Saturday, July 9, 2016

Olympic Betting

A push in the late 1990’s led to a 2001 bill that attempted to ban betting on amateur sports.  The Amateur Sports Integrity Act, S. 718 was introduced to the 107th Congress.  While it was ultimately unsuccessful, it did lead to a time when betting on some amateur sports, like the Olympics, was banned.  A compromise was reached where betting on the Olympics would be banned, but bets could still be accepted on amateur collegiate sports.  Some analysts believe that betting on college sports accounts for up to 40% of the take of Vegas sports books.  Strangely enough, it appears that the attempted ban on college betting was part of the catalyst to allow betting on all college sports, which allowed Nevada sports books to start taking bets on UNLV games around 2001.

In 2015, South Point Casino initiated proceedings that would allow Nevada sports books to once again take bets on the Olympics.  This initiative was successful so for the first time in several years, you can bet on the summer Olympics in Nevada this year. William Hill US does have the summer Olympics listed on their website as a category of sports on which you can bet.  Some of the bets the books have in Vegas right now include bets on who will win the gold medal in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s indoor volleyball, men’s rugby and will Usain Bolt win a gold medal.  The reason there are not more Olympic bets available is that it’s still a little early.  The final roster for the US men’s basketball team was just announced a couple weeks ago and we still don’t know if Bolt is going to run at these Olympics because of a recent injury.  

Will Olympic betting be a major boon to Vegas sports book?  Probably not and here’s why

  1. Is the interest there?  For the big events like men’s basketball and some track and field events, absolutely.  However, there are so many events that not many know of or care about.
  2. Football season starts about one month after the Olympics.  If sports bettors are planning a trip around an event, its likely they will wait until they can for a weekend that offers NFL and NCAA bets.
  3. The potential lack of value bets.  I have not seen any specific odds, but on several events, the outcomes are all but predetermined.  In 1992, the US men’s basketball team was such a lock, you would have had to bet $75 just to win $1.

If you are going to be in Vegas during the Olympics or just before they start, go ahead and stop in a sports book and see if they having lines up.  Throw $20 on Uzbekistan in fencing or bet on the US men’s basketball team to cover an obscenely large spread.  Olympic betting is back for the first time in several years and the opportunity will only come around every 2 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment