Olympic Basketball Hurdles
July 16, 2012
By Micah Roberts
Ever been in a situation where you had to walk the line, bite your tongue and keep your mouth shut on a matter despite it making absolutely no logical sense at all? That’s kind of the situation Nevada sports books are currently in and why you won’t see odds posted on any of the USA Basketball team games throughout the Olympics.
Leading into 2000, Sen. John McCain (R-Arz) was trying to push through legislation to outlaw betting on college sports and it had quite a few books in the state feeling insecure because McCain’s campaign was gaining momentum. The possible loss of college sports would have meant a blow to overall state handle in the area of 30-to-35%.
The main argument McCain used in his campaign was that Nevada doesn’t even allow betting on their own college teams, so why should they be allowed to bet on every other college. Former Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Brian Sandoval quickly counteracted with a change in state regulations that allowed for betting on Nevada college teams, which ultimately negated McCain’s biggest argument and slowed the campaign.
As one of the concessions of the revised statute, it was then stamped and approved that no amateur events could have wagers placed upon. Even though ‘Olympics‘ wasn’t specifically stated in the Reg. 22.120 regarding prohibited wagers, it was defined so by GCB as part of 'amateur non-collegiate sport or athletic events'.
That revision has stayed in tact for 12 years now with no sports book wanting to rock the boat, most likely for fear that if the subject is dug up again, there might be more inquiries into the original basis. No one wants betting on college sports to ever come into any high level conversation again.
Clearly, the USA basketball team full of millionaire NBA players is as far away from the definition of ’amateur’ as it gets. But, why create a stir? We have college sports and the summer Olympics are only every four years.
The LVH Super Book won’t be offering odds on the Olympic basketball matches, but they are taking wagers on the exhibition matches, treating the events like they do in soccer for International Friendlies. No one else in town is offering the exhibition odds.
“We’ve opened up odds on the friendlies prior to the Olympics for soccer just like we do for the Euro Cup or World Cup and this (basketball) really is no different,“ LVH assistant manager Jeff Sherman. “We had odds on the USA-Dominican Republic basketball game last week and the Domincan’s didn’t even make the Olympics, so it‘s a completely different situation. We‘re simply booking an exhibition match played by professionals that isn’t under any governing body or organization.”
Only a few weeks separates the definition of the same players who just finished participating in the bet-upon Euro Cup as professionals to when they play in the non-bettable Olympics as amateurs.
It would seem logical to define the regulation more clearly and not have the sticky red tape in the way, but let‘s just leave it alone for a while and accept it for what it is: an interpretation that doesn’t make any sense, but followed for reasons that don’t interfere with the continuation of making lots of cents and dollars.
We made our trade in the state 12 years ago and if we had to do it again -- one or the other, it would be bye-bye Olympics again. When interstate wagering soon becomes a topic and national regulations come into play, the topic is likely to come up again.
Team USA has three exhibition games remaining after their Monday night match against Brazil in Washington D.C. and then their off to Europe to play England, Argentina and Spain. Their first Olympic game will be Sunday, July 29 against France.
Summer League Odds
The LVH Super Book has been offering odds on the NBA summer league games being held in the Cox Pavilion here in Las Vegas and the action has been surprisingly good.
“We’ve always done well with the summer league games, but this year it’s been a little higher,” said Sherman. “We posted the Orlando summer league games last week for the first time and did a terrific write to it during the MLB All-Star break, giving it some momentum heading into the Vegas league.”
When creating the odds that no one else offers, Sherman bases all the numbers on rosters and surprisingly up to the date information from Twitter.
“We’re dealing with 10 minutes quarters in the summer leagues compared instead of 12 minutes like the regular season and we just keep updating our ratings aggressively after each game. The starting point on the totals is in the range of 150 to 170 points and past results and roster information, such as players expected time of play, is huge in determining each new number.”
When asked about a comparison in handle to the WNBA, Sherman said the summer league games are out-writing the ladies. The TV ratings on NBA-TV are also higher as well.
Dream Team vs. 2012 Squad
Kobe Bryant tried to stir some confidence in his squad by stating that this USA squad might be able to beat the Dream Team, a statement which players like Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan quickly disputed. With the banter creating headlines, it’s only natural to have experts who create lines somewhat end the debate.
Cantor Gaming’s sports book director Mike Colbert said last week on the Las Vegas Sportsline radio show that the Dream Team would be a 10-point favorite and Sherman agreed saying, “The biggest disparity between the two is the physical inside game and rebounding of the Dream Team. This years squad would get killed on second chance opportunities and I see that as being the major difference.“
I wouldn’t say the 2012 USA team is soft, but they definitely don’t have the personalities on their squad to contend with a Barkley or Karl Malone. And Tyson Chandler would have no shot at defending Patrick Ewing or David Robinson on the post.
British Open Odds
The LVH has Tiger Woods listed as the 8-to-1 favorite to win this week’s British Open which tees off very early on Thursday morning. Rory Mcilroy is 10-to-1 followed by Lee Westwood (12/1), Luke Donald (15/1) and Phil Mickelson (25/1) among the favorites. A golfer that has found some public support through the bet windows has been two-time Open winner Padraig Harrington, who dropped from 40-to-1 down to 20-to-1.