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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UMBC made history as the first 16-seed to defeat a 1-seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament last week.
UMBC was a 20.5-point underdog to Virginia, the top overall seed, making it the second-largest upset by point-spread standards since the field expanded in 1985.
Norfolk State defeated Missouri as a 21.5-point underdog on March 16, 2012, six years to the day of the Retrievers’ shocker.
With Virginia’s loss, teams favored by 20 or more in the NCAA tournament are 155-3 straight up since 1985. In addition to Norfolk State’s win over Missouri, Santa Clara defeated Arizona as a 20-point underdog in 1993.
A group of UMBC put down an $800 moneyline bet on their alma mater.
Eric Barger bet $800 at The Venetian in Las Vegas that the Retrievers would beat the Cavaliers, even though No. 16 seeds had gone 0-for-135 against No. 1 seeds in the men’s tournament.
“I go with my boys to Vegas every tournament, and we did pretty well on Thursday,” Barger said. “Me and my buddy Dan went to UMBC, so we spent all day talking up how much we were going to bet.”
The $800 was arrived at after the traveling group of eight men put in $100 each.
“We, of course, thought we were throwing our money down the drain,” said Barger, 42, who works for an airline company in Washington, D.C. “We expected to be down pretty quickly, but we hung in there, and they won by 20. It was surreal.”
After the win, Barger went to cash the ticket to the tune of a $16,000 profit. In typical Vegas style, Barger said each of the eight men took $200 and put that down on a single game of roulette. Their number hit for another $1,900, which was split again.
Another bettor risked $100,000 on a three-team moneyline parlay on heavy favorites and lost when Wichita State was upset by Buffalo.
Big money-line parlays on heavy favorites have become increasingly popular at Las Vegas sports books.
“Every time in the tournament, I get them,” Wynn Las Vegas sports book director Johnny Avello said.
While one Wynn bettor won a $90,000, three-team money-line parlay on North Carolina, Cincinnati and Xavier that paid $10,000, another Wynn bettor wasn’t so fortunate.
The gambler lost a $100,000 three-team money-line parlay that would have paid $26,000 on Cincinnati, Michigan State and Wichita State when the Shockers were stunned by Marshall. The 13th-seeded Thundering Herd, who closed as 13.5-point underdogs, beat Wichita State 81-75.
A few scenes of the first weekend of March Madness from Las Vegas sportsbooks were shared on social media.
Scenes from Sin City: Part of the #MarchMadness Over/Under Crew at @TheMirageLV sportsbook celebrates hitting the UNDER on OKLA-URI first half. Total was 73.5. They are off and running! @Covers pic.twitter.com/MqyPTa1hO3
— Patrick Everson (@Covers_Vegas) March 15, 2018
— Tommy Lorenzo (@sportsbooktom) March 17, 2018
— Mike Van Ermen (@MikeVanErmen) March 18, 2018
Professional sports leagues are preparing for the potential of sports betting becoming legal across the country this year.
“We’re realistic that sports betting in all likelihood is going to expand in the United States,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said on a conference call with reporters last week.
The four major U.S. sports leagues have been bracing for all possibilities, both ready and in some cases eager for the new world that could be waiting on the other side of the court’s decision. To varying degrees, the leagues have been educating players, have started studying analytics that monitor betting data and have researched the partnerships and business opportunities that surely will open new revenue streams.
While the leagues historically have considered sports betting a serious threat to business and banded together a quarter-century ago to encourage Congress to pass the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, some attitudes have changed. Manfred recently said sports gambling “can be a form of fan engagement; it can fuel the popularity of a sport. We all understand that.”
A Trump aide reportedly lost his job due to his sports betting habits.
President Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, lost his White House job this week because an investigation found he was a frequent gambler whose habit posed a security risk, according to two people familiar with his departure.
A background investigation found that McEntee bet tens of thousands of dollars at a time, making him unsuitable for a sensitive position close to the president, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. There was no indication his gambling was illegal, but there was concern that the 27-year-old could be vulnerable to outside influence, the person said.