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Shockers, Surprises, And Ho-Hums: Celebrating Four Years Post-PASPA

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While fruit-themed four-year anniversaries aren’t exactly the most exciting anniversary celebrations out there — “Here’s a pineapple, babe,” doesn’t exactly scream a night of romance — it is worth noting that, come Saturday, it will be four years since PASPA fell like a rotten apple tree.

As a result, we here at Sports Handle thought it wise to take a peek back at the last 1,461 days and take note of some sports betting shockers, some mild surprises, and some things as predictable as watching a 2-year-old’s face pucker the first time they try grapefruit. (And that was the last fruit metaphor. For real. Promise.)

Shockers!

Tennessee goes all-in: A conservative state? Check. Zero casinos? Check. One of the first states to legalize sports betting … check? That’s exactly what happened in the Volunteer State, with the legislature passing a sports betting bill a little over a year post-PASPA. In fact, Tennessee lawmakers got so enamored with sports betting that they even allowed a payday loan company to start taking wagers. What could possibly go wrong?

Play ball! Wrigley Field is going to have its own sportsbook. Yep, the oldest ballpark in the National League, home of the ivy walls and Harry Carey’s home turf is getting its own sportsbook. More like Tinker to Evers to (take a) Chance, amirite? 

FOX Bet sputters: Big names? Check. Big money? Double check. Big brand? Triple check. And FOX Bet can be found in the sum total of four states, and is laggard in each one. Instead, the most action FOX Bet is seeing is via arbitration, as it and FanDuel (Flutter) are set to go into chambers in June to settle an ownership dispute. (The lawyers always win …)

One … Billion … Dollars: Back in the dusty, black and white days immediately following PASPA getting tossed, the idea of New Jersey — or any state, for that matter — doing a billion dollars in online handle was as fantastical as Willy Wonka. By the end of the first year, a great month was $250 million in handle. Today, hitting the billion-dollar mark is as routine as giving an avocado a gentle squeeze at the supermarket. (Yes, an avocado is a fruit and thus, we’re sorry.)

Ping pong bing bong: Colorado bettors love betting on table tennis. Why? Who knows. But they do. It is mildly hypnotic, I suppose, and weed has been legal in Colorado for some time, so maybe there’s a connection. Will investigate.

Portnoy’s Not Complaining: The brash bad boy of Barstool Sports becomes the de facto face of Barstool Sportsbook, which served as Penn National Gaming’s foray into the world of online sports betting. Um, what could possibly go wrong?

Mildly surprising

Limiting the limited with limits in a limit-y fashion: Bottom line is if a sports bettor shows any acumen — notably by beating closing lines — the vast majority of America’s online sportsbooks will limit those bettors, sometimes to pennies. This has thrown a major wrench in the thus-far half-hearted attempts to try and stop serious American bettors from placing wagers with offshore operations.

Close, but no cigar: Florida’s foray into legal sports betting has been swampier than the Everglades. The Seminoles made a deal with the governor, while FanDuel and DraftKings ran a failed end-around to try and get mobile betting out of the Seminoles’ hands. The feds stepped in and said, “Just stop,” and as of this moment, if you want to place a bet in Florida, you can’t. Things are tied up in the courts, and who knows when this knot will be untangled.  

Sportsbooks ads and ads and ads and ads: Did companies like DraftKings and FanDuel learn nothing from companies like, well, like DraftKings and FanDuel? In short, the proliferation of daily fantasy sports ads turned a nation against daily fantasy sports, and sportsbooks repeated the folly by over-saturating the airwaves with almost uniformly terrible advertising. Only bright spots: Discovering Cooper Manning is the funniest Manning and being shocked to learn that it was Halle Berry as Cleo.

Sports leagues do an about face: This should probably fall under “predictable,” except the speed at which all these sports leagues embraced legalized betting was, at times, head-spinning. To wit, the NFL — the biggest and loudest anti-gambling league in the land — signed deals with six sportsbooks. 

Cowboy State goes crypto: Wyoming, not exactly known as one of the more progressive states out yonder, became the first state to allow sports bettors to use crypto to place their wagers. Odds were off the board on this one.

SGPs go boom: Same-game parlays have taken the sports betting world by storm, and thank goodness, as without them, the sportsbooks would probably start offering -120 sides. Do you know how much money the books are making on these things? Yeah, us neither, but it’s a ton. Of course, this happens occasionally:

Predictable

Texas and California join Florida in no-man’s land: Texas, because politicians there are purer than the driven snow (cue eye roll), and California, due to, much like Florida, tribal concerns (and tribal law) butting up against politicians butting up against sportsbook operators. 

How low can you go?: After a raucous start, publicly traded companies that are in the sports betting field are getting hammered. DraftKings is trading around $11, off its 52-week high of $64 and change. Rush Street Interactive is around $5.50, off its $21.83 high. Genius Sports, the data and tech company? Down to $3 and change, off its high of $25.18. PointsBet? Around a buck-seventy, down from $10 and change. Penn National? The big “winner” here, with share prices at nearly $32, down from its 52-week high of $86. What can turn these stocks into something more palatable to investors? Well, getting the three big states to legalize sports betting wouldn’t hurt, nor would — whisper-whisper — more states legalizing the real cash cow: online casino gaming.

Sports betting, meet the end of the world: The hand-wringers have come out in force against sports betting, most notably since New York went live. Just get a load of what Matthew Walther of The Atlantic, Jay Caspian Kang of The New York Times, Will Leitch of The Atlantic, Kurt Streeter of The New York Times (noticing a trend?) and more have written. Listen, we get it: Sports betting isn’t exactly crochet. But to think the world is going to collapse on itself because most states are legalizing sports betting, an activity that was already happening (duh), is making even Chicken Little himself be like, “Say wha???”

Scandal? Scandal! Scandal.: Yeah, it finally happened, giving those hand-wringers something to celebrate. Calvin Ridley, the wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, was on the shelf. But he still loved his Falcons, so he bet on them — six times, to the tune of $3,900. He was promptly suspended for a year. Also notable: Ridley lost all six bets he placed. Sports stars, they’re just like us!

Odds of this happening were -5000 in retrospect: Joey Knish and Dave Portnoy got into a Twitter fight. Who could’ve ever seen this coming? 

Gambet Hindenburgs: Nothing quite like a gambling app going south on Super Bowl Sunday, as happened with GambetDC. But yeah, letting the lottery run your sportsbook — what could possibly go wrong?



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