Sports Gambling – What’s the Big Deal?

If you are a sports fan, odds are pretty good that at one point or another you have engaged in some form of sports betting. You may have been involved in a fantasy pool, you might have bet a beer with a buddy, you may even have placed a couple of bets on the outcome of the Super Bowl or March Madness.

Although sports gambling is so common it is almost natural (in fact, it has been a part of human culture for as long as sport itself), the fact is that many forms of sports gambling we engage in are actually illegal. This is particularly true if you live in Canada or the United States.

The big argument against gambling on most sports in these countries is a belief that betting on sports has the potential to undermine the integrity of the game. Although in the past this tended to hold true with all sports, today it is more an issue with minor sports and collegiate level athletics than the professional leagues.

The reasoning for this, of course, is fairly straightforward. Athletes who are receiving little or no money for playing their sport are more susceptible to bribes from individuals with a vested monetary interest in the game they are playing. When you are playing for nothing but the joy of it, the offer of a few thousand dollars to throw the game can be very tempting. Sports history is rife with examples of athletes both minor and pro who have succumbed to this temptation.

Legalities aside, it is fairly obvious that sports betting is still a major part of our culture. In fact, it is quite rare to hear of circumstances in which anyone beyond those directly involved in the game even get in trouble for engaging in sports betting. Those involved would include coaches, officials, and players, rarely those betting on the game itself.

In fact, you could say that sports gambling is pretty much an “open crime” these days. Odds and money lines are posted on all the major sports channels, and bookmakers operate online with relative impunity. There are little or no efforts to stop mass betting on sports, which seems to indicate that sooner or later the laws prohibiting the activity will be done away with for good.

In the meantime, though, if you want to get a piece of betting action on a sport but want to stay well within the law, there are a couple of ways to do it. Let’s take a quick look.

o Pari-mutuel betting: There are certain sports in which the government actually endorses betting. This type of betting is known as pari-mutuel, or revenue shared, gambling. Strictly regulated, it applies only to dog and horse racing, and jai alai. All of these events are quite short, and therefore harder to rig when it comes to results. And, the government gets a cut of all bets!

o Go to Vegas! Nevada is the one state in which sports betting is legal and practiced as well. Again, who knows the real reasons, but there are Nevada bookies ready to take bets from people all over the country.

o Go online: In most of the rest of the world, sports betting is regulated and not seen as a problem. That means that thanks to the Internet, people from North America can place their bets with well known bookies the world over. Bookmakers out of Vegas, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and any number of other countries have a presence online. Just make sure that they will take your money; some are leery of American bettors do to the government’s ambiguity on the issue of sports gambling.

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Fantasy Sports Betting

Successful strategy for sports betting begins with an honest determination of the seriousness of the commitment of the bettor. Recreational betting on greyhound or horse racing or sports is fun and adds spice to daily activities. Nevertheless, this fun exercise has to be regarded as a method to include some punch to the viewing experience.

Regardless of the betting lines, recreational bettors tend to play their favorite teams. There isn’t anything wrong with enhancing your viewing pleasure with watch bet or a recreational wager.

Be Ready for Everything

The recreational bettor has to stay prepared to lose and must confine the bets to a level which is highly manageable. And with more than 12 million baseball fans taking part in fantasy leagues on various websites such as Google, new online gambling frontier is just round the corner.

And the concept remained right from the eighties, soon after the free agency made it highly impossible for the fan to count on the long term association with the favorite player. In order to combat this, a group of editors and writers created what is now known as the Rotisserie League. Now, several major sports from ice hockey, baseball, cricket, NASCAR to soccer have fantasy leagues which range from legions of international online organizations and investment bankers to informal groups of school kids.

Fantasy Sports – the Bond Factor?

President of the International Society for Sport Psychiatry, Ronald Kamm has stated that Fantasy leagues offer a chance for bonding and community. He also points that obsessive play (Fantasy league) may result in gambling, especially in fantasy leagues sponsored online by casinos. People are increasingly becoming objects waiting to be replaced. Fantasy sports, in that sense, is following and reflecting that trend.

While sites for online gambling are yet to explore Fantasy league’s market potential, online sports wagering market is currently worth billions of dollars.

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Does the Poker Site Shutdown Affect Fantasy Sports?

Aside from the word “injury”, there is no other word more feared in fantasy sports than the word “platoon”. It has been much more common in fantasy baseball with Outfielders and Closers for many years, but the offensive approach in the NFL has been evolving for some time. We are now seeing platoon situations commonly used in the NFL backfields. The polite way of describing the use of multiple running backs is “running back by committee”. No matter how you term the approach, Platoon situations can be fantasy football team killers.

We have come to expect starting running backs to produce on a weekly basis, which is why they normally make up 80% of the players drafted in the first two rounds of standard-scoring fantasy football leagues. However, with over half of the league employing a Committee approach to their backfield, it is proving wise to change your drafting strategy. You can now use your first three picks on one of the top quarterbacks and two of the top wide receivers. This leaves plenty of productive running backs to draft from these committees, some of who could be the primary workhorse during the season in the event of an injury.

Teams With RB Committees To Consider

• Detroit Lions – Kevin Smith, Jahvid Best, Maurice Morris. You should target Best as your fourth round pick. There is a good chance that Kevin Smith will see little time after coming off an injury. The Lions have a good opportunity to see if they made the right choice with Best in this year’s draft.

• Carolina Panthers – DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart. Williams will be drafted in the first three rounds. Stewart is a number 1 back in most offenses, but is 1A here and is coming off of a foot injury. Over 1000 yards and double-digit TDs is very nice so grab him if Best is not available.

• Miami Dolphins – Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams. Brown always has great games, but is too injury-prone. Ricky had a fantastic year after Brown went down last year and has plenty left in his legs. Grab either of these, Williams first, should they be available next.

• Arizona Cardinals – Chris Wells, Tim Hightower. The Cardinals will run much more this year with Leinart at the helm. Both running backs are productive and you cannot go wrong with either. Your preference should depend on your scoring system. Wells will get more carries, but Hightower will see more passes floated his way as well as more action around the goal line.

• Cleveland Browns – Montario Hardesty, Jerome Harrison. The Browns will be horrible, but they will continue to run the ball a lot, especially with Jake Delhomme at QB. Harrison had a monster final three games of 2009, but Hardesty seems to be getting drafted in the same location as Harrison (rounds 6-7). Hardesty seems to be the carrier the Browns would like to see succeed, but he is already dinged up. So, I would rank them equally at this point and consider getting both of them if you have the chance.

• Seattle Seahawks – Julius Jones, Justin Forsett, Leon Washington. Jones is way to unreliable and unproductive. Washington is coming off a devastating injury. So, Forsett would be the only back that I would draft. You could steal him in rounds 8-10 and end up with a possible number 1 RB.

Teams With RB Committees To Consider only when finishing your skill positions

• Houston Texans – Steve Slaton, Ben Tate, Ryan Moats, Arian Foster. After butterfingers, lack of production and injuries last year, Slaton should not be considered before the last few rounds. I truly think the rookie, Ben Tate, will be used sparingly and may be the first player drafted from this committee. So, your may strike gold with Arian Foster in low double-digit rounds.

• Oakland Raiders – Darren McFadden, Michael Bush. Both of these guys are only worth a risk in round 10 or later. With a more talented QB running the show, Oakland’s offense may actually score some points. Which RB is the better choice is yet-to-be-determined. I have a slight lean on Michael Bush.

• Washington Redskins – Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, Willie Parker. I don’t think Fast Willie makes the team. With Portis coming off a knee injury, he is a risk and should only be considered around round 10. Larry Johnson may be cooked but is worth a gamble in the later rounds. Hey, someone needs to get the carries in the Nation’s Capital…just who and how successful they will be is a true mystery.

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