Insider trading in baseball futures?

Dec 9, 2008 7:17 PM
by Mark Mayer | Futures betting in sports is often equated to the stock market, but having major league baseball’s Winter Meetings at the Bellagio in Las Vegas through Thursday has brought "insider trading" to a new level.

"We felt that sports books needed to be aware that baseball futures bets could be altered considerably by any major transactions at the meetings," said Kenny White, chief oddsmaker at Las Vegas Sports Consultants. "I put out an alert to the books to take down baseball futures until Friday morning to prevent a possible run on bets."

The alert went out at 1:05 p.m. PT to sports books and casinos in Nevada and around the world. The Boston Herald spoke to White later that day and reported about the alert in its editions. Tuesday morning White told GamingToday that the alert was made as a precaution since having the Winter Meetings here provided easy access to information that could quickly be wagered on for an advantage.

"I think it’s great for Las Vegas to have the Winter Meetings here," White said. "I just believe it was necessary to put a hold on the futures betting to allow the books enough time to adjust to what may take place at the meetings in terms of trades."

Mark Dufty, race and sports director at Jerry’s Nugget, does not use the LVSC service but took the futures odds down on his own.

"I’ve been in the business too long not to sense a circumstance like this," Dufty said. "I think back to when the Boston Celtics made the deal for the Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. When that happened, the Celtics went from a last place team to world champs. We had the Tampa Bay Rays go from last to first. I didn’t want to see a repeat of a deal that lifts another longshot and could put us in jeopardy."

However, the Las Vegas Hilton did not heed the warning. In fact, they thought it was funny.

"It’s business as usual here," said Jeff Sherman, race and sports supervisor at the Hilton Super Book. "Just because the Winter Meetings are here shouldn’t have any affect on how we run business. I think we know how to prepare for a major trade without having to take down futures bets that our customers want to make."

Sherman said he understood what LVSC was concerned about, but didn’t share the same belief.

"You can get inside information on baseball meetings if they were here or Florida or anywhere else," Sherman said. "We thought their reaction was a little over the top."

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