All-Star Game Betting – Join the NASGB and Just Say No!
Your Early Guide To March Madness Betting
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Senate bill would legalize fantasy sports gambling in Arizona

Senate bill would legalize fantasy sports gambling in Arizona

A bill that won approval in an Arizona Senate committee would legalize online fantasy sports gambling in the state.

An amendment to Senate Bill 1515 would end a prohibition in the state’s gambling law which affects online fantasy sports leagues.

State law outlaws any prize being paid on any game of either skill or chance. Fantasy sports backers say their games require skill because players choose players to compete.

The Arizona Attorney General sent a letter to one of the nation’s major fantasy sports websites in November demanding that they disclose safeguards in place to ensure Arizonans are not being allowed to play on the site.

“It obviously caused us some concern,” Brnovich told the Boston Globe.

In 2014, other states also had legalities against fantasy sports gambling sites: Iowa, Nevada, Louisiana and Washington.

Sen. Adam Driggs’ bill specifically allows fantasy sports leagues. The Judiciary Committee he chairs advanced the bill on a 5-2 vote Thursday.

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New Jersey passes skill-based gaming regulations

New Jersey passes skill-based gaming regulations

Atlantic City casinos could soon offer skill-based gaming through new regulations issued by New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE).

The rules for the devices include provision over the percentage of bets collected and prohibit casinos from making the games harder or easier to win while a game is in progress, based on the perceived skill of the player.

Monitoring programmes are to be introduced to guard against collusion or money laundering in multi-player peer-to-peer games.

The rules are similar to those put in place in Nevada last year, with New Jersey stating that any device approved there would be allowed in Atlantic City as well.

David Rebuck, NJDGE’s director, said: “This is another important step towards implementing skill-based gaming in the Atlantic City gaming market.

“Although the Division has had the authority to authorise these games for some time and announced in October 2014 an initiative for manufacturers to bring their skill-based games to New Jersey, the industry requested specific regulations to guide their efforts to create innovative skill-based products.”

Rebuck said that under a fast-track provision, manufacturers who bring their skill-based devices to New Jersey before any other jurisdiction can have them in operation on a casino floor within 14 days of approval.

While skill games have not been launched yet in Nevada, it is believed that gambling versions of popular titles such as ‘Guitar Hero’ and ‘Angry Birds’ are being developed.

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All-Star Game Betting – Join the NASGB and Just Say No!

All-Star Game Betting - Join the NASGB and Just Say No!

There is no doubt or denial we often utilize this space to promote & evangelize all sports wagering. Often at popular options including Nevada outlets and leading offshore sportsbooks. But to offer credibility, we’re diverting this week toward a rare exception. A plea to NOT BET, in a bigger cause to make things right for not only sports but better wagering overall in the near future. Here’s why.

Anyone who recently watched this year’s NBA All-Star Game must agree it was just that. Not a sporting event, but a pure game with no competition whatsoever and no respect for the rules of basketball and history of a great event. A chance for multimillion-dollar contract buddies to stage a friendly pick-up with no defense to plan out their newest dunks and alley-oop pass plays. For wagering purposes, no better reason and frankly insultingly worse. Forget anyone who had any intelligent opinion on who was the wagering choice between the Eastern & Western Conferences. I believe most top offshore sportsbooks agreed on the West, by virtue of the unstoppable Golden State Warriors stars to be a -3 favorite. The game was played in Toronto. Whether that is in the East or West could be a livelier discussion than the Republican Debates but certainly no home court advantage.

The really intriguing aspect was the GAME TOTAL or Over/Under, traditionally the largest betting pool for large, popular sportsbooks BetOnline, Bovada and Diamond Sports. Like any other event, before peeking at the number I made an estimate based on the previous year’s record point totals. Maybe 290 or 295? We know the average NBA basketball game is around 190-215 O/U.

Would you believe Bovada and most other sportsbooks online adn in Las Vegas had the game listed at 324!!

Fast forward to an embarrassing 196-173 West win final score that not only shattered the all-time record but made 324 look like an easy number. I could have scored 10 points myself with no defense and players inviting me into the lane for uncontested showboat slams. I would have bragged 20 points, but I can’t dunk.

The point is until we stop supporting and BETTING all these useless, forgettable All-Star games, they will continue an awful habit to waste time and your wagering money on better opportunities. And if you believe it’s just the sham the NBA has created, we strictly remind you to join the NASGB movement in not betting the MLB, NHL or NFL Pro Bowl game either. Or what is now called Team Irvin vs. Team Rice. A offer you some compelling evidence:

MLB All-Star Game

Perhaps this should upset sports fans the most as this game has or HAD traditionally the most historical value and memorable stature. Mid-July always meant the time to watch the other league’s stars when you did not have the opportunity to see them. Advancing into the Internet and 20-channel ESPN age has dramatically changed that. However, it was necessary to put the incentive of playing the 7th game at home in the World Series to give fans the means to not fall asleep.

Wagering-wise is another story. Most pitchers dare not go more than 2 innings, therefore it’s impossible to guess an NL or AL manager’s thinking. Also, playing in the game is not a true care for a player anymore. Just making the All-Star team is tied into their contract incentive proposal and a much higher value. Beyond noticing the starting line-up and imagining who might be playing for how long, why would you bet on who has the advantage? Again, I don’t want to sound like a kill-joy but this is right up there with dog racing as a handicapping challenge.

NFL Pro Bowl

Speaking of dogs, it’s time as they say to “shoot the dog”. And I love dogs. But this one has to be put out of its misery or find some other method to be meaningful to avoid embarrassment.

While the beautiful Hawaiian location is meaningful to the locals and the player’s wives, there has to be a better way to stage a real football competition. Similar to the NBA All-Star Game, the defenders are merciful trying their best not to get hurt nor injure any other players as priority one. Certainly not with an entire six-month off-season looming. But who could ever remember the scores of these games, who played for who or what reason they are legitimately necessary?

Also similar to the NBA game, the Over/Under total is the most intriguing aspect and gets the most wagering support. This year featured a bloated 72 total at most of the preferred offshore sportsbooks. If you thought you were going to “wise-guy” your way into a clever bet, forget about it. Team Rice & Team Irvin came through again for a forgettable 49-27 final score and another easy Over win. Well, at least it took until the last two minutes to decide the Total, but not the spread outcome.

These “totals” bets might be more predictable than Trump primary scores but don’t think somebody is not taking notice. Look for Nevada and online sportsbooks to post unattainable NBA & NFL Pro-Bowl Total betting numbers in 2017.

The NHL All-Star Game wasn’t even a game and a retirement ceremony for Jaromir Jagr. Ditto for the NBA and a goodbye for Kobe Bryant. The Pro Bowl highlighted the very last game for the Raiders Charles Woodson. Ironically, the most entertaining aspect of the 2015 All-Star Baseball game was letting Pete Rose on the field in Cincinnati. Of course, if MLB let him play that would have ended sports wagering forever, right? Thankfully, not much proposition wagering or even fantasy wagering in Charlie Hustle’s day.

A Suggestion Let’s show some respect again for these All-Star games. Make the players develop some sort of meaningful competition similar to what brought them there above their peers. Mandate they play a certain amount of time and/or give it a 100% effort. If not, it is a waste of time and certainly a waste of your wagering time, thought and evaluation. Save your money for what happens after the break or in the case of NFL football, the following week into the Super Bowl. Join the NASGB – No All-Star Game Betting. We therefore won’t be watching on TV and those sacred Nielsen ratings will dramatically fall off. Imagine what would happen if all Americans continued that threat into the regular season? Something insane and crazy might happen – like legalized & regulated U.S. sports wagering.

Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at For weekly betting insights, inlcuding NFL previews and picks from Glenn, click here.

Florida gaming bills fail to cross finish line

Florida gaming bills fail to cross finish line

Florida legislators appear to have failed in their latest effort to approve gambling measures – including the Seminole Tribe’s new $3b gaming compact – after a key Senate committee decided not to bring the matters up for a vote.

The Florida legislature is set to wrap up its work for the year on March 11 and hopes were high that the 20-year compact Gov. Rick Scott worked out with the Seminoles in December was in the bag. But additional last minute proposals put forward by the House Finance & Tax Committee on Monday proved a bridge too far for Senate leaders, who tabled the bills on Tuesday.

Senate leaders told local media that the bills stood a faint chance of being revived at the next meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. But doing so would be the responsibility of Sen. Rob Bradley, the sponsor of the bill that would have ratified the Seminole compact, and Bradley told the Miami Herald that he’d be “very, very surprised if we saw any action on this issue this session.”

Bradley said the bills became too overstuffed with gaming options – including approving slots operations in five additional counties, allowing horseracing tracks with slots and card rooms to scrap their live racing operations, and requiring voter referendums on any future gaming expansion — to find sufficient support for passage. Bradley characterized the House committee’s surprise 122-page gambling proposal as “too many ornaments added to the tree.”

The snafu also likely put a temporary freeze on the state’s efforts to regulate daily fantasy sports operations. The DFS legislative efforts had been bundled into the Seminole compact over fears that the tribe could have cited a standalone DFS bill as an expansion of gambling that violated the terms of its new compact.

If Bradley fails to revive his bill on Thursday, legislators will have to wait until 2017 to reconsider the proposals. In the meantime, the Seminoles continue to make monthly payments of around $100m under the terms of the old, expired compact, which allowed the tribe the exclusive right to operate slots outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The Seminoles had also enjoyed the exclusive right to offer house-banked card games like blackjack, but that deal expired last July. The state and the tribe are currently embroiled in a federal lawsuit over the tribe’s right to continue offering the card games, a fight that will likely reach a resolution before the new compact can be approved.

The new gaming compact would have allowed the Seminoles the exclusive right to offer craps and roulette games at their casino operations. In exchange, the tribe agreed to allow limited slots expansion by other operators in two counties and to make guaranteed payments to the state of at least $3b over the compact’s initial seven-year period. All of which now appears moot for another year.

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Predictions and picks for the 2016 Oscars

Predictions and picks for the 2016 Oscars

Now that all the significant award shows are finished it’s time to look for value bets for the 2016 Oscar race before the odds plummet. Oscars odds will change frequently until the show but history dictates that around 2 weeks before the telecast is the time to find the best odds for the Academy Awards. Looking ahead to the Oscars I have some predictions and picks, including winners for several of the big categories.

Best Picture: Usually this category represents the lowest value at the Oscars but this year is different. Prior to the Golden Globes, Spotlight, the film that focuses on the media’s spotlight on sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, was the overwhelming favorite. But at the Golden Globes Spotlight lost to The Revenant, a film described as an adventure western which looks at fur trappers in Montana and South Dakota and their deadly dealings with native Indians, and consequently the odds on Spotlight plummeted, although it remained the betting favorite. That changed again when the Producer’s Guild Award went to The Big Short, a film about the 2007-2008 financial crash and Spotlight was no longer the favorite. Industry analysts were quick to point out that the Producer’s Guild Award winner went on to win every Oscar for Best Picture since 2006 and only missed 7 times since its inception in 1989.As a result The Big Short which was trading at odds as high as 10/1 plummeted to become the even money favorite. Spotlight moved up to odds around 7/5 and The Revenant skyrocketed to 4/1 odds from the 8/5 odds it was offered at following the Golden Globe win.

The next award ceremony was the SAG Awards, which is comprised of actors and makes up the largest contingent of Academy Awards voters, and for best cast ensemble (their equivalent to Best Picture) the award went to Spotlight. The odds reversed again after that win and Spotlight became the slight favorite. Then the DGA Awards came out and best director went to Alejandro G Innaritu, and the odds on all 3 films tightened up. While the DGA Awards only looks at the director it has also been a good precursor to predicting the Best Picture winner. Spotlight was the slight 7/5 favorite, the Big Short was trading about 8/5 and The Revenant was 9/5 making it a toss-up and by far the closest odds in recent memory. The last award show was the BAFTA awards who handed the award to The Revenant. It doesn’t appear that win changed any of the Oscars odds.

So who will win this? My guess is that it won’t be The Big Short. The film was always a longshot and only gained any interest because of the PGA Award win. But the snub of that film at every other awards show tells me that for the first time in a decade the PGA will be wrong. It’s also notable that the SAG voters account for far more Academy Award voting members than the PGA does. That leaves it to either Spotlight or The Revenant. While the SAG voters chose Spotlight it’s important to realize that The Revenant wasn’t on the list of nominees. Again industry analysts suggest that this hurts The Revenant’s chances since no film that wasn’t on the SAG award nominee list for best cast won an Oscar since 1995, when Braveheart won, but the similarities between Braveheart and The Revenant are mind blowing. Both films were historical adventure dramas focusing on native warriors, both films missed out on the PGA Award, neither film was nominated for a SAG Award, both films featured one main acting character which is likely why it wasn’t nominated for best cast ensemble, both films finished around the same position for box office gross and both films were nominated for virtually the same categories like Best Director, Best Cinematography, best Costume Design and Best Film Editing. As a result, the fact that the SAG voters chose not to choose The Big Short was more notable than the fact they voted for Spotlight. I have no doubt that if The Revenant was on the SAG Awards list it would have won.

Given the closeness of the race, given the odds and given the similarities from this year to last when Innaritu won every directing award last year proceeding to easily win Best Picture for Birdman, despite Boyhood being the early favorite, look for the Revenant to win the Oscar for Best Picture. I’d also be surprised if the Revenant isn’t the odds on betting favorite on Oscar day.

Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance was favored to win this award for Bridge of Spies but that changed when Sylvester Stallone won The Golden Globe for his role as Rocky Balboa in Creed. It’s believed that Stallone’s win was more as a lifetime achievement for his role as Rocky where he always overlooked. And this could be a last chance to win a major award. Stallone wasn’t nominated for the SAG but Rylance didn’t win either, with the award going to Idris Elba for his role in Beasts of No Nation. Rylance finally won at the BAFTA Awards, but again Stallone wasn’t nominated. Rylance’s snub at the SAGs and the fact that Elba was always a longshot seems to set this up for Stallone. He’s loved in Hollywood, made a great speech at The Golden Globes and his odds never rose after the SAG Awards. There’s no question that Stallone will never be equated to Jack Nicholson or Leonardo di Caprio for acting ability but look for the Academy to award Stallone as a type of lifetime achievement on Oscar day. His odds of 2/5 are small but I’d be shocked if he doesn’t win.

Best Director: As I said I generally try to avoid big favorites but sometimes the odds are not low enough to avoid it. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has won everything. He won the Golden Globe, he won the DGA Award, he won the BAFTA and he will win the Oscar. The last 12 winners of the DGA Award won the Oscar (excluding Ben Affleck who would have won but wasn’t nominated) and other than 2000 and 2002 as well as 1995 when Ron Howard won the DGA but wasn’t nominated for the Oscar the DGA Award winner won every Academy Award since the Godfather in the early 1970s. This award is a foregone conclusion especially since Innaritu is loved in Hollywood. At odds of 2/7 he is an absolute lock to repeat his win from last year.

Best Supporting Actress: This is an interesting category. Rooney Mara was the favorite for her role in Carol from the beginning. She was actually nominated for Best Actress at the Golden Globes, so couldn’t win Best Supporting Actress, but she’s lost every award since, including the SAG and the BAFTA. Kate Winslet won the award for her role in Steve Jobs for both the Golden Globes and the BAFTA, while Alicia Vikander won the SAG for her role in The Danish Girl. Vikander was actually nominated for Best Actress at the BAFTA Awards but had no chance against Brie Larson who is a lock to win the award at the Oscars. Nevertheless, Vikander is the 2/5 favorite while Mara is 3/1 and Winslet is 5/1. I’m going to take a shot at the big odds and predict an upset win for Winslet. This is Winslet’s first nomination since 2009, when the Academy awarded her the Oscar for The Reader. Prior to that she was nominated and lost 5 times. In a popularity contest Winslet will win over either Mara or Vikander and while most of her colleagues from the SAG will probably vote for Vikander again, I expect the other voters to choose the more glamorous Winslet. At the odds she represents great value. One thing for certain is she won’t be 5/1 on Oscar day.

Best Costume Design: Cinderella is the 3/2 favorite to win this but these “B” movies never win the Oscar. The Academy will look to award Mad Max: Fury Road for its success and this is one category where they can do so. The costumes for the film were excellent, it’s more of a mainstream movie and at 5/2 odds represents great value.

Best Documentary Short: Usually the short films are the hardest to predict but this year it’s really between two films Body Team 12, a film about workers in Liberia who gathered the bodies of Ebola casualties and Claude Langmann: Spectres of the Shoah, a film about a man who went out and interviewed holocaust survivors to show what they are up to now so that they are seen as successful individuals rather than as victims. While the latter film is good I expect the Academy to give it to Body Team 12. Not only is Ebola a more current and highly political topic but 2 executive producers of the film were Olivia Wilde, a highly regarded actress and Paul Allen who was one of the co-founders of Microsoft. The film has also been getting a lot of play recently on the talk shows. At odds of 10/13 Body Team 12 may represent the best value of all for the Oscars. I’d be surprised if it’s more than 1/2 on Oscar day.

I’ll have an updated list of every category including updated odds before the Oscar telecast.

Read insights from Hartley Henderson every week here at OSGA and check out Hartley’s RUMOR MILL!

Your Early Guide To March Madness Betting


bettingPart of the allure in college basketball is how quickly things can change. Last year, Kentucky was a seemingly unbeatable juggernaut surrounded by legitimate threats from all over the country. It felt like there were superstars and future NBA greats in the making. This year’s sort of different.

Your Early Guide To March Madness BettingI say “sort of” because we’ll get caught up in the fury of March Madness betting once again, and talent is always relative at the college level. Kansas, Oklahoma, Michigan State, UNC and Villanova have all shared top honors in the AP Top 25 poll this year. And all five of them are still rolling around in the top end of those rankings. Does this mean that college basketball has achieved the zenith of parity?

Nope. The teams in college basketball this season simply aren’t as good as they have been in recent years. By Week 17 last season, there were eight elite teams that had lost three games or fewer. There are zero such teams this year.

All that does is level out the playing field and make longshots much more tempting. The best teams in the country are all beatable by lesser-ranked schools. But that doesn’t mean you should swing for the fences just because it’s a bit of a down year.

The average ranking of a championship team in the postseason AP Top-25 poll over the last decade has been 4.3. That includes two number ones (Kentucky ’12, Florida ’06) and the 18th ranked UConn Huskies in 2014. The second lowest ranked team to win a championship is the 2011 UConn Huskies.

So as much as I want to try and create this frenzy by talking about some of the low hanging teams in the country, it’s hard to really stray that far away from the legitimate contenders. Listen, in the moment you can go bananas when a team like Florida International or Wichita State goes completely bonkers. That’s what the March Madness betting spreads are for.

The futures and long-term prop bets are an altogether different matter.


Long odds can make for great payout…but not-so-great bets.

#25 California Bears (+3300 to win NCAAB Championship)

The Bears have a legitimate chance at creeping up the rankings by the end of the year, but it is worth noting that their opening odds to win the national title have gone from +2500 +3300. So why bother taking a look?

The Bears have two top-10 prospects in the upcoming draft, and both are absolutely ripping at this level. Jaylen Brown is an unstoppable swingman who can penetrate to the basket seemingly at will, while power-forward Ivan Rabb is a fairly dominant big who desperately needs to put on more size.

I like the pair of them, and at +3300 it’s not a bad flier play if you have some spare change kicking around. It’s not a great one either, but that’s why we call them longshots.

#19 Baylor Bears (+10000 to win NCAAB Championship)

People always fall in love with Baylor’s length, and this year they’re just as tempting. They’re one of the best rebounding teams in the league, but that’s a byproduct of their poor perimeter shooting. Don’t fall in to this trap. Odds like this never pay out.

#18 Arizona Wildcats (+2200 to win NCAAB Championship)

In a crazy year like 2015-16, a team like Arizona is going to generate some buzz. I get it. They’re a fantastic scoring team as usual. In the last five seasons, they’ve gone to the Sweet Sixteen or the Elite Eight. But this year, they just don’t feel like one of the best teams in the country. They’d need to string together a remarkable run of wins and I just don’t see it in them.

#13 Utah Utes (+6600 to win NCAAB Championship)

As much as I’m enamored by center Jakob Poetl, Utah leaves too much to be desired everywhere else. They score a decent amount of points, but their perimeter defense is soft. A recent 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS streak has garnered the attention of spread bettors everywhere. Keep leaning on them on a game-by-game basis, even in the tournament. Just don’t buy in when it comes to the futures market.


These teams will make better spread munching bets than they will long term investments

#22 Kentucky Wildcats (+900 to win NCAAB Championship)

The Wildcats are amongst the top end bets to make in the futures market, and I’m not sure why outside of their public appeal. Jamal Murray is a fantastic guard who has cranked up the heat lately, scoring 26.4 points during a 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS run, but he’s very much alone on this team.

The Wildcats are not a super deep squad, and though John Calipari is one of the finest recruiters in the land, there wasn’t a whole lot of incoming freshman talent to grab this past year. When you’re a high turnover program like Kentucky, that kind of stuff will show. I’d shy away from the Wildcats in any form of March Madness betting, while preferring the SEC rival South Carolina as a spread busting dynamo in earlier rounds. The Gamecocks are a blissful 18-8 ATS this year.

#12 Indiana Hoosiers (+3300 to win NCAAB Championship)

I love that this team can put up points, but I despise the way they play defense. I hate it when teams allow more than 41-percent in allowed field goal percentage, and Indiana gives up 44.2-percent from the field. Their -19.0 point stinker against the Spartans also stands out. Beating up Big Ten opponents is one thing. Taking on the best in the country isn’t going to make things easier for a defensively inept, undersized squad.

#9 Oregon Ducks (+3300 to win NCAAB Championship)

Like all teams in this category, Oregon’s scoring is exciting, but their defense and inability to rebound the ball effectively pump the brakes on the Ducks hype train.

#8 UNC Tar Heels (+800 to win NCAAB Championship)

I can absolutely see why a lot of people like UNC, but I can’t see why people would love them. Their odds to win the title are inflated by their public backing. There’s a huge faction of people who simply want the Tar Heels to do well. It might be nostalgic. It also might be because they’ve never escaped the first weekend of the tournament for the past five years. There’s really no reason to believe that this veteran group is capable of ending that streak.


I like all three, but only in the context of the 17-week season.

#6 Oklahoma Sooners (+1200)

Do you believe in Buddy Hield that much? I mean, I love watching him play. He’s going to be one of the most exciting players in the tournament. But Oklahoma has flirted with greatness like this before with Blake Griffin. There’s just not enough supporting talent around Hield to push Oklahoma past the second weekend of March Madness betting. He’s turnover prone simply by virtue of how much he touches the ball. I hate telling people to bet against him, and for the most part you don’t. But you can freely bet against Oklahoma as a team because they rely on their star way too much.

#4 Virginia Cavaliers (+1400)

#3 Villanova Wildcats (+1400)

Both of these teams are built for the regular season and I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it’s hard to envision any of them really pushing the distance. All of them rely on perimeter shooting and lack size to an important degree. Poor rebounding teams rarely make for worthy takes in the futures market when it comes to March Madness betting. A lot of people are going to take these guys as “under the radar” plays. Don’t bother. They have “letdown” stamped across their foreheads.


The top four takes in my estimation and I can’t believe that Xavier is one of them.

#17 Duke Blue Devils (+2000 to win NCAAB Championship)

I know, I know. Everybody hates Duke. Fuck these guys, right? Well, I’m always going to look at a team that can make me money and these odds on Duke are as good as they’re ever going to get.

Listen, aside from being the defending champs, Duke has everything you’d want in a long term Mach Madness betting pick. Grayson Allen is a superb player who knows how to win. Marshall Plumlee is one of the better, technical big men in the country. And Brandon Ingram might end up being one of the most outstanding performers in the tournament.

So hate on Duke all you want. I’m throwing a chip at their +2000 odds without even thinking.

#5 Xavier Musketeers (+1200)

Betting on Xavier seems like sheer lunacy. But isn’t that why they call it “March Madness”? Xavier lost a bit of momentum after beating up Villanova because they followed that performance up with a thumping at the hands of Seton Hall. Still, there’s a lot to like here.

Xavier is long, mean and agile. They can pound the boards with excessive force because they have three capable bigs in the rotation, and they’re a balanced team. They get scoring from everywhere – and lots of it since they average 80.4 points per game. There’s something about them that reminds me of the 2013 Louisville Cardinal.

The big question is whether or not they can really hold on against some of the big name teams. But if you’re looking at this season thematically, it’s been weird, and nothing would be stranger than Xavier going the distance.

#2 Michigan State Spartans (+600)

#1 Kansas Jayhawks (+500)

Take your pick between the two top teams. Hell, you can even use both of them as heavy hedge plays. Bill Self and Tom Izzo are two of the greatest college basketball coaches to ever grace the sport, and their teams are the best overall from almost every consensus ranking (including the Pomeroy Ratings). The Jayhawks grade out slightly higher, but Michigan State has faced a much tougher schedule. And considering the pedigree of both of these schools, they make terrific takes in the futures market.

Well, unless you prefer chasing dogs like the rest of us March Madness betting maniacs.

There will be more to come as we – ahem – march closer to the big dance.

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Sports betting advocates play outside game

Sports betting advocates play outside game

Advocates of sports betting are playing the outside game, hoping that pressure from the states will push Washington toward legalization.

Rather than seeking action on Capitol Hill, proponents of sports betting are hoping that growing acceptance of betting in the states — driven in part by the popularity of daily fantasy sports games — will help overturn a 1992 federal ban on most forms of sports gambling.


The American Gaming Association (AGA) is spearheading the effort and working to gain partners in the public and private sector. “We’re taking a different approach,” Geoff Freeman, the chief executive of the AGA, told The Hill. “We’re creating an environment where policymakers are inclined to ask the questions that we would like to see them ask about the issue.”

In particular, the AGA is raising questions about the flow of money in the illegal sports betting market, the lack of consumer protections and how states and local governments could benefit if that activity were regulated.

Americans spent $149 billion on illegal sports bets nationwide in 2015, the AGA estimates. About 97 percent of the $4.2 billion wagered on this year’s Super Bowl, the group says, was done illegally.

Congress passed a law banning sports betting in 1992 known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). While states were given a one-year window to legalize some sports betting, only Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon chose to do so.

Proponents are now claiming that technology and other aspects of betting have changed the game, making the law antiquated.

Freeman and others at the AGA are having meetings with governors, attorneys general and state-level lawmakers and law enforcement officials in hopes of creating grassroots pressure to overturn the 1992 statute.

“The general public would agree, the federal government can’t seem to get anything done,” said J.B. Van Hollen, the former attorney general of Wisconsin who is working with the AGA on the issue through his consulting firm, Van Hollen Consulting. “States are stepping up more and more to fill the void. [Federal law] prohibits states that don’t have gaming to do any regulation of it.”

“The more we’ve learned” about illicit sports gaming, he says, “the more we’ve realized that we need to do something about it.”

But the push for sports betting has been overshadowed to an extent by the controversy over daily fantasy sports sites.

While roughly two-dozen states have shown some sort of legislative movement on daily fantasy sports — an industry that argues it is a form of entertainment, rather than gambling — only four have taken up sports betting in recent years.

We are “taking on an issue that isn’t front and center,” Freeman says. “The first step is placing it there, and the second step is winning. It’s a bigger lift, but it gives us the opportunity to be very creative.”

At the moment, all eyes in the gambling industry are on New Jersey, where a panel of federal judges on Wednesday will hear arguments to allow the legalization of sports betting in the state.

The State of New Jersey is fighting in the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals to legalize wagers at casinos and racetracks there, hoping to give a boost to the struggling horse racing industry and casino-centric Atlantic City.

The NCAA and four sports leagues — the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL — are challenging the state, saying that legalization would damage the integrity of their brands and violate federal law.

On Wednesday, 12 judges will listen to arguments from both sides; at least seven must side with the state of New Jersey in order for the state’s challenge to be successful. It could be months before a decision is released.

“There’s an awareness among folks that whatever the purpose of the current law, it’s not really working today,” said Joseph Asher, the CEO of William Hill US, Nevada’s largest sports book operator.

He said it might take more than just lobbying pressure to move Capitol Hill toward action.

“People are generally realistic; there are a lot of issues going on that are all seeking the attention of Congress,” he told The Hill. “Perhaps it takes a court ruling, either in the 3rd Circuit or elsewhere, that may create the impetus to move the issue forward.”

In the meantime, the Pennsylvania legislature — another state covered by the 3rd Circuit — is moving to pass a symbolic resolution that condemns the 1992 law.

“Even amid strong Federal laws banning sports betting in the United States, reports highlight that illegal sports betting is widespread and is considered the number one form of gambling among American residents,” the resolution reads.

Pennsylvania’s House Gaming Oversight Committee approved the measure last week, and it is now heading to the House floor.

Even sports leagues, which are deeply involved in the New Jersey lawsuit and have a history of opposing sports betting, appear to be coming around.

While the NFL still contains strong language in its league policy that declares it “opposes all forms of illegal gambling, as well as legal betting on NFL games or other professional, college or Olympic sports,” there have been some mixed signals. Its teams, for example, play games in London, where the practice of sports betting is legal.

On the other end of the spectrum, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been speaking out in favor of legalization of both daily fantasy and traditional sports betting.

“One of the reasons I’ve been pushing to legalize sports betting is not because that I’m necessarily an advocate of sports betting, it’s because all the research shows that it’s a multihundred-billion dollar business just in the United States right now,” Silver said in a FiveThirtyEight podcast last year. “In terms of the integrity of the sports leagues, it’s only bad news for us when it continues to remain underground.”

Many leagues have also signed deals with daily fantasy companies, data providers and oddsmakers, according to an ESPN report.

Freeman is also busy behind the scenes trying to gather a broad coalition of groups who could support or eventually benefit from the legalization of sports betting — including law enforcement, broadcasters, lotteries, convenience stores and even the Humane Society of the United States, which remains concerned about bets on animal fighting.

The National Association of Broadcasters and the National Association of Convenience Stores each told The Hill that they were not working on the sports betting issue, however.

Freedman says he wants to “streamline how Washington looks at the issue.”

“We’ve all seen these debates where Washington is inclined to do something, but because the interested parties can’t get on the same page, it gives Congress a way out,” he said. “We’re going to work to avoid that.”

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