US Sports Betting

Not All Sports Bettors Like Legalization

For anyone who enjoys gambling – as a hobby or as a serious endeavor – or really anyone who enjoys the freedom to do mostly whatever they please, the United States Supreme Court’s overturn of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was fantastic news. It opened up the ability for all states to legalize and regulate sports betting, which a few states have done already. I’m not a sports bettor, but it would be fun to be able to easily throw five bucks on a game once in a while. Interestingly, though, not everyone who is into sports gambling is thrilled with potential nationwide legalization. According to an article written by “Gambler X,” legalization isn’t necessarily a good thing for the gambling pros.

MGM Grand Sports Book

MGM Grand Sports Book
Image courtesy: MGM Grand

Many people think that the life of a sports bettor is awesome, that being able to wager on some games, sit back, and rake in the winnings is the perfect job. And certainly, there are some sports gamblers who do really well and are rolling in dough. But it’s not easy. As with poker, one of the toughest and most stressful parts about being a professional sport bettor is that when you have a bad day, you lose money. In a normal job, if you have a bad day, you usually still earn your wage or salary and move on to the next day.

Said Gambler X:

The life of a professional sports bettor is filled with worry. Imagine busting your butt all day, only to have the difference between a winning and losing day decided by a two-point conversion in a preseason game (that happened to me a couple of times this year). Sometimes those bad days turn into bad weeks, which turn into bad months … which turn into bad years. It’s impossible to not go at least a little crazy from time to time. It’s basically a job requirement.

But where Gambler X is considered with regard to sports betting legalization, is the possibility of “losing my edge.”

“Being a professional sports bettor is a lot more than just picking winners,” Gambler X wrote. “It’s about getting action down with casinos that actively go out of their way to deny your bets or ban you from the sportsbook entirely. It’s about getting five figures on a game and not moving the line. It’s about finding an edge and pushing that edge hard enough that you make a great living but not hard enough that the sportsbooks figure out where they are screwing up.”

And that edge, Gambler X said, has been getting much smaller over the last few years as sports books have gotten smarter. With legalization, he believes things are getting worse in that regard. Though more sports books means more opportunities to find advantages, but with big, experienced companies being the ones to set the lines and manage the software, it isn’t easy for Gambler X to find juicy bets.

To wit:

Take Dover Downs in Delaware, for example. The book is owned by the state lottery, and William Hill sets the lines and decides what bets to take for a very small percentage of profits. This strategy leads to dealing one-way lines, on which they are taking action on only one side and then banning anyone William Hill in Las Vegas deems likely to win money. If the State of Delaware is the primary beneficiary from the sports book, then shouldn’t it be required to offer a fair system in which anyone can play?

Now, Gambler X makes his living in Nevada and the above is an example from his travels to the other states were sports betting has been legalized. He was testing the water to see if it was worth it to spend more time “abroad.”

“The manager at every sportsbook I visited is underqualified and doesn’t make a move without checking with the bosses in Vegas first,” he said. “They aren’t really aware that for someone who does this for a living, one tiny mistake or moment of complacency can cost big time.”

He wants the independent sports books that manage themselves, that set their own lines. He doesn’t want them checking with their remote bosses. He doesn’t want them being careful with their lines. So though he says the managers at the new books aren’t qualified, they at least know well enough to double-check things with those who do know better before they screw up. Gambler X wants them to screw up. He’s found some books where he believes that could happen, but it’s just too hard and too costly to exploit them consistently, so he’ll stick to Vegas and deal with things back home.


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