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Marc Meltzer

Marc Meltzer

Marc Meltzer grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

Tropicana Sale Could Open Doors For William Hill All Over The Country

Marc Meltzer April 16, 2018
William Hill

Carl Icahn is selling Tropicana Entertainment casinos for $1.85 billion. The sale, announced on Monday, was made in two parts:

  • Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI) paid $1.21 billion to own the properties, while Eldorado Resorts will pay $640 million and will lease the properties from GLPI for 15 years.

GLPI is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that was spun off from Penn National Gaming. This could have national implications for sports bettors. Prior to the deal, GLPI owned and/or operated more than 35 casinos across the country. Before this deal was made Eldorado Resorts had 20 casinos around the country.

The sportsbooks at the three Eldorado casinos in Nevada are all operated by William Hill. The sportsbook operator has over 100 locations in Nevada alone with payment depots at 7-Eleven locations around the state.

This deal could open the door for William Hill casinos all around the country. A very long article at bloomberg.com called “The British Bookmaker Betting Big on American Sports Gambling” recently offered a lot of information but few specifics on how William Hill might become a big operator in America. Will Hill’s existing connection with Eldorado Resorts could be its way into multiple states at the snap of a finger.

William Hill is a relative newcomer to the United States having only started operations in 2012. However, the company has shown a way to scale sports betting inside and out of casinos.

All you need is a foot in the door

Some businesses are good enough at making deals that they only need a foot in the door to get things done. In this case, William Hill has a foot in the door with Eldorado Resorts which could help open the door to sportsbooks around the country. Eldorado Resorts currently operates casinos in the following states:

  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia

The acquisition of Tropicana will add casinos in New Jersey and Indiana. Eldorado Resorts also announced that they have purchased Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, IL.

If the foot in the door with Eldorado leads to a foot in the door with GLPI, William Hill could operate a sportsbook in the following states too:

  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • New Mexico

GLPI could also offer more brick and mortar locations for William Hill at their casinos.

In a perfect world, William Hill could have sportsbooks in 17 different states when sports betting becomes legal in the United States. Caesars Entertainment currently has casinos in 13 different states.

First things first: sports betting has to be legalized for any of this speculation to become reality.

Will Las Vegas Ever Host a Major College Sports Championship?

Marc Meltzer April 16, 2018
College Sports

The NCAA and Las Vegas seem to have a love-hate relationship. The governing body of college sports says it’s cool for college sports to take place in Las Vegas … but not when it matters most. In fact, no college sports championships can take place anywhere in Nevada because of legal sports betting.

Sorry NCAA, but your colleges love Las Vegas and play there all the time. In fact, every year major college basketball teams play at venues that are connected to casinos. Forget your Madness, Las Vegas has college hoops from the beginning to the very end of the season.

  • Pre-season basketball tournaments take place in Las Vegas.
  • Neutral site college basketball games during the season take place in Las Vegas.
  • Las Vegas is home to multiple postseason college basketball conference tournaments.

The Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational is scheduled for Nov. 22-23, 2018 at the Orleans Arena. The tournament takes place at this venue every year but this may be the biggest year. The University of North Carolina, Michigan State, Texas, and UCLA are all participating in the tournament this year. It probably makes sense to hold the tournament at a larger arena but we don’t make schedules.

St. Mary’s will play LSU in a neutral site game at T-Mobile Arena on December 15, according to The Advocate. Tickets aren’t on sale yet so there hasn’t been an announcement if there will be other teams on the bill. We could see UNLV’s name pop up as the second half of a doubleheader when they announce the 2018-19 schedule.

The Pac 12, Mountain West, WAC and West Coast conferences all held their basketball conference tournaments in Las Vegas in 2018. The Pac 12 likes Vegas so much that they’ve extended the length of the Men’s tournament contract and are bringing the women’s tournament to Las Vegas beginning next year.

The only venue that doesn’t have a connection to a casino is the Thomas & Mack Center on the Campus of UNLV. The Orleans Arena physically connects with the casino and sportsbook. T-Mobile Arena is partially owned by MGM Resorts and is a one minute walk from sportsbooks inside New York-New York and Monte Carlo/Park MGM.

Vegas Madness

We know that the first weekend of March Madness in Las Vegas is bananas. There’s really no experience like watching and wagering on all of those games the first two days of the NCAA basketball tournament in Las Vegas. The action is well beyond the sportsbooks. According to ESPN, nearly all of Vegas’ 170,000 hotel rooms in Vegas were occupied during the weekend. Tickets for watch parties and seats to watch the games in sportsbooks were booked solid too.

Las Vegas is so busy for the first weekend of March Madness that hosting games would be a burden and probably not as profitable. There’s only so much more casino operators can charge for rooms and parties. The NCAA may never need Las Vegas but in time they will want to be there officially for their biggest events.

Betting on college sports became legal in Nevada in 2001. Betting on college sports may soon become legal throughout the country in the next couple of years. At some point, the league will either take away championships away from other cities or allow Nevada to host similar events.

Coincidentally, Las Vegas will be opening a 65,000+ seat stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. That seems like a good time to start thinking about Las Vegas as a legit option to host the Final Four.

Shohei Ohtani MVP and Cy Young Odds Are Outrageous

Marc Meltzer April 11, 2018
Shohei Ohtani MVP

Baseball blogs and podcasts have been gushing with excitement for Shohei Ohtani since he decided to bring his talents to America this year. He’s a legit two-way player that comes to America with a lot of hype from Japan. The early part of his first season with the Los Angeles Angels is showing that the blog boys might have reason to be excited.

  • Ohtani is currently the favorite to win AL MVP at offshore sportsbook BetDSI.
  • Ohtani is one of three pitchers at the Westgate in Las Vegas with odds to win both MVP and Cy Young.
  • Ohtani is hitting .389/.421/.889 with three homers and seven RBI in 19 plate appearances.
  • Ohtani is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 13 innings as a pitcher.

Let’s gush about Shohei for a minute. He just had an amazing week pitching and hitting. Ohtani has a beautiful long swing at the plate and throws a gorgeous splitter that makes your head spin. His skills are already worth 1 WAR (Win Above Replacement) combined according to Fangraphs.

It appears as though Ohtani might be a special player like most of us have never seen before. Imagine a full year of this! YOWZA! You might want to get tickets now for free Shohei Ohtani double bobblehead night on July 12.

Ohtani’s betting odds

Well, people already imagining the future of Ohtani’s season. Odds for Ohtani to win the MVP of the American League are dropping so low that it’s almost unbettable. He’s currently the +150 favorite to win the MVP at BetDSI.

He’s 8-1 to win the AL MVP at the Westgate in Las Vegas. The only players ahead of him are teammate Mike Trout, Carlos Correa, and Jose Altuve. That’s beyond insane — but so are most sports bettors. The only pitchers with odds to win the MVP at the Westgate are Clayton Kershaw (30-1 to win NL MVP) and Chris Sale (50-1 to win AL MVP).

Don’t forget, Ohtani is also a pitcher off to a hot start. The odds at the Westgate for Ohtani to win the American League Cy Young award are equally as impressive. His 4-1 odds to win the award for best pitcher in the American League are third behind Sale and Corey Kluber. Coincidentally, one of Ohtani’s home runs was a sweet shot off of Kluber.

Now, wait one minute

  • Ohtani can’t excel in either position at this pace.
  • His teammate might be the best player in baseball.
  • Teams will adjust to his hot start.
  • Winning both MVP and Cy Young isn’t all that special.

Sportsbooks are limiting their exposure to Ohtani winning the American League awards pretty early in the season. That probably leaves value for other players to win AL MVP but that’s a story for another time.

Ohtani is only pitching once a week and doesn’t hit the day before or the day after pitching. Will he be able to accumulate enough stats on either side to win an award at this pace? Maybe, but to win MVP he’ll have to be at least slightly above average on both sides of the ball to even draw interest by voters. Cy Young will actually be more difficult as voters might not even look at the hitting stats.

If Ohtani keeps this pace up there’s a good chance he’ll draw interest for MVP and Cy Young. However, his campaign for MVP might be difficult as his teammate, Mike Trout, is perennially one of the best players in the league and could take votes away from Ohtani. Over time, the opposition will learn his habits and should adjust to him on both sides of the ball so we could see his numbers dip – at least for a little while he adjusts. That should slow the excitement and perhaps his chances at an award.

Seriously, though. Winning both the Cy Young and MVP isn’t a big deal. It’s already happened twice in the past seven years. Kershaw won both awards in 2014 and Justin Verlander won both with the Tigers in 2011.

The Masters Betting Is Way Up In Las Vegas … And It’s Not Just Tiger Woods

Marc Meltzer April 4, 2018
The Masters Betting

The Masters tees off shortly and Las Vegas is expecting something special. There is talk around town is that this could be the most wagered on Masters of all time for the state of Nevada. Tiger Woods went from long shot to favorite but he’s not the only reason for the surge in golf betting at Las Vegas casinos.

  • Handle at MGM Resorts in Las Vegas is up 60% to 70%. Could be largest ever.
  • The high activity on Tiger Woods is making other golfers a better value. Bets are up for all golfers.
  • Sharp sports bettors look for value outside of the big names.

Jay Rood, VP of Race & Sports for MGM Resorts casinos in Las Vegas says that Masters betting at his properties is through the roof. Handle, the amount of money wagered, is up by 60% to 70% over last year’s Masters betting.

The number of bets made this year is up about 30% and the average wager per ticket is higher than previous years. Additionally, while mobile wagering is usually 25%-30% of overall handle, golf is at least that and maybe more. The easy access to betting via mobile device makes it easy to drop $20 on a random prop bet or two.

This should be the largest-bet Masters of all time

The Tiger Effect

Tiger Woods’ comeback is certainly having an effect on Masters betting. However he may move the needle for television ratings, he’s just another golfer that gets a lot of action in the sportsbook. Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and other popular golfers are also seeing a lot of bets.

While a record betting handle is expected on the Masters, it isn’t only because of one factor. It’s the combination of the popular golfers playing well and the possible comeback event for Tiger Woods.

While the mainstream public is betting heavily on Tiger, the golf fans and sharper sports bettors are finding value elsewhere. Rood sees bets coming in on a variety of golfers. Sharper money is being wagered on Tommy Fleetwood. The experienced golf bettors are also looking at younger guys like Alexander Noren. Jay Rood sees value with one of the younger golfers, Ryan Moore, at 100-1 odds.

Tiger is still Tiger

Odds on Woods to win the Masters are low across the board. He’s even moved from 12-1 to 10-1 at MGM Resorts sportsbooks. He’s still the favorite at a handful of casinos around Las Vegas but he’s not the prohibitive favorite that he appeared to be last week.

America loves a comeback story and there are plenty of people watching and wagering to see that from Woods. Meanwhile, the sharper sports bettors are laying in the weeds just watching odds get better for a variety of golfers that have a legitimate chance to win the tournament.

I’m not much of a golf fan but I always have a couple wagers because I love watching the Masters. My two slightly educated bets to win the Masters are on Noren and Louis Oosthuizen.

B/R Live: Sports Streaming Service Isn’t Great For Sports Bettors … Yet

Marc Meltzer March 28, 2018
B/R Live Betting

On Tuesday, Bleacher Report announced B/R Live, a new streaming service will serve as a hub for watching live events and sports news. B/R Live will offer live games from UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, NBA, the PGA Championship, and more. It launches next week and will be free to everyone on a trial basis until June.

Bleacher Report isn’t the first sports media company to announce a streaming service. ESPN will launch ESPN Plus later this year, offering more ESPN sports content than cable and other streaming services offer. Not only will streaming services offer a new way to watch games, but they also offer an immersive multimedia sports landscape.

What to know about sports streaming services:

  • New streaming services and cable apps create a great environment for sports bettors and fans.
  • The new platforms allow single-screen multitasking.
  • Streaming services are delayed by about 40-60 seconds. In-play bettors shouldn’t get too excited…yet.
  • Watching, researching, wagering from anywhere seems like the future for sports betting when it’s legal around the country.

Technology makes watching sports better

Technology is ubiquitous in the world of sports and sports betting. Whether the technology is a sweet new TV or a cable box that shows live stats, there’s a good chance that the experience of watching sports today is better than it used to be. That experience will continue to improve as technology gets better.

Most sports fans aren’t only watching sports and they’re not necessarily watching at home on a TV. Sports is a multi-screen experience now. There’s a game on one screen, social media on another and possibly more games and possibly news or other media on another screen. Sports fans multi-task more than any other media viewer even if they’re on a mobile device.

B/R Live gives a look at the future sports betting

The B/R Live streaming service gives a look into a potential portal for sports bettors. The service allows viewers to watch a game while reading news and viewing real-time data on the same screen. This is a multi-screen experience on a single screen.

It isn’t difficult to imagine a day when there’s also a live in-play odds screen. Maybe there’s an on-screen button that will allow bettors to place wagers while watching a game. The possibilities are endless. Of course, this won’t happen until sports betting is legal across the country.

B/R Live won’t be the future when it launches

Streaming TV is a great option for anyone looking to move on from large cable bills. However, right now it isn’t great for sports fans and most importantly, sports bettors. There’s still a lag of 40-60 seconds from live action.

This delay may not mean much when watching a movie but it’s massive for sports fans and bettors. A football game is at least one play behind the stadium, baseball is at least two pitches behind the action, and streaming a basketball game can be three or four possessions behind the actual game action.

During March Madness I had to close Twitter at the end of certain games because of potential spoilers. Ironically, the sports bettor didn’t mind knowing about wins before seeing them. It’s impossible to enjoy all the in-play wagering options when watching a game on a streaming service right now.

Once the games can be streamed live, a new world of betting will open up for gamblers. Maybe sports betting will be legal across the country by the time streaming technology catches up to live action.

In the meantime, in-play bettors can enjoy their multi-screen action in the sportsbooks. Hey, it could be worse.

Mayweather McGregor II: A Publicity Stunt You Can Bet On

Marc Meltzer March 26, 2018
Mayweather McGregor II

Las Vegas sportsbooks are highly regulated and don’t step too far out on a limb with what bets they offer. That said, it’s rare to see a game or match that isn’t confirmed, or close to being confirmed in this case, available to bet in a Las Vegas sportsbook. However, the Westgate Superbook is already taking bets on a potential UFC fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.

Will MayMac II actually happen? Probably not.

The boxing match between Mayweather and McGregor was a smashing success. There’s good reason for the fighters and fans of the fighters to have some kind of interest in seeing the two in the ring again.

Not only did the boxing match generate a lot of excitement it made more than $600 million in revenue around the world. The Nevada Gaming Control Board doesn’t separate events but they estimate that the betting handle for the boxing match was approximately $65 million in Nevada alone. This broke the previous boxing match handle of about $50 million from Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.

There’s money to be made for the fighters but at what cost? Mayweather is known to be very protective of his boxing record. While the financial gain may be important, it could hurt the reputation of the boxer that has never lost a fight.

Mayweather is 41 years old and has never practiced or had a real MMA fight before. He did pose for a picture in an octagon. I guess that was cool.

Come at the king, you best not miss…

A post shared by Floyd Mayweather (@floydmayweather) on

Will people wager on Mayweather McGregor II? Probably.

If nothing else, the Instagram video got people talking. There’s so much talk that the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas decided to make odds on the potential fight.

  • Conor McGregor -1000
  • Floyd Mayweather +650

The Westgate is the only casino in Las Vegas offering odds for the potential Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight. These odds are good as long as the fight is in an MMA Octagon and takes place by Sept. 1, 2019.

McGregor’s odds are too short

The current odds imply that McGregor has more than a 90% chance to win the fight. Saying that Floyd Mayweather almost a 10% chance to win in a more complex form of fighting he’s never even practiced seems a bit short.

McGregor had about a 16.67% probability to beat Mayweather when their boxing match odds opened as +500. MMA fighters practice boxing as one of the disciplines of their sport. Even though McGregor practices kicking and wrestling, he’s primarily known as a stand-up fighter — a striker. Mayweather has never practiced MMA or had a real fight.

While this may be interesting, the majority seem to think this is just another publicity stunt. It probably is, but it’s a publicity stunt you can wager on. Is it worth putting up $1,000 on McGregor today to potentially win $100 for a fight that may never happen? Maybe, but it also just might be a waste of time.

 

Why Is Tiger Woods The Masters Betting Favorite?

Marc Meltzer March 23, 2018
Tiger Woods The Master

Tiger Woods won his first green jacket at The Masters in 1997. During his golf career, he’s won 14 Major championships, four of them at Augusta National.

More recently, though, Woods is probably more known for cheating on his wife, being hurt, and possibly taking PEDs. So why, all of a sudden, is he favored to win The Masters?

  • Woods is favored to win The Masters at multiple sportsbooks including Westgate (8-1), William Hill (8-1), and Station Casinos (4-1!).
  • Woods was as high as 100-1 to win at William Hill sportsbooks in 2017.

Seriously, what happened?

This isn’t Tiger Woods’ first comeback attempt, but it might be real this time.

Woods didn’t start out as the favorite to win The Masters. In fact, he was listed at 100-1 just seven months ago.

What changed? The Tiger Woods fist pump is back baby! Tiger is back to being Tiger. Maybe. That’s what the general public thinks anyway, especially with him coming off promising results in his last three tournaments played this year (T-5, T-2, 12th).

The main reason odds change at a sportsbook is because there are people are wagering money on a certain event. In this case, people can’t wait to throw their money behind Tiger Woods winning The Masters. Forget watching golf, the Tiger comeback could be seen by watching his futures odds change at William Hill.

Tiger Woods William Hill

Not all sportsbooks offer the same odds. However, there’s an interesting thing to note about Tiger Woods’ Masters odds. He’s favored at almost every sportsbook in Las Vegas. Odds for Woods to win the Masters are as low as 4-1 at Station Casinos sportsbooks and as high as 12-1 at MGM Resorts sportsbooks. As of the writing of this article, MGM Resorts is the only sportsbook where Tiger isn’t favored to win the Masters.

People LOVE Tiger

Golf fans love Tiger Woods. Despite a rough patch in his personal life and career, Woods has been one of the best and most popular golfers to play the game. The majority of sports bettors wager with their heart, not their head. They tend to bet on teams or athletes they see in the news. There’s also a large number of people who wager on what the outcome they’d like to see happen.

The Masters brings golf fans out of hibernation. It’s the first major golf tournament of the year and is one of the most popular golf events of the year with all sports fans. Not only is March Madness a great lead into the Masters but it’s a great promotional vehicle with commercials for the Masters almost every break.

Bet On Woods?

Woods should be the favorite at The Masters if he’s the player that has the most money bet on him. This tournament is one of the few times a year that I wager on golf. It’s a great tournament to watch and having a few bucks on a few players to pay for a nice steak dinner only adds to the fun.

Yes, I love Tiger Woods. No, I won’t bet on Tiger Woods. I’m sure there are some golfers that are 20-1 to 30-1 that are worth a small bet. I’ll spend a little time researching better options than Tiger Woods to win the damn thing.

Vegas Sportsbooks Cash In On Reserved Seating During March Madness

Marc Meltzer March 18, 2018
March Madness Betting

Big sports events in Las Vegas are big business. Gambling is no longer the only way casino and sportsbook operators are generating revenue. Today, they’re looking to make money from the chairs in the sportsbook. Selling reserved seats in sportsbooks isn’t exactly new to Las Vegas but prices are rising and it’s growing rapidly.

During the first weekend of March Madness, more casinos than ever before decided to charge for the right to sit in their sportsbook than ever before. While some visitors complained, others just dealt with it and paid or looked for other less expensive options. It’s like they were adults making a decision on how to spend their money. GASP!

  • Reserved seats at the Caesars Palace sportsbook cost $500 per person per day. VIP seats cost $1,000 per person per day. Both sold out Thursday and Friday.
  • The International Theater at Westgate sold reserved seats for the first time ever. The $25 seats sold out for Thursday and Friday.

And the sportsbooks during March Madness were as busy and rowdy as ever before.

A thriving business during big sporting events

Casinos are no longer run by the mob. They’re billion dollar corporations that are always looking to improve profits for shareholders. There’s a constant search for new ways to generate revenue or to save money. Once the operators find something customers are willing to pay they keep pushing the prices until visitors stop paying.

  • Mandatory hotel resort fees in Las Vegas are now as high as $45 at The Venetian and The Palazzo.
  • Self-parking fees at Bellagio are nearing $20 per day, while valet is $30 per day.

Visitation may have dropped last year but it’s not like people are running away in droves. Visitors to Las Vegas fell 1.7% in 2017. However, that decrease in visitation was made up for by finding new ways to earn money and new customers willing to pay for the Vegas experience.

Seats in a sportsbook are full for major events. Paying money to guarantee a seat in a sportsbook has become popular for major events in Las Vegas. Everyone wants to be in the middle of the action and some visitors to Las Vegas are willing to pay for the comfort of a seat. A seat is more important for the first weekend of March Madness since there are 16 games over 12 hours on the first two days.

You can watch March Madness in a bar or ballroom room anywhere. But there’s no other experience like watching and legally wagering sports in a Las Vegas sportsbook. In addition to comfort, there’s a value in FOMO. The Fear Of Missing Out on that special moment in the sportsbook is worth the price of guaranteeing a seat for some people.

Is there a tipping point for casinos charging for anything they can? Sure but not anytime soon. The sportsbooks were as busy as ever. If gaming revenue and the handle isn’t hurt by charging for seats, then the casino and sportsbook operators will continue to push the limits of pricing. Even if gaming revenue decreases the fees in sportsbooks may continue if the bottom line shows a greater profit.