Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Legal US Sports Betting

Betting on your favorite team wasn't legal in Nevada until the 1940s, but you could always find a local bookie who would lay a line for you.

At the Country Club, you could talk to Doc in the bar, any night after 9 pm and get a bet down. Nickle lines were popular, but a dime line (lay $1.10 to win $1.00) was standard. If you were betting a big favorite like the New York Yankees or the San Francisco Seals, you might have to bet more than $2.00 to win $1.00, but that was just to even out the wagers.

Once legalized in Nevada, most casinos offered some type of a book, although it was often one run by Bugsy Siegel and offered just horse racing.

In 1951, the Federal Government implemented a 10% fee on all wagers and Nevada sports books had to be creative to take wagers and make a profit. It was so crazy that in the 1960s there were no sports books in any Las Vegas casinos until Jackie Gaughan opened a book inside his Union Plaza in 1975 when the 10% fee was struck down.

After that, Lefty Rosenthal opened a fancy sports book in the Stardust, where he was running the skim at the casino (as outlined in Vegas and the Mob). The sports book was popular, but didn't make enough money to even skim a little, although Lefty allowed friends to make an occasional wager well-after the official start of a game. That, of course, was against the law and against the owner's wishes, but Lefty didn't care.

Today

Recently, the US Supreme Court made betting legal nationwide with a 6-3 decision, siding with New Jersey and striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. 
With the ruling comes a brave new world for illegal bookmakers, and, I suppose, a safer, more profitable one for legal punters. And who will the legal eagles be? Think William Hill and IGT first.
For the past decade, William Hill has handled more than half of the sports wagering in Nevada, the only US state that allowed legal wagering. Following the decision of the Supreme Court (Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association - May 2018), New Jersey legalized gambling on athletic matches based on a previous state ballot. And, William Hill entered agreements to handle sports wagering at Ocean Resort Casino and Monmouth Park Racetrack. More casinos will be added in the future.
As for IGT, the company processed more than $12 billion in wagers last year. Their US sports wagering deals (through their PlayShot system) may be single partnerships with casinos in Delaware, Mississippi, and West Virginia (and perhaps Maryland quite soon), or could be in partnership with William Hill US.
Up in Rhode Island, the lottery department chose IGT to provide the sports betting platform and William Hill to provide the actual sports betting operation and risk management. The partner's contract is for a five year period and has a mutual-consent option for two more five-year terms. 
Several other smaller operators are already in operation in New Jersey. The strongest will survive.
Online Wagers
In New Jersey, DraftKings Sportsbook went live August 1. They were followed by playMGM, SugarHouse, FanDuel, and William Hill. Online wagering is likely to be legal. To make your bets, you have to physically visit one of the casinos and sign up.
West Virginia plans to allow online wagering with some restrictions. Time will tell.
Although 20 states tried to push-through sports wagering proposals, only a few were successful. Delaware already had casinos, horse racing, and was ready for sports books. It was not ready for online bets, so search elsewhere.
Unfortunately, your search in Mississippi won't yield online wagering only. As results are evaluated by states currently on the betting fence, some may be disappointed by overall results.
Sports books don't exactly make a casino profitable. They only compliment the bottom line with a small and shaky profit compared to slot machines or table games. 
Sports wagering profits are made by splitting the majority of wagers along a point spread or movable money line so regardless of who actually wins a sporting event, the bookie holds a small profit (often as low as 2%).
And when will online poker rooms be legal in all states? Soon, I hope.


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