bettingroundup010518 Betting roundup

First-time entrant wins largest SuperContest; Patriots enter playoffs as consensus favorites

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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A first-time entrant won the largest ever Westgate SuperContest with a 58-22-5 record.

On Sunday, Briceton Branch Sr. clinched the Westgate SuperContest with the Atlanta Falcons’ 22-10 win over the Carolina Panthers. In his first time in the contest, Branch beat more than 2,700 handicappers — the largest field ever — and won $1.3 million (about $950,000 after taxes). Each entry costs $1,500, and participants make five NFL picks against the spread each week.

The SuperContest has exploded in popularity over the past decade, producing a variety of winners. Last year, a Starbucks barista won. In 2013, a financial trader with expertise in math and statistics took home the title. This year, it went to Branch, a 39-year-old entrepreneur from Portland, Oregon, who started getting interested in sports betting in 2012.

He did it, he says, with a mix of gut feel and sleep therapy — or at least that’s all he’d reveal.

“I can’t give up my recipe because the oddsmakers will read about it, and then that will give them some light to try to counter on me, because it’s a silent game of chess,” Branch told ESPN in a Tuesday phone interview. “But I can just tell you, when I do run my process and pick my teams, I do feel my gut out and I do sleep on them. I can tell you that much. But as far as what I’m looking for, this and that, I can’t speak on that. That’s like a million-dollar question.”

The Patriots enter the playoffs as the consensus favorites to win the Super Bowl.

The Patriots are 2-1 at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. The Minnesota Vikings, who are hosting the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, are next at 4-1, despite being the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

The Philadelphia Eagles, the top seed in the NFC, are 15-1. The loss of quarterback Carson Wentz to injury in early December dropped the Eagles from NFC favorites to a second-tier contender. They have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but have worse odds than the New Orleans Saints (5-1) and Los Angeles Rams (12-1) in the NFC.

An Arizona State assistant football coach was cleared by the NCAA following his involvement with a sports betting site.

Arizona State’s compliance office has determined that new linebackers coach Antonio Pierce’s promotional work with a sports gambling information website does not violate NCAA rules, but the school says his relationship with the site will not continue.

Pierce was announced as part of new coach Herm Edwards’ staff on Dec. 22.

On Friday morning, Pierce tweeted a link to a contest that allows fans to compete against him in picking NFL games for the chance to win a trip to the Pro Bowl. He quickly deleted the tweet.

Since September, Pierce has written a weekly picks column for, in which he picked NFL games against the point spread. His last column was posted Dec. 8.

Because there is no actual gambling on the site and Pierce was only providing advice, Arizona State determined it was not a violation, according to a school spokesman.

The Asbury Park Press published an op-ed penned by U.S. Senator Bob Mendendez about sports betting.

Hypocrisy and constitutional arguments aside, there are strong policy reasons for repealing an antiquated federal law. By bringing sports gaming into the light, states can collect much needed revenue as well as protect consumers against underground and dangerous operations. New Jerseyans deserve nothing less. It’s what the people clearly want.

A solid infrastructure, strict guidelines and new technologies make New Jersey perfectly poised to implement sports betting. In addition to brick and mortar casinos, New Jersey has enjoyed robust revenues from online gambling. In fact, 2017 has already shattered records with $200 million in the first 10 months. This has coincided with a rebirth of Atlantic City. This growth in revenue is in large part due to significant capital investments by the state in online gaming facilities, equipment and technology that makes the practice safe and secure. In short, New Jersey has shown over and over that is can safely and effectively regulate gaming to the benefit of New Jerseyans and visitors alike.

As we wait patiently until likely the spring for the nation’s highest court to rule, Supreme Court watchers will no doubt make friendly wagers on whether the justices will roll the dice on New Jersey. As for me, I always bet on New Jersey.

Illinois joins the list of states working on sports betting legislation.

H 4214 is just a placeholder bill for now, but the intent appears to be to fill it with language that would regulate sports wagering in the state.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang, states it “creates the Legalization and Regulation of Sports Betting Act.”

Lang has been involved in gaming issues in the state previously, at one time advocating for a Chicago casino.

USA Today said a sports betting tout who they featured in a recent article is now banned from multiple Las Vegas sportsbooks.

Robert Gorodetsky, a high-stakes sports gambler, said he has been banned from several Las Vegas sports books and casinos and likely faces additional bans after a USA TODAY Sports story about the controversial bettor was published Tuesday.

Gorodetsky said he thinks talking to USA TODAY Sports about his alleged ties with NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. and an NBA assistant coach led to the bans by MGM Resorts International and sports book William Hill and that other action will follow.

“I’m banned for life basically from Vegas,’’ Gorodetsky said. “My life is over basically, but nothing I can do.’’

Debra DeShong, a spokesperson for MGM Resorts International, confirmed Gorodetsky has been denied services but offered no further details. William Hill, which offers a phone betting app that Gorodetsky has used to wager more than $26 million this year, had no comment, company spokesman Michael Grodsky said.