Over the course of nearly four years and 200 episodes, Gamble On has established itself as the leading gaming industry podcast, delivering news and analysis as well as interviews with the most influential names in gambling every week.
Episode 198, posted June 30, 2022, features an interview with USBookmaking Director of Sportsbook Operations Robert Walker, who has seen it all (and taken opinionated stances on it all) over a 30-plus-year career behind the counter at some of Las Vegas’ biggest books. As the post-PASPA mobile operators make more and more of their money off of parlay bets, Walker weighed in on how bettors should handle the lure of parlays.
“The key is entertainment,” Walker said, noting that a $15 sports wager is closer to a sure shot for getting your money’s worth, entertainment-wise, than spending that same $15 to go to a movie and risking having to sit through a stinker. “If you want to take $5 and bet a three-teamer or four-teamer to try to have a decent score, I think that’s fine. However, I tell everybody, if you’re interested in money management and making your bankroll last longer, whether you have a $300 bankroll or a $30,000 bankroll, you’re better off playing straight bets.
“But it’s just not sexy, I guess, for people to go home and say, ‘Hey, I just hit a straight bet and won $11.’”
Listen to “198: Atlantic City casino strike, WSOP Main Event time, booking drafts with Robert Walker” on Spreaker.
Walker’s money quotes
Last week’s NBA Draft — and Adrian Wojnarowski’s inaccurate report about the Orlando Magic’s plans with the top pick, which temporarily shook up the odds boards — left the sports betting community debating whether to offer wagering on events where the outcome can be known.
Betting on drafts or the Academy Awards is allowed in some states and blocked in others. Walker is not a fan of taking bets on drafts, especially when the books can get hit at prices above 20/1 as was the case with No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero, and analyzed it relative to a few other questionable markets.
“I’m anti-the [Super Bowl] coin toss. I hate putting up the coin toss. I think it’s the most frivolous thing of all-time. I think it’s embarrassing to put up the coin toss. However, everybody asks for it,” Walker noted. “And that’s how I feel about the [Nathan’s] hot dog-eating contest. But I’d rather book the hot dog-eating contest than I would the NBA Draft.”
"I think it's embarrassing to put up the coin toss. However, everybody asks for it. I'd rather book the hot dog-eating contest than I would the NBA draft."
– @robertusfsports in this week's featured #GambleOn video clip pic.twitter.com/IGQ9iMBPgy
— US Bets (@US_Bets) July 1, 2022
Walker elaborating on why he prefers not to book drafts: “The problem with these events, particularly, is the proportion of sharp play you get compared to the casual bettor. The casual bettor may put $5 or $10 on it, but the bulk of the wagers are from people that are sharp and can get information quicker than you can. So the question is, why would you want to put yourself in that position?”
Walker on not just offering draft betting and coin tosses, but also feeling compelled to set lines for every minor player prop and every little college game: “Everybody else is doing it, do we have to go in there and do it? It’s a tremendous amount of pressure to put those games up. And now most of us are booking it reluctantly. … We don’t really want that play, but we have to have a full offering.”
Walker on his passion for the WNBA: “It’s my favorite sport, bar none. I watch almost exclusively WNBA. I watched eight hours of it on Sunday last week. I watch every game, I have League Pass, I have season tickets to the [Las Vegas] Aces. … I think there’s a tremendous amount of growth. We see a lot more bets on it. We’re actually booking women’s college basketball a lot more games. My dream always was to book women’s college basketball like we did men’s.”
Podcast hosts Eric Raskin and John Brennan both accurately predicted that the potential Atlantic City casino workers strike would be resolved within 24 hours of their Thursday morning recording. “I think there’s going to be a settlement, mostly because the casinos can afford it now,” Brennan said. “There’s no reason now especially, when Atlantic City’s not in the desperate straits it was [in the mid-2010s], for this to continue.” Responded Raskin: “I agree with you, it would seem likely that a resolution is going to come.”
Raskin and Brennan were not quite on the same page with their predictions for the field size of the World Series of Poker Main Event, which starts Sunday. Brennan predicted 5% over the previous record of 8,773, which comes out to 9,212. The Moneymaker Effect author Raskin projected a total just shy of the all-time record, guessing 8,507.
Caesars Sportsbook reported a loss in New York for the week ending June 19, which can be chalked up as a small-sample-size outlier but also shines a spotlight on how hard it could be for some operators to be profitable in the state. “At some point, I think either the 51 percent tax rate or the method of measuring gross gaming revenue in that state has to give,” Brennan said. Added Raskin: “A weekly loss seems like no big deal to me. … Now, if Caesars takes a loss in New York for the month, they should be more concerned. But one week? Not a huge deal. And if they’re smart, they’ll put a little P.R. push behind spreading the word: ‘Bettors beat this sportsbook for nearly a million dollars; this is a beatable game.’ Gotta seize on these opportunities to turn a loss into new customers.”
Closing thoughts: Brennan wrapped up the podcast with a commentary on the New Jersey DGE “dropping the ball” by not allowing legal betting on the LIV Golf Tour.
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