A Sucker Bet In The Sportsbooks

Finally, the NBA Finals will begin tonight.  Almost everyone foresaw this matchup as the crescendo to the 2016/17 NBA season back in early October 2016; now we have what we knew we were going to get.  It took 1230 regular season games and a series of playoff rounds that were less exciting than a turtle race to get here; but at least, we are here.  One of the things about these NBA Finals that I find interesting is that the casinos in Las Vegas have been allowed to expand their betting options.

According to this report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal from about a week ago, the sportsbooks can now take on bets on things like the MVP of the NBA Finals and on the still-to-be-had NBA Draft.  The financial mavens in the NBA should be quietly elated about this expansion because those financial mavens recognize the following identity:

  • More betting = More interest = More attention = More revenue

I looked at the early odds for the field of Finals’ MVP and found a humongous sucker bet in there.  There are 19 players on the Cavs and Warriors who are named as potential winners of the MVP; seriously, even though almost no one can name 19 players on these two squads, there are odds listed for that many MVP candidates.  However, none of them are nearly as bad as the sucker bet that I see:

  • At odds of 500-1, you can bet “The Field”.

That means you get anyone other than the 19 players who are named as potential recipients of the MVP Award.

Let me try to put that bet into perspective by saying that you can find 2 players on the Warriors who are at even higher odds than “The Field”.  JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia are both on the board at 1000-1.  And it is that silliness that points out just how big a sucker bet “the Field” would be.  Looking at the active rosters from the two teams and who is not on the “19-man list of people with odds posted”, here is some of what you get for your bet on “The Field”:

  1. Kay Felder played 9.2 minutes per game for the Cavs and has been hurt since April 10.
  2. Dahantay Jones played in 1 game for the Cavs earlier this year.
  3. Edy Tavares also played in 1 game for the Cavs earlier this year.
  4. Ian Clark played 14 minutes per game this year for the Warriors mostly in blowout situations that he did not help to create.
  5. Damian Jones played 85 minutes in 10 games for the Warriors all season long.
  6. James Michael McAdoo averaged 8.8 minutes per game for the Warriors.

If I am going to wager that one of those guys will be the Finals’ MVP, I am going to need a lot more than 500-1 odds.  Maybe something like 50,000-1 …

Speaking generically about sports wagering, a report on ESPN.com says that the US Congress may be on a path to make legalized sports gambling more widespread in the US.   The Congress passed PASPA in 1992 and it was a piece of well-intentioned but ill-conceived bits of legislation.  To get past it, Congress needs either to repeal PASPA and replace it – – not a good optic in DC these days – – or to circumvent most of its restrictive covenants.  At the moment, there has been introduced and sent to committee a bill known as the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act (GAME Act) and it would specifically repeal the section of PASPA that limits sports betting to those states that had it prior to a specific date or those that passed new state legislation to enact it by a certain date.

This GAME Act also provides a definition of wagering/gambling that might clarify what Fantasy Sports might be.  It says that a wager is:

“… the risking of something of value including virtual currency or virtual items, upon the outcome of a contest of others, a sporting event or a game of skill or a game of chance, on the expectation that the person will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”

Please note that this definition would place things like state sponsored lotteries and fantasy sports in the same category as “sports betting”.  Supporters of the GAME Act point out – completely rightfully – that there is lots of sports gambling going on in states where it is illegal under both Federal and State law.  Supporters say it is time to recognize that reality and to do something about it and the something to do about it would be to legalize it, regulate it and – – tax it.

I have not read the GAME Act itself as it was introduced so I do not know if it has some stupid provision buried in it.  However, given what I have heard about it, I think it is a GREAT leap forward from PASPA.

And, by the way, there is another aspect of “law enforcement” that the GAME Act needs to clarify by definition.  Part of the “Federal crackdown” on gambling involves the use of a law from the 1960s and the application of that law to the Internet.  That fact alone – to my mind – disqualifies the law from having any relevance or jurisdiction to the matter.

The major sports leagues – many of whom have financial stakes in Fantasy Sports websites – have been eerily silent on this news.  My guess is that they want to see which way the wind is blowing before sticking their heads out of the foxholes…

Finally, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times had a fantasy moment of his own and it was not completely wonderful:

“Heard the reports that MLB umpires will soon be miked up to explain replay decisions?

“Just woke up in a cold sweat: Dreamt the Yankees were playing the Red Sox, and Ed Hochuli was the crew chief.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



2 thoughts on “A Sucker Bet In The Sportsbooks”

  1. Would any of the previous winners of the NBA Finals MVP award have won the bet of “anyone other than the 19 players who are named as potential recipients of the MVP Award?”

    1. Tenacious P:

      Here is a link to the list of Finals MVP awards.

      Since there were no such wagers in the past, one can only imagine if any player here would have been omitted from the “Top 19 or 20” players on the rosters in the Finals.

      Considering that only 2 of the winners in the first 35 years of the award are not in the Hall of Fame – – and one of those two is Tim Duncan and he will be there once he has been retired for the proper number of years – – I would say that none of those guys would have been part of the “Betting Field”…

Comments are closed.