How to Set and Manage Betting Budgets

10 min read
Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Fact checked by:
Paruyr Shahbazyan
Last Updated: Jul 17, 2024, 8:56 PM

Responsible Bankroll Management in Sports Betting

Sports betting can lead to significant financial repercussions if not managed properly. Establishing and adhering to a betting budget is essential for maintaining control and preventing financial distress.

Key Statistics:

The Psychological Aspect of Betting Budgets

The Illusion of Control

Many bettors believe they can control or predict outcomes, leading to excessive betting. Understanding this cognitive bias can help you stick to your budget.

The illusion of control can lead to overconfidence and riskier bets. Recognize this bias and make data-driven decisions.

Emotional Betting

Betting while experiencing strong emotions like excitement or frustration can lead to impulsive decisions.

Implement a cooling-off period. After a big win or loss, wait 24 hours before placing another bet.

How to Set Your Betting Budget

Creating a betting budget is a fundamental aspect of responsible gambling. It requires a thorough and realistic assessment of your financial situation. The following steps and best practices will help ensure that you set a betting budget that aligns with your financial health and goals.

1. Calculate Disposable Income

Your disposable income is the amount of money you have left after all necessary expenses have been paid. This calculation is critical because it provides the basis for determining how much you can afford to allocate to betting without impacting your financial stability.

Steps to Calculate Disposable Income:

  1. List all sources of income: Include salary, bonuses, freelance work, investments, etc.
  2. Deduct essential expenses: These include rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, insurance, transportation, loan payments, and other non-negotiable expenses.
  3. Account for variable expenses: These are costs that can vary each month, such as dining out, entertainment, and shopping.

Example Calculation:

  • Monthly Income: $4,000
  • Essential Expenses: $2,500
  • Variable Expenses: $500
  • Disposable Income: $4,000 - $2,500 - $500 = $1,000

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends between 60-70% of their income on essential expenses .

2. Set a Maximum Limit

It is generally recommended that you allocate no more than 5% of your disposable income to betting. This percentage is considered safe to ensure that betting remains a form of entertainment rather than a financial burden.

Steps to Set a Maximum Limit:

  • Determine your disposable income: As calculated above.
  • Calculate 5% of this amount: This will be your maximum betting budget.

Example Calculation:

  • Disposable Income: $1,000
  • Maximum Betting Budget (5%): $1,000 * 0.05 = $50

This limit helps protect your finances from the volatility of betting and ensures you can cover unexpected expenses.

3. Prioritize Savings

Before you allocate any money to betting, it is crucial to ensure that you have met your savings goals. This includes having an emergency fund, retirement savings, and any other financial goals.

Steps to Prioritize Savings:

  • Establish an emergency fund: Financial advisors typically recommend having 3-6 months' worth of living expenses saved.
  • Contribute to retirement accounts: Ensure you are contributing to retirement savings, such as a 401(k) or IRA.
  • Set other financial goals: This might include saving for a home, education, or major purchases.

Example Calculation:

  • Monthly Savings Goal: $300
  • Emergency Fund: $5,000 (aiming to build over time)
  • Retirement Contributions: $200 per month

According to a report by Bankrate, nearly 28% of Americans have no emergency savings.

4. Create a Betting Budget Framework

Once you have a clear understanding of your disposable income and have prioritized savings, you can create a detailed betting budget.

Components of a Betting Budget:

  • Monthly Allocation: The total amount you can bet each month.
  • Per Bet Limit: The maximum amount you will wager on a single bet.
  • Loss Limits: A threshold for losses that will trigger a pause in betting activities.

Example Framework:

  • Monthly Allocation: $50
  • Per Bet Limit: $5
  • Loss Limit: $30 per month

Setting strict limits helps maintain discipline and reduces the risk of significant financial losses.

5. Regular Review and Adjustment

Your financial situation and betting habits can change over time. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your betting budget ensures that it remains aligned with your financial goals and conditions.

Steps for Regular Review:

  • Monthly Review: Assess your spending and betting activities at the end of each month.
  • Adjust for Changes: If your income or expenses change, adjust your betting budget accordingly.
  • Evaluate Success: Determine if your current betting strategy and budget are effective in preventing overspending.

Never borrow money to bet. This can lead to a dangerous cycle of debt and increased financial instability. Always bet with money you can afford to lose.

Additional Best Practices

  1. Set Clear Objectives: Define what you want to achieve with your betting activities. Are you betting for entertainment, or do you have financial goals?
  2. Use Betting Tools and Resources: Leverage tools such as betting calculators, bankroll management software, and apps that help track your betting activities and expenses.
  3. Educate Yourself: Understand the odds, betting markets, and strategies. Informed bettors are more likely to make rational decisions.

Tracking Gambling Expenses

Maintaining a detailed record of your betting activities helps in managing your bankroll effectively. Use tools like spreadsheets or betting apps to keep track of:

  1. Amount wagered
  2. Wins and losses
  3. Bet types and outcomes
  4. Total balance

Review your betting log weekly to identify patterns, adjust strategies, and ensure you’re not exceeding your budget.

Using Technology to Track Expenses

Leverage technology to make tracking easier. There are various apps designed for managing gambling expenses.

Suggested Apps:

  • Betting Tracker: This app helps you track your bets, analyze your betting history, and manage your bankroll.
  • GambleAware: Provides tools to track gambling habits and set limits.

Tips for Sticking to Your Budget

Adhering to your betting budget requires discipline and self-awareness. Here are some practical tips:

  • Set Bet Limits: Determine a maximum bet amount and stick to it.
  • Use Prepaid Cards: Load a prepaid card with your betting budget to avoid overspending.
  • Take Breaks: Regularly take breaks from betting to reassess your financial situation and mental state.

Self-exclusion programs are available for individuals struggling to control their gambling habits. Consider enrolling if you find it difficult to stick to your budget.

Setting Personal Betting Rules

Establish personal rules to reinforce budget discipline:

  1. Limit Betting Sessions: Restrict the number of betting sessions per week.
  2. Avoid Alcohol: Betting under the influence can impair judgment.
  3. Bet Only on Familiar Sports: Focus on sports you understand well.

Accountability partners can help you stick to your rules. Share your goals with a trusted friend or family member.

Adjusting Your Budget Responsibly

Life circumstances can change, and so should your betting budget. If you face unexpected expenses or changes in income, adjust your budget accordingly.

  • Re-evaluate Monthly: Assess your financial situation at the end of each month and adjust your betting budget if necessary.
  • Set Loss Limits: Establish a threshold for losses. Once you reach this limit, stop betting for the month.

Advanced Bankroll Management Tips

For those with experience in sports betting, consider these advanced strategies:

Betting Units

Define a unit as a small percentage of your bankroll (e.g., 1-2%) and base your bet sizes on these units.

  • If your bankroll is $1,000, and your unit size is 1%, each unit is $10. Adjust your bets accordingly to maintain consistency and control.

Kelly Criterion

Use this mathematical formula to determine optimal bet sizes based on the probability of winning and the odds.

  • Formula: Bet Size = (Probability of Winning x (Odds - 1) - (1 - Probability of Winning)) / Odds


Spread your bets across different sports and events to minimize risk.

Diversification reduces the impact of a single loss and increases your chances of maintaining a steady bankroll.

Hedging Bets

Hedging involves placing bets on opposite outcomes to secure a profit or minimize losses.

Use hedging cautiously. It can reduce risk but also limit potential profits.


Effective bankroll management is essential for responsible sports betting. By setting a realistic budget, tracking expenses, and adhering to disciplined strategies, bettors can minimize financial risks and maintain control over their gambling activities.

Betting should never interfere with your financial stability or personal life. Seek help if you feel your gambling habits are becoming problematic. 

By integrating these insights and strategies into your betting routine, you can promote a healthier, more responsible approach to sports betting.

Meet Our Authors

Paruyr Shahbazyan began his business career in 2000 as a private entrepreneur. Over thirteen years, he developed a deep understanding for business and leadership, laying a solid foundation for his professional journey.

In 2013, Paruyr stepped into the sports and betting industry as the founder and president of Bookmaker Rating. This online mass media platform, which he led until 2020, focused on providing in-depth analysis and insights in sports betting, earning a reputation for its quality content. 

Continuing his innovative approach in 2022, Paruyr co-founded Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol. This venture showcases his dedication to integrating advanced technology in the evolving landscape of sports betting. Through these diverse experiences, Paruyr has continuously influenced and shaped the betting industry, driving new trends and setting high standards.

Engaged in private entrepreneurship2000-2013
Founder and President at Bookmaker Rating, an online platform focused on sports and betting2013-2020
Co-founder at Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol2022

"Innovation in sportsbetting comes from a deep understanding of both technology and the human element of sports." 

- Paruyr Shahbazyan, Founder, RG


Principles and Ethics

Paruyr Shahbazyan's core beliefs lie in the power of informed decision-making and integrity in the betting industry. He understands that the foundation of successful betting is not just about odds and predictions, but also about the trust and reliability of the information provided. Paruyr advocates for a betting environment where transparency and knowledge are paramount, ensuring that bettors are well-equipped with accurate data and insights.

Strategic Vision

Paruyr's vision is to revolutionize the sports betting industry through the integration of technology. He sees the future of betting as a blend of traditional sports knowledge with innovative tech solutions, like decentralized protocols, to enhance user experience and fairness. His aim is to create platforms that are not only user-friendly but also uphold the highest standards of ethical betting, contributing to a more responsible and enjoyable betting culture.

Future Perspectives

Looking towards the future, Paruyr envisions a betting landscape that is more inclusive, technologically advanced, and globally connected. He anticipates a significant shift towards more decentralized and transparent betting systems, driven by blockchain technology. Paruyr is committed to being at the forefront of this change, continuously exploring new possibilities and innovations that can redefine what it means to engage in sports betting in a digital world. His focus is on building systems that prioritize user empowerment, fairness, and the global growth of the sports betting community.


Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen

Sol's interest in sports was sparked at a young age, inspired by athletes such as Barry Sanders, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky. This early fascination evolved into a deep-seated passion, guiding him toward a career in sports journalism in 2007. Over the years, Sol has contributed thousands of articles and reviews to dozens of online platforms, sharing his research, knowledge, and perspectives.

“In the world of sports betting, truth is more valuable than any bonus offer.”

Content Manager, OnlineCasinoReports2012-2021
Sports Journalist, Dottraffic2009-2011
Content Writer, HouseTech2007-2009
Cristina Varela Galan
Cristina Varela Galan
Problem Gambling Expert

Cristina used to work as a Psychology Assistant in the Bizkaia Pathological and Risky Gamblers Association. She was also part of a research team in Deusto University, specializing in pathological gambling area. While working there, she managed to develop her own project 

 “Exploring the association between emotional regulation, alexithymia, stressful life events and gambling in adolescent and young adult women”.

Nick Ashbourne
Nick Ashbourne
Senior Writer

Nick has been fascinated with sports since he was first taken to a Toronto Maple Leafs game back in 1998, and he's written about them professionally since 2014.

Nick has covered baseball and hockey for outlets like The Athletic, Sportsnet, and Yahoo Sports, and his sports betting expertise has grown since its legalization in Ontario in 2022. 

Between 2022 and 2023 he worked for a betting startup called NorthStar Bets, and in 2024 he contributed to Oddspedia before joining the Responsible Gambling team.

Anna Kravtcova
Anna Kravtcova
Problem Gambling Expert

Ph.D. in organizational psychology, an internationally certified psychologist (EuroPsy 2022, Cognitive behavioural therapy of mindfulness 2020, International Society for Emotional Intelligence 2017, Russian Psychological society 2014, American Psychological Association(Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologist) 2011), speaker of many international conferences (USA, Brazil, Portugal, Czech Republic, Russia, etc.). TEDx speaker.

Mike made the decision to dive headfirst into the booming world of sports betting fresh out of college. Back in the day, when 1-800 pick lines and sports pagers were all the rage, he couldn't resist the allure, having grown up idolizing sports legends like Sweetness, MJ, and Slammin Sammy. Mike dedicated his early years to the industry, tirelessly analyzing games, writing articles with free picks, and selling his expertise on reputable handicapping sites. Unlike many others, Mike was known for his integrity and only released one Game of the Year per sport, per season. His hard work and unwavering commitment paid off, earning him a devoted following and propelling his career to new heights. Then came the explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports. Believe it or not, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel used to pay Mike's company to increase their brand exposure. Now, those same industry giants don't even bother responding to his emails. While Mike appreciates the convenience of being able to place legal bets in his own backyard, he can't help but feel disheartened by what has become of the industry. People are being led astray, falsely believing that a mere $5 wager on a 20-team same-game-parlay will be their ticket to financial security. If there’s one thing Mike learned from making book back in the day, it’s that parlays are a bookie’s best friend. A bankroll is the only leg you have to stand on in the battle with the books, and Mike’s here to offer up advice on how to protect it.

Mark Medina
Mark Medina
NBA Reporter

Mark Medina is a longtime NBA reporter that includes stints as a Lakers blogger with The Los Angeles Times (2010-12), Lakers beat writer with the Los Angeles Daily News (2012-17), Warriors beat writer with Bay Area News Group (2017-19) as well as an NBA reporter/columnist for USA Today (2019-21) and (2021-23). Medina is also an NBA insider with Fox Sports Radio and frequent contributor to CBSLA's SportsCentralLA with Jim Hill and with Spectrum Sportsnet.

Daria Tuboltseva
Daria Tuboltseva
Hockey Journalist

Daria went to St. Petersburg State University and earned a bachelor of international journalism. Working as a sports journalist from 2014, from 2016 as a hockey journalist. Covered 5 World Championships, 2022 Winter Olympics, 2020 World Juniors, 6 Gagarin Cup Finals. 

Owner of a telegram channel Coolest Game on Earth.

Integrative nutritionist specializing on sports nutritionology.