Sports fans and bettors that went to bed early Monday night were in for a shock Tuesday morning. The Golden State Warriors blew a 31-point lead and lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, 135-131.
Some bettors who did stay up had the foresight to place some money on LA’s historic comeback before it came to fruition.
The Warriors led the Clippers by 23 points at halftime, 73-50. The only thing not going the Warriors way was DeMarcus Cousins leaving in the first quarter with a torn quad muscle (he will be sidelined for the rest of the playoffs).
The Warriors came out of the halftime break and extended the lead to 31 points. Golden State led 94-63 with 7:31 remaining in the 3rd quarter before the Clippers started chipping away. As the 3rd quarter ended, LA had scored 44 points led by Lou Williams 17 and the Clippers cut the margin to 108-94 entering the 4th quarter.
Yet even as the fourth quarter began, it still appeared the only thing left to be decided was the point spread with the Warriors (-13.5) in control to take a 2-0 series lead. The over/under of 234 was on pace to be an easy winner for OVER bettors, but the shocking result was that it was the LA Clippers that would win 135-131.
You can watch the comeback highlights below.
— NBA (@NBA) April 16, 2019
The LA Clippers’ playoff comeback topped a 29-point rally by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1989 Western Conference semis over Seattle.
Odds and in-game action
The Warriors were a -13.5 point favorite before the game and -1300 on the moneyline. According to numberFire, the Warriors had an 88.2% win probability from the opening tip. The Clippers were +870 on the moneyline and FanDuel Sportsbook took a $500 moneyline bet on Los Angeles, which returned $4,350.
With the Warriors leading by 23 points at halftime, FanDuel Sportsbook made the Clippers a -0.5 point favorite on the 2nd half line.
But in-game betting offered some much bigger prices on the Clippers. FanDuel took 14 bets on Los Angeles at a +10000 price (100-1) with the largest bet of $50 to return $5,000.
According to numberFire Live, Golden State had a 99.65% chance of winning when leading by 31 points.
Perhaps that’s why BetStars was offering the Clippers at +100000 (1000-1) odds at that point in the game. Unfortunately, nobody in NJ had the stones to put a bet down.
Some bettors at DraftKings Sportsbook took the Clippers live at odds of 20-1 later in the game. One bettor had the vision of a historic comeback and bet $150. He was rewarded for his long-range jumper and longshot bet with a $3,150 payoff on the Clippers victory.
It’s fair to say that bettors will be paying even closer attention to in-game odds for the rest of the NBA playoffs.
James Adducci, a 39-year-old from Wisconsin, made his first ever (that we know of) sports bet Tuesday, April 9.
Unlike many other Americans, Adduci wagered $85,000 on Woods at 14/1 odds.
Woods’ victory earned Adducci $1,275,000 ($1.19M + his original wager). And despite it being the biggest golf payout in their history, William Hill has never been happier.
The story almost defies belief, however. And if Adducci’s story is true, it’s a cautionary tale for gambling responsibly.
The story behind the bet
Adducci told the story of his wager to VSiN on Monday (listen to a clip in the tweet below). The gist is, once he convinced William Hill of the legitimacy of himself and his bet, he went to Walmart and bought an Ozark trail backpack, got his cash, stuffed the backpack, took a shared Lyft back to the SLS where he placed the eventual winning wager.
Exactly how does one go about placing an $85,000 bet? James Adducci tells @brentmusburger and @VSiNVinny how he took the money, in a backpack, on a shared Lyft, to go place his 1.26 million dollar winning bet on Tiger.
— VSiN (@VSiNLive) April 15, 2019
Why William Hill is smiling
Look at those grins on William Hill CEO Joe Asher and SLS GM Paul Hobson’s faces (see lead image).
Yes, presenting Adducci a check worth $1,275,000 stings. It can’t be pleasant. Asher had a positive spin on it, though, saying in a press release:
“This is a story for the ages. Tiger climbs back to the top, and a guy from Wisconsin, on his first sports bet ever, wins over a $1 million betting on him. We congratulate both James and Tiger on their epic wins.”
There’s a reason for the rosy outlook.
Remember when Chris Moneymaker, an amateur poker player from Tennessee, through some skill, some luckboxing, and one bluff for the ages, captured the World Series of Poker Main Event title, $2.5 million, and the imagination of Americans everywhere?
While there surely won’t be an Adducci EffectTM for sports betting like Moneymaker brought to poker, the tale of a novice placing a massive first-time wager chasing a big payout is exactly the story sportsbooks want to sell. It’s the American dream come true.
Not all rainbows on the Tiger Woods bet
And while Adducci’s win is kind of awesome, it’s also a cautionary tale. He told multiple outlets that he still has $25,000 in debt on a mortgage, student loans and car loans, but flew to Vegas for a one-day trip to place the bet on Woods anyway.
He told Golf Digest that the bet was “everything I had that I could afford to lose.”
These are the types of wagers that typically ruin lives and households. It worked for Adducci, and more power to him. It likely won’t work for others who follow suit.
And that’s why William Hill can afford to smile.
It’s not often that offshore online sportsbooks — where tens of billions of dollars are wagered by Americans every year — get much in the way of bad press. In fact, they’re often really good at getting good press mentions in the US.
That’s why it captivated the sports betting world and some of the mainstream media when Barstool Sports — and its leader, Dave Portnoy — suddenly took aim at one offshore book, called MyBookie.
We won’t detail the feud, but here’s a pretty good summation of what happened from Portnoy (warning, not at all suitable for work):
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) April 9, 2019
Anyway, we’re not here to recount the blow by blow of the simmering feud. What we are here to tell you is what you should know about offshore sportsbooks, if you’re familiar with them or not:
Offshore sportsbooks like MyBookie operate illegally
Offshore sportsbooks are not sort of illegal or kind of illegal. They are operating illegally if they are taking wagers from bettors in the US. Full stop.
MyBookie is hardly the only sportsbook site or app that does this. There are dozens, if not more, although there are a handful of truly major players offshore.
Offshore sportsbooks violate at a minimum:
- The federal Wire Act
- Likely some other federal laws
- A variety of state laws that prohibit unregulated sports betting, or just ban it altogether.
The fact that some offshore books have a license to operate in Costa Rica or some Caribbean nation is great and all, and it makes them legal in that jurisdiction. People might cite an ongoing World Trade Organization dispute between the US and Antigua, but that is not a magic elixir for legality, either.
I’ll preface this next part as saying I am not a lawyer, and don’t take this as legal advice. But individual bettors at offshore sportsbook don’t seem to be under any kind of legal threat.
That doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe to do so, or that your money is under no threat if US law enforcement suddenly decided to start enforcing existing laws.
Anyway, the takeaway is that MyBookie (and other books) are illegally operating, like Portnoy says. Lots of people think, erroneously, that the US Supreme Court just legalized sports betting everywhere last year, which is not at all the case.
Legal US sportsbooks have an inherent disadvantage vs. offshore books
Other than the fact that you are trying to evade US authorities and likely have difficulties with payment processing, offshore books have a decided advantage over legal ones in the US.
First off, there aren’t many of the legal variety. There are legal mobile apps only in New Jersey and Nevada. There will be later this year in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and possibly Rhode Island.
If you’re in any other state — and this is important — you’re not betting on a legal app. That’s one of just several advantages that offshore books have that legal books don’t have to contend with. Offshore books:
- Operate in just about any state they choose to serve. Legal sportsbooks must operate only in the states in which they are authorized.
- The regulatory regime for offshore sportsbooks is basically non-existent, while legal books have to deal with more strict regulation, and different regulations in every state. This takes money and manpower to deal with.
- Offshore sportsbooks don’t have to pay the same kinds of fees and taxes that regulated books do, especially a .25 percent tax on all wagers that the US government levies.
MyBookie going away doesn’t solve much for legal sports betting
Portnoy’s rant against an illegal bookmaker is certainly welcome news for proponents of legal betting. But let’s not make it out to be more than it is, which is a pissing match between a media outlet that thrives on such things and exactly one (1) illegal sportsbook.
It does shine a light on something that doesn’t get much play in the US — the fact that a sportsbook is taking wagers illegally. Far too often I see media outlets citing offshore books for quotes or odds, with no mention of their status in the US.
But Portnoy wasn’t ranting against ALL illegal sports betting. Portnoy got mad at one of them on Twitter, and he is trying to shut them down.
That’s great. But if MyBookie gets shut down, all of that action just moves to another offshore sportsbook. Nothing is really solved.
There are plenty of believers and supporters of the offshore books, and I don’t take any issue with people who have no other options for legal betting.
But in order to have a legal sports betting market truly succeed, you can’t just let these sportsbooks exist in the status quo. Normalizing them alongside the legal bookmakers just reinforces their inherent advantages, as they ride the wave of popularity and increased search traffic around sports betting.
So it starts with MyBookie. But it doesn’t end there.