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Billy Walters serves time in Florida prison; Duke opens as favorites to win 2019 title

Each Friday, we’ll comb through as many articles, tweets and podcasts as we can find related to the world of sports betting and daily fantasy sports, and publish the good stuff here. 

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An ESPN article published earlier this week takes a look at famous sports bettor Billy Walters‘ life in prison.

William “Billy” T. Walters, 71, who in his prime had the financial muscle and acumen to move betting lines worldwide and scared Las Vegas sportsbooks and offshore gambling operators to the degree that they refused to take his bets, is laying low inside the Pensacola Federal Prison Camp, a minimum-security facility housed on a naval air station in the Florida Panhandle.

Walters is up at dawn and goes about his day in a Christmas green, prison-issued uniform. The sugar-white beaches gather waves just 15 miles away, but they’re out of sight and mind. So, too, is Walters’ pampered life of private jets, designer homes in places such as Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and rounds of golf at plush courses. His business life outside of sports gambling — playing the stock market and managing his car dealerships and commercial real estate ventures — also has been neutered.

After getting bounced in this year’s Elite Eight, Duke opened as the favorites to win the 2019 men’s basketball national championship.

Duke opens as a 5-1 favorite for 2019 despite expecting to lose top talent to the NBA draft.

But Mike Krzyzewski has brought in the nation’s top recruiting class in 2018, led by R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish.

Villanova, who won their second title in the past three years by beating Michigan are installed as 8–1 favorites.

Kansas and Kentucky are also at 8–1, followed by North Carolina at 12-1, with Michigan State, Gonzaga and Virginia coming in at 15-1. The Wolverines are 20–1 favorites, while Oregon, West Virginia, UCLA and Auburn are each 30-1 favorites.

An ESPN article looks at how Las Vegas becomes a “forbidden home” to college basketball in the postseason despite being shunned by the NCAA.

During two weeks of conference tournament fervor last month, fans of 41 programs across four leagues descended upon Las Vegas to watch college basketball — among other, perhaps more hedonistic, pursuits. A week later, amid the frenzy of NCAA tournament week, nearly all of Vegas’ 170,000 hotel rooms were occupied. On the Thursday and Friday of the tournament, lines for the casino sportsbooks formed well before sunrise.

There is no city that truly embraces and celebrates the March Madness phenomenon like Vegas, and yet it remains a forbidden home in the eyes of the NCAA. The governing body continues to refuse to hold a championship of any kind (basketball, hockey, gymnastics, golf, you name it) in Las Vegas or the state of Nevada because of sports wagering. Section 4, Article 5 of the NCAA General Administrative Guidelines states the following: “No predetermined or non-predetermined session of an NCAA championship may be conducted in a state with legal wagering that is based on single-game betting on the outcome of any event (i.e., high school, college or professional) in a sport in which the NCAA conducts a championship.”

ESPN’s David Purdum wrote a feature article about how the Raiders become comfortable enough to move to Las Vegas despite the NFL’s recent resistance to the city and sports betting.

“I want to be very clear,” Bernhard said. “I’m not taking credit for the Raiders. But [the report] was one of those little ripples in the process, and it concludes that, for many of the problems the NFL was concerned about, not only was Las Vegas not the problem, Las Vegas — and more generally, a regulated gaming industry — is actually the answer. Or at least, it’s better than underground bookies.”

Snyder, the former UNLV president who attended the first meeting, believes Bernhard is being overly humble and describes the report as being an early “catalyst” in bringing the Raiders to Las Vegas.

“We’re going to look back at this particular time in history as being a transitional moment for the city,” Snyder said. “We’re a city that was known as the entertainment capital of the world. I think 10 years from now, we’re going to look back and see that this was the turning point for it to become the sports entertainment capital of the world. I’ve said many times that this stadium, over time, will become the most successful stadium in the world.”

The Nevada Gaming Control Board have expanded the types of bets sportsbooks in the state can offer on the NFL draft.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board listed 32 different types of wagers that could be offered on the draft, nearly twice as many as were allowed last year.

Some new additions:

• Player X or player Y drafted first with odds.

• Player X with draft position handicap versus player Y.

• More offense players than defensive players drafted.

Since the 1980s, Nevada Gaming Control had restricted betting to events that took place on the field. The agency loosened its rules in recent years and began allowing wagering on events such as the Heisman Trophy presentation and the draft.

In an opinion article published by the New York Times, Gary Belsky points out that sports betting has been closely tied with sports throughout history.

There’s no record of it, but it’s almost a certainty that as soon as the first pair of crook-wielding Scottish shepherds decided to see who could knock dried sheep dung closest to a rabbit hole — golf! — so, too, did a couple of nearby highland lads agree to wager on the outcome. Ancient Olympics, scholars believe, had betting scandals, involving bribetaking athletes throwing a wrestling match or foot race.

More relevant and recent is the close connection between betting and two of the world’s oldest and most popular organized sports, cricket and baseball — both, it should be noted, invented in England.

New Jersey has now spent more than $7 million in legal bills in its effort to challenge sports betting laws.

Two private law firms with connections to former Gov. Chris Christie combined to bill $7.2 million since 2012, according to invoices and information obtained by Observer through a public records request.

The legal costs are part of a five-year effort by Christie to bring Las Vegas-style sports gambling to the state’s casinos and racetracks. The high court could rule on the case as early as this month.