Windfall Profits

If you ever visit Las Vegas and venture into one of the casinos on The Strip, all you have to do is to look around at the facilities/accoutrements there to realize that “The House” does not lose over the long run.  That is not a complaint or a protest of any kind; it is an acknowledgement of reality.  Earlier this week, I ran across a report in the Las Vegas Journal-Review detailing how some winners in some casinos have voluntarily forfeited their winnings to “The House” giving the casinos a windfall profit at the expense of its customers.  Here is the deal:

  • The Chicago Cubs have a large national following and for years – 108 of them to be precise – the Cubs’ fans rooted for a World Series.  In the casino era in Las Vegas, those fans would bet on the cubs to win the World Series every year and the house would bank the bets.
  • Last year, there were lots of bets on the Cubs as usual – – except the team actually did win the World Series.  Some fans with winning tickets did not cash them; instead they kept them as souvenirs.
  • Sportsbook bets typically have a 6-month lifetime once the winner has been determined.  World Series bets had to be settled a couple of months ago so now the accountants in Las Vegas recognize how much the sportsbooks have “saved” in terms of payouts.

The details are in this report and the amounts naturally vary from company to company but here is the bottom line:

  • More than 1,000 winning tickets on the cubs to win the world Series remain uncashed at casinos serviced by CG Technologies.
  • At the Golden Nugget sportsbook, two $600 bets on the Cubs at 5-1 odds were not cashed.

“The House” wins in the long run; Cubs’ fans gave them a helping hand last year…

Yesterday, I mentioned that I am not one of Billy Beane’s acolytes and made some critical remarks about the Oakland A’s as a team.  Two readers told me via e-mail that I was being too hard on Beane and the A’s and that there were worse GMs and worse teams in MLB.  That may be the case over the past year or two, but there are significant distinctions in my mind.

First, Billy Beane has been the GM in Oakland for about 20 years.  I cannot think of another MLB GM who – when criticized for not being half the genius he has been made out to be is supported by the argument, “Well there are worse ones,” AND that GM has been around for 2 decades.  Moreover, fans in Oakland seemingly have recognized that the team is dismal and are finding other things to do with their time and money.  Consider:

  • The A’s attendance reflects three factors and the A’s attendance is dismal.  Let me review some numbers here.  Since 2007, the A’s total attendance has gone over 2 million exactly one time and in that year, they exceeded 2 million fans by the grand total of 3,628 folks.  In that 10-year stretch, the A’s attendance has been 12th or worse in the AL 8 out of 10 years.  So far this year, the A’s are on pace to draw a little over 1.5 million fans.
  • Yes, the Oakland Coliseum is a miserable venue; it adds to any repulsion fans may have regarding the team.  However, there is another team-related factor that hurts attendance.  There is no continuity there.
  • If the A’s trade away Sonny Gray – as is widely speculated – in the next few days as the trade deadline approaches, the longest tenured players on the roster will have been there since the 2015 season.  There is no “face of the franchise” because no one stays around long enough to establish nearly the identity needed to assume that role.  The troika of bad stadium, bad team and revolving-door roster explains why the A’s have to scramble and scratch to try to be competitive.
  • The GM has some control over two of those three negative factors.  He gets a pass only on the noxiousness of the stadium.

Those of you who know me in real life know that I am not a huge fan of movies; in general, I would much rather spend a couple of hours reading a book than going to see a movie.  Nevertheless, I am a fan of Al Pacino as an actor; I would not make it a point to go and see a movie simply because he is in the movie, but I do enjoy his acting when I happen to see him on screen.  Recently, I read that Al Pacino will play the part of Joe Paterno in a movie about Penn State and Penn State football.  My immediate reaction was:

  • Does the world really need this?

The Jerry Sandusky matter was outrageous, scandalous and barbaric.  There was ton of blame to be handed out to myriad folks regarding that whole business – – and in fact, the justice system seems to be trudging along in handing out that blame and the punishments that go with it.  It surely appears as if the university has moved on to a new place with regard to what happened and I wonder if there is a real value in re-hashing that mess.

[Aside:  I make a distinction here between a “documentary” and a film that “examines” the situation through the eyes of a screenwriter or team of screenwriters.  What happened was a fact – a horrible fact.  Is there really a benefit to be derived from a sort of historical fiction here?]

            Finally, here is a comment from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot that rings true to me:

“Sarcasm ahead: I don’t know how anybody could have enjoyed watching Babe Ruth without knowing the launch angle and exit velocity of his home runs.”

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