The reels are always spinning in the gambling industry, and “The Double Down” is here every Friday to catch you up on all of the week’s biggest news. Sports Handle’s “Get a Grip” rounds up everything on the sports betting side, and US Bets provides the best of the rest: brick-and-mortar happenings, online casino developments, poker headlines, and more. So pull up a chair, crunch the numbers, and slide forward another stack of chips.
Turning hush money into huge money?
Heading into this week, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicting former President Donald Trump before week’s end was the chalk pick. Trump himself said he expected to be arrested Tuesday.
But any theoretical bets on that one aren’t going to cash. The grand jury reportedly didn’t meet to discuss the case Wednesday or Thursday, pushing to next week at earliest the potential indictment for hush-money payments to cover up an affair.
Turning our attention to actual wagers that can be made at still-hanging-on election betting site PredictIt, there are three markets available for trading that could be impacted if and when an indictment comes down: Who will be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, who will win the 2024 presidential election, and which party will win that presidential election?
In a vacuum, knowing nothing about the people, the parties, or the voters involved, one might think a candidate’s odds would plummet if he were to be arrested. But this week’s subtle movement at PredictIt suggests that won’t be the case.
Trump came into the week trailing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the GOP nomination, 41 cents to 39 cents. (Those numbers mean a user could buy a share of DeSantis for 41 cents and it would be worth a dollar if he got the nomination.) Translated into U.S. sportsbook-style odds, DeSantis was the favorite at +144, with Trump just behind him at +156. Nikki Haley was a distant third at 7 cents (+1329). But with the indictment seemingly looming, the race at the top barely changed. Briefly, Trump actually moved ahead of DeSantis, 41-40, on Friday morning, before it flipped back to 41-40 in favor of DeSantis.
As for the question of who will win the general election in November 2024, it was President Joe Biden at 42 cents to start the week, DeSantis at 27 cents, and Trump at 24 cents. At last look: Biden, 41; DeSantis, 28; Trump, 27.
The similar but less specific question of which party will hold the presidency started the week at 54 cents for Democrats and 49 for Republicans, and at press time stood at 53-49.
Will we see more significant movement if Trump is actually indicted in the next week or two? Possibly. But in which direction? There’s a widely held belief that an indictment/arrest will only serve to rally Trump’s base and help his primary chances (a belief not contradicted by this week’s minor odds movement), and there’s a separate widely held belief that it would make him more of an underdog than he already is to win a general election — which he lost in 2020, after which candidates closely tied to him mostly struggled in 2022.
Whether PredictIt will still be operational in the U.S. when it’s time for any of these wagers to cash remains to be seen. But for now, the prices offer a hint of what to expect.
A presidential candidate could be headed to prison and it wouldn’t necessarily damage his electability? You might say that’s an indictment of the state of U.S. politics.
This week on Gamble On …
Every Thursday, US Bets drops a new episode of the Gamble On podcast, and this week’s welcomed RotoGrinders and Scores & Odds college hoops expert Micah Bedard to dig into the March Madness betting options for the Sweet 16 and beyond. Creighton — the team Bedard identified pre-tournament as his favorite title longshot at 40/1 — will be in the spotlight Friday night trying to end the Cinderella story of the Princeton Tigers, and it seems a favorable matchup for the Bluejays:
"This starting five, everybody can put up 20, 30 points. … And they also don't foul. They have one of the lowest foul rates in the country."
— @DardDog of @RotoGrinders & @ScoresOdds, who liked @BluejayMBB at 40/1 pre-tourney and still likes them now, on the latest #GambleOn. https://t.co/KCrkLgPR8a pic.twitter.com/H7dGXqj9Qt
— US Bets (@US_Bets) March 24, 2023
The lot thickens
New York Legislation Targets Citi Field Parking Area For Casino Site
Pool’s warm, jump in
Michigan-New Jersey Interstate Play Elevating PokerStars’ Fortunes
Keeping up with the Keystone State
Pennsylvania iGaming Participation Survey: Play Plateaued, Problems Dropped
Bally’s Bringing Its IGaming To Pennsylvania On Uncertain Timeline
Pennsylvania Bettors Took A Beating Like Their Eagles In February
A colorful win, indeed
Miami’s Vice: The Riskiest Kentucky Derby Bet Of All Time
The short-month revenue blues
Michigan Internet Wagering Revenue Slides To $171 Million For February
Glory for Dettori?
Country Grammer Looks To Repeat In Prestigious Dubai World Cup
‘Succession’ Final Season Starts Sunday On HBO, Get Your (Fake) Bets Here
FGSA, NCPG work the boards
Two notable gambling industry organizations made announcements this week about changes to their respective boards.
On Monday, the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA) announced the results of its 2023 board of directors elections, adding eight newly elected directors to the 21-person group: Paul Charchian, Guillotine Leagues; Matt Deutsch, Bettor Sports Network; Howard Kamen, Advance Local; David Kurtz, NHL; Peter Schoenke, RotoWire; Stacie Stern, Underdog Sports; Matt Tremblay, FanDuel; and Rick Wolf, Spotlight Sports Group. All will serve three-year terms except FanDuel’s Tremblay, whose term will last two years.
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) announced on Wednesday the appointment of new officers to its advisory board, with Christopher Hebert, the director of the gaming division at the Louisiana attorney general’s office, becoming chair of the board and Martin Lycka of Entain Group named vice chair. The other 2023 board members include Kirsten Clark, Steve Crosby, Don Feeney, Nanette L. Horner, Carolene Layugan, Ray Pineault, Richard Schuetz, Valerie Spicer, George Sweny, and Marlene Warner.
Rash of problems related to problem gambling
As Problem Gambling Awareness Month winds toward its close, various news stories this week showed us that when it comes to responsible gambling, it’s easier to find people overreacting or underreacting than it is to find people properly reacting.
On the overreaction front, we have the seemingly panic-inspired firing of SuperBook host Taylor Mathis for talking about March Madness brackets — not March Madness betting, just brackets — with her sister’s second-grade class. Jeff Edelstein spoke to Mathis and covered the story in detail for Sports Handle, and he followed that with a close look for US Bets at the trend of politicians bending over backward to control the industry in the name of “responsible gambling.”
On the other side of the spectrum, we have what’s reportedly going on in Washington, D.C., and Wyoming. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is trying to eliminate all funding for problem gambling services in the District — and by the way, of the $600,000 that should have been directed toward RG funding in D.C. by now, not one penny has been allocated. And Wyoming is headed down the same path. The Wyoming Department of Health offered Park County commissioners a little over $32,000 in state funds to address problem gambling, according to the Powell Tribune, but the board turned it down because, well, they haven’t noticed any problem gambling.
It seems the NCPG still has some work to do on that “problem gambling awareness” front.
More from around the gambling biz
L-E-D ASTRAY: Traffic hazards associated with mobile billboards on the Las Vegas Strip are cause for concern [Las Vegas Sun]
BRED FOR SUCCESS: Breeders’ Cup, FanDuel extend partnership [BloodHorse]
MASS REDUCTION: Massachusetts casinos shrinking their gaming arrays [7 News Boston]
TRIBE’S QUEST: Senecas call for fair treatment in proposed iGaming legislation [Olean Times Herald]
CON DO ATTITUDE: Maryland bill would allow nonviolent offenders to get jobs at casinos [WTOP News]
HARD ROCK’S OPENING ACT: Bristol Casino announces expanded gaming [Bristol Herald Courier]
DREAM INTERRUPTED: Las Vegas Strip hotel-casino construction ‘fully stopped’ as funding plans stall [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
Image: Blundell Design