Is Online Bingo Fair?

I received e-mails from two different people this weekend who basically asked me if online bingo was fair or if the sites were run by scammers. One of the people mentioned that he’d done a little research on the matter and saw mixed opinions. So, this seems like an appropriate topic to address today.

Online bingo is fair if you play at a safe site. The online gambling industry is largely unregulated so pretty much anyone with a little money in the bank can set up shop. On the internet, reputation is everything. Until we get a worldwide governing body for gambling, we’ll have to rely on reputation to determine which sites are worth joining.

The key to getting a fair game of bingo is to stick with the big-name sites that you can research before you join. New bingo sites pop up all the time and it’s hard to get an idea of what those sites are all about. I’m sure most new bingo sites are legit, but there’s no easy way to tell for sure. For that reason, I prefer to stick with big name sites.

These are all bingo sites that have been around for a number of years. Based on my own experiences and talks with other players, these bingo sites know how to treat customers. They all offer high quality games but most importantly, they pay their winners.

Making Money
I should warn you that you shouldn’t go to online bingo with dreams of getting rich. The vast majority of bingo games on the internet run for fairly small stakes. Average wins are less than a hundred dollars. Bingo sites do host the occasional promotion with a massive prize pool, but most games are much smaller.

Bingo is more of a social game than a pure gambling game. Yes, there’s an element of gambling in the fact that you buy cards and try to win money, but that’s almost an afterthought. Visit any longstanding bingo site and you’ll notice that many of the players seem to know each other.

Online bingo is an experience. If you don’t have any plans for your evening, it’s nice to log in, play a few games and chat with people from all around the world. Bingo is a more lighthearted game than most other gambling games.

If your goal is to make money, there are other games for that. Sports betting, poker and blackjack all come to mind from that angle. And if you want to go for the really big wins, there are plenty of progressive jackpot slot machines that offer payouts in the range of a million dollars.

So to sum things up, online bingo is fair as long as you play at legitimate sites. It’s not the best way to get rich, but it’s fun and fair. I can think of much worse things to do on a slow evening.

How the Repeal of the Federal Sports Betting Law Changes the Way You Can Make Bets

Sports betting has been illegal in the United States since 1992 when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was signed into effect.

Only four states were grandfathered into the law, including Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. And Nevada is the only one that has offered full-blown sports betting through land-based sportsbooks.

But New Jersey has been fighting against PASPA, taking their case to the Supreme Court to repeal the 26-year-old law. Justices overruled a Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling by a 6-3 vote, thus repealing the federal ban.

The Supreme Court noted that PASPA violates the 10th Amendment, which pertains to states’ rights.

What does the repeal of PASPA mean for American sports bettors? How will you be able to make legal bets now?

I’ll answer these questions by covering how Americans currently bet, why PASPA was repealed, and what you can expect in the future with legal sports gambling.

Is Sports Betting Now Legal Across The US?
No, the Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t make sports betting legal on a federal level. Instead, it merely lifts the federal ban and opens the door for legalized sports gambling on a state level.

The justices believe that Congress has the option to decide what to do with sports betting. But they were against PASPA, because it forced states to ban the activity.

“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr wrote regarding the majority decision.

“Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

This is similar to how the Trump administration can order federal immigration officers to arrest illegal immigrants. But they can’t force an individual state like Arizona or New Mexico to arrest the immigrants.

The justices are giving Congress the option to deal with sports betting how they see fit. The House and Senate can ban the activity, regulate it, or ignore sports betting and let individual states decide.

How Americans Currently Place Sports Bets
The American government and professional sports leagues have feared sports gambling ever since the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. This incident saw eight Black Sox players throw the 1919 World Series for gambling purposes.

It’s understandable why pro sports leagues have fought to keep the activity illegal. This is especially the case when considering that there have been smaller point-shaving scandals ever since 1919.

But keeping American companies from offering sports betting hasn’t halted the activity. Instead, a thriving offshore market has been operating in the US for over two decades.

Offshore sportsbooks started out by taking wagers via phone. When consumer internet became popular in the mid and late-1990s, the sportsbooks began accepting bets online.

The offshore sports wagering industry has grown due to increased comfort with bookmakers and mobile compatibility. Many online sportsbooks work to establish trust with customers by making timely payments and offering good customer support.

Even with the Supreme Court repealing PASPA, offshore sportsbooks haven’t missed a beat. They’re still offering sports betting to 40+ states, minus those that have explicitly banned online gambling or acted against offshore operators.

Americans from over 40 states can google online sports betting and quickly find an offshore book. From here, you can make a deposit with options like Bitcoin, Visa, or MasterCard.

In 2011, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) issued an opinion that the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting. The Wire Act makes it illegal to offer sports wagering across state lines.

This seemingly makes unregulated online sports betting illegal. Internet sportsbooks are basically violating federal law because the online version isn’t legal anywhere in the US.

But the federal government has chosen to ignore the industry for over two decades. And only a handful of states have strict laws against internet gambling.

We can expect the offshore betting industry to continue until either Congress and/or states begin taking serious steps to regulate the activity.

What States Will Legalize Sports Betting In The Near Future?
Given that New Jersey spearheaded the effort to repeal PASPA, it’s no surprise that they’reacting quickly to legalize the activity. In fact, former Gov. Chris Christie had already signed a sports betting bill before the pro sports leagues and NCAA sued him.

West Virginia is another state that passed sports betting legislation in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision. The main question is which states beyond West Virginia and New Jersey are going to move on sports gambling.

Maryland’s sports gambling bill passed the House but not the Senate. This legislation called for a November referendum that would allow voters to decide on the matter.

Other states that are serious about sports gambling include Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. They could all legalize sports betting within the next year.

Of course, Congress could place a federal ban on sports wagering in the future. But there are currently no plans for congressmen to discuss the matter any time soon.

Additionally, nobody expects Congress to take harsh action with little incentive to do so.

A number of other states will be interested in passing sports betting bills. Research from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimates that 32 states could legalize the activity within the next five years.

It’s impossible to put an accurate number on how many states will allow sports betting this early on. But I believe that it’ll be at least two dozen in less than a decade.

What Sports Will And Won’t Be Available For Betting?
The Supreme Court’s decision paves the way for every betting option that Nevada sportsbooks currently offer. This includes professional and college sports, boxing, golf, horse racing, mixed martial arts, and international sporting events.

Standard types of bets offered with these sports point spreads, moneylines, totals (over/under), parlays, and teasers.

The main question lies in whether live betting and prop bets will be allowed. Certain sports leagues have asked states not to offer these options.

Live wagering allows bettors to gamble on outcomes during the game. For example, an NFL live bet might ask: “which team will score the next touchdown?”

Prop betting is based on individual propositions before the game begins. An example is: “which [basketball] player will make the first three-pointer?”

Even if some states oblige these requests, many bettors will be happy with the standard bets. After all, Nevada is currently the only state that can offer traditional betting.

Delaware and Oregon have sports lottery products, which basically amount to 3-team parlays. But both states eventually dropped their sports lottery offerings after legal threats from pro sports leagues and the NCAA.

When Will Online And Mobile Sports Betting Be Available?
The Supreme Court’s opinion doesn’t make a distinction between online and land-based sports betting. But it’s largely predicted that states will only offer land-based sports gambling in the immediate future.

Some states are already including mobile and online sports betting in legislation. New Jersey sportsbooks are planning to take bets online and through the phone.

But due to the Wire Act, states will only be able to offer internet sports betting within state lines. Something will have to change with regard to the Wire Act before this happens.

States have argued that without online sports gambling, they’ll continue losing money to offshore bookmakers. But don’t expect anything to happen on this front for at least 3-4 years.

Expect Daily Fantasy Sports Sites To Join The Sports Betting Party
Leading daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites DraftKings and FanDuel have advocated for sports betting. This makes it a guarantee that they’ll jump into the mix with their own sportsbooks.

The advantages for DraftKings and FanDuel are that they already have the infrastructure, customer bases, and brand recognition in place. They just need to partner with an existing casino within each state to participate.

Both companies are working with state gaming agencies to apply for licensing wherever legislation calls for online sports betting.

I mentioned how the Wire Act will prevent states from offering sports betting to other states. But DraftKings and FanDuel will be able to offer intrastate online sports wagering.

How Will Professional Sports Leagues Be Impacted by Legal Betting?
The NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NCAA teamed up to sue New Jersey and stop them from offering legal sports betting. But the NHL, MLB, and NBA have since softened their stance.

All three leagues indicated that they knew sports wagering would be legal at some point. Their main issue is ensuring that the laws protect sports integrity and that the leagues receive some of the revenue.

The revenue would compensate leagues for additional costs arising from sports wagering, including education, investigations, and monitoring. But if the deal is favorable enough, they could end up with big profits too.

Studies have shown that sports gamblers watch NFL games about 20 times more than non-gamblers. An increased number of people gambling on sports bodes well for the leagues.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban noted how the decision figures to increase the value of sports franchises.

“I think everyone who owns a top four professional sports team just basically saw the value of their team double,” said Cuban. “It can finally become fun to go to a baseball game again.”

John S. Clark, a professor of sport management at Robert Morris University, noted that sports betting will bring some black-market betting to the forefront.

“I don’t know if it necessarily means it will create more gamblers,” said Clark. “but it brings some of that money that’s underground to a legitimate, taxable place. It could be a boon for the states.”

A Lot Must Be Worked Out With Legal Sports Betting
Pro sports leagues and the NCAA still hold some sway in this matter. And it could create conflict as states look to iron out the basics of regulated markets.

A big issue is a matter of how much compensation leagues will receive. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to collect 1% of total wagers as an “integrity fee” for his league alone.

This money would help cover the NBA’s six-year, $250-million deal with sports analytics companies Second Spectrum and Sportradar to monitor stats and watch for potential point shaving.

But American Gaming Association president Geoff Freeman explains that 1% is too much for sportsbooks, which only collect a small amount of “juice” from the losing side.

“A legal sports book realizes 3.5 to 5 percent in revenue,” said Freeman. “A 1 percent ‘integrity fee’ on all money wagered legally by Americans, as proposed by the NBA, amounts to 20 to 29 percent of total revenue.”

Freeman added that each league requiring such fees would eventually make it unprofitable for anybody to run a sportsbook.

Taxes are another concern. Pennsylvania’s legislation proposes that sportsbooks pay a 36% tax on profits, which would be the highest in the country.

The high rate would likely be passed on to the consumer. If the juice is too high at legal sportsbooks, then bettors will stay with online offshore bookmakers until things change.

Conclusion
The Supreme Court’s repeal of PASPA is a step in the right direction for bettors. This decision indicates the court’s belief that states shouldn’t be told how to act regarding sports gambling.

Instead, Congress needs to make a clear distinction on the matter. And they’re unlikely to ban the activity outright with several states moving forward.

New Jersey, West Virginia, and a few other places will already be offering sports betting by the time Congress acts. Therefore, congressmen are likely to impose light framework, rather than ban or legalize sports betting on a federal level.

The big concern I have is that the sports leagues have too much pull in the matter. Furthermore, the proposed fees reduce potential profits for sportsbooks.

It makes sense why the leagues would want additional compensation for having to monitor potential match-fixing. But 1% of total wagers for one league (NBA) is simply not happening.

Consider that Nevada alone accepted $4.87 billion worth of bets in 2017. This means that the NBA would receive $48.7 million of the total handle from one state.

If all five major sports entities demand 1%, then the sportsbooks would lose money just by operating. Therefore, a more-sensible resolution needs to be worked out.

Regarding the market’s timeframe, a few states could be up and running within a year. New Jersey and West Virginia have already passed legislation and are moving forward with PASPA dissolving.

But it’ll probably be 3-5 years before we see a sizable number of states with legal sports betting.

2018 NBA Finals Preview

Although both teams took unconventional roads to get here, we ended up getting the NBA Finals we were expecting all along. The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will lock horns for Association supremacy for an unprecedented fourth straight time after each overcame 3-2 deficits in their respective conference finals.

For the Warriors, it’s a chance to cement their place in NBA history as a legitimate dynasty (three titles in four years would look a lot better than two in four). Meanwhile, a Cleveland victory could move LeBron James past Michael Jordan in the minds of many when it comes to the ongoing debate of who is the greatest player in NBA history.

Golden State won both regular-season meetings this year, posting a seven-point win at home on Christmas Day and then beating the Cavs by 10 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Cleveland. But the Cavaliers blew up their roster with a series of trades just a few weeks later, and this will be a much different-looking Cleveland squad that takes the court when the Finals tip off Thursday in Oakland.

Let’s look at the betting odds for this series, then break down the matchup to see where the best betting value lies.

All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from BetOnline.ag at 10 a.m eastern on May 30, 2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.

2018 NBA Finals Odds
This series looks incredibly lopsided on paper, and the oddsmakers agree. BetOnline lists Golden State as a -960 favorite to win the best-of-seven Finals, which implies the Warriors have more than a 90% probability of hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy for the third time in four years.

NBA Finals Series Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers: +710
Golden State Warriors: -960
On the other hand, there’s a ton of value on the Cavaliers, whose +710 potential takeback is the highest of any team LeBron James has taken to the finals. It doesn’t take Lloyd Christmas to realize that if you’ve got The King, you’ve got a chance, and LeBron already took down this Warriors dynasty a couple of years ago.

That said, asking James to do the same this year is a very tall order. He no longer has Kyrie Irving at his side, Kevin Love’s availability is cloudy (more on that later), and the rest of his supporting cast has been spotty at best.

Fortunately, there are many other ways to bet on the NBA Finals series without laying 10 to win 1 on the Warriors or taking the Cavs on a wing and a prayer. Here are some of the NBA Finals series props currently available at BetOnline:

Cavaliers Series Handicap
Cleveland +1 Games: +600
Cleveland +1.5 Games: +400
Cleveland +2 Games: +340
Cleveland +2.5 Games: +210
Cleveland +3 Games: +100
Warriors Series Handicap
Golden State -1 Games: -800
Golden State -1.5 Games: -550
Golden State -2 Games: -425
Golden State -2.5 Games: -250
Golden State -3 Games: -120
Series Game Total
Over 4.5 Games -220/Under 4.5 Games +180
Over 5 Games +125/Under 5 Games -145
Over 5.5 Games +170/Under 5.5 Games -210
Over 6 Games +400/Under 6 Games -500
Over 6.5 Games +550/Under 6.5 Games -700
Series Exact Outcome
Cleveland in 4 Games: +15000
Cleveland in 5 Games: +5000
Cleveland in 6 Games: +1400
Cleveland in 7 Games: +1600
Golden State in 4 Games: +175
Golden State in 5 Games: +150
Golden State in 6 Games: +500
Golden State in 7 Games: +700
When Will Series Finish
Game 4: +175
Game 5: +150
Game 6: +425
Game 7: +525
Where Will Series Finish
At Cleveland (Game 4 or 5): -130
At Golden State (Game 6 or 7): +110
NBA Finals Individual Game Odds
It’s also going to be difficult to find value on the Warriors in individual games, judging by the point spread for Game 1. Golden State is a 12.5-point favorite to crush the Cavaliers Thursday in Oakland, marking the largest point spread in an NBA Finals opener since Allen Iverson singlehandedly carried the undermanned Sixers to the 2001 Finals versus the powerful Lakers. (Philadelphia pulled off the outright upset in Game 1, by the way, before losing the next four games in the series.)

The best times to back Golden State in individual games should be in Cleveland, where the point spreads will be much lower to account for the Cavaliers’ home court advantage. With home floor worth approximately 3 points on the NBA point spread, that means we should see the Warriors favored by 6-7 points in games played in Ohio. Conversely, the Cavs will have their most betting value when playing in Golden State, where they might backdoor a point spread or two with a meaningless bucket in the final minute of a blowout.

Five Things To Watch For In The NBA Finals
Golden State’s Dominance In Third Quarters
The third quarter has been Golden State’s best frame all season, and that trend has continued into the postseason. The Warriors have outscored opponents by 130 points in the third quarter during these playoffs, and by just 20 points in the other three quarters combined. Steve Kerr is obviously making some effective adjustments during halftime, and Golden State has also had to play with some urgency in third quarters after sleepwalking its way through the opening half of several games in these playoffs.

With Cleveland shooting less than 35% from the field during third quarters of this postseason, it’s a great recipe for a Warriors live bet once the third quarter begins. However, Golden State’s dominance of the third frame is hardly a secret, especially after the Dubs outscored Houston by 35 points in the third quarter of the last two games in the Western final. With the oddsmakers likely to adjust for this trend, it could be hard to find betting value.

Injuries
Both teams come into this series with concerns about the health of important players. Cleveland had to play Game 7 of the Eastern final without five-time All-Star Kevin Love (concussion), while the Warriors were without Andre Iguodala (leg contusion) for the final four games of their series against Houston.

Iguodala can be a bit of a forgotten man on a Golden State roster that is loaded with so much talent but don’t forget that he was the NBA Finals MVP against Cleveland just four years ago. Although the Warriors can also choose to guard LeBron James with Draymond Green or even Kevin Durant, Iguodala would be their ideal choice to try to contain The King, and his return would be huge for a Golden State team that struggled without him in the Western final.

But while the Warriors can still win this series without a healthy Iguodala, the same can’t be said of the Cavaliers if Love isn’t a big contributor. Other than James, he’s the only Cleveland player who is averaging double-digit point totals in the playoffs, and his ability to score in the paint would allow the Cavs to exploit Golden State’s biggest weakness defensively.

Cleveland’s Three-Point Shooting
With how prolifically the Warriors can shoot the three-ball, opponents don’t stand a chance unless they can hit the 3 themselves. Cleveland’s ability (or inability) to stroke it from beyond the arc will go a long way towards determining if the Cavaliers can even keep things close in the NBA Finals.

Judging by the playoffs so far, things don’t look good for the Cavs. Although they were a strong three-point shooting team during the regular season (37.2%), they’ve hit just 33.9% of their treys in the first three rounds. And while it’s true that Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith can get hot at any time, they’re now facing a Golden State squad that has clamped down on opposing three-point shooters in the playoffs, allowing a league-low 31.9% from distance.

Who Will Stop Durant? Or Curry? Or Thompson?
In last year’s Finals, the Cavaliers simply didn’t have an answer defensively for Durant. KD went off for 35.2 points per game in Golden State’s 5-game victory, shooting a blistering 55.6% from the field on his way to MVP honors. And even if the Cavs put their best defensive player (LeBron) on Durant, it just opens the floor for Steph Curry and Klay Thompson instead.

The scary thing for the Cavs is that last year’s team was a lot better defensively than this season’s outfit. Cleveland was second-last in the NBA in defensive rating during the regular season, allowing a dreadful 109.9 points per game. The Cavaliers’ defense has been improved in the playoffs, but don’t forget that they’ve only had to face Indiana, the perennial playoff choke-artist Raptors, and the defensive-minded Celtics. It’s quite possible, and even likely, that Cleveland’s defense gets exposed in a big way in this series.

Does LeBron Have Anything Left In The Tank?
The King has been absolutely incredible in these playoffs, averaging 34 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 8.8 assists through the first three rounds. But as dangerous as it is to ever question the abilities of LeBron, we also can’t ignore the possibility that he may finally hit the wall in this series.

Over the final two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron was on the floor for 94 of a possible 96 minutes. He’s averaged 41.3 minutes of court time per game in these playoffs (3.5 more than Durant and nearly six more than Curry), and that’s after leading the entire NBA in minutes played during the regular season.

A four-day break between the Eastern finals and Thursday’s opener may help him catch his breath, but he’s still 33 years old and Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be his 101st game of the season. Factor in how much weight he has to carry for the Cavaliers every night and fatigue could finally take its toll.