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Chops

Chops

Steve “Chops” Preiss has 15 years of experience in the gaming industry. Chops began writing and producing content for digital media sites during the early poker-boom years. He has twice been voted by his peers as one of the 20 Most Influential People in Poker. Chops has also written and produced segments for a primetime gaming TV show on Versus (now NBC Sports Network) and distributed a poker program to over 160M global households.

Once At 200/1 To Win Champions League, Ajax Continues Odds-Defying Run Into Semis

Chops April 18, 2019
Ajax Odds

Is it time for oddsmakers to give Ajax more respect?

With consecutive Champions League knock-out round wins over Real Madrid and Juventus, the Dutch club has been on what some consider a Cinderella run for the ages. However, Ajax’s overall quality of form has not lined up with oddsmaker’s perception of them.

Ajax’s “unlikely” run

Ajax has been inside or right around the top 10 in global club rankings since the start of Champions League group play. At that point in September, they were 100/1 on DraftKings Sportsbook to win the UCL title. Next to the LiverpoolPSGNapoli “Group of Death,” Ajax was in arguably the next toughest four, paired with German giants Bayern Munich, Portuguese stalwart Benfica, and Greece’s perennial power AEK. Ajax still managed to advance from this difficult group without a loss.

Coming out of group play in December, Ajax’s odds improved to 70/1.

Then they drew reigning champs Real Madrid in the Round of 16. And those odds got long again at 80/1.

After a Leg 1 Round of 16 home loss to Real Madrid, a game Ajax out-shot Los Blancos and were even on possession an completed passes (i.e. RM was somewhat lucky to win), the Dutch club’s odds hit their nadir at 200/1.

From that point on, Ajax has been on the rise.

Ajax Odds to Win UCL on DraftKings

3/6/19

17/1

Defeated Real Madrid 4-1 to advance to quarterfinals

3/15/19

23/1

Odds climb again after Juventus is revealed as next opponent

4/16/19

6/1

Steamrolled Juventus to advance to semis

4/17/19

9/2

Manchester City loses, meaning Ajax will face Tottenham

With favored Manchester City eliminated from their half of the bracket, Ajax now plays Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League semifinals. On the other half of the bracket, the two strongest remaining teams, Liverpool and Barcelona, face off. That should be an instant classic.

While some experts have been on-board the Ajax train for a while, the general public has not. However, one better on DraftKings stands to make $8,000 from a $100 Ajax futures bet in December. Expect a major uptick in Ajax bets over the next couple of weeks.

Tiger Woods Bettor’s $1.2 Million Masters Win Is A Cautionary Tale If True

Chops April 16, 2019
Adducci Tiger Masters Bet

James Adducci, a 39-year-old from Wisconsin, made his first ever (that we know of) sports bet Tuesday, April 9.

Like many, many, many other Americans, he bet on Tiger Woods to win the Masters.

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.

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.

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
Bet now
+1100
Bet now
+1000
Rory McIlroy
Bet now
+1100
Bet now
+1000
Jordan Spieth
Bet now
+1300
Bet now
+1600
Brooks Koepka
Bet now
+1700
Bet now
+1600
Justin Rose
Bet now
+1700
Bet now
+1800
Francesco Molinari
Bet now
+1700
Bet now
+2200
Jon Rahm
Bet now
+1700
Bet now
+2200
Justin Thomas
Bet now
+1700
Bet now
+2000
Rickie Fowler
Bet now
+1700
Bet now
+2200
Bryson DeChambeau
Bet now
+2400
Bet now
+2500
Jason Day
Bet now
+2400
Bet now
+2500
Tommy Fleetwood
Bet now
+2400
Bet now
+2800
Hideki Matsuyama
Bet now
+2900
Bet now
+3300
Xander Schauffele
Bet now
+2900
Bet now
+2500
Tony Finau
Bet now
+3200
Bet now
+3300
Bubba Watson
Bet now
+3600
Bet now
+3300
Patrick Cantlay
Bet now
+3600
Bet now
+4000
Patrick Reed
Bet now
+3600
Bet now
+5000
Paul Casey
Bet now
+3600
Bet now
+3300
Adam Scott
Bet now
+4600
Bet now
+4000
Henrik Stenson
Bet now
+4600
Bet now
+6600
Louis Oosthuizen
Bet now
+4600
Bet now
+5000
Marc Leishman
Bet now
+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.

Game Of Thrones Betting: Why Is Bran Stark (-110) Favored To Sit On The Iron Throne?

Chops April 14, 2019

The first episode of the final season of Game of Thrones, the last piece of TV monoculture, airs this Sunday on HBO.

Even if you’ve never watched the show, you likely have a friend that has droned on and on as to why you should. You know the general main characters. You’ve seen the memes. You know winter is coming.

Over the years, the show has prided itself on doing the unexpected. Any major character could die at any time. New characters rise. Old characters fall. The show’s popularity and unpredictable nature has led to a surge of Thrones props and wagering in the U.K.

Who will sit on the Iron Throne?

One of the main top prop bets taking action is who will rule Westeros and sit on the Iron Throne by season’s end.

Bran Stark, aka the Three-Eyed Raven, is the odds-on favorite at Paddy Power Sportsbook at -110. This shows some vulnerability in the market and how the public is betting the show.

Bran has no interest in sitting on the Iron Throne. He’s the Three-Eyed Raven. He’s made it clear to his family and to anyone else who will listen that he is the Three-Eyed Raven. He can’t rule Westeros as the Three-Eyed Raven. That’s not what Three-Eyed Ravens do.

Anyway, more logical choices follow Bran. As listed on Paddy Power:

GoT Character Odds to Rule Westeros
Bran Stark -110
Jon Snow +300
Any child of Jon Snow +300
Daenerys Targaryen +400
Sansa Stark +650
Gendry +700
Tyrion Lannister +750
Sam Tarly +1000
Arya Stark +1000
The Night King +1100
Cersei Lannister +1200

Given his parentage, Jon Snow seems like a good bet at +300. However, he doesn’t exactly make the best choices when it comes to his personal survival, nor does he have the desire to rule Westeros.

Given Thrones‘ treatment of women over its run, having a female lead ultimately sit on the Iron Throne would be a welcome final conclusion. Daenerys Targaryen at +400 has been asking anyone she makes eye contact with to bend the knee, she’s got a legit claim via birth right, and she definitely wants to rule. Sansa Stark (+650) has grown in prominence and into a leader. And if Thrones has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. With that in mind, only a fool at this point should rule Cersei out at +1200. While not listed, who would doubt Lyanna Mormont’s ability to rule as well?

The most shocking omission from the full list though: no one. No, not that no one. If Dany’s whole deal is to “break the wheel,” and if the real battle is between the good and the dead, it’s absolutely within the story structure and reason that nobody sits on the Iron Throne by the end of the series. If I was market making, I’d list “no one” among the favorites. Come on, Paddy Power, do I have to do all of the heavy lifting for you?

Props are also offered on characters likely to die before the series ends. Underscoring the volatile nature of the show, Jon Snow is both a favorite to sit on the Iron Throne and to die (-120). Cersei Lannister is a heavy favorite to meet the lord of light at a whopping +5000.

TV prop bets not offered in the US, and may never be after GoT ends

While Oscars betting was offered at New Jersey online sportsbooks for the first time this year, wagering on TV shows has historically not been an option in the US. This is mostly rooted in fear that insider info will leak out. Given the tight accounting practices with Oscar ballots, they’re less at risk than other scripted shows (though they’re not immune to leakage rumors).

Vegas offered action on shows like Survivor in earlier seasons, but that practice has mostly since ceased.

The reality is, with the rise of streaming and binge watching, GoT may be the last scripted TV show that even can be wagered on. The way people consume content doesn’t make it practical anymore.

So enjoy the show, and betting on TV in general, while you can.

Tiger Woods Is NOT Favored Going Into Final Round At The Masters

Chops April 13, 2019
Woods Molinari

Well, this is fun.

Tiger Woods shot a third round -5 at The Masters on Saturday. He finished the day at -11, in a tie for second place with Tony Finau (who tallied an absurd -8). They both trail Italy’s Francesco Molinari at -13.

The five-under was Woods’ lowest score at the Masters since his final round in 2011.

Tiger Woods isn’t favored to win the Masters

Despite heavy public money and operator liability on him, Woods is not favored to win the Masters on Sunday. That distinction (rightfully) goes to Molinari.

At the close of the third round, Molinari was priced at +175 on DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey. Woods followed at +350. Brooks Koepka, who is at -10, is listed at +650. Finau makes an interesting play at +600.

At BetStars, where bettors could get a 100-to-1 odds boost on Tiger before the tournament, Woods is listed at +333.

Lines will continue to shift during the evening until tee time. In-play betting will be available throughout the final round.

Golfer (Score)DraftKingsBetStars
Francesco Molinari (-13)+175+175
Tiger Woods (-11)+350+333
Brooks Koepka (-10)+650+600
Tony Finau (-11)+600+700
Dustin Johnson (-8)+2000+2200
Ian Poulter (-9)+2800+2800
Webb Simpson (-9)+2500+2800
Xander Schauffele (-8)+4000+3300
Louis Oosthuizen (-8)+4000+4000
Matt Kuchar (-8)+4000+5000

If you’re going to bet, do it now

If you plan to bet the Masters, please note that due to incoming severe weather, all tee times have been moved to earlier in the day.

The leaders will be paired in threes (so Molinari, Woods, and Finau will be grouped together) and will tee off at 9:20 am EST.

Expect Sunday’s Masters to be the highest rated in recent history.

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Follow The Leader? Duke Alum And DraftKings CEO Jason Robins Refunds Losing Duke Bets

Chops April 1, 2019
Duke Refund DraftKings

Any time you can follow the lead of a distant competitor and copy them, you have to do it, right?

PointsBet started a bizarre PR trend of wager refunds in January with their Good Karma Payouts program. Last weekend, after UCF lost to Duke by a pseudo-controversial last second tip-in, they arbitrarily decided that constituted a Good Karma payout again and refunded all Knights moneyline bets.

The head-scratching concept of Good Karma Payouts is to “provide bettors relief in the event of unlikely circumstances that sway the fate of the game.” The reality is it’s a PR ploy to grab headlines and sets a frustrating and completely arbitrary precedent over what does and doesn’t equate to “unlikely circumstances.”

Sports are fluky. Almost every game has multiple random events that alter the outcome. The key determining factor in these refund programs are 1.) is it limited financial impact on the sportsbook, and 2.) will the refund grab a headline.

Follow the leader?

DraftKings CEO and Duke grad Jason Robins saw PointsBet’s Good Karma Payout last weekend and said, “hold my beer.”

Because … uh, PR?… PointsBet did it first?… Robins decided to refund all Duke moneyline wagers after the Blue Devils lost by a point to Michigan State in the Elite 8.

The wagers, refunded only up to $50 (because if you’re going to do something out of the goodness of your heart, you might as well do it half-assed), will be issued in the form of a credit.

We get it. New Jersey sports betting is a competitive market. It’s a daily battle to attract or retain a customer.

But you can do better, DraftKings. You’re a trend-setting market leader. PointsBet should be bastardizing your ideas, not the other way around.

People Are Actually Betting The Baltimore Orioles To Win The World Series At 2000/1 Odds

Chops March 27, 2019
Orioles World Series

Opening Day of the baseball season is Thursday.

The Baltimore Orioles will not win the 2019 World Series. They are currently priced at anywhere from 100-1 to 2000-1 odds to do so, and even that is generous.

This is not stopping a surprising amount of action across the country on Orioles futures.

Why all of the Orioles action?

The Orioles will not be a good team this year. Or next year. Probably not the year after that either. They’re in a division with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. While they last won the division in 2014 (only five years ago!), they only won 47 games last year. Since World War II ended, only four teams have had a worse record than Baltimore last year.

Vegas and advanced analytics peg the Orioles around 59 wins.

Keith Law at ESPN Insider predicts the Orioles are a 56-win team (!!) and writes:

Baltimore will be nigh unwatchable this year, with a pitching staff that will probably be the worst in baseball, compounded by a tough schedule in a deep division.

Yet!

At William Hill sportsbooks in Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia, there have been more bets on the Orioles to win the World Series than 10 other teams, including a $500 wager on Baltimore placed Monday at 1,000-1 odds.

At the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia, 39 futures bets have been placed on the Orioles.

And!

Last season, if you bet $100 on the Orioles in each game, you ended up down $5,188. It was the worst money-line result for any team in the past 14 years, according to sports betting database BetLabSports.com.

So why all of the action? People love betting longshots.

Where would this rank in the history of longshots?

A year ago, TheLines covered the 10 biggest long shots in gambling history. Going apples-to-apples at 2000-1, the Orioles would be in rarefied air.

For comparison’s sake, the 2015-16 Leicester City team who won the Premier League at 5000-1 were criminally undervalued. They actually had top-level talent (N’Golo Kanté, Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy) that the Orioles do not. For as sophisticated as the English soccer betting market is, that 5000-1 is shockingly long in hindsight.

In reality, the best comparable is the “do you believe in miracles?” 1980 US Hockey team. While only a 1000-1 long shot, they were as improbable of a champion as any team in sports history. That’s more in line with the Orioles in 2019. It would be nothing short of a miracle to see this roster hoist this trophy.

2019 MLB futures odds in NJ

World Series Winner

Odds Updated 4/13

Houston
Bet now
+550
Bet now
+550
LA Dodgers
Bet now
+650
Bet now
+550
NY Yankees
Bet now
+650
Bet now
+550
Boston
Bet now
+900
Bet now
+900
Philadelphia
Bet now
+900
Bet now
+900
Milwaukee
Bet now
+1600
Bet now
+1000
Cleveland
Bet now
+1600
Bet now
+1800
St. Louis
Bet now
+1600
Bet now
+2200
Washington
Bet now
+1600
Bet now
+2400
NY Mets
Bet now
+1800
Bet now
+1800
Atlanta
Bet now
+2000
Bet now
+2100
Tampa Bay
Bet now
+2000
Bet now
+2300
Chicago Cubs
Bet now
+2200
Bet now
+2800
Seattle
Bet now
+3300
Bet now
+3700
Oakland
Bet now
+4000
Bet now
+5000
Minnesota
Bet now
+4000
Bet now
+4400
San Diego
Bet now
+4000
Bet now
+5000
Colorado
Bet now
+5000
Bet now
+5000
LA Angels
Bet now
+6600
Bet now
+10000
Arizona
Bet now
+6600
Bet now
+7500
Cincinnati
Bet now
+8000
Bet now
+10000
Pittsburgh
Bet now
+8000
Bet now
+5900
San Francisco
Bet now
+15000
Bet now
+10000
Detroit
Bet now
+15000
Bet now
+10000
Texas
Bet now
+20000
Bet now
+10000
Chicago WS
Bet now
+25000
Bet now
+10000
Toronto
Bet now
+25000
Bet now
+10000
Kansas City
Bet now
+50000
Bet now
+10000
Miami
Bet now
+50000
Bet now
+10000
Baltimore
Bet now
+40000
Bet now
+10000

Tennessee Proposed A Gambling Ban For Sundays And Holidays And It’s The Most Southern Thing Ever

Chops March 27, 2019
Tennessee Sports Betting

Tennessee is one of many states with proposed sports betting legislation in the works. The latest iteration of their bi-partisan Senate bill, SB-16, is currently facing bi-partisan opposition from phony pretend bible-thumping morally righteous politicians.

This bill would allow for online sports betting only.

And only Monday through Saturday. Well, kind of on Sundays, but only certain times. And not on holidays either.

Facepalm Sunday

I grew up in the South. The South (some would argue) has an antiquated view on certain things. From when and where you can buy alcohol to when stores can open on Sunday. The South really, really holds Sunday sacred. For church. And for the NFL.

The fact that a southern politician would attempt to put religious-based sanctions on sports betting isn’t surprising. What is surprising is this Tennessee rep didn’t go even more draconian.  Why not require geo-fencing around churches? I’m super disappointed in you, Tennessee. Sure, your proposed bans are ridiculous, but you are nowhere near your lofty standards. Step. It. Up.

For more on Tennessee’s sports betting legislation, check out Legal Sports Report.

Sports Betting Feature On 60 Minutes Offers Mostly One-Sided Discussion With Little Insight

Chops March 25, 2019
60 Minutes Sports Betting

Last night, perfectly timed during the midst of March Madness (and for the very first time, mass adoption of March Madness betting in America), 60 Minutes asked, “Will legalized sports betting curtail corruption or encourage it?”

The feature paints the new American sports betting landscape in broad strokes. The overarching theme (in part because it’s March Madness) was, to paraphrase The Simpsons, “Won’t somebody think of the children?” Or more specifically, in this case, the college athletes.

The fix is in

The feature sets an ominous tone at the start by invoking the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Black Sox betting scandal. However, as it relates to potential corruption, most of the focus is (rightfully) around college athletics.

This is something we’ve previously written about at TheLines: Taking a more measured approach toward college sports.

The moral arbiter of the feature is Mike Hamrick, former UNLV athletic director, who now serves the same role at Marshall University. Marshall is in West Virginia, one of the legal sports betting states. Hamrick’s concerns seem mostly about protecting his athletes:

There’s people that will do what they need to do to make a buck at the expense of an 18- or 19-year-old kid.

While game fixing isn’t out of the question (particularly in a more manageable sport like college basketball, where one player can impact a game more easily than football), a less obvious area for corruption is on injury intel.

Insight into injuries provides unpaid college athletes the ability to give gamblers an edge without putting the athlete in danger of actually fixing a game itself.

Hamrick claims other athletic directors have similar concerns, which makes sense. They should. This is a hard one to control at the college level and not something that European sports can be looked to for a successful template. The best answers may be to limit what college wagering is allowed, or to cross your fingers and hope a scandal doesn’t happen early and often.

Reasons for optimism

While 60 Minutes definitely took a darker slant to the piece, there were some positives. It noted that sports betting has undergone a massive shift in perception in the US, from leagues to the public in general. As it noted, pro leagues “transitioned from defense to offense” in terms of sports betting. The MGM signed deals with MLB, NBA, and NHL and Caesars inked one with the NFL.

The show also noted that sports bettors are younger and more affluent than in the past. They’re more likely to watch sports broadcasts longer if they have action on it.

One expert, Ryan Rodenberg, a law professor at FSU, predicts, by the end of this year, 15 states will have some form of legal sports betting with another 12 having laws in the process. This would be a substantial expansion of where we are today, covering over half of the country.

As in-play betting popularity increases, so will total wagering activity. As William Hill’s Joe Asher noted, 50 percent of all betting in Europe (and specifically, betting on soccer) is live/in-play action.

As usual, leave it to the NBA’s Adam Silver to be the shining light of sports betting. Silver says legal betting “dramatically” decreases risk because we access data and technology that helps identify unusual line movement. Basically, moving this into the sunlight decreases risk. Given how the increased media coverage and awareness of sports betting is already a thing, that spotlight will only get brighter.

60 Minutes ignored a Silver staple as well: How sports leagues are pushing “integrity fees” as a means to keep everything legit.

Final takeaways

It would’ve been surprising had 60 Minutes not done a sports betting feature during March Madness. One one hand, this wasn’t so negative that it felt underwritten by Sheldon Adelson, but it was negative enough to cast some aspirations on the industry.

The focus on college sports as being corruptible isn’t outlandish. There should be concerns around college basketball for game fixing and college football for injury intelligence. You’d be naive to think otherwise.

However, to ignore that the pro sports leagues and regulated sportsbooks aren’t diligently working to ensure the integrity of their competitions does the public a disservice. Again, look at England for guidance and data points. For every Daniel Sturridge potential slip-up or fourth tier soccer league fixing scandal, there are billions in legitimate wagers every year without issue. Making mountains out of molehills may grab a few extra eyeballs for a story, but it doesn’t make the story more accurate.

The reality is, sports betting in America is a runaway train now. It’s a giant opportunity for the leagues, casinos and local governments. The positives significantly outweigh the negatives. Not recognizing that and getting on board makes you look outdated, which is precisely what a 50-plus-year-old TV news magazine is in 2019.

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