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April 15, 2019

Five Important Takeaways From The New Hampshire Wire Act Hearing

Bart Shirley April 15, 2019
Wire Act Sports Betting

The first oral arguments for the lawsuit between the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and the US Department of Justice occurred in a New Hampshire federal court on April 11. We want to share the five most relevant takeaways from yesterday’s proceedings.

Background

However, here’s a bit of backstory on the lawsuit. The DOJ issued an opinion in January 2019 regarding the 1961 Wire Act‘s applicability. In this new opinion, the DOJ reversed its previous stance and claimed that the Act rendered all forms of igaming illegal, not just sports betting.

Needless to say, the opinion has drawn outrage from the gambling industry, particularly those members involved in state or multistate lotteries. Within days of the opinion, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission filed suit, seeking an injunction to bar the DOJ from enforcing its new position.

Effect on sports bettors

For sports bettors, the DOJ opinion creates a couple of hurdles for playing with the same level of freedom and flexibility as before. For one thing, the nationwide daily fantasy sports contests would likely become a thing of the past. The multistate tournaments simply would not pass legal muster anymore.

The enforcement of the opinion would also remove any chance of player pooling between states. In turn, in-state sportsbooks might be less inclined to offer deep promotions to their clients.

So, the April 11 hearing was an important insight as to the condition of the case. Here’s what happened:

Takeaways

Eric Ramsey attended the hearing in New Hampshire. Based upon his updates, here are the five main observations we have about the direction of the case.

The Wire Act itself is a poorly-written piece of legislation

Both parties and Judge Paul Barbadoro spent over an hour debating the grammar of the Wire Act itself. The law’s opaque language confounded even the experts in the room.

“If you don’t think this is an unambiguous statute, you’re both wrong,” the judge said, at one point. “This statute is a mess of a statute.”

In fact, a great deal of court time elapsed during conversations about comma placement, the rule of the last antecedent, and other grammatical devices. The way that one groups elements of the law together can change the interpretation of the law almost completely.

In the end, Barbadoro seemed to agree with the Lottery’s interpretation. However, he was not without some reservations about both arguments.

The Rosenstein memo from April 8 did not have the desired effect

US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued a memo last Monday to opposing counsel and the general public. In the memo, Rosenstein attempted to claim that the DOJ’s new interpretation did not extend to state lotteries.

It is clear that the objective of the memo was to eliminate the lotteries’ complaints entirely. Indeed, counsel for the DOJ opened yesterday’s proceedings with a motion to dismiss, claiming that the NH Lottery no longer possessed standing to bring suit.

Unfortunately for the DOJ, this argument did not impress BarbadoroHe flatly denied that Rosenstein’s memo had reduced any of the lottery commission’s concerns, and more or less dismissed it as a relevant document.

The DOJ doesn’t seem to understand what it’s done

One of the more surprising aspects of the proceedings was the DOJ’s overall attitude about the opinion. The government agency’s counsel indicated that there had been no “final agency action” yet, and so there were no legal ramifications merely from the existence of the opinion.

However, neither the plaintiffs nor the judge seemed to buy that argument. Opposing counsel argued that the opinion itself was causing expansion plans to dry up.

In other words, it creates a tough proposition for potential vendors and employees if there is uncertainty about whether or not the work they’re doing is illegal. The judge rightly identified the fact that the opinion creates the possibility of prosecution in the future, and that possibility has a tangible effect on actions in the present.

The breadth of the Wire Act and the opinion makes a ruling quite tricky

Barbadoro also lamented the complexity of issues that must inform his ruling. Part of the problem is that a ruling in this case does nothing for other parties affected by the opinion.

Even if he rules that the DOJ cannot enforce its opinion on states, the decision would do nothing to protect parties ancillary to the states. So, states might find themselves in a position where they have the right to do something, but could not do so because any potential partners would find themselves unprotected.

This case is not going to end here

Lastly, there is no way that this case, no matter the ruling, ends its life at this level of the court system. There’s no reason that either side would not appeal an unfavorable verdict.

Barbadoro even questioned the DOJ counsel about whether or not the government would appeal any decision against it. The government’s attorney, Steven Myers, merely responded to the judge’s question with a cryptic “it would depend on how the order is written.”

On the other side, the Lottery’s attorneys rejected the judge’s notion of issuing a declaratory judgment that granted relief. The plaintiffs asserted that only an order to vacate and set aside the DOJ opinion would satisfy them.

So, no matter what happens, this case will be moving on to a higher court shortly. Potentially, it could mean that the US Supreme Court would adjudicate two high-profile gambling cases in as many years.

Tiger Woods Opens As 2020 Masters Favorite At +800 Odds

Chops April 15, 2019
Tiger Woods Odds

After suffering a bloodbath of losses this weekend by not listing Tiger Woods as the favorite, sportsbooks are course correcting for The Masters in 2020.

Tiger is the early 2020 Masters favorite in Nevada and New Jersey. The Westgate Superbook was the first to post 2020 Masters futures and listed Tiger at 8/1 (+800). FanDuel Sportsbook has Woods listed at +850, and BetStars is aligned with the Westgate at +800.

The 2020 Masters Tournament will begin on Thursday, April 9, 2020.

The Masters 2020 Winner

Odds Updated 4/14

Game
04/09/2020
(Eastern Time)
(EST)
Tiger Woods
Bet now
+850
Bet now
+800
Dustin Johnson
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+1100
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+1000
Rory McIlroy
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+1100
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+1000
Jordan Spieth
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+1300
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+1600
Brooks Koepka
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+1700
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+1600
Justin Rose
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+1700
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+1800
Francesco Molinari
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+1700
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+2200
Jon Rahm
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+1700
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+2200
Justin Thomas
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+1700
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+2000
Rickie Fowler
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+1700
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+2200
Bryson DeChambeau
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+2400
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+2500
Jason Day
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+2400
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+2500
Tommy Fleetwood
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+2400
Bet now
+2800
Hideki Matsuyama
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+2900
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+3300
Xander Schauffele
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+2900
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+2500
Tony Finau
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+3200
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+3300
Bubba Watson
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+3600
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+3300
Patrick Cantlay
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+3600
Bet now
+4000
Patrick Reed
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+3600
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+5000
Paul Casey
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+3600
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+3300
Adam Scott
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+4600
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+4000
Henrik Stenson
Bet now
+4600
Bet now
+6600
Louis Oosthuizen
Bet now
+4600
Bet now
+5000
Marc Leishman
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+4600
Bet now
+5000
Matt Kuchar
Bet now
+4600
Bet now
+6600

Back in his heyday, Woods was often priced at 2/1 or 3/1 at majors. Now 43 years old (he’ll turn 44 in December), Woods won’t drift into that absurdly low range again. While +800 (8/1) may be a little out of line with his actual chances, it’s a fairer price given the amount of public action he’s going to take.

Looking ahead to 2019 Majors

The PGA Championship at Bethpage Black now follows the Masters. Woods is the PGA favorite +850 on FanDuel, but is second favorite (+1000) to Dustin Johnson (+900) on BetStars. Woods won the US Open at Bethpage in 2002.

  • The 2019 US Open at Pebble Beach sees Woods and Johnson as co-favorites at +950 on FanDuel. BetStars has Johnson favored at +1000 followed by Rory McIlroy and Woods at +1400.
  • For the 2019 British Open at Dunluce in Northern Ireland, Woods is the favorite at +950 on FanDuel, followed by McIlroy (+1100) and Johnson (+1200). On BetStars, Woods is the heavier favorite at +800. McIlroy (+1000) and Johnson (+1200) again follow.

Tiger Woods Buries Sportsbooks In Nevada, New Jersey With Unforgettable Win At The Masters

 

 

 

Another Professional Gambler Is Dominating A TV Game Show, And You Shouldn’t Be Surprised

Chops April 15, 2019

In its 35-year history, nobody had won over $100,000 on one episode of Jeopardy!

In fact, nobody had won more than $77,000 in a single show.

That all changed on the April 9 episode. Las Vegas sports better James Holzhauer, 34, annihilated the single show prize record on Jeopardy by winning an eye-popping $110,914.

That previous single-day mark of $77,000, set by Roger Craig, had stood for almost nine years. The Jeopardy! total record was set by Ken Jennings in 2004. During his 74-game win streak, Jennings banked won more than $2.5M.

Holzhauer’s Jeopardy! winning streak

Holzhauer has been an unstoppable force even after setting the single-game record on April 9. On the April 17 show, he shattered his own single-game record with a score of $131,127, going a perfect 40 for 40 in his buzz-in answers.

As of April 18, he had a 11-game winning streak totaling $771,920. His next appearance will be on Friday, April 19, Holzhauer is already No. 2 on the all-time Jeopardy! winnings list behind Jennings.

Show DateWinning TotalTotal To Date
April 4$43,680$43,680
April 5$38,926$82,606
April 8$50,845$133,451
April 9$110,914$244,365
April 10$54,322$298,687
April 11$27,190 $325,877
April 12$89,158$415,035
April 15$45,444$460,479
April 16$106,181$566,660
April 17$131,127$697,787
April 18$74,133$771,920

Not Holzhauer’s first rodeo

In 2014, Holzhauer dominated GSN’s The Chase, earning his family $175,000.

Many of the same principles to Jeopardy! apply with The Chase. Contestants must quickly answer questions covering a wide-variety of topics. The difference, and what may set Holzhauer apart from his peers on Jeopardy!, is his ability to calculate risk and apply game theory to the competition.

Gamblers have history of doing well on game shows

Holzhauer isn’t the first person with a gambling background to do well on Jeopardy! In 2015, ex-poker-pro Alex Jacob won $151,802 on the game show. This earned him a spot in their Tournament of Champions, where he then went on to win $250,000.

To name just a few more:

  • In 2007, poker instructor/player Alex Outhred won $500,000 on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
  • Remember when Donald Trump was a game show host? Annie Duke sure does! In 2009, she rode her wits and game theory to a second place finish on Celebrity Apprentice (seriously, watch this video, it’s a mind-fuck).
  • Former poker pro and Duke graduate Vanessa Rousso game theory’d Big Brother 17 to a third-place finish after dominating most of the way.
  • Mark Herberholz, a former Pinnacle Sports line modeling and trading expert, as well as top-ranked Magic: The Gathering player, showed Bob Barker what’s up on Price is Right.

Herberholz, who went on to advise daily fantasy platform iTEAM Network and sports betting advice site BlitzPredict.io, thinks it’s only natural gamblers do well on game shows.

“You get on Jeopardy by being great at trivia and having a wide range of knowledge,” Herberholz said. “But to win Jeopardy, you need so much more and that’s why you see guys with gambling and gaming backgrounds do well. It’s easy when you know the answer to a question, but what about when you have a good guess and are $100 behind the leader who seems strong in this category? Should you buzz in?”

Herberholz believes the practical application of what gamblers are already doing every single day makes a difference.

“Say you do and get a daily double, how much do you wager? Now take all of that and figure it out in seconds knowing that you are risking real money. That’s what poker players, sports bettors, and gamers do all day. They gather uncertain information and use it to minimize risk and maximize their chance to win.”

Whether or not Holzhauer goes on to break Ken Jennings’ $2.5M record remains to be seen. What’s not in question is whether future gamblers will have success on game shows. They already have a leg up on the competition.

Tiger Woods Buries Sportsbooks In Nevada, New Jersey With Unforgettable Win At The Masters

FairwayJay April 15, 2019
Tiger Woods Masters

The Masters produced more magical moments this year thanks to Tiger Woods capturing his fifth green jacket. But Woods wasn’t the only big winner on Masters Sunday.

Sportsbooks take seven-figure losses on Woods

Wagers were coming in early and often on Woods prior to the tournament, and then throughout the four-day tournament. Odds for a Woods win were sitting at around +1400 (14-1) at most US operators, including DraftKings Sportsbook. Both FanDuel Sportsbook and BetStars in New Jersey both had 100-1 longshot promos that would ultimately prove costly for both books.

BetStars reported taking an approximately $360,000 net loss on its Masters futures market, the largest in the company’s brief history offering sports betting in the U.S.

But the Tiger Effect really hit hard at FanDuel.

  • First, the fantasy sports giant refunded all fantasy golf customer who entered the $1 Million Mega Eagle daily fantasy contest for The Masters. FanDuel’s promotion offered a full refund if Tiger Woods won, regardless of whether Woods was in a person’s fantasy golf lineup or not. The $1 Million Mega Eagle contest was FanDuel’s biggest fantasy golf contest ever and more than $1 million in promotional entry fees was refunded.
  • Second, FanDuel Sportsbook suffered a loss of more than $1 million in winning prize payouts when Woods won. Only 10% of all bets to win the Masters outright were on Tiger at the start of the week, but as Woods made his move into the weekend and on Sunday, FanDuel Sportsbook had nearly 21% of bets and more than $1 million in liability on Tiger to triumph.

“The Tiger effect is real,” said Mike Raffesnperger, CMO for FanDuel Group. “Tiger’s historic win today has cemented him as one of the most iconic figures in sports and we congratulate him on his tremendous achievement. We’re even happier for our customers who today have over three million reasons to believe there are more ways to win on FanDuel!”

A similar fate for DraftKings

As the weekend arrived for Saturday’s third round, Woods was six-under-par and one shot off the lead shared by five players, including eventual runner-up Brooks Koepka and solo third-round leader Francesco Molinari. Yet DraftKings Sportsbook raised the odds on Woods from 3-1 to 10-1 to win the Masters Saturday. DraftKings head of digital Sportsbook operations Jamie Shea said Tiger had 27% of the company’s win wagers prior to the tournament, and Woods made up 60% of the Masters bets the rest of the weekend.

Early in Sunday’s final round with Woods starting the day two shots behind Molinari, Woods was even offered at 15-1. Shea reported that 32 percent of live bets the sportsbook took in were on Tiger.

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A million-dollar ticket in Vegas

On Tuesday, a bettor at William Hill in Nevada placed an $85,000 bet on Woods to win at 14-1 odds. He collected $1.19 million on the largest single golf ticket in the company’s history in the States. It was also the bettor’s first-ever bet placed at William Hill.

“Pretty good first bet,” William Hill U.S. director of trading Nick Bogdanovich told ESPN.

“It’s great to see Tiger back,” Bogdanovich added in a release. “It’s a painful day for William Hill – our biggest loss ever – but a great day for golf.”

Indeed, as Woods’ win drew record ratings and wagering. The Masters win was Woods’ first at Augusta since 2005 —  the longest time ever between Masters victories for a player. It was also Tiger’s first major title since the 2008 U.S. Open and 15th overall – now three major wins behind Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.

The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas reported a high-five-figure net loss on Masters futures. Vice President of risk and golf odds specialist Jeff Sherman said he couldn’t recall the last time the SuperBook suffered a net loss on the Masters winner and Woods’ win likely produced the SuperBook’s largest loss on a golf event.

In February, the SuperBook took a $10,000 bet on Woods at 12-1, which paid $120,000.

“I thought he had a chance to be competitive,” Sherman told ESPN, “but I’m a little surprised by him winning, especially with the competition he faced.”

Sherman and the Westgate listed Woods as the favorite to win the 2020 Masters tournament on Sunday afternoon.

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