Offshore sportsbooks are known for offering some wacky wagers, from novelty Super Bowl props to whether or not an alien invasion will take place anytime soon. Now, one offshore sportsbook is branching out its sports betting offerings to include the Special Olympics, a decision that has elicited some strong reactions. But is Special Olympics wagering a problem, and what are the main takeaways from this new frontier in the offshore betting space?
Ethical Concerns of Special Olympics Betting
The offshore sportsbook that has offered betting odds on the Special Olympics is BetOnline, a betting site that is not legal to use in the United States and therefore should not be used by American bettors. Their contention is that they want to offer action on any legitimate sporting event, which the Special Olympics certainly are, to be completely clear. They went further with that sentiment, stating that they would rather offer action on a sporting event like this one rather than an event like the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest (which they also offer odds on annually).
That sentiment was printed by Forbes, whose Zack Jones stated in his article that this move is a win-win, “except for those who complain for a hobby or a profession.” But unless you provide free public relations for offshore sportsbooks for a profession, there are clearly some legitimate concerns to be raised about this marriage between offshore sports betting and the Special Olympics.
Predatory Special Olympics Betting Odds
The first main concern with this union is one that only seasoned sports bettors would notice, that being the predatory pricing placed on these betting markets. Every single Special Olympics betting market offered at this sportsbook carried a theoretical hold of between 28.84% and an eye-popping 65.30% (this is not a typo, they’re holding sixty-five percent on one Special Olympics event). This means that of every dollar wagered on these markets, the sportsbook will hold at least $0.28 of it, and up to $0.65.
If you compare those hold percentages to the hold percentages for Super Bowl futures at the same sportsbook, you would see that the theoretical hold for Super Bowl winner sits at 20.67%. That is a lower hold percentage per dollar wagered despite there being 32 outcomes, far more than any Special Olympics betting market. Jacked up prices for Special Olympics betting odds should be concerning to a larger group than just “those who complain for a hobby or a profession.”
Profiting On the Special Olympics In General
Even if the hold percentages for Special Olympics betting were in-line with the numbers for other futures markets at this sportsbook, there are serious ethical concerns about profiteering on the Special Olympics as a whole. If sportsbook profits were going to benefit the organizations and volunteers responsible for making this event happen, great. But profiting on betting odds heavily skewed in the favor of the sportsbook during this event feels tone-deaf at best.
Better Ways to Use Money On Special Olympics
For those who want to be supportive of Special Olympics, there are better ways to do so than to bet into poorly priced markets at an offshore sportsbook. Donating to volunteer organizations that make Special Olympics possible at the local, national, or international level is a much better use of funds, and shows tangible support to the Special Olympics, something giving your money to an unaffiliated sportsbook does not do.
Takeaways From Special Olympics Betting Offerings
Aside from the fact that bettors should always calculate theoretical hold and that supposedly reputable media outlets should not do free public relations for offshore sportsbooks, there are a few key takeaways from this Special Olympics betting brouhaha. These are the two biggest takeaways for us.
A Strong Regulated Market Is a Must
First, the value of a strong and regulated United States sports betting market cannot be overstated. Oversight over legal US sportsbooks prevents things like this from happening in the first place, let alone at prices that would simply not fly in the eyes of regulatory bodies. As fun as novelty Super Bowl props and other unregulated markets may sound, there is a reason that regulated markets do not allow their players to put up with them.
It Is OK to Ask Questions In Sports Betting
The other key takeaway is that it is perfectly fine to ask about the legitimacy and the predatory nature of any component of sports betting. Even if a so-called reporter calls you a professional complainer for questioning the legitimacy of Special Olympics betting, asking questions about this industry is the way to find answers that can help you determine whether they are good or bad. Engaging in that process, when done in good faith, is never a bad thing.