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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf.

Added Video Coverage At The Masters Means The Future Of Golf Betting Is Nearing

Grant Lucas April 11, 2019
Golf Betting

This will come as no surprise: The Masters will become an even greater event thanks to legalized sports betting.

Regulated sportsbooks certainly know this. Jay Rood, VP of race and sports for MGM Resorts International, said as much to Golfweek.

“There is no comparison. It’s easily the most heavily bet-on golf tournament of the year.”

Certainly, Nevada sports betting has long had time to enjoy the rewards of Masters wagering. This year, though, other states with regulated industries will take advantage.

And already, the potential future of golf betting will come to the forefront. That’s what you get when you combine in-play wagering and the broadcast of every shot at Augusta National. While these two features cannot be found within a single app (yet), it does offer a glimpse into what wagering on golf tournaments might look like down the road.

In-play betting laid golf roots last year

As the 2018 golf season wound down, legalized sports betting began flexing its muscle.

The Ryder Cup, for example, offered a platform for operators to push golf wagering to an unprecedented level. Kambi Group allowed bettors to lay money down on every shot during the global tournament, providing swing-by-swing and hole-by-hole coverage.

Such live betting took hold after that September 2018 event and carried over to the Match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. In-play wagering will certainly continue for the Masters, the first major of the 2019 golf season.

To boot, the Masters itself expects to provide viewers with an added bonus.

Masters to stream every shot of the tournament

For decades, the tradition-unlike-any-other tournament did its best to broadcast as much action as it could. But, hey, there’s only so much time allowable to fill with live shots and highlights. And that space becomes even more finite when you factor in the performance of golfers who are miles behind the leaders and contenders.

This year, however, the Masters has a solution.

Fred Ridley, the tournament’s chairman, announced Wednesday that the Masters will stream “every shot within camera range,” according to Golfweek. To boot, within only a few minutes of a hole’s completion, viewers will have the ability to watch edited clips of every shot of that hole. All of this will be available on the Masters’ website and app.

From Ridley:

“For the first time ever in golf, we will capture virtually every shot of every player during every competitive round. … Within minutes of every shot, this added content will now allow our fans online to follow their favorite players from their drive off the first tee to their final putt on the 18th green.”

This is the future of golf betting

To be fair, not every shot will be captured by Masters’ cameras. But certainly, more action than ever will find its way to the archives.

For now, when it comes to in-play wagering, bettors only have a scorecard on which to base their bets. “Will Jordan Spieth par the 17th hole?” Well, let’s see how his last three holes have gone.

With this Masters coverage, bettors now have the advantage of seeing how Speith achieved those three scores. Did he scramble out of the pine needles? Did he stripe the fairway, stick an approach and tap in a birdie? What does his body language look like?

This is what can revolutionize in-play betting for golf. This is the future. And this is how legal wagering on golf can grow even more, as Rood told Golfweek.

“I think golf has the most area to grow of all the major sports from where they are currently. A couple (of) things that have to happen with the data from the PGA Tour coming into our wagering system. We need to get something that’s a little bit more real time and develops some models around it that can spit out some basic pricing on that.”

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Alliance Of American Football Folds, Proving That Sports Betting Can Only Do So Much

Grant Lucas April 3, 2019
AAF Betting

We can’t all be winners. The Alliance of American Football found that out the hard way after traveling a long, lonesome road lined with the corpses of failed leagues of the past.

Three weeks shy of the conclusion to the league’s inaugural season, the AAF — like the USFL, XFL and United Football League, among a host of others — was served a platter of dust and took a hearty bite. Rest in peace, AAF: 2019-2019.

Eight games into its debut season, the AAF is done. League Chair Tom Dundon, who rode in on his white stallion to save the AAF from an earlier closing by committing $250 million to the league, closed his checkbook this week.

In an era when legalized sports betting continues to expand, the first example of how limited an influence regulated wagering can have certainly shines through.

Sports betting part of AAF DNA from the start

Within the first few months of AAF existence, the league landed a TV deal with CBS Sports Network and an ensuing gambling partnership with MGM.

Last fall, the league began developing an in-game wagering app that would allow viewers to watch their desired AAF game while betting on the same screen.

Charlie Ebersol, the league’s CEO and co-founder, noted in February that bringing in MGM as an investor and official gaming partner might attract viewers and bettors even after the NFL season ended. He emphasized how the AAF is “continuing football” and that “the football is all real.” He hammered that point home by adding “the fact that all the sportsbooks have taken lines on our games.”

That AAF app and data is reportedly what drew the interest of Dundon, who owns the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHLAlbert Breer of The Monday Morning Quarterback tweeted Tuesday how Dundon took the reins of the AAF “simply for the gambling app being developed.” Now, as reported by Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Daily, Dundon “owns all the IP, including app and data.”


NJ sports betting jumped on board

The league started strong, to be fair. Its opening games on CBS averaged some 3.25 million viewers, outranking the ABC broadcast of an NBA showdown between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder.

After the first few games, New Jersey took notice. Football, after all, has long been the revenue-driver of betting. DraftKings SportsbookFanDuel SportsbookBetStarsPointsBet and playMGM all offered lines on AAF games within the NJ sports betting landscape.

What kind of impact AAF betting had has yet to be seen. What is clear, however, is there won’t be any more AAF odds. (Too soon?) “Multiple books” confirmed to ESPN that all futures wagers will be refunded to bettors.

What went wrong, AAF?

Short answer: The league made the wrong bet on the influence of legalized wagering.

Appearing on ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Tuesday, Kaplan recalled how the AAF planned to “ride the wave of gambling.”

“That’s all well and good,” he added, “but at the end of the day, when you’re starting a football league, the product has to be football. Everything else is ancillary.”

Kaplan continued:

“When they started talking to me about this is a technology company … the alarm bells went off. I did a lot of reporting: They had not secured all the insurance they needed to get this league off the ground. The team in Florida, half its practices had to be in Georgia so they could be eligible for worker’s compensation in Georgia because they weren’t eligible in Florida. It was a complete mess.”

Indeed it was. Still is. After all, Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated reported that the AAF couldn’t even finance plane tickets for players to go home.

But sports betting is supposed to save leagues, right?

Since the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA, even well before, the majority of people believed one of two things: Legalized sports betting will be terrible for leagues, or legalized sports betting will create more fans and, thus, help leagues.

Ebersol and AAF co-founder Bill Polian clearly fell into the latter category.

In their defense (that is, a defense that is state-appointed and only to the intern because the 58 guys above him didn’t want the case), a number of studies led these two knuckleheads in that direction.

Seton Hall University poll from earlier this year, for example, showed that 71% of respondents would be more likely to watch a game on which they wagered. Similarly, Bleacher Report conducted a study in December that showed 63% of respondents would pay more attention to games if legal sports betting existed in their respective states.

These are just surveys and polls, though. If that’s your basis for believing the AAF can succeed, Bon Jovi must have been blaring over your speakers on repeat while you hung out with Elon Musk.

Legalized sports betting does not create fandom. It heightens it, at best. It does not save leagues. It bolsters them.

Now, Dundon walks away after investing $70 million to fund the league week-to-week. Under his arm, a $70 million app that is as useful as the AAF is now.

MLB Commissioner Maintains Stance For More Federal Oversight On Sports Betting

Grant Lucas March 23, 2019
MLB Sports Betting

Major League Baseball won’t change its stance on legalized sports betting in America.

The once-great league has firmly established itself as an over-controlling dad who refuses to adapt and perpetuates his traditionalist ideals because “that’s the way it’s always been” and came from “a simpler time” that “made the world a greater place.”

Indeed, MLB, that old curmudgeon, continues to sit in its rocking chair on the front porch when it’s not roaming the neighborhood ruining the fun times of youngsters.

Months after the MLB, along with other major leagues in the US, failed in lobbying states to include integrity fees in their regulations, the league has long stood behind the federal government stepping in to craft over-arching laws and guidelines for legalized sports betting.

Speaking at Boston College’s Chief Executives Club this month, Rob Manfred said as much, noting that the industry would be better served with one set of rules, established at the federal level, for each state to adopt.

“I’m a realist,” the MLB commissioner said to a group of reporters after the event. “Would I prefer to have a single integrated structure from the federal government? Yes, because it would be easier for us to deal with one set of rules.”

MLB coming around on sports betting

Since the US Supreme Court repealed PASPA last spring, seven states across the country have rolled out regulated sports betting. Another two have partial laws in place and away passage and launch. Including other states with proposed legislation, more than half of America is buying into legal wagering.

And MLB wants the federal government to oversee it all. The same league that fought tooth and nail to prevent legalized sports betting to begin with has, at the very least, begun understanding the positives of legal wagering.

“We’re realists,” Manfred said, according to a report from State House News Service (paywall). “Legalized sports betting is gonna be part of our culture going forward. We think it can be a great source of fan engagement,” Manfred said. “We do have views on exactly what the legislation should look like, but in general we see it as a positive.”

Again, though, Manfred prefers regulations begin and end at the federal level. Of course, the federal government is trying to flex its muscles in that sense, such as when senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Schumer introduced bills in December. And, of course, there was the recent revised opinion of the Wire Act that has not sat well with states.

MLB wants federal involvement, but…

Certainly, lawmakers will continue to draft bills, make proposals and lobby for federal oversight of legal sports betting. But even the MLB acknowledges that it might be too late.

From Manfred:

“But the reality is, given the course of the Supreme Court litigation, the federal government wasn’t going to get there in time, and the states were going to proceed.”

While it sounds like the league might back off its stance for federal inclusion, it hasn’t. Not really. If anything, Manfred hinted that his league has been challenged to a dare. And the MLB accepted.

Again, from Manfred.

“We’ll figure out a way to manage it.”

Just accept the fate and move along

In a way, it’s somewhat respectable to see the MLB not caving, to see the league persist and fight for its beliefs.

Then again, its old-man stubbornness only gets exacerbated as the MLB continues to joust for any type of control in legal wagering.

It has long lobbied for a cut of the action in the form of integrity fees. It has long fought to have a say in which events and markets regulated sportsbooks can or cannot offer, going so far as to request that states not offer bets on spring training. Even recently, MLB partnered with data provider Sportradar to have control over which information is shared with media and bookmakers.

Less than a year after SCOTUS cleared the way for state-sanctioned sports betting, the MLB, along with the other major sports leagues, has come to understand the upside of the industry.

Manfred frequently cited how regulated wagering “could create additional passion” among fans.

Perhaps, though, the MLB could catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Oscars Betting In NJ Reaches A Head This Week, But Is It Worth It?

Grant Lucas February 20, 2019
Oscars Betting NJ

Oscars week has arrived.

The stars are picking out their wardrobes for Sunday’s 91st Academy Awards. The red carpet reporters are honing their “Who are you wearing?” questions that we all so desperately want to hear the answers to. (Particularly from Chris Pratt.)

For the first time in 30 years, the most-watched awards show will go on without a host, thanks to Kevin Hart taking a page out of the Amtrak how-to book and going off the rails.

This year, though, the Oscars might sit in an ideal position for viewership. In using a variety of stars throughout the awards show, the Oscars, according to some former producers, could actually be MORE entertaining. To boot, for the first time ever, legal wagering on the Academy Awards is taking place in New Jersey.

While the Garden State pads its ever-burgeoning NJ sports betting industry by integrating the Oscars, while also encroaching on a market that had been exclusively offered by offshore sportsbooks, there’s a question that has yet to be answered:

Is it all worth it?

NJ sports betting adds Oscars

New Jersey has certainly taken advantage of this new Oscars market. The industry boasts 12 online sportsbooks that currently offer wagers on the Oscars, each listing between a single category (DraftKings Sportsbook) and an eye-opening 23 categories (playMGM).

Most apps feature lines on the Big Six categories:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director
  • Best Actor
  • Best Actress
  • Best Supporting Actor
  • Best Supporting Actress

Certainly, such Oscars integration allows NJ sportsbooks to diversify their offerings, perhaps even attract customers they otherwise would not have reached. Similar to how online sports betting products have merged with NJ online casinos via shared wallets to build their customer bases.

But the Oscars is a one-night event. The “season” will last less than a month. The payoff will be fractional. The event itself had long been avoided in Nevada, taking into consideration potential integrity issues with the awards. And already, New Jersey, in a “one-time-only” (for now) opportunity to offer Oscars betting, has hit some speed bumps.

Early hiccups bring up the question of value

Mere days after the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement signed off on sportsbooks offering Oscars wagers, the DGE reneged.

All odds on the Academy Awards were pulled off the board. Sources told Legal Sports Report that the regulatory body told operators to do so, though no indication as to why ever emerged.

It could be that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requested lines be taken down. It could be that the DGE approved one operator to offer Oscars lines, and multiple platforms took that as an overarching approval.

Whatever the reason, odds eventually went back up — and expanded to other online sportsbooks. Periodically, too, operators take down all their Oscars odds, like earlier this month, when many sportsbooks pulled Oscars lines ahead of the British Academy Film Awards, which traditionally paint a picture of how the Oscars play out. (Oscars voting begins two days after the BAFTAs conclude.)

Including this instance, operators have sporadically taken down lines to adjust odds, whereas lines for sporting events get live updates without getting pulled from the board.

All this work, for what?

Is Oscars betting worth it?

Time will only tell, really. The future of regulated Oscars betting remains to be seen. Remember, the DGE emphasized that wagering on the Academy Awards is for this year only. At least, for now.

When the DGE allowed NJ sportsbooks to include Oscars markets, it was obviously met with excitement. A novelty market essentially taken from the playbook of overseas and offshore sportsbooks.

But the laborious efforts to pull down lines, adjust and repost, several times each week, all while attempting to protect the integrity of it all — it seems too much to deal with. And for what?

Oscars betting will not become a windfall for NJ sports betting revenue. At best, $1 million in handle. But even that appears a stretch, considering operators like DraftKings and BetStars, among others, limit how much customers can wager. DraftKings, for example, caps potential winnings at around $100, while BetStars goes the other way, setting its limit at a “lay to lose” total of $300.

This, of course, sets a ceiling on the overall handle of NJ sportsbooks as well as potential revenue.

Is it all worth it? Apparently so. Not because of a financial boon, though. Simply as a steppingstone to continue building customer bases.

Our #1 Sportsbook Choice.

Despite Missing 18 Games, LeBron James Is Still The Most-Bet-On NBA Player This Year

Grant Lucas February 15, 2019
LeBron James

The first half of the NBA season is in the books. Well, between 57 and 59 games are completed, leaving between 25 and 23 games remaining on respective schedules.

A brief moment of silence for the league’s ability to understand how math works.

All-Star Weekend has arrived, a lackadaisical convention in Charlotte signifying the homestretch toward the playoffs.

Yet something interesting has happened that forces us to reflect on what happened during the “first half” of the season. It’s not the fact that the Golden State Warriors, ruiners of NBA sports betting, don’t own the league’s best record or even the second-best record. (Respect, Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors.)

The lightning rod of hate, the titan of tampering, has garnered mass attention from bettors, particularly in New Jersey.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook data in NJ, LeBron James received the most betting action among individual players so far this season. Despite the King missing 18 games just ahead of All-Star Weekend, James still drew more attention for individual performances such as over/under totals on points in a game, among other player-specific prop markets.

That’s ahead of Houston’s James Harden, who’s eclipsed 30 points in 31 straight games that’s tied for the second-longest streak in NBA history. It’s ahead of Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as well as Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league’s next generation of stars.

But that is only the beginning of what we’ve learned from NBA betting thus far.

It’s the Warriors’ title to lose

The season began as it has each of the past few years: Golden State will win the NBA championship.

This year was, and still is, even more to the extreme. From the season’s get-go, pundits crowned the Warriors and looked ahead to the 2019-20 season. Golden State, after all, entered the season with a -200 line to win its third straight title. No other team over the past 30 years carried such heavy favorite odds.

Naturally, at both DraftKings and FanDuel Sportsbook, the Warriors have been the most wagered-on team in the league this season, ahead of the 76ers and Lakers.

For this exercise, though, who the Warriors play — and could potentially lose to in the playoffs — becomes more entertaining.

Per DraftKings, the most popular Warriors opponent wagered on has been the Boston Celtics, followed by the Lakers and 76ers. Additionally, Philadelphia, Boston and Los Angeles have been the most bet-on teams to claim the NBA title outside of Golden State, just ahead of Toronto and Milwaukee.

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In-play betting is king for NJ sportsbooks

Just before the NBA season tipped off in OctoberKambi Group, which powers DraftKings, introduced in-play betting for the 2018-19 season. The game had become “extremely popular over the last few years,” according to Kambi Head of Live Basketball Stefanos Moysidis. It had become faster and smarter with “teams relying on analytics more than ever before.”

Kambi recognized the demand of in-play wagering. And answered. As have other NJ online sports betting products.

FanDuel, for example, has seen in-game betting become a lynchpin for NBA action. According to the sportsbook, 45 percent of sports betting handle for NBA games have come via in-play betting.

Interestingly, no other market has emerged as a go-to for bettors. Moneyline wagering and “other bet types” represent 30 percent of bets, while point spread and over/under totals come in at 27 and 13 percent, respectively.

Risers and fallers for NBA futures

No other sport has a trade deadline quite like the NBA. The first month and a half of the new calendar year features a spinoff of sorts to the NBA season. Yes, the Warriors are great, and who can dethrone them? Harden is balling, as is Russell Westbrook, averaging a triple-double for the third straight season, has logged an NBA-record 11 straight triple-doubles.

But the trade deadline takes center stage until early February. While the Pelicans did not deal Anthony Davis, as many anticipated, futures odds did shift for several teams after the deadline passed.

According to DraftKings, the Philadelphia 76ers, after shedding Markelle Fultz and acquiring Tobias Harris, among other moves, jumped from 16/1 to 14/1 odds to win the title. The Bucks, with the addition of Nikola Mirotic, went from 14/1 to 11/1 post-deadline. And the Raptors, who brought in Marc Gasol, inched up from 9.5/1 to 9/1 odds.

While Golden State remains the odds-on favorite to win the NBA championship (-225 at DraftKings, -210 at FanDuel), the gap has closed a tad. The Raptors and Bucks have risen to the second- and third-favorites, respectively. Even Philly has climbed, to a fourth-place tie with Boston (DraftKings) and a third-place tie with Milwaukee (FanDuel).

Since the start of the season, the Bucks (70/1 to 11/1) have made the biggest jump in NBA title odds at FanDuel, followed by Toronto (18/1 to 9/1). Even the Denver Nuggets, with the second-best record in the Western Conference and fourth-best leaguewide, have leapt from 100/1 to 30/1.

The flip side of that conversation is just as fun to soak in.

After opening at 7/1 to win the title, the Rockets have slipped to 14/1 at FanDuel. The Lakers went from 9/1 to 22/1, and the Celtics slid from 6.25/1 to 12/1. Going back to the Davis drama, the Pelicans have plummeted from 35/1 season-opening odds to win the championship to 150/1.

The NBA: It’s fantastic.

The NCAA Might Finally Stop Pretending Sports Betting Doesn’t Exist

Grant Lucas February 8, 2019
NCAA Betting

The meaningless 3-pointer that seals a backdoor cover as a game expires makes for a bad-yet-entertaining beat.

But the meaningless 3-pointer made to cover the spread — a shot that should not have counted to begin with — is just brutal.

Such an occurrence happened not once, but TWICE this week: A player getting up an attempt that would not influence the outcome of the game, the final horn blaring throughout the arena well before the ball leaves that player’s hands, allowing his team to still lose but by a slimmer margin.

Neither shot was reviewed… because the team leading still won. Understand, though, that the NCAA has long opposed legalized sports betting, citing the industry’s potential impact on the “integrity” of college basketball games. Seems like it has its own integrity issues.

And the NCAA is at least (emphasis on “least”) addressing said issue:

Post-buzzer shots in question

On Monday, No. 17 Iowa State avoided an upset to visiting Oklahoma, holding on for a 75-74 win.

The Cyclones, though, came in as 3-point favorites at many sportsbooks. And it appeared as if Iowa State would leave the arena as four-point winners. Cyclone covers for the win, right?

Yeah, well, that running 3-pointer arguably should not have counted, as video evidence indicated that the shot did not get off before the buzzer.

Then there was Wednesday’s matchup of Big East teams Creighton and Villanova.

With less than 3 seconds to play, Creighton’s Kaleb Joseph crossed midcourt and made his way into the lane. He pulls up for a floater and buries the shot. But even the play-by-play was skeptical:

“Joseph does not get the shot off. That does not count. Does it count? (Referee) Roger Ayers says it’s good.” Then, after a moment of stunned silence. “That’s an interesting call there at the buzzer.”

Villanova entered as a 9-point favorite at many sportsbooks, and the Wildcats led by that margin when Joseph went up for the shot. His “made” attempt gave Creighton the cover with a 66-59 loss.

NCAA officials will review ALL shots

As ESPN’s David Purdum noted, the NCAA will ask referees to “review all shots made at the buzzer.” That includes made field goals that become “One Shining Moment” fodder and, theoretically, those that trim a 27-point loss into a 24-point loss.

This request comes “in the interest of accuracy of score and team and player statistics and even if the outcome of the game isn’t riding on the officials’ call.”

Said shots may result in a buzzer-beating win. Or they might affect the outcome for point spread or over/under total. Perhaps neither. Either way, the NCAA said, officials need to review every single time.

Here is a reading of the NCAA instant replay rule:

“Officials shall use such available equipment in the following situations: a. When there is a reading of zeroes (or should have been zeroes on the clock) on the game clock at the end of any period, after making a call on the playing court, and when necessary to determine the outcome of the game in the following situations: 1. Determine whether a try for field goal entering the basket was released before the reading of zeroes on the game clock. When it is determined that the try for goal was successful, the official is permitted to put the exact time back on the game clock as to when the ball passed through the net.”

So, in theory, these frequent replays should always occur. Although one could argue that determining “the outcome of the game” is up for interpretation.

Funny, though, how an organization so adamantly against legalized sports betting has come around to the ways of the force.

NCAA urging should already be happening

Funny enough, the NCAA has at least (emphasis on “least”) embraced the advent of regulated sports betting.

Last summer, the association announced it would explore the ins and outs of the industry while “examining the long-term impact” of sports betting. To do so, the NCAA pieced together an “internal team of subject matter experts” that would explore “how best to protect game integrity, monitor betting activity, manage sports data and expand educational efforts.”

There’s that “integrity” again.

The NCAA specifically said that referees will review ALL shots occurring around the final horn during the NCAA tournament. That’s nice, especially considering how much sports betting action will take place during March Madness.

But even to REACH the Big Dance, teams across the country will have their seasonlong resumes under the microscope of the tournament selection committee. Bubble teams, especially, will have their performances against opponents examined. Who did they play? How did they do? By how much did they win or lose?

Every point matters during the regular season. ESPECIALLY for bubble teams. Maybe the NCAA will discover its own rule and put it to proper use next year.

FanDuel Sportsbook Bettor Turns $20 Into $178K With 15-Leg Parlay

Grant Lucas February 7, 2019
FanDuel Parlay

It takes time and work to turn a small wager into a hefty payday. Though some people (THIS GUY!) have needed only 30 minutes to spin $10 into $650 on a video poker machine.

One recent FanDuel Sportsbook bettor heard that tale and said, “Hold my beer.”

According to a sportsbook spokesman, a New Jersey sports betting customer took $20.13, built a 15-leg parlay and came away with a whopping $178,221.66.

Not a bad Wednesday.

Not intimidated by long odds

Playing through the FanDuel online sportsbook, the lucky bettor faced what, for most everyone else, would be insurmountable odds.

Statistically, this user would have more luck finding a pearl in an oyster than hitting the parlay. Even winning an Oscar carries better odds. (Bet on it.)

Per FanDuel Sportsbook, the true odds of hitting the 15-leg parlay — which included moneyline, point spread and predicting first-half winners in the NBA and NCAA men’s basketball games — stood at roughly 16,500-1.

NBA legs of the parlay

Six legs of the miraculous parlay involved NBA action. Here are the bettor’s picks:

Wizards at BucksFirst-half winner-390Bucks
Spurs at WarriorsFirst-half winner-550Warriors
Suns at JazzFirst-half winner-650Jazz
Pelicans at BullsMoneyline+102Pelicans
Rockets at KingsPoint spread-110Rockets -3
Hornets at MavericksPoint spread-115Mavericks -5.5

Fortunately, only one game really hung in the balance.

After all, the Milwaukee Bucks led the Washington Wizards 50-35 after the first quarter en route to an 85-65 halftime lead. (The Bucks eventually polished off their highest-scoring game of the season, a 148-129 victory.) Similarly, the Golden State Warriors cruised to a 66-52 lead at the break, and the Utah Jazz went into the half up 56-46.

Even the New Orleans Pelicans’ game, a 125-120 win, was not that close, as the Chicago Bulls poured in some garbage points to narrow the gap. And of course the Houston Rockets laid waste to the Sacramento Kings, outscoring Sacramento 44-17 in the second quarter en route to a 127-101 victory.

The only concern came with the Dallas Mavericks, whose win was never in doubt, really, during the game’s waning moments. Dwight Powell made two free throws with 9.2 seconds left to push Dallas in front by six points. But the Charlotte Hornets had several opportunities to spoil the parlay, though two missed shots and a turnover secured the Mavericks cover.

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NCAA legs of the parlay

Like the NBA picks, most of the bettor’s NCAA selections were never in doubt, with six of nine chosen teams winning by double digits.

Maryland at NebraskaMoneyline+125Maryland
Georgetown at ProvidenceMoneyline+180Georgetown
LSU at Mississippi St.Moneyline+135LSU
UConn at TemplePoint spread-110Temple -3.5
Clemson at Georgia TechPoint spread-110Clemson -3.5
Notre Dame at Miami (FL)Point spread-110Miami (FL) -3.5
Rhode Island at DavidsonPoint spread-110Davidson -4
Wisconsin at MinnesotaPoint spread-110Wisconsin -2
Baylor at TexasPoint spread-110Texas -3

Of the moneyline picks, Maryland handled Nebraska 60-45, and Georgetown dispatched Providence 76-67, both on the road.

Overtime was needed for LSU, which missed two shots within the final 5 seconds of regulation to send the game to an extra period. There, the Tigers got a 3-pointer from Naz Reid with 11 seconds remaining to seal their 92-88 win over Mississippi State.

Five of six point spread picks went smoothly for the FanDuel bettor. The second-closest game of the picks was Texas beating Baylor 84-72.

Some sweat certainly poured during Wisconsin-Minnesota, during which the Badgers narrowly covered their 2-point spread. Wisconsin, which never trailed and was only tied twice, led 49-46 with 2:11 to play but pulled away enough to pay out with a 56-51 victory.

As a result, a $20 wager became a cool $178,000.

NFL Betting Season In Review: The Most-Bet Games And Teams At DraftKings Sportsbook

Grant Lucas January 29, 2019
NFL Betting 2018

Super Bowl 53 looms ahead in Atlanta with the New England Patriots taking on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Feb. 3.

If it’s not clear, though, this article is not about looking forward to the Big Game. This is about adjusting the rearview mirror and reflecting on the NFL season as a whole, during the first year of legalized sports betting outside of Nevada.

And it seems only appropriate to turn to one of the rising juggernauts in the wagering landscape, DraftKings Sportsbook, whose New Jersey online product has become the envy of competitors, particularly in the NJ sports betting industry.

Most popular games of the season (so far)

No doubt, the Super Bowl will attract the most wagers of the year, as it so often has in years past. History has a way of repeating itself, after all.

Dustin Gouker, lead sports betting analyst for, estimated that New Jersey could accept $100 million in legal bets while the nationwide total could near $325 million.

That obviously has yet to be seen. However, to date, the top 10 most bet-on NFL games at DraftKings Sportsbook did occur during the postseason.

Jan. 13Philadelphia Eagles at New OrleansNFC Divisional Round
Jan. 20New England Patriots at Kansas City ChiefsAFC Championship
Jan. 13LA Chargers at New England PatriotsAFC Divisional Round
Jan. 12Dallas Cowboys at LA RamsNFC Divisional Round
Jan. 12Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City ChiefsAFC Divisional Round
Jan. 6Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago BearsNFC Wild Card
Jan. 20LA Rams at New Orleans SaintsNFC Championship
Jan. 6LA Chargers at Baltimore RavensAFC Wild Card
Jan. 5Seattle Seahawks at Dallas CowboysNFC Wild Card
Jan. 5Indianapolis Colts at Houston TexansAFC Wild Card

Most and least popular teams

The correlation between successful seasons and most wagered-on teams truly astounds.

Though it stands to reason: Those great squads are perceived as locks each week.

Of the 10 most bet-on teams of the NFL season at DraftKings, eight reached the playoffs. (Dry your tears, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers fans.)

On the flip side, nine of the 10 least wagered-on teams finished with sub-.500 records. (Why does everyone hate the Tennessee Titans so much?)

Anyway, to reiterate: The correlation between popularity and success is incredible… and hopefully only a coincidence. Yeah, it’s a coincidence.

RankMost PopularRecordLeast PopularRecord
1New England Patriots11-5 (9-7 ATS)San Francisco 49ers4-12 (5-11 ATS)
2Kansas City Chiefs12-4 (9-6-1 ATS)Arizona Cardinals3-13 (7-8-1 ATS)
3Los Angeles Chargers12-4 (9-7 ATS)Buffalo Bills6-10 (7-9 ATS)
4New Orleans Saints13-3 (10-6 ATS)Oakland Raiders4-12 (6-10 ATS)
5Philadelphia Eagles9-7 (7-9 ATS)Tampa Bay Buccaneers5-11 (7-7-2 ATS)
6Los Angeles Rams13-3 (7-8-1 ATS)Miami Dolphins7-9 (8-8 ATS)
7Green Bay Packers6-9-1 (6-9-1 ATS)Tennessee Titans9-7 (8-8 ATS)
8Indianapolis Colts10-6 (8-7-1 ATS)Detroit Lions6-10 (9-7 ATS)
9Chicago Bears12-4 (11-5 ATS)Washington Redskins7-9 (9-7 ATS)
10Pittsburgh Steelers9-6-1 (8-7-1 ATS)Cincinnati Bengals6-10 (9-7 ATS)

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NFL Futures? Not as popular

First and foremost: Obviously futures bets come into play, big time, with the NFL.

In the grand scheme of sports, however, the pigskin barely came up.

Three of the top five most popular futures involved predicting the World Series winner (No. 1, Yankees; No. 4, Red Sox; No. 5, Dodgers). The third-most wagered-on futures market stands as Duke to win the NCAA men’s basketball national championship. In at No. 2, though, the Rams to lift the Lombardi Trophy. (Still alive and well, to boot.)

The final five in the ranking: Alabama to win the College Football Playoff National Championship (oh, well), the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series, the Toronto Raptors to be NBA champs, Notre Dame to win the Cotton Bowl, and the Milwaukee Bucks to reign supreme in the NBA.

The baddest beats of the NFL season

Even sure-things come back to bite you in the keister. (Although, one DraftKings Sportsbook customer turned a 10-cent four-leg parlay in $363 via player props on Oct. 28. For the not-so-math-whizzes: That parlay carried 3,630-1 odds. Good on ya.)

Yet those bad beats are what haunt bettors — and, as Jane Austen once said, “gives us pleasure in the remembrance of the past.”

Here are the baddest of the bad beats — and the sweet to our Caroline.

Week 3: New York Giants at Houston Texans

Houston entered this early-season matchup as a six-point favorite against the visiting G-Men. That’s not the number that comes into question, though.

The over/under at DraftKings closed at 43 points. For under bettors, that total seemed far-fetched.

Until the final eight minutes of the game, during which the two teams combined for three touchdowns, including a meaningless Houston score with ONE SECOND LEFT. Pre-touchdown score: 27-15 (total 42 points). Post-touchdown final: 27-22 (total 49 points).

Week 4: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Oh, good. The Texans are back. Fortunately, though, they are not the villains in this tale.

The Colts, as one-point favorites, needed a touchdown pass from QB Andrew Luck with 45 seconds left to force this game into overtime. Indianapolis then opened the scoring of the extra stanza with a field goal to go up 34-31.

All Indy backers needed was a stop. Indy failed. Houston kicked a game-tying field goal.

A push seemed likely, as, with the game tied and 24 seconds away from a tie, the Colts faced fourth down on their own side of the field. Punt the ball away, a tie is a near-lock.

Instead, Indy went for it. And came up short. One play later, the Texans booted a walk-off field goal to win 37-34.

Week 6: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

The combination of the high-scoring Buccaneers and a floundering Falcons team added up to a shoo-in for a Tampa Bay upset.

If only DeSean Jackson had surer hands.

3.5-point dog, Tampa scored a TD but failed to convert the ensuing 2-point conversion to trail 31-29 with less than four minutes to go. The Falcons extended their lead with a 57-yard field goal. Yet, somehow, despite trailing by 15 points at one time, the Bucs had a shot.

As time expired, QB Jameis Winston went off on a sprint. As he was wrapped up and brought down to the turf, he lateraled. The ball rolled around on the ground. A Tampa player picked it up. Then dropped it. A teammate picked it up and saw Jackson around the 5-yard line, the end zone in sight and a sure miracle about to be completed.

Then, butterfingers.

Week 8: Green Bay Packers at Los Angeles Rams

Ah, yes. The Gurley Game.

At DraftKings, the Rams came in as 9.5-point favorites. Woof. A late touchdown run by LA RB Todd Gurley would not have made a difference there. (Although, at other NJ sportsbooks, the Rams closed at nine. Bummer.)

The consensus among all online sports betting platforms, though, was the over/under total of 56.5 points.

With just over a minute left, Gurley had an opportunity to send over backers celebrating.

Yet the running back, with nobody in front of him, held up. He went down, inside the 5-yard line, allowing LA to run out the rest of the clock and seal a 29-27 Rams win. That score potentially pushes LA’s lead to 36-27 for a total of 63 points.

Gurley doesn’t care. (Particularly about that point spread.)

Week 12: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

Carolina closed as 3-point favorites at home. And the Panthers had the win in the bag.

Yet their 27-20 lead late in the fourth quarter could not hold up. Even with Seattle facing a fourth down.

It was then that QB Russell Wilson connected with WR David Moore for a 35-yard touchdown that allowed the Seahawks to even the score.

Carolina had a chance, but its 52-yard field goal try sailed wide. Seattle drove right downfield, and the ageless wonder Sebastian Janikowski booted a 31-yard field goal to give the Hawks a 30-27 win and lead Carolina backers to hurling their TVs out their eighth-story windows.

FanDuel Sportsbook Expands NJ Betting Menu With Darts, Aussie Rules Football

Grant Lucas December 20, 2018
FanDuel Darts

Hot take: Stephen Hawking was a smart dude. If not only for one thought:

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

Nobody aspires to be Chumbawamba, a flash-in-the-pan, one-hit wonder. The Foo Fighters’ reputation — with their extensive catalog of hits spanning a generation —  is more desirable.

That’s the goal: Adapt and endure.

In New JerseyFanDuel Sportsbook is doing just that, introducing several new features within its NJ sports betting online platform to allow the operator to stay ahead of the curve. Among them: markets for professional darts and Australian rules football, and a shared wallet with Betfair Casino NJ.

Additionally, as best it can, FanDuel remains in stride with its chief competitors in the Garden State, particularly DraftKings Sportsbook.

New markets hit FanDuel Sportsbook

Certainly the load of FanDuel’s handle and revenue stems from the major sports leagues: NFLNBAMLBNHL, even NCAA football and men’s basketball.

FanDuel, though, has expanded its offerings.

The sportsbook recently rolled out markets for PDC darts (the professional circuit) and Australian rules football. While such niche sports likely won’t generate a significant or even notable bump in revenue, FanDuel casts a wider net. As a result, the sportsbook becomes one of a select few operations with such variety.

Of the seven other online sportsbooks in New Jersey, four offer darts: BetStars, DraftKings, SugarHouse Sportsbook, and 888 Sportsbook NJ.

Fewer operators feature Australian rules lines, as only three (all Kambi Group clients) include the sport: DraftKings, SugarHouse and 888.

FanDuel promoting online casino

Over the summer, Paddy Power Betfair completed its acquisition of FanDuel and rebranded its US operation as FanDuel Group.

The new owner runs the online Betfair Casino in New Jersey, and soon after, it seemed as if the online casino would get a makeover complete with FanDuel name and logo.

While that has yet to come to pass, FanDuel has begun promoting Betfair Casino within its sportsbook.

The promotion takes users to the Betfair Casino, which does not promote FanDuel Sportsbook. Still, another innovation could help both platforms enjoy a bump in users.

FanDuel announced that customers could use their sportsbook login information to gain access to Betfair Casino.

Essentially, FanDuel will not have a shared wallet with the online casino, allowing users to navigate seamlessly between the two products. As a result, bettors will have access to hundreds of real-money casino games at Betfair Casino, including blackjackroulette and slots.

FanDuel customers will also be offered a special promotion via Betfair Casino. Bettors will have the ability to play their first day risk-free up to $100 at Betfair. Per FanDuel: “Net losses within the first 24 hours of placing first real money casino wager will be given as casino site credit up to $100.”

On the heels of DraftKings

FanDuel’s newest features come on the heels of DraftKings Sportsbook implementing a preview of blackjack within its mobile app for Android and iOS platforms.

The New Jersey online casino industry has taken off in 2018, as monthly revenue records were set four times since March. Of course, sports betting in the Garden State has enjoyed a similar boom.

In November, sportsbooks in the state took in more than $330 million in wagers, resulting in more than $21 million in gross revenue. Online platforms alone accounted for 72 percent of the sports betting handle.

Yet sportsbooks, particularly FanDuel and DraftKings, the two mobile leaders in New Jersey, have recognized an untapped market within the online casino industry. Now both have avenues into that space, which will potentially make these companies even more powerful in Garden State.

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NBA Betting Round-Up: Rockets Still Among Title Favorites Despite Dreadful Start

Grant Lucas December 3, 2018
NBA Betting

Well, this is going to be a strange year.

The Los Angeles Clippers (15-7) are the best team in the Western Conference? And the Houston Rockets, after winning a franchise-record 65 games last season, sit outside the playoff line in the West?

The Boston Celtics are mediocre-at-best? And Kawhi Leonard is an MVP candidate/actually enjoying himself in Toronto?

Don’t worry, Tom Smykowski. No need to break out your “Jump to Conclusions” mat. It’s still early, so I’m told. Things can turn around.

What does not seem to be changing, however, is the rising popularity of sports betting in New Jersey. Other than a bit of a revenue dip in October (bettors aren’t complaining; it was a friendly month for them), overall handle continued to rise, up to an unprecedented $260 million.

Of course, the NFL can take credit for much of that trend. Certainly, though, the NBA has begun carrying its fair share of the load.

With November gone, as are two months of the basketball season. Which means it’s time for everyone’s favorite game show: Are You Smarter Than A Bookmaker? (Hint: no.)

A quick recap of NJ sports betting

Of the top 10 games most wagered on in New Jersey last month, at least at DraftKings Sportsbooksix involved the Golden State Warriors. Interestingly, though, two of the top three did not.

Actually, DraftKings’ top two NJ sports betting games featured the Trail Blazers: at home against the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 1, then at the Lakers nearly two weeks later.

Behind Golden State, the most bet-on teams at DraftKings in November included the Philadelphia 76ersBoston Celtics, Raptors, and, surprisingly, the Brooklyn Nets. Conversely, the Cleveland CavaliersDallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns saw the least amount of action.

DraftKings was also home to a pair of monster parlays. On Nov. 4, one bettor wagered $10 on a 12-leg NBA/NHL parlay, one that held 896.27/1 odds and paid nearly $9,000. And on Thanksgiving, a $50 bet on a six-leg parlay paid out almost $6,800 thanks, in part, to the New York Knicks taking down the Celtics (a +1000 moneyline) and the Sacramento Kings upending the Utah Jazz (at +330).

Kambi, which powers three of the biggest online sportsbooks in New Jersey, reported an even split between in-game betting and traditional pregame wagering: 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, respectively. Regarding in-play, one in every 16 wagers addresses the “next field goal” market.

Outside the moneyline, according to Kambi, the most popular pregame markets include player points linesteam spread and points line parlay, and rebounds by players. For player points bets, LeBron James and Kevin Durant see the most action.

At FanDuel Sportsbook, both online and retail, Warriors games featured more than 20,000 wagers last month. Golden State finished November as the top NBA team in generating handle. (Of note: The Warriors’ four-game losing streak proved beneficial for FanDuel, as bettors continued betting on Golden State to halt the skid.)

FanDuel also noted that the biggest NBA days for FanDuel are Fridays and Wednesdays, a result of a higher volume of games those days without much football with which to compete.

Interestingly, during last week’s Thursday night NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys, many of the patrons in the sportsbook’s simulcast lounge watched less of the football game and more of the Golden State-Toronto matchup.

Over/Under Challenge: Eastern Conference

Two months in, clearer pictures begin to emerge on the potential of NBA teams this season. As such, for those who participated in the NBA/MGM $1 million over/under contest, egos begin inflating more or deflate enough to fit the comfort of New England QB Tom Brady.

With help from FiveThirtyEight and its NBA predictions based on Elo ratings, we can examine each team’s current record and get a glimpse of their potential futures. Let’s begin with the Eastern Conference.

*(Through Nov. 30)
Atlanta Hawks26.5Under5-1722-60
Boston Celtics58.5Over11-1049-33
Brooklyn Nets29.5Over8-1432-50
Charlotte Hornets35.5Over11-1042-40
Chicago Bulls28.5Over5-1722-60
Cleveland Cavaliers30.5Over4-1629-53
Detroit Pistons40.5Over11-743-39
Indiana Pacers46.5Over13-949-33
Miami Heat41.5Over7-1333-49
Milwaukee Bucks46.5Under15-655-27
New York Knicks31.5Under7-1629-53
Orlando Magic30.5Over10-1235-47
Philadelphia 76ers54.5Under15-851-31
Toronto Raptors54.5Under19-459-23
Washington Wizards44.5Over8-1335-47

A few observations

Boston Celtics: This was supposed to be the year, Boston. You’re healthy. You’re at full force. You don’t have any excuses this year. The World Series parade beer-can-hurling was a celebration. Keep nose-diving and you’ll have thousands of this guy to deal with.

Brooklyn Nets: Name the Brooklyn starting five. Go. No? Ok, name three players on the roster. Go. Still nothing? I don’t care. Which apparently is the mindset of anyone the Nets have played this year.

Charlotte Hornets: Poor Kemba Walker. He needs to go for 50 a night just to give Charlotte a chance. There’s still hope. And if nothing else, they still have the 30th anniversary season to celebrate, replete with nostalgic throwbacks and that DOPE COURT DESIGN.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Fell into the typical Cleveland trap. Thinking a bunch of rag-tag guys could somehow be at least mediocre. Oh, well. When to pitchers and catchers report?

Milwaukee Bucks: How is it the Bucks can get all Hulkamania on the Blazers one night, winning by 43, then turn into first-half Little Giants two nights later and lose to the lowly Suns? Here’s hoping that inconsistency becomes more consistent. Or at least that Giannis Antetokounmpo stops being such a damn beast.

Over/Under Challenge: Western Conference

As for the Western Conference:

*(Through Nov. 30)
Dallas Mavericks35.5Under10-938-44
Denver Nuggets46.5Over14-752-30
Golden State Warriors64.5Under15-852-30
Houston Rockets56.5Over9-1146-36
Los Angeles Clippers38.5Over15-652-30
Los Angeles Lakers49.5Over12-944-38
Memphis Grizzlies32.5Over12-840-42
Minnesota Timberwolves44.5Under11-1142-40
New Orleans Pelicans43.5Over11-1143-39
Oklahoma City Thunder48.5Under13-751-31
Phoenix Suns27.5Under4-1719-63
Portland Trail Blazers42.5Over13-847-35
Sacramento Kings26.5Under10-1135-47
San Antonio Spurs45.5Under10-1137-45
Utah Jazz48.5Under10-1244-38

A few observations

Golden State Warriors: Clearly it has become clear that Stephen Curry is the most important piece of the Warriors puzzle. He missed all but two-and-a-half games in November. In those 11 full games without the point guard: Golden State went 5-6.

Houston Rockets: Insert party dance gif here followed by a video montage of happy crying moments.

Los Angeles Clippers: Here it is, the most overlooked, most forgotten, most best team in Los Angeles (don’t @ me). Sweet Lou Williams is an all-star, or he should be. Tobias Harris is ballin’ out. And friggin’ Danilo Gallinari is playing like it’s 2007.

Minnesota Timberwolves: What is this? Minny trades away the tyrant King George and all of a sudden you remember how to play well? Stop it. Stop this now.

Oklahoma City Thunder: See above. I won’t repeat myself. Steven Adams is the real MVP, though.

Who ya got for the end-of-season hardware?

Hot take alert. Pull the fire alarm, get out the fire extinguisher, and get out the milk to help ease the spice. The Warriors are still the heavy favorite for the NBA title, so heavy that not even Tony Perkis stands a chance at reforming them into skinny winners.

Golden State holds -200 and -160 moneylines at DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks, respectively. The Celtics (+700/+750) and Raptors (+900/+750) sit as the top contenders from the Eastern Conference.

Interestingly, despite a one-win October schedule and another losing skid to end November, the Rockets, +900 at DraftKings and +1000 at FanDuel Sportsbook, are still considered a top prospect for the NBA title. The teams climbing the ladder include the Bucks (+10,000 preseason at FanDuel, currently +2000) and the Pelicans (+9000 preseason at DraftKings, currently +3500).

To wrap up, consider the early-season MVP race and each player’s odds (at FanDuel/DraftKings):

  • Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (+250/+240)
  • LA Lakers’ LeBron James (+300/+460)
  • Golden State’s Stephen Curry (+500/+600)
  • New Orleans’ Anthony Davis (+500/+500)
  • Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard (+700/+750)
  • Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (+900/+1100)
  • Golden State’s Kevin Durant (+1000/+1500)
  • Houston’s James Harden (+1000/+1500)

Of note: Curry continues to be a top contender for the MVP, despite the fact that he missed 11 of the Warriors’ 14 games in November, while Durant, at a 50 percent success rate, carried Golden State through the month.

Where’s the respect for Damian Lillard? Dude’s ballin’ for arguably one of the biggest surprise teams of the early season. No love for the Blazers guard? One of six players in the league averaging 27 points6 assists and 5 rebounds? The other five are serious contenders, after all. Lillard, though: +4000 at DraftKings, +6000 at FanDuel.

You know what time it is.

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