|Monday, July 22
Betting service setting odds on strike
By Darren Rovell
They've posted over-unders for the odds on movie box office gross earnings and taken bets on a hot dog eating contest. Now, one online sports betting service is setting the line on the probability of a baseball strike.
BetWWTS.com, an Antigua-based company, announced on Monday that it will post odds that will enable gamblers to bet on whether there will be a strike or not.
Current odds for the players to strike by Sept. 30 will open at 5-to-7 (win $5 with every $7 bet) and the odds for the season to be completed will be listed at even money (1-to-1).
"I think we will get some action," said Buck Churchill, chief bet manager for the overseas book. "People bet on all kinds of crazy stuff, and if our customers think they are going to have an edge to make money, they are going to wager." On Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Players Association has targeted Sept. 16 as its strike date. But Gene Orza, associate general counsel for the MLBPA, told ESPN's Karl Ravech on Monday that there was no significance to that particular date.
Las Vegas bookmakers said they are prohibited from posting odds on the likelihood of a strike.
"The Nevada Gaming Control Board wants us to post odds on things where the outcome is being decided on the field, court or ice," said John Avello, director of the race and sports book at Bally's and Paris hotels in Las Vegas. "In this case, it will be a couple guys sitting around a table determining if there's a strike or not."
Although many Las Vegas books have posted odds on Emmy winners and TV elimination shows like Big Brother and Survivor, they are not allowed to take money on them.
"Anything that is determined by individuals voting, we can't take bets on," said Joe Lupo, director of the race and sports book at Stardust. "We can't even make odds on the presidential election because of that stipulation."
"Technically, if we had strike odds, (union head) Donald Fehr would be able to come in here and make a bet, even though he has influence on it," Lupo said. "A player can't say, 'I will hit a home run and win this game tonight.'"
Churchill said he will limit bets to $200 and doesn't expect to pull in more than $10,000. "They'll be a lot of small bets on this," Churchill said. "People will put down $10, $20 or $50."
The company said it will also post odds on two teams being contracted by next season at 10-to-13 and odds that all 30 teams will begin play next season will be listed at 10-to-11.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.email@example.com.