Outside The Box in Sports Wagering
One of the more exciting ways to view the expansion of legalized sports betting is to think about all the new options it will present to a sports bettor. After all, when the US experienced the proliferation of casino gambling from the late 1990’s to the late 2000’s we saw a boom in new table games and new machine variations. This creates opportunities for casinos to reach more customers and also creates opportunities for advantage players to find new games to beat. We’re going to see this within sports wagering as well. While some might think that legalized sports wagering across the US will closely resemble the microcosm of Las Vegas with only a few different companies and limited variety in bets that are offered. There are others who believe the opening of the floodgates will give rise to new ways to lay our money down on a sporting event.
Let’s explore some of the outside-the-box options that are beginning to show up in other legalized jurisdictions. I’m going to leave it up to the reader’s imagination to think of ways to beat these bets. As a quick disclaimer, I have no affiliation with any of these sites and purposely did not include any hyperlinks in this article. It is purely a tasting sampler of what is to come in sports wagering.
The entire industry of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) was predicated on finding a way to make it legal to wager on sports despite the restrictions that PASPA and UIGEA presented. Anyone who ever played DFS knew it was as close as they could get to legal sports wagering. In the past year, a startup DFS parlay site has emerged in the form of FastPick.
On FastPick, customers fill out a parlay card based on the performance of various players competing that day in professional sports. You can choose which player might have more fantasy points in one of the Head-to-Head matches listed. Or you can choose an over/under on the total fantasy points that a listed player might have. Your parlay card can have a minimum of 3-legs and a maximum of 10-legs. If you go 3-for-3 on a 3-leg parlay, you get paid 5-for-1. If you’re lucky enough to go perfect on a 10-leg parlay the payout is 500-for-1.
For a recreational sports bettor, sometimes the world of DFS can be intimidating and frustrating. It’s widely known that a small percentage of DFS players win a large percentage of the money. Basically, if you’re not expert-level the chance of profiting against other more advanced players with their spreadsheets and databases is extremely low. However, FastPick enables you to play against the house and is essentially a prop parlay card. The nice thing about parlay cards is that you can compound your edge when you find one. FastPick is currently licensed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania with plans to expand to more states.
If your sports betting experience goes back far enough you may have had a local bookie who offered “action points.” Essentially, you not only bet on who would win or lose but by how much. The bigger the margin of victory, the bigger the profit. Conversely, the bigger the margin of loss, the bigger the monetary loss. To my knowledge, Vegas books have never offered these bets in a straightforward scale. Some have offered margin of victory props but not in an uncapped multiplier sense. An Australian company emerged within the last year named PointsBet which has been offering these wagers in Australia. Last week they signed deals to begin offering this format in New Jersey and New York. The latter requires the state to legalize sports betting.
With PointsBet, a customer might wager that the Philadelphia Eagles will not only cover the -4 spread for their season opener against the Atlanta Falcons on September 6, but they could wager that for each point beyond 4 that they win by, they’ll get $10. So if Philadelphia wins by 14, they get $100 (10 points beyond the line of -4). This is called spread betting and while it’s been done before elsewhere, this will be new to the legalized markets in the US.
There will be a max win and a max loss so that a customer can’t completely lose their shirt in a bizarre result. The potential for large profit if their team wins big will be enticing to many. It’s much like Options Trading for sports bettors. Of course, like Options, there’s still a vig. You’ll likely be betting Eagles -4.5 or Falcons +3.5 as your initial starting point. It’ll be interesting to see how they progress in the US market.
Bucking the trend, here’s a site that began in Las Vegas and has already been spreading into other markets. PropSwap operates as a secondary market for betting tickets. It allows customers to sell a wager they’ve made before the event is completed. For instance, you bet on the Washington Nationals to win the World Series, but they’ve been disappointing so far. You can sell your ticket on PropSwap to someone who might be a bit more optimistic that they’ll be able to turn it around. You set the price. Alternatively, you can buy tickets on PropSwap if you feel there’s value to be had in a ticket offered for sale.
Currently, you can post a ticket for sale on PropSwap from any state. You then mail the ticket to the PropSwap offices in Las Vegas. In order to buy a ticket you need to be located in Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, or Massachusetts. At least, that’s the current list of approved states.
Sellers control the price of their listed tickets and PropSwap takes a 10% commission if your ticket sells. They also charge a $10 fee to mail you a check once your ticket sells. If you buy a ticket, they mail it to you and it’s now your responsibility. Since PropSwap has been around for a couple years there is a decent amount of liquidity in the site now. However, don’t expect to immediately find deals when you go looking to buy up some discounted futures tickets. Between the vig built into futures wagers, the PropSwap commission, and sellers over-valuing their tickets, deals are hard to come by. However, this idea is growing and I think we’ll see more secondary markets for sports wagers in the future.
There is tremendous headroom for growth in the sports wagering industry beyond the traditional sports book model. In New Jersey, for instance, each casino and racetrack has up to three online licenses they can subcontract out to other companies. It’s doubtful that any casino would want to cannibalize their own sports book operation by having three other competing sports books on their license. They are going to want to find derivative markets that will bring income without taking market share. As more states come online, they will look towards the early adopters, like New Jersey, to find what has worked and what hasn’t. I expect future news of betting exchanges, secondary markets, proposition betting, and sports fantasy to continue to develop. It’s an exciting time to be interested in sports wagering and I’ll continue to attempt to highlight developments here as they happen.