May 2, 2018 by

News Abounds about Sports Betting and Statistical Analysis

The upcoming decision of the United States Supreme Court on the legality of sports betting in the US has everyone speculating about whether the Court will give the go ahead or not and many are already talking about how they will market sports betting to the American public.  In many jurisdictions, sports betting will be allowed only at established casinos and will serve as a sort of casino bonus for players.


Collect Those Taxes

Even though sports betting is legal in only four of the fifty States, primarily Nevada, illegal sports betting in the US is a multi-billion dollar business.  Since it is now largely illegal, winnings and bookmaker profits are not taxed.  One of the reasons the states want the Court to rule that the law that made sports betting illegal in forty-six states was unconstitutionally created is because they want to collect taxes.

The thinking is that most bettors will go to a legal sports betting venue and pay taxes on winnings rather than continue to break the law.

Data

Sports are extremely statistical.  Of course, almost every aspect of life can be reduced to statistics but only a few people are interested enough in the statistics of, say, economics to actually use them in their economic decisions.  Because sports are so enormously popular in modern society the statistics that relate to sports are very interesting to fans and even more so to sports bettors.

Sports statistics change daily.  Every day, we read news about how the analysis of a game has changed based solely on revamped statistical analysis.

Bookmakers

These are the people who, legally or illegally, take bets on sports events.  The odds they set are the odds that winners will receive.  If the public believes that the odds are inaccurate, that a team that is favored to win is more likely to lose, then the public will bet on the bookmaker’s error.  So bookmakers have a solid economic incentive to make good analytical judgments about the sports events they want to take bets on.

Bookmakers look to statistics to formulate the best line that will atatrct bets on both sides of the equation.

Bettors

Some games are far more statistics-oriented than others.  Baseball is by far the most reliant on statistical analysis.  It is also the hardest game to bet on as the worst team in the league wins at least 40% of its games, far more on a percentage basis than the worst teams in football or basketball win.

For bettors, embracing the new world of baseball stats is the only real way to get the most from their baseball bets.

Football and basketball put the ball in the hands of the best player on offense on almost every play.  In contrast, baseball may give the best offensive player four minor chances to help his team score runs.  Baseball wins are far more a team effort than football or basketball wins.

An example of how some sports are far more predictable than baseball, the 2014 World Cup were a bettors heaven as both Google and Microsoft, using analytical tools, predicted the winner of almost every game.  That could never happen in baseball.

Statistics Changing Betting

As data gathering continues to pick up steam, bookmakers will look for more complex bets to offer.  The simpler bets may be analyzed to such an extent that bookmakers cannot be sure that they have a bet that will attract half of the bettors to one side and half to the other.

In basketball, for example, the over-under bet will someday soon reflect how quickly if at all the favorite will rest its starters and garbage tine will ensue.  A team that has no chance to win a game late in the fourth quarter may have a great long range shooter who is not very good in any other aspect of the game.  This shooter may make the score appear closer than it really was when the starters were taken out.

The weather plays a major role in outdoor games.  Football is often played in the rain or snow.  Baseball games are halted when the rain is too heavy because the nature of the game doesn’t allow for puddles popping up on the field.  The weather forecast will go into the ultimate line on a game.  If the actual weather is much different than the anticipated weather, the line may be far removed from reality.

Home Field

Since the best baseball teams win a far smaller percentage of their games than do the best teams in other sports, the home field advantage is smaller in baseball as well.  But there are anomalies in baseball parks that also affect the outcomes of some games and must be factored into the best bet on any given game.

The two most iconic stadiums in baseball are both perfect cases in point to this fact.

Fenway Park in Boston has a very short left field and a very spacious right field.  A left-handed pull lineup will often do very poorly there.  In left field is a monstrously high wall that is very close to the batters.  Knowing how to judge fly balls that would be easy outs in every other park but are destined to be hits in Fenway Park is a great skill that all Fenway Park left fielders have to learn.  The home team left fielder will always play the wall better than the visitor’s left fielder.

Wriggly Field in Chicago is located close to Lake Michigan.  It is known as a hitters’ park when the summertime breeze blows hard toward the outfield but is a pitchers’ park when the wind comes hard off the lake toward the batter.  Being able to adjust to the wind is not easy even for Cubs batters but is extremely difficult for visiting batters.  Similarly, a manager might change his pitching rotation if he knows the wind will blow in hard or out hard.

The Future of Sports Statistics

Analysts will plumb the depths of statistics in all sports looking for heretofore unrecognized statistics.  These stats will be used by teams to gain an hidden advantage against their opponents but will soon be discovered by bookmakers and bettors alike and will further alter the way sports betting progresses.