Online Sportsbooks, the real Super Bowl Champions

For me personally Super Bowl LII is a lose-lose situation. Born and raised in Miami, I grew up to be a Dolphin-loving, Patriot-hating football fan. Living in Boston for the past 11 years has made football season difficult to say the least. Surrounded by Pats “fans” who continually lose faith in the team, yes even including the GOAT Tom Brady, is incredibly frustrating. Especially when all they have to show for it is five Super Bowl Championships! I mean really, what more do they need to do to command a little bit of trust and faith from New Englanders. I would normally side with the underdogs, given the bleak reality that the Dolphins may never make it to the big one in my lifetime. However, the Philadelphia Eagles rank solidly as my #2 most-hated team. While it would be very cool to see a franchise win their first Super Bowl ever, I just can’t stand Philly fans and know that they would be the least gracious winners of all time. The world would never hear the end of it from them – “Boston’s got nothing on Philly! We beat Tom Brady with our starting QB on the bench! Cheesesteaks are better than chowder!”  I have come to the conclusion that I will lean toward the Patriots side for this game, aka my worst-case scenario, for two reasons: 1 – two Patriots came from my high school (James White and Philip Dorsett) and 2 – my boyfriend is a die-hard Patriots fan. But by the end of the night, I’m sure I will feel like I lost either way.

This thought pushed me to consider who will actually come out on top of Super Bowl LII regardless of who wins the game. There are of course those viewers who only watch the game for the commercials, an aspect of the game well-documented in Dan Miller’s post earlier today The Changing Landscape of Super Bowl Commercials.  The city of Minneapolis/St. Paul is sure to see a positive economic impact from thousands of fans, sponsors, and media members flooding into the frozen tundra of Minnesota in early February. Rockport Analytics estimates the MSP area will benefit from $343 million and over 5,000 jobs.[1] And then there are those millions of people across the world who place bets on the Super Bowl. While millions will wager on things as varied as which team will win the game, to how many times Gisele Bundchen will be shown on camera, to how Justin Timberlake will make his grand entrance at halftime, some will win money and some will lose money. However, the online sportsbooks are almost guaranteed to make millions from just one game.

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According to oddsshark.com, the top 5 legal, online sportsbooks are Bovada, BetOnline, Intertops, Sports Betting, and GT Bets[2]. All of these sites provide the opportunity to make two kinds of bets: traditional and “prop” bets. Traditional betting involves placing money on outcomes on the field of play including points scored, spread, number of touchdowns, etc.  “Prop” betting involves placing money on anything that can happen in relation to the Super Bowl as an event including what the first commercial will be, the length of the national anthem, how Justin Timberlake will make his halftime performance entrance, and what color Gatorade will be showered over the victorious coach. In total, Nevada sportsbooks expect to take in over $155 million before kickoff[3]. This would break the record of $138.48 million bet on last year’s Super Bowl. One reason for the uptick in total dollars bet is attributed to multiple seven-figure wagers this year. With the vast majority of bets this year placed in favor of the Eagles, the sportsbooks are sure to be pulling for the Patriots to pull off their expected victory. If the underdogs can upset the favorites, sportsbooks will have to pay out money to almost 85% of bettors.

Ethereum Betting

Another way to place a bet on the Super Bowl is using cryptocurrency. While gambling has been an ability in the crypto-world for a while, this year you can bet with an Ethereum smart contract[4]. While this ICO’s system is easy to use and has a very quick pay-out time, there has not been much interest shown for using Ethereum to bet on this game. Earlier today, there was only $200 worth of Ethereum wagered with New England as the favorite. This may be due to the trend of using cryptocurrency as an investment, not as a currency replacement. It is simply too valuable to use instead of real dollars. Considering the current direction of the crypto market, do you think people will ever go back to using their coins as currency in a legal market that accepts traditional payments? No one wants to be that guy who bought 2 pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoin back in 2010! For those who haven’t heard the story, those coins would be worth $100 million today. That was one expensive pizza party.

Bitcoin pizza

In about 4 hours, we will have a winner and a loser. People will win money and lose money. Commercials will be ranked, some remembered and some forgotten. And the sportsbooks will be Patriots fans for just one day. Thanks to the entire world outside of a 100-mile radius of Boston rooting for the underdog, most money has been placed in favor of Philadelphia. Tonight, sportsbooks will either be raking in the cash thanks to a seemingly global hatred of the New England Patriots, or lose their shirts if the Eagles pull off one of the greatest comeback seasons of all time. So here we go. Deep breaths. Go Patriots! Gosh, just typing that was painful.

 

 

[1] http://kstp.com/kstpImages/repository/cs/files/Minneapolis-St%20Paul%20Econ%20Impact%20of%20SB%20LII%20Presentation.pdf

[2] http://www.oddsshark.com/super-bowl/props

[3] https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2018/02/03/super-bowl-2018-fans-placing-1-million-bets-favor-philadelphia-eagles/303909002/

[4] https://www.ccn.com/you-can-now-bet-on-the-superbowl-in-etherum/

5 comments

  1. Even with experts saying the cryptocurrency bubble is going to burst, one lucky sports fan was able to secure a pair of Super Bowl tickets using Bitcoin. The buyer, who requested anonymity was able to get his hands on two tickets on the 50 yard line for $19,000. Whats interesting is that TickPick, the company that agreed to the transaction went “all in” to avoid paying a 2.89% transaction fee had the customer used his or her American Express card. Instead, TickPick paid a 0.1% fee. With so many regulations in place for sports betting, and only a certain number of locations acting a safe havens, 50% of all BitCoin transactions are related to sports betting. Perhaps not all Super Bowl activities are lose-lose.

  2. Hey Maria, really interesting blog post, although I must defend my honor as an Eagles fan! I’ll say that the prop betting (largely online) that you talked about has been taken to almost completely absurd levels, speaking from personal experience. During the game one of my friends took a bet on whether Justin Timberlake would wear a hat or not during the halftime show, apparently an issue contentious enough for a formal betting line – unfortunately, he lost his wager. Part of me wonders if the online disconnect introduced by internet gambling makes it easier for people to throw a couple bucks on a bunch of prop bets that they otherwise would have given a little more thought. After all, the online interface makes it so quick and easy that it seems hard not to!

  3. The story of the person buying pizzas with bitcoin is one of my favorites. I worked at Fidelity this past summer and you can buy your lunch in the cafeteria with bitcoin, although almost nobody does. Nobody wants to buy a sandwich that they hope will one day be worth a fortune!
    I liked how you related cryptos to an application not often discussed. We hear a lot about how revolutionary cryptos/blockchain will be for banking, voting, cloud, music, etc., but not so much about gambling and sports betting. I think at least for now cryptos are too volatile to be a reasonable currency for transactions. Its tough on both parties to agree to a transaction when they don’t know what the currency will be worth in a day.

  4. Sunday was not the greatest day for the online sportsbooks or the ones out in Las Vegas. Not only did they get killed on the opening line, but the Eagles ended up covering most of the “live lines” during the game as well. The past two NFL seasons have been absolutely miserable for the sportsbooks, but I don’t think many people feel bad for them.

    I love the idea of placing a sports bet using a cryptocurrency. It’s like a bet within a bet! I like how Matt mentioned above about Fidelity allowing its employees to buy their lunch with bitcoin. I sat next to one of Fidelity’s main bitcoin advocates during my internship this summer and it was interesting to get his insight daily on the outlook of the cryptocurrency market, especially on days when the price would violently shift!

  5. “Boston’s got nothing on Philly! We beat Tom Brady with our starting QB on the bench!” Just reminding you that your thoughts are a self fulfilling prophecy. I love prop bets because they make the game fun and those not even interested can get involved. Never bet against the city of Rocky!

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