September 14, 2012
In our weird post of the month, it has been released on ESPN that the document signed by Pete Rose and Major League Baseball (MLB) officials 23 years ago to banish Mr. Rose from the game is up for sale.
Pete Rose was banished for baseball in 1989 after it was found that he was betting on baseball games, something that the league was clearly not happy about, as they forced him to sign this document that would effectively remove him from baseball. To this point, it has pretty much served as a life ban, though there has been discussion over whether Pete Rose should be reinstated and allowed to be part of the MLB or at least one of its franchises.
Auction officials believe that this is one of the most important documents in history, and believe that the original will fetch more than the approximate $1 million that was paid in 2005 for the contract that was signed by Babe Ruth to play baseball all the way back in 1919.
And for those interested in history, you can read the PDF version of that document on sale right here.
December 20, 2011
Police in Italy have made arrests relating to a match-fixing scandal in Serie B, the second division of Italian Football (soccer). Included in the arrests are Cristiano Doni who has played for the Italian National Team and was even on the squad for the 2002 World Cup in Japan/Korea. While the arrests have targeted mostly Serie B players, the police are said to be investigating at least three Serie A matches. This is not the first time that such issues have surfaced in Italy, but one of the suspects arrested is claimed to have stated that match-fixing has been prevalent in the league for the last ten years. Doni’s arrest was no surprise, as he was banned for three and a half years from professional football by the Italian Federation earlier this year.
In other news, Sevilla (of Spain’s La Liga) President Jose Maria del Nido has received a seven and a half year prison sentence for his role in embezzling money from the Spanish town of Marbella. In a curious set of circumstances, the club’s vice president has said that the sentence is unfair, and that del Nido should be allowed to continue as President of the club. I wonder if anyone has ever run a football club from prison.
November 2, 2011
As much as it hurts me to talk about the Cardinals improbable (not impossible) trip and winning of the MLB World Series (Yes, I am a Cubs fan), there have been a few interesting stories that have come up in regards to betting. At one point during the season, the Cardinals were so far out of the playoff race they had 500/1 odds of winning the NL Championship, and 999/1 odds of winning the World Series. These bets were made on September 12th, and as you can see from the image on the right, the $250 bet made on each one had a big payoff. When the Cardinals won the NL Championship,l the man received a $125,000 payout for his big win, and stood to win $250,000 more if the Cardinals won the World Series. The man (who is still unidentified) actually hedged his bet by betting $100,000 on the Rangers (from his $125,000 winnings) to win the World Series, meaning that while he wasn’t going to maximize his profits, he was going to come out of the World Series a good deal richer than before. In the end, the Cardinals won, the man walked away with a $275,000 profit from an initial $500 bet.
It seems there have been some other bettors out there who have been a bit more irrational, including the group of Cardinals fans who went to a casino with a load of cash and bet it all on red in the roulette wheel (the Cards wear Red, are also known as the Redbirds). They spun and lost, and still ended up forking a ton of cash over for tickets in addition to the loses.
Our final story of the day comes from Bloomberg, who noted earlier last month that the Detroit Lions had beat the spread 13 of the last 14 times, with the other time being a push. Bloomberg did the math and found that a $100 bet at the beginning of this streak being placed and ridden for the whole 14 game period could end with a reward of $450,000. Of course no one actually made such a bet, yet it shows that there are often improbable moments in sport. Of course, as we discussed in a class this morning, betting is often done irrationally by fans. Many people who bet on the spread actually thing they are picking winners and losers, not the difference in the score. Because of this imperfect knowledge by fans and bettors, the books can make quite a fortune. The stories above show a few cases where individuals could have made a great deal of money by a small bet, however, they don’t talk about the large group of people who probably lost even more money betting on the opposite side of things.
November 2, 2011
I’ll admit it, I never understood the sport of Cricket that much. I’ve watched a few times, and I get the general idea of the game, but have never developed a true love for the sport. That said, every year I make my students here in the United States watch videos to try and better understand the game as part of an international sport class I teach.
The big news which hit the cricket world today was of match fixing (in this case called “spot-fixing”) during the highly prestigious Lord’s Test match against England earlier this summer. Those who were on trial for this match-fixing included Salman Butt (the former Pakistan captain) and Mohammad Asif. Both of these two individuals, along with another bowler for Pakistan are said to have conspired to bowl no-balls during the match. The BBC’s explanation as follows:
Spot-betting involves gamblers staking money on the minutiae of sporting encounters such as the exact timing of the first throw-in during a football match or, as in this case, when a no-ball will be bowled.
All of this started with a tabloid claiming the players took money to deliberately bowl no-balls (a bowl which is illegal in some manner, and results in the awarding of a point to the opposing team) during the match, and ended with both bowlers being found guilty of conspiracy to cheat by a jury earlier today.
Following this, there was lots of talk of this being a good example to young athletes as to why not to cheat, because the consequences can be quite heavy. It is said that the bowlers found guilty today were being leaned on heavily by others to bowl the no-balls on purpose.
And yet, I somehow think this may not change things that greatly in the sport. While young players may see the dangers, there have been similar issues of match-fixing with many sports around the world, and often is the case where we see repeats of similar match-fixing incidents over and over again. Though in the spirit of the game, I do hope things are cleaned up.
May 2, 2011
I was watching Outside the Lines on ESPN, and I saw an exposé they did on gambling on Pee Wee football games in South Florida. I have provided a link to the story here. What is interesting is that the amount of money being bet on little kids playing football is quite large sums. Regular season games for the league which ESPN investigated had as much as $20,000 on the line, and the league Super Bowl championship game could net someone about $75,000. Who would make such bets? It turns out that the area has a lot of criminal elements and drug dealers who are willing to gamble, and with so much money on the line, there of course has been attempts to pay off coaches, parents, and even the players themselves.
Its even at the point where some of the gamblers will look for kids who are star players and have only a single parent. The gamblers will then offer to pay the mother money and give the kid shoes and clothes as long as he plays for a certain team. The article linked above notes that players and their parents often get between $5,000 to $10,000 over a season, while the gamblers can make up to $20,000 a game for 8 to 10 games a season.
Obviously this type of gambling is illegal, but really nothing is being done about it. Gamblers exchange money at the game, just feet away from uniformed police officers, who stand there doing nothing. The league president says its a minor crime, yet one of the coaches was found to even be exchanging money with fans in the stands during a game. The police claim there has been no complaints, so they continue to do nothing about it. After this piece, maybe some action will be taken.
Either way, I was pretty disgusted by everything going on with this league, it really displays the dark side of when criminal behavior and gambling gets mixed into sport. Especially, youth sport.
May 2, 2010
The Kentucky Derby, the first jewel in the Triple Crown, was run today. The winning horse, Super Saver, went off at 8-1 and covered the sloppy 1 and 1/4 mile course in 2:02 2/5.
While all might be well at Churchill Downs, the financial picture is not so rosy in New York. According to a report on NPR, the $2 billion horse racing industry in New York is experiencing dire financial problems, and the Summer meet at Saratoga Springs could be canceled. Horse racing has been in decline for decades in North America. In many states, the introduction of slot machines and table games at race tracks has helped keep the “sport of kings” on its feet by using revenues generated by other forms of gambling to subsidize purses and the racing industry. New York has been unable to get legislation passed to allow slots and table games to be allowed at race tracks, and the industry has suffered. Worse, all the Off-Track-Betting shops in New York state went bankrupt due to mismanagement, further reducing the revenues available to race tracks and the horse racing industry. The lousy economic climate also contributes to the financial woes in the horse racing industry.
The New York legislature is considering a $17 million loan to help Saratoga Springs open in July. The next jewel in the Triple Crown, the Preakness, will take place in two weeks at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Like Saratoga Springs, Pimlico has had serious financial problems in the past few years.
February 10, 2010
In an article posted on the Sports Illustrated website, Nevada casinos took in 6.86 million in profit on the Super Bowl on Sunday. Not that this is surprising that casinos did well, but some of the details the article provides is interesting. The article notes that this year almost 83 million dollars were wagered on the Super Bowl which is a slight increase from last year. However, the average wager was lower than in previous years.
The most interesting part of the article was the fact that some of the proposition bets that are listed for the Super Bowl actually came true. For example, a successful 2-point conversion and an interception returned for a touchdown both paid off if the bettor decided to take the long odds. Because of the successful prop bets, the article states that the LV Hilton lost money on this year’s Super Bowl.
January 2, 2010
2009 was a bad year for baseball in Taiwan. The year began with Taiwan getting slammed 9-0 by South Korea in the Asia qualification games for the World Baseball Classic (WBC). Things got worse when Taiwan were beat by their arch rival China (appearing in the WBC for the first time) in a game in the Tokyo Dome. Baseball, is the national sport in Taiwan, and the country seemed to regain some pride when they placed 2nd in the Little League World Series this year. However, things in the professional game has become worse and worse. Reuters reports that Taiwan has 102 cases of illegal baseball betting in 2008, and the professional league (named the Chinese Professional Baseball League) has seen a 45% decline in reported attendance over the last five years. The league seems on the verge of collapse, after having gone from 6 teams in 2008 to 4 teams in 2009.
With the national sport dying, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou (picture to the right) has stepped in to do something. It was announced that the government will be injecting $60 million (U.S.) into the professional league, in the hopes of bringing better talent into the game, as well as provide incentives for youth to continue to play the game. So President Ma is hoping to turn things around, with what is basically a giant subsidy for professional baseball in his country. It is also a reaction to protests which occurred in November, when 800 baseball fans took to the streets of the capital city of Taipei to protest the corruption in professional baseball in the league. President Ma took the protests so seriously, that he has not only given $60 million for the four year program, but has also held a National Baseball Conference, as well as assembled a task force with cabinet members to help bring back baseball’s popularity in the country.
October 28, 2009
We are now going into Week 8 of the NFL season and by this point one can separate the good teams (New Orleans, Indy, etc) from the bad (St. Louis, Washington, Tampa Bay, etc). According to an article by Dan Wetzel, there is something very interesting happening with the NFL this year and it is in Vegas.
The NFL, and every other professional sports league, relies on the uncertainty of outcome of each individual game. Without that, the NFL is the WWE. For sports economists, uncertainty of outcome was commented on by early economists such as Rottenberg and Neale and has been a cornerstone of sport economic research when examining such things as competitive balance and attendance demand. Furthermore, betting on sports games creates interest in games that by themselves would not be as interesting.
This NFL season has been unlike any other NFL season. As Wetzel writes, the weak teams have been so bad that the oddsmakers have not been able to set a high enough line to balance the volume on each side of the spread. Unlike college games which Vegas will take off the board, NFL games rarely come off the board. The result has been big losses for Vegas odds makers in the first half of the season as they have failed to set odds high enough . The details that Wetzel provides is certainly work a quick read for people who are interested in sports betting and also talks about the illegal bookmakers.
Like all other trends, oddsmakers will adapt and certainly make their money by the end of the season. If one would believe the work that Levitt has done saying that oddsmakers do not attempt to balance the books, one might wonder if the oddsmakers are believe that gamblers will fall for the “This team cannot keep losing and have to win the game” theory and are setting odds closer to that thought (especially if it had been a dominate strategy used by gamblers in the past).
October 22, 2009
Two gambling probes recently in the press. The first on ESPN.com today discusses a tennis match that included U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki. In the match, Wozniacki was up one set and on the verge of winning the second (up 5-0) but apparently was injured. Her father came over to tell her that she should not continue in the match because of the injury since she could not survive the next round if she won. However, his comments were picked up on microphones, which people watching the match over the internet heard. As a result, a surge of online bets were placed on her opponent to win once the comments were heard.
The second gambling probe occurs “down under” with the Australian Rules Football League. The league has been dealing with perceptions of teams tanking late in the regular season to get a better draft pick. Now, the minister of gambling in Victoria is launching an investigation regarding the effect that tanking (or the perception of tanking) has on gambling lines. The full story is here.
Tennis gambling probes are nothing new since the investigation a couple of years ago. Tennis has a partnership with Betfair to examine issues of match fixing in the sport. The Australian Rules Football League probe is interesting to me because it examines the consequences of even the perception of tanking in sports leagues and its effect of stakeholder revenues, in this case bookmakers and the government.