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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.

Casino Sportsbooks Are Already Falling Behind Upstarts Like DraftKings, FanDuel

Marc Meltzer October 16, 2018

The repeal of PASPA is changing sports betting forever. Nevada no longer has a monopoly on single-game sports betting. Not only are more states offering sports wagering, but there are new sportsbook operators in the United States.

These new operators in the US have a different way of doing business behind the counter and in front of the counter. For better or worse, new sportsbook operators are offering different kinds of odds for bettors.

There have been hiccups like FanDuel Sportsbook glitch in New Jersey and the high vig at DraftKings sportsbook when it opened. While experienced sports bettors are up in arms, the new sports bettors in New Jersey are lining up to fire away at both sportsbooks.

Sportsbooks on social media

At the same time, the competition in new states is strong. The new sportsbook operators like FanDuel, DraftKings, and SugarHouse are regularly offering odds promotions. In fact, FanDuel offers a Daily Odds boost on certain bets.

These regular promotions are a new tactic in the United States. Casino sportsbook operators in the United States rarely offer odds promotions. In Nevada, you’ll have to keep up on personal Twitter accounts of sportsbook workers to see the occasional deals. Sometimes they’ll share the information with the media but that’s not very often.

This DraftKings Sportsbook tweet is just a heads up on what they’re offering bettors. There’s nothing fancy — just a reminder that customers won’t be able to wager on the playoffs for much longer.

The new sportsbook operators aren’t just using Twitter to promote themselves. Bettors will receive odds promotions straight to their mobile device if notifications are turned on. FanDuel sends out special wagering opportunities before a variety of big games.

FanDuel

Between mobile and social media marketing, the new companies are reaching customers where they are at all times. They’re not waiting for bettors to find them. This active approach is helping the companies out of the box.

New Jersey sports betting revenue

September sports betting revenue in New Jersey was big. You can already see a difference between traditional casino sportsbook operators and the operators with a focus on mobile wagering.

Legacy Casino Sportsbook Operators

Bally’s (Caesars Entertainment)
Retail – $394,046
Digital – $106,463

Borgata (MGM Resorts)
Retail – $2,394,106
Digital – $120,938

Harrah’s (Caesars Entertainment)
Retail – $310,766
Digital – NA

New Sportsbook Operators

SugarHouse (Golden Nugget)
Retail – $619,030
Digital – $499,414

FanDuel (Meadowlands)
Retail – $4,377,474
Digital – $2,852,548

Resorts (DraftKings and BetStars)
Retail – $279,492
Digital – $8,505,940

Hybrid Operator

Ocean Resort (William Hill)
Retail – $999,858
Digital – $292,081

Monmouth Park (William Hill)
Retail – $2,138,097
Digital – $70,785

This isn’t about winners and losers but there’s a noticeable trend that sportsbook operators who actively promote their sportsbook product online and via mobile are seeing plenty of business. As expected, FanDuel and DraftKings combine for the vast majority of mobile wagers in New Jersey. Their mobile apps are great and combine for 87% of digital revenue in the state.

MGM Resorts’ Borgata is the shining star of the traditional casino sportsbook operators. Caesars Entertainment’s properties are lagging behind the competition.

Marketing to a new customer

The new sportsbook operators use twitter the same way their customers do. Sometimes they’re sassy, other times they just share a video clip of the game that’s on, and maybe they’re just sharing silly (sometimes obnoxious) gifs about the games.

Most importantly, the new sportsbooks are in touch with current events in sports. FanDuel Sportsbook will frequently retweet a news article with betting odds at their sportsbook. This isn’t rocket science. They’re just being relevant and marketing to their customers.

Meanwhile, the main social media accounts for casinos have a bit more broadly focused. Casinos have restaurants, traditional gaming, shows, and more to market than just sports betting.

A few casino sportsbooks have their own social media accounts but aren’t very active. You’ll typically find more information about the sportsbook by following the people who work at the properties.

What’s the right strategy for sportsbooks?

We’re still in the beginning stages of expanded sports betting so there’s no right or wrong here. There are just different approaches. However, it does seem that aggressive marketing and promotions by the new sportsbooks in New Jersey is attracting attention and business from the new sports bettors.

If the new sportsbook operators are onto something, the casino sportsbook operators better move quick or they’ll be left in the dust. Legacy brands mean less to younger customers than older customers because they’ve had less time to form a bond.

Fans and customers can be captured quickly online. Once a customer finds a sportsbook brand that they like they may never leave. If casinos want their sportsbook operations to reach their full potential they may have to change social and marketing tactics.

This is a new day for sportsbooks and sports bettors. The legacy companies better act fast or they could lose the market they once had to themselves.

The Future Of US Sports Betting Technology Is Being Showcased In Las Vegas

Marc Meltzer October 11, 2018
US Sports betting technology

The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) is an annual gathering of gaming manufacturers and casino employees. There are thousands of people from casino companies looking at new games for their properties. At the same time, there are hundreds of companies shilling their products to be placed in those casinos.

Altogether, G2E is casino porn for the average gambler. This year there has been one main theme at the expo and seminars at the expo. Sports betting are the two words being discussed more than anything. There are way more sports betting products than ever before at G2E.

Not only are there more sports betting products on display, but they’re actually in casinos and will be in more casinos. This is a far cry from previous G2E shows where there was just a handful of sports betting exhibitors showing products from Europe that haven’t been regulated in America.

Casino sportsbooks are changing

Sportsbooks evolving in casinos isn’t a new topic. The evolution shown at G2E fits the physical change to the sportsbook experience we’ve been seeing. Sports betting tech is real and it’s fantastic. More importantly, the technological advances from overseas are finally in US casinos.

The sports betting kiosks that punters from overseas have been using for years are now available to American casinos. Bettors can find SB Tech betting kiosks at the Golden Nugget in Mississippi and New Jersey and other casinos in both states.

Younger bettors in the US have been waiting for the day where they can place bets in the sportsbook without dealing with other humans. The lines for a kiosk tend to be shorter since older gamblers still prefer dealing with a person.

Later this year or early next year, IGT will have their PlayShot sports betting kiosks in casinos in both states as well. They work with MGM Resorts and FanDuel so there are potentially a plethora of properties where you can place your wagers without dealing with a human.

Just about every tech company operating in the US has a sports betting kiosk available should they find a partner. SB Tech and IGT have those partners and will make the sportsbook experience in their casino just a little better for some gamblers.

The IGT kiosks are more casino oriented than other manufacturers. Their PlayShot kiosks have an area where a gambler might be able to use a mobile players club card if available. IGT’s Cardless Connect technology is awesome but isn’t available at all casinos just yet.

In-play in casinos

IGT debuted the CrystalBetting Terminal at G2E. This betting station looks similar to CG Technology betting stations but is made especially for in-play sports betting while watching a game.

Each station allows bettors to customize their screen to show specific games they prefer to watch. The screen also shows in-play odds, and wagers can be placed directly on the screen. Bettors can even play the audio from the game they’re watching instead so they’re not stuck with whatever the sportsbook deems the important game.

Unlike most mobile apps, a bettor can populate the CrystalBetting Terminal with the amount they want to wager. For example, bettors who only want to make $20 wagers throughout the game just have to enter the information once instead of each bet. This speed will make placing a wager quicker for fast-paced sports like football.

The CrystalBetting Terminal still has to undergo a field trial before it’s in casinos. The tech here is great for bettors that love in-play action but are frustrated with current mobile apps.

The American in-play problem

In-play wagering may be very popular in Europe but it’s still just catching on in America. There are multiple reasons for this. Most bettors in the US have grown up only wagering on games before they start. It will take some time to grasp this “new” way to bet.

One of the biggest issues with in-play wagering in the United States is because of the technology. Mobile betting in Nevada is still less than 10 years old. Many of the older app platforms are too slow for in-play wagering. Trying to get down a wager during a football game can be very frustrating.

Some of the European apps in other states are better but overall, the tech in the US is still a bit behind other countries. Between newer and better mobile apps and betting stations like the CrystalBetting Terminal American sports bettors could well be on the way to joining the rest of the world with in-play wagering. Just be patient.

Want To Bet On The Vegas Golden Knights? You Won’t Get Any Value In Nevada

Marc Meltzer October 2, 2018
Golden Knights betting

The Vegas Golden Knights went from longshots to sweethearts in their first NHL season. The Golden Knights aren’t quite the longshot as we head into their second season. Odds for the Vegas Golden Knights range from the very short favorite in Nevada to a respectable Top 10 in New Jersey.

Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup Championship Odds

Vegas Golden Knights Odds In Las Vegas

  • +450 at Station Casinos
  • +800 at William Hill
  • +800 at Westgate (2nd favorite)

Vegas Golden Knights At National Sportsbooks

  • +400 at Boyd Gaming
  • +800 at MGM Resorts
  • +800 at Golden Nugget
  • +900 at Caesars Entertainment

Vegas Golden Knights Odds In New Jersey

Looking back at the 2017-2018 season

Last year, the Vegas Golden Knights started their first season in the NHL as a 300-1 longshot to win the Stanley Cup at the Westgate before reaching a peak of 500-1. The team started off the season strong and they never stopped.

Vegas locals poured into sportsbooks banging away on the local favorite. Nothing stopped bettors from taking the Golden Knights during the season. The success of the expansion team was unprecedented on the ice and in the sportsbooks.

The Golden Knights went from an underdog in games for the first part of the season to favorite in most games as the season went on. Sportsbook operators couldn’t slow down the influx of bets. In Nevada sportsbooks, the Golden Knights became the favorite to win the Stanley Cup last season.

TheLines spoke with Jay Kornegay from the Westgate about the Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural season. Bettors were betting on the Golden Knights without a care in the world about the odds. There were mixed emotions for the staff as many are season ticket holders and everyone wanted to see the hometown team do well.

The only people that could stop the action for the Vegas Golden Knights were the eventual Stanley Cup champions. The Washington Capitals saved the Nevada sportsbooks from paying out a big winner in the Vegas Golden Knights.

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Vegas Golden Knights in 2018-2019

The new season for the NHL brings new places to wager on professional hockey beyond Nevada. Sportsbooks are now open in New Jersey, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Betting markets will sometimes show a regional bias and we’re seeing that in Las Vegas for the Golden Knights.

The Vegas Golden Knights are as low as 4-1 to win the Stanley Cup at Boyd Gaming sportsbooks in Nevada and Mississippi. Let’s assume there isn’t much hockey futures wagering in Mississippi just yet and the majority of wagers on hockey are coming from Las Vegas. The Golden Knights are also a large +450 (4.5-1) favorite to win the Stanley Cup at Las Vegas locals casino operator Station Casinos.

When you move east, there’s a decided bias against the Vegas Golden Knights in the sportsbooks. Rather, there’s no bias towards the Western Conference finalists. The Golden Knights are 11-1 at FanDuel and 14-1 at SugarHouse and DraftKings, respectively, to win the Stanley Cup at the sportsbooks that don’t operate in Nevada. The Golden Knights are still among the Top 10 favorites to win the Stanly Cup but they aren’t prohibitive favorites.

Will other cities bet the same way?

Nevada residents love their local NHL team and the futures odds show that. NHL teams on the east coast aren’t seeing the same love…yet. The Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils are the closest franchises to New Jersey sportsbooks. However, bettors aren’t running out to wager on the teams in the region. They’re not betting on the New York Rangers or New York Islanders either.

Kornegay says that bettors really took to the Vegas Golden Knights after they started to look good on the ice. He thinks that we’ll see a similar reaction on the east coast if those teams can catch fire like the Vegas Golden Knights did last season.

The Congressional Sports Betting Hearing Didn’t Accomplish Anything

Marc Meltzer September 27, 2018
sports betting

Thursday’s Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America hearing was held to see if there is a need for federal sports betting oversight. The current regulations call for individual state oversight.

This was the first hearing since the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn PASPA, a decision that allowed states the choice to offer legal, regulated sports betting.

The list of expert witnesses to offer different viewpoints included the following:

  • Jocelyn Moore, Executive Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs of the NFL
  • Les Bernal, National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling
  • Sara Slane, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs of the American Gaming Association
  • Jon Bruning, Counselor for Coalition to Stop Online Gambling
  • Becky Harris, Chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board

These hearings can be quite the fiasco at times. The government officials usually don’t have much knowledge of the topics. The meetings can sound like a bunch of old men trying to learn or just go off the rails on a semi-related topic.

About this hearing

Thursday’s hearing about sports betting was a little bit of both. The NFL submitted seven pages of testimony that’s largely comprised of things you’ve probably heard before. They want to protect the integrity of the game, force official data on sportsbook operators, and then mentioned something about ghost games.

For some reason, the NFL doesn’t think states can keep people under 21 from betting on their games. The NFL’s commentary wasn’t new and was fairly useless. However, it did get the Senators thinking about federal regulation for sports betting.

The Wire Act (1961) and Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (2006) were mentioned throughout the 90-minute meeting. While internet and mobile are important in regulating sports betting, that’s not what this hearing is about. Thanks to the NFL and Coalition to Stop Online Gambling, the topic devolved into that topic.

Apparently, the Republicans at the hearing walked away thinking that something must be done on a federal level. It’s probably not a coincidence that Sheldon Adelson funds the Coalition to Stop Online Gambling. Earlier this year he donated $30 million to the Republican party. Funny how their thoughts mirror Adelson’s thoughts.

What’s next?

The hearing on Thursday was informational. There is no plan to create a federal framework for sports betting and there are no more hearings to discuss it. While the NBA and NHL are forging ahead with partnerships with casino and sportsbook operators, the NFL is standing firm with its thoughts on integrity and data.

This shouldn’t be a hot topic for the Senate as the year comes to a close. Mid-term elections and Supreme Court nominations will probably be the focus of the government for the time being. Nothing was accomplished. The Senators just sided with lobbyists and political donors. There’s no plan moving forward. The hearing was really a waste of time for just about everyone.

Broncos Kicker Called For FanDuel To Pay Winning Ticket — And Then It Happened

Marc Meltzer September 20, 2018
FanDuel Sportsbook

On Sunday, Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus booted a game-winning field goal against the Oakland Raiders.

Just before the McManus kick, several bettors in New Jersey made in-play wagers with the FanDuel Sportsbook on the Broncos to win — the most prominent being a $110 bet. This bet should have paid -600 odds if the Broncos won, according to FanDuel. However, the tickets issued had a price of +75000 because of a glitch in the pricing system.

At first, FanDuel refused to pay Anthony Prince of Newark, NJ the erroneous $82,000 price listed on his ticket. FanDuel was more than willing to pay the intended price of $18 that the wager should have paid.

The news of FanDuel’s refusal made national news and found its way to McManus, who let his opinion known via Twitter on Thursday.

Well, maybe the new American sportsbook operator took McManus’ words to heart. Maybe it was tired of the negative publicity. Whatever the reason, FanDuel decided to pay the man the full price on his wager. Four days after the game and hours after the kicker tweeted, FanDuel agreed to pay Prince the full $82,000 payout that was on his $110 betting ticket.

Athletes are paying attention to sports betting

For years, it’s been easy for professional athletes to brush aside their understanding about sports gambling. They’ve claimed ignorance to betting odds and point spreads. After all, the only place to legally wager on sports in the United States was the small state of Nevada.

It won’t be so easy to claim ignorance now that larger states are legalizing sports betting. The FanDuel Sportsbook is located at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey. The sportsbook shares a parking lot with the New York Jets and New York Giants. East Rutherford, New Jersey is part of the New York City media market as much as it’s part of the northern New Jersey media market.

Expanded legalized sports betting is becoming part of mainstream media like never before. There’s really no way to avoid major sports betting news. Brandon McManus retweeted an article about the FanDuel error from Yahoo. He could have shared the story from a number of mainstream media outlets, including ESPN, Forbes, and NPR.

Athletes and coaches are aware that people are gambling on their games. They’ve known that for years but no longer can they hide from this admission. In the past, athletes may have been able to pass off sports betting due to legality. That’s no longer possible.

 

Cashing Tickets: Bettor Turns $5 Into $84,565 With NFL Week 2 Parlay Card

Marc Meltzer September 18, 2018
Parlay

A winning bet is always fun but not all winning bets are the same. The Chicago Bears’ win on Monday Night Football was a big final piece for an impressive win for one bettor in Nevada. The Pro Football Progressive Contest at William Hill sportsbooks is a small $5 wager with a large payoff.

This week, a single bettor picked every game correctly to take home the prize of $84,565. This isn’t a traditional parlay or teaser card you’ll find in most casinos. The Pro Football Progressive Contest at William Hill is an exotic parlay that doesn’t involve point spreads.

Bettors pay $5 per entry and must select the winner of every game in order to qualify for the progressive jackpot. The prize carries over from the previous week if there isn’t a winner. The progressive jackpot starts at $10,000 and for each week it is not hit, 80% of the entry fees played on the card that weekend will be added to the pot for the following weekend.

If multiple bettors pick the entire batch of games correctly the prize is split. There was only one correct entry this week so the single player took home the $84,565 jackpot. One of the twists in this contest is that ties, like the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers game this week, are considered a win for the bettor.

Things might have been different for this bettor if the NFL refs understood the new roughing the passer rule or kickers could make field goals in the clutch.

Parlay cards big business in Nevada sportsbooks

According to UNLV Gaming, Nevada sportsbooks won 24.12% of the total amount wagered on parlay cards in 2017. That sounds like a lot but the percentage has been higher in the favor of Nevada sportsbooks. In 2014 sportsbooks won 36.83% of the total amount wagered on parlay cards. For comparison they only 4.38% of total amount bet on football wagers last year. There’s a reason William Hill and other sportsbook operators promote parlay winners.

When TheLines previewed the new sportsbook at The Linq, we noticed that the parlay cards were placed prominently at each betting window. Meanwhile, the daily betting and futures sheets were placed behind the ticket desk and out of sight. Caesars Entertainment certainly wants bettors to play parlays.

Despite the big jackpot win for the bettor at William Hill this week parlays, teasers, and similar weekly parlay contests are a long-term bad bet for most bettors. Selecting the right side of a game is difficult. Selecting the right side of multiple games is even more difficult.

Recreational gamblers don’t seem to mind the extra risk involved with parlays. Bettors love to win a big jackpot and parlays continue to grow in popularity. It’s a lot more fun to win a jackpot for x times the amount risked than single games at -110.

New Las Vegas Sportsbooks Are Shunning Horses

Marc Meltzer September 13, 2018
las vegas sportsbooks

While new sportsbooks are popping up around the country, the sportsbooks in Las Vegas are changing. The latest sportsbook to open on the Vegas Strip is at The Linq. This new sportsbook includes Fan Caves with waitress service and seating for up to 10 people — but not horse racing.

The Caesars Entertainment operated sportsbook doesn’t show horse racing and but will take wagers on horse racing at the casino. Not showing horse races isn’t new for Caesars Entertainment sportsbooks. Last year the national casino operator opened a new sportsbook at The Cromwell. This small sportsbook does not show or take wagers for horse racing.

Horse racing not just leaving Caesars Sportsbooks

The Moneyline sports bar and book at Park MGM opened for the first weekend of March Madness in 2018 without horse racing. The renovated sportsbook at Hooters Casino just off the Vegas Strip, run by William Hill, opened just over a year ago and doesn’t take wagers on horse racing or show it on TV. However, this sportsbook does have beer pong and billiards.

According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, there were 20 fewer locations in Clark County (Las Vegas) to place a horse wager than a sports wager at the end of the second quarter. There are a couple of reasons for horse racing to be phased out in the most touristy part of Las Vegas.

The shift away from horse racing

Horse racing in Nevada casinos is enjoyed mostly by older customers. Casinos on the Vegas Strip often cater to a younger customer with an eye on the future customer as well. Sports betting brings guests that lean towards the younger, but legal, end of the demographic scale.

A study by the American Gaming Association and Nielsen Sports says that “sports betting adults are more affluent, younger, more diverse and better-educated adults than the general population.”

The two age groups typically don’t want to hang out in the same space. It’s not a surprise to see casino and sportsbook operators on and around the Vegas Strip look to their future customers. Heck, sports betting won’t really take off until Generation Z turns 21 and can legally gamble.

Additionally, offering horse betting costs money. Casino corporations are always looking to streamline expenses so it makes sense According to UNLV Gaming, the Race Book accounted for 0.3% of gaming revenue for the big Vegas Strip casinos in 2017. Race Books have accounted for half of one percent or less revenue for these casinos since 2011.

The evolution of sportsbooks

Three of the four sportsbooks that don’t offer horse racing are not set up as a traditional sportsbook with chairs and big screens.

The Moneyline at Park MGM is more of a sports bar and restaurant with TVs at every turn. Hooters is mostly a sports bar with beer pong, billiards, cheap beer and lots of TV’s to watch the games. The Book at The Linq has almost 80 TVs with a focus on a premium area with bottle service and a wait staff.

Horse racing isn’t entirely dead in Las Vegas

There’s more to Las Vegas than the Strip. There are still plenty of sportsbooks in Las Vegas that offer betting on the ponies. Most of the off-strip casinos still dedicate 33% to 50% of their screens to horse racing.

The South Point even has a separate Race Book just for horse bettors. Rampart Casino actually lowers the TV volume on featured games to play audio from bigger races.

There are still some horse racing holdouts on the Vegas Strip. During the day, the beautiful Wynn Las Vegas sportsbook is dominated by horse racing. The casino offers more horse racing wagering opportunities than most Las Vegas casinos.

Scenes From Inside The Books: Bettors Swarm In For NFL Opening Week

Marc Meltzer September 12, 2018
Sportsbooks

Football is back!

Football is the most popular sport in the United States. The sport also accounts for more than half of the wagers made in Nevada. Anecdotally, football is as popular with those betting illegally on sports. We’ll see gaming reports that show how much and how often people are betting on football in other states.

The first weekend of both college and pro football in the sportsbooks around the country is in the books. It appears that other states may see the same kind of action around football as Nevada sees.

Easing into the day

Football games starting at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. in Las Vegas is both the greatest thing in the world and difficult to deal with. The scene in Las Vegas sportsbooks is always mellow to start. The day begins with coffee, booze, or a combination.

The scene during the kickoff of NFL season at the Westgate SuperBook, the world’s largest sportsbook, started off with a massive but relaxed crowd. The vibe from the crowd grew as the hours passed. There’s nothing like those big beautiful screens and a packed house to get the energy flowing.

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Philly Dilly in New Jersey

This year, gambling on individual football games will also take place in New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, and Mississippi. The William Hill sportsbook at Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City was packed all weekend long.

South New Jersey is almost like a suburb of Philadelphia. Even though the sportsbooks in Atlantic City are about an hour away from Philly proper, they will be packed with Iggles fans all season. Here we have some bros celebrating their opening night victory against the Falcons.

Ocean Casino Sportsbook is rocking

The sportsbook at Ocean Casino was packed for football all weekend long. The action never slowed down as you can see from this video from the recording studio above the crowd.

Golden Nugget was packed, too

The Golden Nugget is also located in Atlantic City. This casino is located in the marina along with the Borgata and Harrah’s. This is a different part of Atlantic City that isn’t on the Atlantic Ocean (like Ocean Resort Casino). The sports betting action was in full swing all over town as the Nugget sportsbook was packed for the opening day of the NFL season.

Horses and football

The casinos in New Jersey aren’t the only places to bet on sports in the state. The FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands and William Hill sportsbook at Monmouth Park are located at horse tracks. Both were packed for the opening weekend of the NFL season.

The lines to bet on sports at Monmouth Park were long all day. As you can see they started out neat and orderly…

…then the lines started to ooze into one another as the day continued.

This sports betting thing might catch on around the country.

First Look: The Linq Sportsbook Opens In Las Vegas Featuring ‘Fan Caves’

Marc Meltzer September 7, 2018
The Linq sportsbook

When Caesars Entertainment opened The Linq (formerly Imperial Palace) in 2014, it was with the intent of offering a casino hotel for younger visitors to Las Vegas. Millennials of all types enjoy beer pong, music, and gambling at O’Sheas, a DJ with dancing girls and fancy cocktails at the 3535 area and a traditional casino experience elsewhere. Believe it or not, there are different types of millennials, and The Linq offers something for different preferences.

Las Vegas casinos are constantly evolving and trying to offer amenities that appeal to current and future customers. There was a time where sportsbooks in casinos were an amenity to give table game players a place to take a break from the action.

When The Linq opened, the casino had a traditional sportsbook as well as a sports bar called TAG. The original sportsbook just closed and is part of a new larger sports bar and sportsbook concept called “The Book.”

Variety of sportsbooks

Earlier this year we noted the variety of sportsbooks at MGM Resorts International casinos. The casino operator offers different sportsbook experiences at just about every casino. While traditional sportsbooks remain popular, there’s more than one way to build a sportsbook.

There’s no longer a one-size-fits-all sportsbook model in Las Vegas. The majority of casinos on the Vegas Strip today are owned by corporations and want to monetize every square inch of land they own. Some casino operators are taking this mindset to the sportsbook. It might come as a surprise to learn that casino operators don’t want people sitting around their valuable property not spending money.

Over the years, Caesars Entertainment has offered mostly a traditional style sportsbook at their Las Vegas properties. Last year they added a row of VIP seats that guest could reserve so they don’t have to scramble to find a seat on busy days. The Book is a step beyond the traditional sportsbook.

Introducing The Book

The new sportsbook at The Linq is called simply The Book. This is the latest evolution in what a sportsbook can be. Lagasse’s Stadium ushered in the restaurant and bar sportsbook in 2009. That concept can be seen at SLS Las Vegas and most recently at The Moneyline at Park MGM (formerly Monte Carlo).

The Book is far from a traditional sportsbook and plays to the younger demographic that The Linq has been targeting since it opened. This is as much an interactive sports bar as it’s a sportsbook. It’s designed for guests to take control of their gambling and gaming experience. Yes – The Book has a non-gambling gaming element with X-Box and augmented reality games. Here are some features at The Book.

  • 87 televisions (some as large as 98”)
  • The Vegas Strip’s highest resolution LED video wall (note the Westgate is not on the Vegas Strip)
  • Fan Caves with couches, recliners, X-Box systems, virtual reality goggles, and waitress service
  • 24 self-serve beer taps
  • Tablets to eventually place wagers and order drinks (not operational yet)
  • Bar with video poker
  • General admission seating at the bar or annex
  • Food truck

The Vegas experience

The Moneyline at Park MGM is more of a bar and restaurant with a sportsbook. The Book at The Linq is more of a bar with comfortable living room-style seating and sportsbook. Some Las Vegas sportsbooks like Mandalay Bay are receiving an update with new video screens. Some casino operators are creating entirely new sportsbooks that offer a different way of watching and wagering on sports.

It will take a lot of creativity at casinos and sportsbooks around the country to keep up with the Las Vegas sportsbook experience. The spaces are no longer only TVs and chairs. Depending on the casino you visit you’ll find that Las Vegas sportsbooks may offer huge screens, restaurants, bars, video games, bar games, and even traditional casino games.

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Sportsbooks Taking ‘Wait And See’ Approach With NFL Helmet Rule And Betting Lines?

Marc Meltzer September 4, 2018
nfl helmet rule

Gambling on football has never been easy. The NFL hasn’t been making it any easier with constant rule changes. For the past couple of years, players, officials, announcers, media, fans, and gamblers have struggled to understand what a catch is. Now football bettors have to deal with a new rule that seems to be confusing everyone.

The Use Of Helmet rule once again has everyone scrambling. The new rule has been implemented to hopefully make the game safer for players. However, nobody seems to know exactly how to interpret the new rule. Here’s the actual rule from NFL.com.

As approved by NFL clubs in March, it is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. Contact does not have to be to an opponent’s head or neck area – lowering the head and initiating contact to an opponent’s torso, hips, and lower body, is also a foul. Violations of the rule will be easier to see and officiate when they occur in open space – as opposed to close line play – but this rule applies anywhere on the field at any time.

Referees during the preseason seem to be throwing penalty flags for just about any hit that comes close to being an infraction. The 15-yard penalty is significant and will certainly impact the game. Unlike the targeting penalty in college football, there isn’t even replay to see if the hit was actually illegal.

Effect on betting

When betting on point spreads and totals gamblers must win just over 52% of all bets to break even. A successful bettor wins about 55% of their football bets. If it was easy to win this often from football betting over the long term there would be more professional bettors. Anecdotally, about 2%-3% of sports bettors are considered professional.

The new rules in the NFL might make it more difficult for bettors to handicap the games. Advancing an offense 15 yards for a defensive penalty has ramifications for football bettors. Scoring might increase for all games, some games, or none. There will be officials that call the Use Of Helmet penalty more than others. Yay, bettors now have to handicap officials for every game.

TheLines ran into Station Casinos Sports Book Director Chuck Esposito at the opening of the renovated sportsbook at Palace Station in Las Vegas. He said that they are taking a “wait and see approach” to moving lines and totals because of the new helmet rule since the players, refs, or anyone else seems to know how to interpret the rule.

Adding to the confusion about the Use of Helmet rule are the referees who are are calling this penalty way more than anyone expected during the preseason. They could be testing themselves and might call a different game during the regular season. This could also be the new reality for the NFL. Nobody really knows yet.

Bettors should follow this during the first few weeks of the season. If the sportsbooks are slow to react there could be betting opportunities.

Speaking of rule changes…

We dropped a #WojBomb on Esposito this week. When we caught up he wasn’t aware that Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted an article that the NBA would likely vote to reset the shot clock after an offensive rebound to 14 seconds instead of the current 24 seconds. Esposito was a bit more definitive about his initial thoughts on the NBA using a shorter shot clock after rebounds. He thinks we’ll see a big adjustment by sportsbooks if this actually becomes a rule. This is something to keep an eye on when the NBA begins the season in mid-October.

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