For example, if one player bets on USC at -10, they risk the standard $110 to win $100 in college football gambling. Another player takes California +10 for the same $110 to win $100. The sportsbook makes $10 regardless of who wins the game as long as USC doesn’t win by exactly 10 points.
College football betting rarely has the sportsbooks equally balanced on a game. When the action is not balanced the books have a few choices in college football gambling. They can do nothing and hope that the game falls their way versus the college football betting line, they can move the number, or they can lay off their action somewhere else. Usually the sportsbook will move the college football betting line. If a sportsbook has $5,500 wagered on USC –10 and $2,200 wagered on California +10, then the sportsbook stands to lose $2,800 if USC covers (They collect $2,200 from people who bet on California but have to pay $5,000 to players who bet on USC. They will win $3,500 if California covers (collects $5,500 from players who bet on USC but has to pay $2,000 to players who bet on California). Some sportsbooks may have already handicapped the game and may shade the college football betting line a half point or more in a certain direction to generate more wagering on the team they think will not cover. If they like USC to cover the -10, they may open the line at -10.5. If they like California they may open the line at -9.5 in college football gambling.
Why don’t sportsbooks just keep moving the college football betting line until they get balanced action? The answer to that is that they don’t want to get middled in college football gambling. In the previous example they really would not want to move down if they got pounded with California money because if they went clear down to -7, and it landed on seven, they would take a huge loss in college football betting. It is that risk of getting middled that keep books from moving college football betting lines very far, but at the same time it is the risk of being on the wrong side of a game that forces them to move the college football betting line. Sportsbooks that move college football betting lines too far can suffer heavy losses with a bad outcome, as will books that don’t move college football betting lines enough.