What didn’t happen in the world of sports betting this week? Mississippi sports betting is now live. DraftKings Sportsbook launched in New Jersey, along with two Caesars sportsbooks at properties in Atlantic City. And that’s not even the half of it.
Matt Brown, Brett Collson and Eric Ramsey cover those stories and they other huge items that broke during the week. Plus, Smarkets CEO Jason Trost joins the show to discuss all of the movement in the U.S. and his plans to compete with the big players like MGM, DraftKings and FanDuel.
Leave it to those pushy Northeasterners to try and set the pace for everyone else.
It seems that the combination good old-fashioned homerism and a few bucks in New Jersey has had a far-reaching, topsy-turvy effect on Super Bowl odds all the way out in the desert. A recent PIX11 report spotlighted the flurry of activity that Monmouth Park, Borgata and Ocean Resort Casino have all seen in Big Game futures bets on the Giants in particular.
Unsurprisingly, the defending champion Eagles, with their fervent North Jersey following, aren’t far behind. The lowly Jets are seeing brisk action in their own right, too – even the goofy kid is getting a little lovin’.
Oddsmakers having to adjust on the fly
Bookmakers have had to adjust accordingly in their properties out west.
William Hill has come down from their original 40/1 odds on the Giants winning the Super Bowl LIII to 25/1, largely because of the volume of tickets written in New Jersey.
MGM, which also had 40/1 odds on the G-Men back in late January, has followed suit and made an even more drastic cut – bettors now have to settle for 15/1 if wagering on Big Blue to go all the way. And that sneaky longshot that once was the Jets at 100/1? Those odds have been sliced almost in half due to the Garden State’s flurry of tickets, now sitting at a slightly less appealing 60/1.
The ripple effect has been predictable, but given that Nevada has essentially had sports betting all to itself for decades, also unprecedented prior to the Supreme Court’s decision to eradicate PASPA.
Hints of regional bias had already started emerging earlier this summer. Unsurprisingly, traditionally Lakers-leaning Vegas sportsbook patrons have been plunking down plenty of cash on LA in terms of NBA Finals futures; however, the Celtics hold the distinction of top dog in New Jersey on those same wagers, even post LeBron-signing.
A sign of the times, and it’s likely to continue
These types of circumstances are likely to become increasingly commonplace, at least in states that boast both legalized sports betting and a proximate professional team or two. Bookmakers that operate multiple properties around the country may be in “tweak mode” from time to time as a result, especially while the number of states taking action remains relatively sparse.
And it may not necessarily be limited to futures bets, of course. We could certainly see similar night-to-night — or in the case of football, week-to-week — patterns emerge as each major sport goes through its first full season in a post-PASPA world. To that end, the 2018 NFL campaign should be one of the most intriguing ever from a sports betting perspective, even with only a handful of states accepting wagers.
It could develop into a phenomenon somewhat akin to All-Star Game fan voting, where “popularity bias” often ruins a good thing for someone else. In that scenario, it’s typically a deserving player that gets shut out of an honor due to another’s name recognition and past accomplishments.
The sports betting equivalent — sharp players missing out on potentially bigger scores due to bookmakers mitigating risk on certain underdogs more than they normally had to in the past.
All because some J-E-T-S fans think there’s at least a smidgen of a chance they can ride on Josh McCown’s shoulders all the way to February — and a massive payday.
Daily fantasy sports leader DraftKings launched mobile sports betting this week, becoming the first online sports betting app in New Jersey. With legal sports betting now legal in the most densely populated state in the nation, DraftKings is on board as a bookmaker in partnerships with land-based Resorts Atlantic City and online-platform and sportsbook provider Kambi Group.
But the excitement of online wagering in the Garden State is being met with negative feedback by many on social media.
The lines and cost
Bettors in New Jersey that choose to bet at DraftKings Sportsbook are having to choke up on their bat for baseball bets. As the consumer, bettors are having to swing a shorter stick at bat while power hitter DraftKings hits you with the full swing on the barrel of a Louisville Slugger.
When you look at the lines posted at sportsbooks and comparisons of recent MLB games, understand that the greater the margin between the away/home prices, the more the sportsbook is charging in vigorish.
Below is a comparison of Thursday’s MLB lines posted from DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill and MGM in New Jersey, along with a consensus of Nevada and offshore sportsbooks, courtesy of ESPN’s David Purdum. William Hill offers moneylines similar to the Westgate in Las Vegas and often a 10 cent spread. Other sportsbooks offer a 15 or 20 cent spread, which is still considered ‘acceptable’. But a near 30 cent spread or more like DraftKings is an insult to experienced bettors. And business could end up elsewhere as competition grows if DraftKings doesn’t adjust.
Comparison of today's baseball odds at sportsbooks in New Jersey and Nevada: pic.twitter.com/x3kBV4wOep
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) August 2, 2018
Consider DraftKings to be the new gas station opening in town and charging $4.50 for gas and $3 for a bottle of water, while the nearby established WaWa has $3.00 for gas and $2 for the same bottle of water. Sure you might be thirsty and decide to get some gas, but are you going to be consistently willing to get your fuel and water at DraftKings when WaWa is quenching your thirst for less cost right up the road?
It won’t be long before other major bookmakers and companies like MGM-owned Borgata and Caesars properties at Harrah’s and Bally’s in Atlantic City enter the mobile betting arena, providing online competition with better pricing. Will DraftKings need to adjust its model and pricing plans if it wants consistent customers?
Attracting the fish
DraftKings’ betting lines suggest that the casual player doesn’t fully understand pricing and moneyline spreads. A majority of the customers at DraftKings are likely to be casual bettors who DraftKings feels is not only less informed, but hungry for action.
A square bettor is considered a novice, or one who is not the sharpest and will play big chalky favorites and added big multi-team parlays. There is usually little consistency or discipline from novice bettors, and they don’t care much what the price is when playing on favorite teams or players. They often bet with little interest in data or analysis to support decisions, and play more on hunches, fate, guesses, luck-factor, misleading scores and results, and perceptions rather than reality. These are a sportsbooks’ favorite customer.
Consumer safety may not be at the forefront of sports betting businesses, but reporting on awareness and action to assist consumers with choices is worth going to bat for while wearing a protective helmet. Gouging the public and taking advantage of consumers is not a crime, but throwing a fastball towards their head and hoping they keep returning to the batter’s box is not likely to keep the game going.