets:
Most states also allow NHL futures bets on how many regular-season wins each NHL team will accumulate. Many states also allow betting on the outcome of the seasonal NHL awards, the NHL draft and the NHL free agency.
NHL futures odds are first set in the offseason and adjusted as the regular season and playoffs move forward.
We cover plenty more sports betting basics here.
Some popular NHL futures and props bets allow you to wager on:
The St. Louis Blues rode a wave of second half success all the way to the Stanley Cup championship last year. Back in January, though, they were dead last in the league.
Because they had played so poorly the odds for them to win the Cup at the time were +25000 or 250-1. One smart bettor put down a $400 bet at those odds and famously won $100,000.
The moneyline bet provides one of the easiest ways to wager on anything, including hockey betting.
NHL moneyline bets pay according to a team’s probability of winning, and the NHL betting odds are locked in at the time you place the bet. All you have to do is pick a winner.
Moneyline odds are expressed as either a positive (+) or negative (-) number.
Negative numbers are for favorites and represent how you’ll have to bet to win $100 plus your bet back. Positive numbers are for underdogs and represent how much each $100 wager will pay plus your bet back.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will likely be underdogs on the road against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. The Leafs’ moneyline might be +165.
That means if you bet $100 on Toronto to win, you’ll get $265 ($165 + your original $100) back if they do.
If you like St. Louis to win at home instead, you’ll probably find them at around -200. That means you’ll need to bet $200 bet on the Blues to get $300 returned (your original $200 + the $100 win).
NHL puck lines are like point spread bets in other sports. Most puck lines are set at -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog because two goals or less decide the average NHL game.
Betting the puck line means making the correct prediction with the line factored into the final score. Prices vary even if the puck line doesn’t, so shop around for the best one.
NHL totals are a lot like the over/under when you’re betting on the NFL. Sportsbooks set a line on the total number of goals they expect both teams will combine to score.
You bet on whether the actual total will be over or under that number. Typically, NHL totals lines sit around five or six goals and can be booked at -110 odds.
Futures bets are wagers on something where the outcome will not be determined until sometime in the future.
Traditionally, that means betting on who will win the Stanley Cup, a conference or division. The earlier it is in the season, the better the odds you’ll usually get.
Midway through a losing season for any team, NHL futures odds will go way up. But they’ll go way down for teams that look like they have a legitimate chance to win it all.
NHL futures bets also include wagers on how many regular-season wins a team will accumulate, the outcome of NHL awards, the NHL draft and the NHL free agency.
NHL parlays involve combining two or more NHL bets into one.
These bets pay better than single bets because you must win them all for it to pay. You can put together parlays involving one game, multiple games and even multiple sports.
More advanced NHL betting options include live betting (in play betting), which lets you book basic bets at odds that change as the live-action does.
If one team is up after the first or second period, their odds will go down but a bet on the losing team might seem appealing at longer odds.
Live betting on the NHL is exponentially growing in popularity and American bettors can’t seem to get enough of it.
Hockey is a truly Canadian sport, and when it comes to Canadians betting on hockey, they do it with different looking odds than in the US.
Canadians use decimal odds. If you come across these odds online and want to compare, multiply the number by what you want to bet and that’ll tell you the payout.
US moneyline odds use negative numbers for favorites that represent how much you’ll have to bet to win $100, plus your bet back.
Positive numbers represent underdogs and how much each $100 bet will pay, plus your bet back.
Divide the payout on a moneyline bet by the amount of the original bet, and it’ll tell you the decimal odds.
While the social environment at a retail sportsbook is always fun, an online or mobile sportsbook in any state is usually superior when it comes to making frequent NHL bets.
To get started betting online, you typically only need to sign up for an account via the app or website. You don’t need to visit the physical sportsbook to register. This may vary from state to state, though.
Opening an online betting account is fast and efficient. You must be 21 years or older, and you only need to provide your home address and the final four digits of your Social Security number to verify.
While you must be physically inside state borders to place a real-money bet in any licensed state, you don’t have to be a resident there to do so. You can open an account and see all of the NHL lines available from anywhere.
Another nice feature of betting online: You can browse through all of the different NHL lines, props and futures, and enter combinations into your bet slip to see various payouts. You can’t do that at a betting window inside a busy retail sportsbook.
There’s also no waiting in line at the window to place bets online. You can search through all your options and enjoy quick access to the bets you want in real-time.
Also, there is a huge advantage for making in-game NHL bets when games are in progress.
Once your account has been verified, it’s a quick leap to funding your account for betting. As fully licensed and regulated online businesses, online sportsbooks accept:
Cash options include making a deposit at the cage of an affiliated casino or even a 7-Eleven or CVS.
NHL.com releases the Super 16 NHL Power Rankings, identifying the top teams in the NHL throughout the regular season.
It is put together by a dozen NHL beat writers. These 12 staff members put together their version of the rankings. From there, a point total is assigned to each team. It gives 16 points for a first-place vote, 15 for second and so on through the 16 teams.
NHL.com also does the same heading into the season. The NHL.com 2019-20 offseason Super 16 looks like this:
Nobody picks winners in every single NHL game throughout the season. You don’t have to master the NHL betting scene to the point where you never lose a bet.
The trick is to learn how to not suck at NHL betting. The following five tips should help:
It is perfectly legal to bet on the NHL at licensed sportsbooks inside states that have passed sports betting legislation.
Right now, that includes the following states:
These other states have legalized retail sports betting, but licensed sportsbooks have yet to launch:
Statewide online and mobile NHL betting is also live in these states:
The following states are also planning to allow the launch of online and mobile sportsbooks soon:
Puck line bets in the NHL are like the spread in other sports. You need to factor the puck line into the final score to determine the betting winner.
When you pick against the spread in the NHL, you are choosing the underdog in a puck line bet.
The NHL’s Stanley Cup playoff is the postseason tournament that determines the league champion and Stanley Cup winner. It consists of four rounds of best-of-seven series.
There are 31 teams in the NHL and eight teams from each of the league’s two conferences make the playoffs.
The top three teams in each of the four divisions qualify for the playoffs. The two teams with the best records in each conference also get in as wild cards.
The top seed in each division plays one of the wild-card teams in the first round. The division winner with the most points plays the wild-card team with the least. The second and third seeds in each division face each other, and the playoffs continue following a bracket format from there.
The total, or over/under in hockey betting is the same as it is in other sports. Gamblers bet on whether the total combine score between two teams will be over or under a line set by oddsmakers.
If the actual total matches the line set by oddsmakers, all bets are returned.
Overtime counts when it comes to NHL betting unless stated otherwise.
Shootouts count for NHL betting in terms of straight wins or losses. For totals and puck line markets, the winning team gets one goal.
You most certainly can. Most US sportsbooks offer in-play wagering where you can bet on ongoing action and at the period breaks in a game.
Sportsbooks and third-party NHL oddsmakers set lines based on several factors, including scheduling, location, historical matchup stats, and recent performance data. Some basic NHL principles are also applied. These include the fact most games are close and fewer than five goals are scored on average.
NHL handicap betting is just another way of referring to those who bet NHL puck lines. The handicap line is the same as the puck line set by oddsmakers.
The NHL draft lottery is held annually in April, and it determines which teams get the top three selections in the NHL draft.
The teams that miss the Stanley Cup playoffs participate in three handicapped drawings in favor of the teams with the worst records in the league. Picks 4 to 15 are then awarded based on the standings.
The NHL draft is held annually in June, and it is where teams select the rights to available players meeting draft eligibility requirements.