15th International Conference on Gambling & Risk Taking

Jun 4, 2013 3:00 AM


I didn’t really expect much from the 15th International Conference on Gambling & Risk Taking. I was wrong. This was a true eye-opener.

In case you weren’t aware, Nevada’s spot atop the perch of gaming in the United States grows more tenuous every day. Nevada is still the only state with full-scale sports betting, but the rest of the world is blowing by us there, too.

Topics of discussion included my principal interest, sports betting, as well as customer behavior, addictions, policies, media, etc. If you are interested in gaming, there were plenty of topics for us.

I went to the conference primarily to meet Kevin Braig, who I’ve known for some time on Twitter as the Quant Coach. Kevin handicaps NFL from a coaching standpoint, what he has labeled “play design.” It is a unique perspective, which always intrigues me, and is what drew me to him.

Kevin is also a lawyer, and a good one. He had a presentation at the conference, “PASPA: An Unconstitutional Patent.” PASPA, for the acronymically challenged, is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protections Act. What it did was deny any states besides Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana the right to book sports bets.

Delaware has parlay cards, Oregon and Montana have nothing, so essentially it provided Nevada with what amounts to a monopoly in legal bookmaking in the United States.

The law has completely stopped sports betting in America. Okay, stop laughing. Actually it has stopped about three people in the country from betting, but don’t ask me who they are.

What it has halted is jobs created and taxes collected in this country. That’s about it. It wouldn’t take any new invention, either. It’s already all around us.

This is just one example of how the thought process of our elected and appointed officials has hurt us in the gambling field. For more about Kevin and his arguments against this law or his handicapping, I’ll have information on my website, againstthenumber.com.

In game betting: Here’s a segment of the market that is exploding world-wide and will take time to catch on in America. Soccer is the sport that is the primary betting vehicle. American football is much harder to measure with some of the metrics they use because of its bizarre scoring system we take for granted.

In-game betting does work well in basketball. It takes instant analysis from bettors and bookmakers alike. Interesting algorithms are being developed. Anthony Bedford of RMIT University in Australia had some great detail of conditional probability models in the NBA.

Noted author William Mallios was a real highlight for me. Mallios has a background as a statistics professor. He displayed some charting and modeling techniques I will be implementing to strengthen my own handicapping. I also had a chance to speak with him extensively during a break. A fascinating man.

The conference was lucky enough to have Chad Millman, editor of ESPN The Magazine, as a lunchtime keynote speaker. Millman also writes a sports betting column, has a book “The Odds” and hosts a podcast, “Behind the Bets.” His presentation was another highpoint.

I can’t name all the significant speakers, but some who were very helpful and interesting were Aaron Brown, Brendan Poots, Sally Gainsbury, Kevin Krieger, David Schwartz and George Ignatin.

A few other observations come to mind. First, horse racing is still alive and doing much better on foreign soil than in America. Secondly, Australians were very prevalent as both speakers and attendees. As a group they are doing some terrific work.

I know from Twitter and my website, they are very interested in American sports. I’ve been to Oz a couple times and love it there. That is one bet-crazy society. If I were 20 years younger I would move there.

Nevada and America both had better get on the stick. The world is moving past us, even with handicapping, betting and booking our own games. If we don’t wake up, the competition will be far ahead in no time.

Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. Check out his new website at www.againstthenumber.comYou can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Contact Chris at [email protected].

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