2017 NCAA Tournament Odds: North Carolina, UCLA, Gonzaga Lead the Pack

2017 NCAA Tournament Odds: North Carolina, UCLA, Gonzaga Lead the Pack

Two weeks ago we reviewed the odds offered by online sportsbook Bovada for the 2017 NCAA Tournament, and with March Madness right around the corner it’s time to take a second look.

The tournament tips off on Tuesday, March 14, but two days before that Selection Sunday will officially set the 68-team field. In the meantime, most teams have but a handful of dates left on the schedule.

That leaves top contenders and potential number one seeds like Kansas (26-3), Gonzaga (29-1), and Villanova (27-3) time for fine tuning, while bubble teams such as Syracuse (17-13) and Seton Hall (18-10) get a few more chances to impress the selection committee.

The top-ranked team in the nation is the Jayhawks, but Bovada lists Kansas (+800) as its fourth-most likely team to win the tournament – despite their six-game winning streak.

Conversely, the best of the bunch on Bovada is North Carolina (25-5; +500), and while the Tar Heels’ record isn’t the gaudiest, it includes three wins over Associated Press top-25 ranked squads in as many weeks. The bookmakers have taken notice, moving North Carolina from +1200 to their current position atop the betting table.

Momentum may just be on head coach Roy Williams’ side, and with two tournament titles already under his belt, that’s a bad sign for the field.

The previous top odds at Bovada were held by Gonzaga at +700, but the Bulldogs’ only loss of the year to BYU put a stop to their runaway regular season. Gonzaga (+750) now sits in third overall in terms of odds.

Among the other heavyweights offering odds of 10-1 or better are UCLA (26-3; +700) and Duke (22-7; +900).

For the Blue Devils, sitting as the 17th-ranked team in the nation according to the AP after entering the year as the preseason number one must be a tough pill to swallow. But even as head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been forced to use 10 different starting lineups, Duke has hung around to at least put itself in the national title discussion.

If you prefer longshots to leaders, Syracuse (17-13; +4000) offers a curious case from a betting perspective. After enjoying a surprise run to the Final Four last year, head coach Jim Boeheim turned over most of the Orange’s roster. That inexperience is evidenced by a lackluster regular season record, but Syracuse still has the ACC tournament to turn things around.

Last time we checked in the Orange were listed at +6600, but despite dropping two of three since then, they’ve climbed in Bovada’s estimation.

You can review the current odds posted for all 49 NCAA Tournament contenders via the table below:

2017 NCAA Tournament Winner Odds

Team NCAA Tournament Odds on 2/27
North Carolina +500
UCLA +700
Gonzaga +750
Kansas +800
Duke +900
Villanova +1100
Kentucky +1200
Oregon +1200
Louisville +1400
Arizona +1400
Florida +2500
Florida State +2500
Baylor +2800
West Virginia +2800
Virginia +2800
Wisconsin +2800
Purdue +2800
Maryland +4000
Syracuse +4000
Cincinnati +6600
Butler +6600
Notre Dame +7500
Southern Methodist +7500
Creighton +10000
Michigan State +10000
St. Mary’s CA +10000
Wichita State +10000
Iowa State +12500
Miami (FL) +15000
Xavier +20000
USC +20000
South Carolina +20000
Oklahoma State +20000
Indiana +25000
Michigan +25000
Northwestern +30000
Kansas State +30000
Dayton +30000
Marquette +30000
Virginia Tech +30000
Rhode Island +30000
California +50000
Seton Hall +50000
Alabama +50000
Clemson +50000
North Carolina State +50000
Wake Forest +50000
Monmouth +50000
Middle Tennessee +50000

 

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FantasyDraft Consents in to Help Out Mind trip Points Player Foundation Following Latter’s Failure

FantasyDraft Consents in to Help Out Mind trip Points Player Foundation Following Latter’s Failure

Following the sudden collapse of mid-major daily fantasy sports (DFS) site Fantasy Aces, players who were left in limbo have been offered a reprieve courtesy of rival DFS platform FantasyDraft.

Per a press release issued on February 13, the owners of FantasyDraft have reached an agreement with the bankruptcy trustee handling Fantasy Aces’ dissolution. As part of that agreement, FantasyDraft obtained information on player accounts and related balances in hopes of reimbursing player funds.

In the statement, FantasyDraft outlined a plan to commit cash on hand to pay the vast majority of Fantasy Aces players back,

“As members of the DFS community, committed to doing things the right way, we feel that we need to do our part to protect the lifeblood of the industry: the players.

Through this agreement, we have committed to reimburse Fantasy Aces players up to $ 1,000 cash to cover missing account balances, this makes 99.6% of the players whole.”

As for the small group of Fantasy Aces players with balances between $ 1,000 and $ 5,000, Fantasy Draft will provide $ 1,000 in cash before paying off the remaining funds with FantasyCash – or credit available for wagering on their site.

Players with more than $ 5,000 stuck on Fantasy Aces will receive $ 1,000 in cash, $ 4,000 in FantasyCash, and the remaining balance as an earnable bonus.

All reimbursement terms are conditional, pending court approval of the agreement reached between Fantasy Draft and FantasyAces’ bankruptcy trustees.

The agreement seemingly concludes a whirlwind month for the two former DFS competitors, one which began in late January with the announcement that FantasyDraft was poised to acquire Fantasy Aces.

At that time Fantasy Aces, which was founded in 2012 by brothers Brian and Trent Frisina, ceased running real money contests in anticipation of transferring player accounts to FantasyDraft.

A day later, on January 30, FantasyDraft issued a brief statement pointing to “issues identified during our due diligence” which left the site “unable to purchase the assets of Fantasy Aces.”

Within the week, as speculation mounted about Fantasy Aces’ financial situation, players’ worst fears were confirmed. Fantasy Aces filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Central District of California, before informing players that the site was “temporarily shuttered” with “all accounts on hold.”

Fantasy Aces also sent an email to its player base which claimed that the site was suffering from unforeseen financial burdens:

“We have unfortunately exhausted every possible financial option with no success. We fought as hard as we could, in the end without a major infusion or acquisition we just were not able to make it.”

But as initial bankruptcy files were submitted, it became clear that Fantasy Aces’ failure was self-inflicted.

Per those filings, the site’s management failed to segregate player funds for its 30,900 accounts – the same act of negligence that sparked the infamous failure of Full Tilt Poker. By player funds to be freely spent on operating expenses, Fantasy Aces’ management burned through $ 1.3 million of its players’ money.

The financial malfeasance was documented in the court filings as occurring thusly:

“Although Debtor was supposed to keep the amounts in the Players’ ‘accounts’ in trust and separate from Debtor’s operating funds, it did not do so and all Player funds were used by Debtor to pay operating expenses.”

Other revelations from the bankruptcy filings include the high level of stratification within DFS player bases. Of the 30,900 player accounts on Fantasy Aces when the site shuttered, only 14 are owed more than $ 10,000, while the highest amount of debt owed to a single player is $ 91,000.

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Area iGaming Profession Groups New Every month Cashflow Release in The first of the year

Area iGaming Profession Groups New Every month Cashflow Release in The first of the year

Per the latest monthly revenue report issued by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), the state’s online gambling industry began 2017 with a record-setting January.

All told, the five brick and mortar casino entities licensed to operate online gambling ventures generated $ 18.8 million in revenue last month. That figure represents a 28 percent rate of growth over January of 2016, when New Jersey’s iGaming industry recorded $ 13.3 million in revenue.

And while the state’s streak of nine consecutive months tallying year-on-year revenue growth of 30 percent or higher came to an end, that near miss still qualifies as a rousing success.

In terms of month-on-month growth, the entire industry experienced a 2.4 percent uptick from its revenue count in December of 2016.

Breaking the numbers down by game type, the online casino segment – which includes virtual slot machines and table games like blackjack and roulette – accounted for $ 16.5 million. That was good for a 32 percent rate of growth over the same period last year, while online casino revenue expanded by 1.2 percent over December’s mark.

The online poker segment contributed $ 2.34 million in revenue during January, or 8.7 percent more than the same period last year. But when comparing December of 2016 to January, online poker revenue spiked by 11 percent.

As far as the various licensed operators and their collection of online gambling products were concerned, the Golden Nugget’s licenses (Golden Nugget Casino, Betfair Casino, and Play SugarHouse) topped their competitors with $ 4,776,218 in combined revenue. That figure nearly matched the group’s record-setting performance in December – despite the Golden Nugget iGaming operation being limited to casino games only.

The group of Caesars Interactive Entertainment licenses (Caesars Casino, Harrah’s Casino, WSOP.com, and 888.com) were second-best with $ 4,032,263 in total monthly revenue. Of that amount, $ 3,318,899 was generated by casino play, while poker produced $ 713,364 more.

New Jersey also has Caesars licensees to thank for its strong online casino performance month-to-month, as its 10.80 percent rate of growth over December represented the only one over 0.51 percent within the industry.

Judging by market share, the Golden Nugget’s trio of licensees have made the greatest gains, while the Borgata’s four licensees (Borgata Casino, Borgata Poker, PartyPoker NJ, and Pala Casino) have slumped badly.

Back in May of 2016, the Golden Nugget group sat in fourth place in a five-horse race, holding only 19 percent of New Jersey’s iGaming industry market share. At that time, Borgata owned 24 percent market share and enjoyed a dominant position within the emerging industry.

When January’s numbers were in the books, however, Golden Nugget had jumped in front with 22 percent market share – while Borgata slipped into second place at 21 percent.

Industry experts point to Golden Nugget’s early adoption of Live Dealer online gaming – wherein players access live streamed footage of human dealers operating genuine casino equipment – as a key driver in the company’s recent iGaming surge.

Conversely, Borgata hitched its proverbial wagon to the poker sector, which has since been cornered by the arrival of PokerStars, the world’s leading online poker room.

Having contributed $ 2.8 million in tax revenue over January, the regulated iGaming industry which launched back in late 2013 has now contributed $ 75 million in taxes to New Jersey’s state coffers.

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Russia Introduces Bill to Ban International iGaming Transactions

Russia Introduces Bill to Ban International iGaming Transactions

As the ongoing cyberwar waged by Russia on various Western democracies rages on in the shadows, the country’s government has made the iGaming industry an explicit target.

Per reporting published by the Russian news service RBC.ru and industry outlet iGamingBusiness.com last week, the country’s Ministry of Finance has introduced a bill which would ban financial transactions made between Russian citizens and international online gambling operators.

Officially known as Bill 1113576-6, this anti-iGaming legislation was first submitted to the State Duma – a legislative body loosely akin to the U.K. parliament or U.S. Congress – back in 2015. That initial draft proved to be contentious, however, with several government ministries and Russian financial institutions objecting to its strict limitations.

Even so, the original version of the bill did receive support from Russia’s autocratic ruler, as President Vladimir Putin expressed his approval for tighter iGaming regulations.

After several rounds of revision and amendment, the bill has returned – largely intact on the fundamental level – to the forefront of the Duma’s legislative agenda.

Having recently been passed through a second reading, the consensus among Russian political experts is that the bill’s passage is a foregone conclusion.

If and when that passage occurs, the Federal Task Force would begin compiling a so-called “blacklist” of internationally licensed online gambling operators which currently serve Russian customers. From there, any attempt to deposit money to one of these banned sites would be blocked by the facilitating bank, credit card company, or online payment processor.

Alexander Zakondyrin, a politician and lawyer based in Moscow, described the financial impetus for such a blacklist to Business Insider in January of 2016:

“Russians play poker, but their money goes abroad. In the crisis situation, low oil prices and sanctions against Russia, which excludes the use of foreign debt markets, Russia’s budget needs additional income.”

As Russia continues its attempts to enter the modern world of regulated online gaming – and reap the tax benefits therein – the country’s conservative government has made incremental progress. Online sports betting is now offered on a legal basis by licensed domestic operators, although online poker and casino games remain illegal.

Accordingly, one of the blacklisted operators that would be targeted by this bill’s passage would be PokerStars. Currently, the global leader in online poker reports more than 8 percent of its worldwide player base accessing the site from Russian IP addresses.

Online poker in Russia isn’t limited to PokerStars either, as a 2016 article published by PokerNews quoted academic researcher Roberto Carmona-Borjas’ estimate that 16 percent – or 20 million Russians – currently play on one platform or another.

In light of that and similar reporting, and taking the lucrative nature of online poker among iGaming enterprises, certain insiders believe that the Russian government’s new bill is designed to effect regulation rather than prohibition.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of the World Chess Federation, offered the following appraisal of the online poker debate last year:

“It should be legalized; too many people are involved and are playing online. There are no reasons that it should be hidden and illegal.

I am working together with the government in order to allow online poker to become an intellectual sport in Russia.”

Zakondryin went one step further, expressing his belief that legal online poker would soon follow sports betting:

“In my opinion, conceptually the decision to legalize online poker has been already made by the Russian government. As early as June 2014, Shuvalov instructed the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Justice to prepare a report on such a project’s prospects.”

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Encouraging Signs in Pennsylvania and New York as iGaming Legislation Pushes Forward

Encouraging Signs in Pennsylvania and New York as iGaming Legislation Pushes Forward

With local legislatures around the country getting to work on their 2017 agendas, news out of Pennsylvania and New York suggests that the list of states where online gambling is legal will soon grow.

Currently, only Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware regulate the iGaming industry, having established legalized online gambling in 2013. But despite several states floating similar legislation in the interim, progress has consistently stalled.

That trend may end this year though, as lawmakers in Pennsylvania and New York push forward with iGaming legislation that was nearly passed in 2016.

In the Keystone State, two attempts at comprehensive iGaming legislation – including online poker, casino games, and daily fantasy sports (DFS) – were approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives late last year, only to be ignored by the state’s Senate.

Further complicating matters, the state was faced with an ongoing budget crisis, one which was expected to be partially mitigated by a $ 100 million infusion of tax revenue and licensing fees generated by the bill’s expected passage.

Representative George Dunbar renewed the effort on February 8 by introducing House Bill 392.

The 209-page omnibus package would essentially replicate the iGaming components of last year, with online gambling revenue taxed at a rate of 14%, and interactive gaming licenses awarded to Pennsylvania’s casinos and racetracks requiring an $ 8 million flat fee for the five-year approval. Further upping the ante, the online gaming enterprises partnering with licensees would pay $ 2 million.

HB-392 was originally referred to the House Gaming Oversight Committee, but that hearing was cancelled in favor of a joint hearing by the House and Senate. This is widely considered as a move to streamline the process, following Governor Tom Wolf’s explicit mention of $ 250 million from gambling expansion efforts within his 2017-18 budget outline during his annual address to legislators.

State Senator Jay Costa has also been making the media rounds of late, expressing his full support for iGaming legislation and offering a general outline of his soon to be introduced bill.

New York is another state where iGaming legislation nearly crossed the finish line last year, and lawmakers are picking up right where they left off.

State Senator John Bonacic introduced Senate Bill 3898 in late January, which would legalize online poker only, and it was quickly referred to the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee.

As a carbon copy of last year’s iGaming package, which was overwhelmingly approved in the Senate by a 53-5 vote, SB-3898 had little trouble sustaining the same level of support, as the 11-member Committee voted unanimously on February 14 to move S-3898 forward.

Under the bill’s provisions, up to 11 online poker operators would be granted 10-year licenses at a cost of $ 10 million, while gaming revenue would be taxed at 15%.

In a statement made to industry outlet Gambling Compliance, State Senator Bonacic pointed to the limited focus on online poker as benefiting the bill’s chances of final passage:

“Last year, there was too much gaming for the Assembly to consider with fantasy sports and the efforts in New Jersey for a referendum to put a casino in the Meadowlands, and I really think that it got put on the back burner. So now we are putting it in the front burner.”

S-3898 will be reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee next, before facing a possible vote by the full Senate.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow introduced Assembly Bill 5250 to coincide with the Senate’s process, signaling that last year’s divide between the two legislative bodies has been addressed.

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Americans Wagered $4.7 Billion on Super Bowl 51 Says AGA

Americans Wagered $4.7 Billion on Super Bowl 51 Says AGA

Football fans certainly got their money’s worth last weekend, when the New England Patriots stormed back from 25 points down in the second half of Super Bowl 51 to stun the Atlanta Falcons and win their fifth title.

And per the American Gaming Association (AGA), the leading industry lobby group for gambling and sportsbook enterprises, bettors all over the country had a blast too.

The AGA publishes annual forecasts ahead of football’s Big Game, estimating the total volume of all sports betting activity on that year’s Super Bowl. This time around, the AGA’s data department tabbed the total at $ 4.7 billion – up 11 percent over last year.

As the AGA report notes, nearly 97 percent of those wagers will be placed through offshore sportsbooks, underground bookies, person-to-person arrangements, or office and household pools. That puts the overall volume of illicit wagering conducted by Americans on the Super Bowl at $ 4.5 billion, an astounding figure for a single sporting contest.

The primary reason consumers choose to place their sports bets in this manner is a federal prohibition on sports betting known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) of 1992. Under the provisions of PAPSA, operating a sports betting enterprise is expressly prohibited throughout the country, while four U.S. states were grandfathered in: Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana.

In a press release announcing the group’s 2017 estimates, the AGA’s president and CEO Geoff Freeman explicitly called for PAPSA to be repealed in light of obvious market demand:

“As we mark the 25th anniversary of a failed law, it’s time for Washington to get out of the way and lift the federal prohibition that pushes sports fans to a rapidly growing illegal betting market.

A regulated marketplace would generate tax revenue and jobs, protect consumers and leverage cutting-edge technology to strengthen the integrity of the games we all love.”

The AGA estimate also cited a 2016 report issued by researchers in the U.K. – titled “The Key to Sports Integrity in the United States: Legalized, Regulated Sports Betting” – which identified the PAPSA restriction as directly responsible for the volume of illegal gambling in the country:

“Rather than setting the standard, the United States is on par with Russia and China, having forced a groundswell of black-market gambling by prohibiting the popular pastime of sports betting.”

The AGA estimate notes that American punters wagered more than $ 154 billion over the course of 2016 on all sports, with the vast majority of that financial activity remaining untaxed, as it was directed through online offshore bookmakers rather than legal sportsbooks.

In terms of legal sports betting, which is largely relegated to the casino sportsbooks found throughout Nevada, the state’s Gaming Control Board revealed that Super Bowl 51 set a new record with $ 138.48 million in total wagers. Of that amount, Nevada bookmakers managed to turn a $ 10.93 million profit.

This year’s legal betting volume eclipsed the previous record of $ 132.54 million, set last year during Super Bowl 50 when the Denver Broncos downed the Carolina Panthers.

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