July 10, 2018 - Brett Smiley
What Happens to Betting Lines When Everyone Bets the Home Team?
The post NFL Betting Lines Conundrum: What Happens When Everyone Bets the Home Team? appeared first on SportsHandle. One of the most compelling aspects of the rollout of national sports wagering on a state-by-state basis is the ability of each state to provide different marketplaces for individual bettors. In its infancy, well before the internet and the significant offshore market, the bigger sports bettors in Nevada spent considerable time, effort and even money, through the use of runners, to get the best number for the games they wanted to bet. A number of factors have homogenized the betting lines in Nevada over the last 15 years. Major casino companies began running many sportsbooks at locations all over the state. There’s the emergence of the offshore betting market, the advent of the internet and the ability to make bets online, and later the smartphone putting books right into the bettor’s palm. With legal sports betting expanding across the U.S., another evolution is due: What happens when home teams take a ton of action as other bettors stand ready to take advantage? College Football and NFL Betting Lines Plot Twist: ‘Line Shading’ and Finding Opportunity in New Markets Nevada sports bettors in earlier decades could always count on the differences between the Las Vegas and Reno lines in NFL games involving the Raiders and 49ers. Those two Northern California teams — with a long tradition of winning and covering the point spread in the 1980s and into the 1990s — meant you would have to lay more points in Northern Nevada than in Las Vegas. This practice, sometimes called “line shading,” still exists in Nevada, but not to the extent it did a few decades ago. For example, the line in Las Vegas might have been Raiders -3 against the Broncos, while in Reno it might be shaded in the Raiders direction with the Silver and Black favored -4.5. The money line, for those wanting to wager without the point spread, was usually adjusted or shaded to make the two Northern California teams less attractive to bettors and their opponents a more appealing play. When Nevada was the only place to make a legal bet on sports, bookmakers had to create their own lines without the help of today’s modern technology. In the 70s, 80s and into the 90s the overall handle was miniscule compared to today. The huge growth of sports betting handle in more recent years in the state meant bookmakers had to alter their primary skill set to adjusting an existing line, rather than establishing an opening number that could attract too much action on one side. The danger was created when a poor opening line had to be significantly changed, creating a “middle” where a bettor who had jumped on an early number might be able to then wager on a later spread. If the game fell in the middle, both bets could be winners. Now, Nevada linemakers are able to consider lines posted offshore that have been “bet into,” or taken a wave of money, often millions. Line movements responding to betting action rather than injuries or outside factors do occur, but not to the extent or degree they did in earlier years. It’s hard in today’s marketplace to find different lines up and down The Strip, so the only way the smart bettors get a little edge is to look for different lines offshore, where high volume allows bookmakers to hold less, but take in more big bets. Nevada books need a much larger hold in order to pay for all the overhead that offshore operators don’t have. Offshore books will move lines to get “take back,” which is bets on the other side, while corporate books usually are not looking to move numbers for fear of the dreaded middle.