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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Sports Betting

Report: New MLB gambling partnership has controversial key clause

Rob Manfred

A new provision as part of Major League Baseball’s new gambling partnership has annoyed at least one manager.

Last November, MLB made MGM their “official gaming partner” as sports betting becomes increasingly legal and accepted in the United States. Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports that one part of that deal is causing annoyance for some managers: daily lineups must be passed on to the Commissioner’s office first, before the media or the team’s PR department, so that they can be passed along to those setting the odds.

This is just one example of the minor issues that will come up as professional sports further embrace gambling. The windfall to leagues will ensure it’s worth it, but those involved in the sport may run into some frustrations like this one.

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Kentucky fails to cover on incredibly bad beat

John Calipari

Kentucky failed to cover the spread in their win over Texas A&M on Tuesday night thanks to an incredibly bad beat.

The Wildcats were favored by anywhere from 12-15 points depending on where and when someone bet on them. They were leading 85-71 and were all set to cover for most bettors until a bizarre sequence took place.

Kentucky’s Jemarl Baker Jr. rebounded a Texas A&M miss with around 34 seconds left and the Wildcats were set to dribble out the clock. Right as Ashton Hagans threw the ball up in the air to celebrate victory as the final second was counting off, the shot clock expired. The referees gave the ball to the Aggies with 0.8 seconds left, and Savion Flagg heaved a half-court shot that went in.

Just like that, Kentucky went from covering most bets to winning just by 11 points, 85-74, and failing to cover.

Seahawks pull off improbable backdoor cover against Cowboys

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The injury to Sebastian Janikowski had some serious consequences to those who bet on Saturday night’s NFC Wild Card playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas went up by two scores late in the game on a Dak Prescott 1-yard touchdown run to make it 24-14 with 2:08 left. At that point, most Cowboys bettors were feeling pretty confident about the 2.5 point spread.

Instead, some late-game magic changed things.

Russell Wilson quickly found Tyler Lockett for a 53-yard pass play to put Seattle at the 13. Then after that, Seattle scored on a 4th-and-4 play with 1:18 left. Because Janikowski was injured, Seattle went for two in a situation where teams almost always go for the extra point. The Seahawks walked in for an easy 2-point conversion to make it 24-22.

The 2-point conversion was actually Seattle’s second of the half, as they also made one in the third quarter to take a 14-10 lead. If Janikowski had not gotten hurt, you can almost be certain the Seahawks wouldn’t have attempted the 2-point conversions, meaning their backdoor cover would not have happened.

Our thoughts are with you, Dallas bettors.

Pro gamblers heavily backing Clemson in title game against Alabama

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Alabama appears to have one of its best teams ever this year, and there have been numerous occasions where the Crimson Tide were favored by mind-boggling amounts heading into games and still managed to cover the spread. But as Monday’s national championship game approaches, it would appear Las Vegas believes Clemson has a great chance to pull the upset.

Nick Saban’s team opened as a 7-point favorite at most sports books following the first round of the College Football Playoff, but they were down to a 4.5-point favorite on Friday. The line has moved heavily in Clemson’s favor over the past several days despite the majority of bets coming in on Alabama.

As Christopher Smith of AL.com pointed out, an estimated 76 percent of the money bet on the national championship game as of Sunday backed Alabama, with 56 percent of the tickets wagered on the Tide. As of Friday, that number increased 58 percent of the bets having been placed on Bama, but the total money backing the Tide plummeted from 76 to 54 percent.

What does it all mean? The public loves Alabama, which is not a surprise. They have dominated all season and get the majority of the headlines for it. However, professional bettors — also known as sharps or wise guys — are hammering Clemson. That means the majority of wagers themselves (think of it like 100 people betting $100 each) are being placed on Alabama, but those who are backing the Tigers are betting more money (think of it like one person betting $20,000).

If you want a big reason for that, this is probably a good place to start:

Of course, the game isn’t won or lost in Las Vegas sports books and stats mean very little. But if you put stock into how the “sharps” view the game and the concerns Saban expressed up after Alabama beat Oklahoma, that information might be useful for you.

New NFL extra point rule impacts bettors in Titans-Redskins game

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The NFL’s new extra point rule came into effect for bettors of the Tennessee Titans-Washington Redskins game on Saturday.

Tennessee was leading 19-16 when Washington attempted a last-second final play miracle. Josh Johnson’s heave was intercepted by Malcolm Butler, who returned the pass 56 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown made the score 25-16, putting Tennessee up by nine.

In previous seasons, the Titans would have had to attempt an extra point even though there was no time left and such a play would not have affected the outcome. Had they kicked an extra point and made it, they would have won 26-16. But because the NFL now has a rule saying attempting extra points with no time left and the outcome unaffected is unnecessary, the game came to an end.

The initial betting line for the game was Tennessee favored by 10 points. For those who bet the game when the spread was 10 points, the new rule that did not force the Titans to attempt the extra point meant those who took Washington won while those who picked Tennessee giving 10 points lost their bets. Otherwise an extra point could have resulted in a push.

That’s not all. The touchdown by Butler sent the game over the over/under total line. The total opened at 37 and moved to 38 at many books. The game was under by a few points until that TD changed things.

Early College Football Playoff semifinal odds show two clear favorites

If Las Vegas is any indicator, the College Football Playoff semifinals might not be the most exciting we’ve ever seen.

After the pairings for the semifinals were announced on Sunday, betting odds were quick to follow. The initial spreads show Clemson favored by 11.5 against Notre Dame, while Alabama is a full two-touchdown favorite over Oklahoma.

Those odds are reflective of a general consensus that rates the Crimson Tide and Tigers to be well ahead of every other team in the country. It is, perhaps, a touch surprising to see 12-0 Notre Dame as such a heavy underdog, but the bookies like Clemson and may be a touch skeptical of a Notre Dame team whose best win was likely against Michigan all the way back in the season opener.

These point spreads are even more lopsided than the initial ones for the first CFP back in 2014. One of those games ended in an upset, which tells you all you need to know about how predictive these might end up being.

NFL projected to make more than $2 billion a year from legalized gambling

The NFL has long been resistant to the idea of legalized sports wagering — at least when making statements in public. But privately, team owners and league executives must be licking their chops.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell on Wednesday shared some of the results of a poll Nielsen conducted regarding the future of sports gambling in the U.S. With the federal ban on sports wagering having been lifted earlier this year, Nielsen projects that the NFL could eventually stand to make around $2.3 billion in additional yearly revenue.

The projections stem from a survey of fans that indicated viewership and interest in NFL games would grow significantly with the legalization of betting across all states. Nielsen predicts that a nationwide, legal sports betting system would boost media rights fees by 18 percent, sponsorship by more than 7 percent and ticket sales by more than 6 percent. That does not include potential “integrity fees,” which would be a system where the NFL and potentially players’ union get a cut of the money wagered on games.

The report was commissioned by the American Gaming Association, which is the trade group that represents the gambling business in the U.S. Among the breakdown of where the additional revenue would come from is a projected $30 million per year in league data that would be purchased mainly by people taking part in live in-game betting.

It could be several years until the sports betting market in the U.S. fully takes shape, but several states have already legalized it now that the federal ban has been lifted. While the NFL has laid out some concerns the league feels Congress should address, we all know money can be quite the motivator. It’s hard to imagine the NFL community isn’t smiling about the future of the gambling industry behind closed doors.