William Hill U.S.’s Nick Bogdanovich was a busy man in 2018 as sports betting became legal throughout the United States.
He expects to be even busier in 2019.
“One hundred percent,” he said last week while keeping an eye on the six computer screens in his Las Vegas office. “We’re in every state that has it except for New Mexico and I expect at least four or five more states to have (sports betting) in 2019. Hopefully, we’ll have a leading role in it.”
Thanks to the efforts of CEO Joe Asher, William Hill has been at the forefront of the effort to making legalized sports betting a reality throughout the country and the company will be a major player going forward.
Bogdanovich, who has worked at William Hill since 2012 and is currently the international betting company’s director of trading for it’s U.S. division, deals with the numbers side of it. He has not visited his company’s venues at Monmouth Park in New Jersey or Delaware Park in Delaware. His job is to make sure the numbers that get hung in all the William Hill U.S. venues are strong and balanced.
“I’ve always been a numbers guy,” said Bogdanovich, 56. “But with the new technology and information that’s out there, you have to stay on top of it.”
The growth of in-game wagering and the ability to wager via a phone account is spurring the popularity of the sports book, even though the traditional brick-and-mortar locations remain a popular destination for players. New Jersey has only been in the game for six months but the handle has approached $1 billion thanks largely to mobile apps and in-game wagering. Nevada had its best November ever with $592 million bet with the Silver State’s sports books. A lot of that was driven by phone accounts and in-game wagers.
“This is where it’s at,” Bogdanovich said, pointing to his cell phone. “This is the present and the future.
“There’s the convenience of not having to get in your car and find a place to park, then walk into the casino to get to the sports book. You can sit in your living room and bet. The ability to fund it is key and have it on hand whenever you want it.”
When told of stories of players living in New York and having phone accounts in New Jersey and driving across the Hudson River, making a bet in the Garden State on their phone, then turning right around and driving back to New York, Bogdanovich didn’t even flinch.
“Doesn’t surprise me at all,” he said.
And if Asher can convince the Nevada legislature to lift its ban on kiosks, it could re-open a big door for William Hill, which had close to 100 self-service betting stations all over Nevada before the state ordered them shut down in 2013.
“We have them in the states that allow kiosks and they’re very popular,” Bogdanovich said.
But the phone betting has allowed William Hill and other entities to provide convenience for their customers. And with the rise in the popularity of in-game wagering, Bogdanovich knows there’s an added amount of traffic that even the kiosks couldn’t match.
However, with the rise of in-game wagering comes an additional amount of risk as the numbers get put up. The NBA particularly, with its wild amount of runs over the course of a game, can make the house vulnerable.
“No question,” Bogdanovich said. “A lot of people don’t even bet the game before it starts. They simply wait until something happens and they react to it.
“The NBA has a lot of volatility to it because the game swings back and forth so often. But you see it in baseball too. A team is down four or five runs early and then come back to win. So people are watching and waiting, then they make their move.”
And it’s not just the professionals, the so-called “sharps” that are engaged. The regular recreational bettor has more information available than ever before. And when they go to the window or click on their mobile app, they do so with a far more educated opinion.
“The Internet and social media have changed everything,” Bogdanovich said. “You can go on Twitter and find out about injuries, suspensions, things like that, right away. I think the masses are more knowledgeable. But so are the bookmakers. I think social media has helped the bookmaker more than the sharp player because when the bookmaker gets that information, he can adjust his numbers accordingly before the sharps bet into it.”
To that end, Bogdanovich has a team of employees who monitor everything and he can adjust things immediately based on up-to-date information. One of his computer screens is a constantly changing set of algorithmic numbers that show what the betting is on every single game William Hill books. It’s a far cry from when Bogdanovich got into the sports book business back in the late 1980s and bets were being written and tracked by hand.
Bogdanovich began as a ticket writer in the Sands’ race and sports book back in 1986. He spent nine years at Binion’s Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas and was in Reno for four years at Cal Neva before returning to Las Vegas to work at William Hill.
“Yeah, it’s changed a lot,” he said. “But it still comes down to the bettor vs. the line. Information is still king.”
So those computers come in handy, whether it’s someone betting big or small.
“The world is always changing,” Bogdanovich said. “I think things will continue to evolve in 2019. But it may not happen as quickly as people think because it’s hard to get the states to decide how they want to proceed. Every state does things differently.
“But Joe was on this from jump street. He is really smart but he also outworks everyone. That’s his biggest strength. And he’s the one driving this for us. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
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