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Friday Four-Pack 9.1.23
Pats win total with Johnny Avello. Racing's future in MA. Lou vs. Youk.
MutStack is a ‘sportsbook independent’ publication. Or newsletter. Or Substack. Whatever. You get the idea.
I’m betting on all these platforms. DraftKings, FanDuel, Barstool/Soon-to-be ESPNBet. I have action on all of them and more. And I want to be able to write and talk about them. Good, bad, whatever. By not taking any money from them, it keeps it pretty clean.
That being said if anyone wants to make an offer…💰💰💰
Okay for now, ‘sportsbook independent.’
So I want to point out that with the NFL season a mere SIX DAYS AWAY…there are two NFL bet promos I think are worth your time.
First, the FanDuel Super Bowl Future Bet Deal seems good.
It’s pretty simple - you bet $50 on an NFL Future and for every game that team wins, you get a $5 bonus bet. If they win in Week 1, you get a $5 bonus bet to use that next week. This is good up to 10 wins.
So if the team you bet $50 on wins 10 games, you’d have received $50 in bonus bets over the course of the season.
The second is the DraftKings odds boost on any NFL Super Bowl winner. You can add +200 to the odds of any team right now. If you’re building a portfolio of NFL future bets and want added value on one of the more likely winners, this is a way to get it. For me, it meant getting a boost on the Chiefs to win it all at 8-1 vs. 6-1.
Futures are a tough one. Do you want to tie up your bankroll for months at a time? Do you start hedging if you get a good position on a team? These are things you have to decide for yourself.
Check respective sites for full terms/conditions, but these are two of those bet promos that if I heard about from a buddy after the fact and missed it, I’d be annoyed.
So consider me your gambling buddy, giving you a heads up.
Are there more out there? Comment below and let us know.
NFL is a week away. It was 55 degrees this morning. The kids are back to school. The weather looks great for Labor Day Weekend.
How can you not be in a good mood?
Let’s keep it going with this week’s Four-Pack.
On the Patriots win total O/U of 6.5…
When you look at the NFL win total over/unders on DraftKings, the Arizona Cardinals have the lowest starting line at 3.5 wins. So they’re projected to be pretty bad.
The team with the second-lowest win total? The New England Patriots.
As of early Friday morning, the Pats are one of seven teams with that 6.5 win total as their starting line, along with the Texans, Colts, Rams, Raiders, Bucs, and Commanders.
If you want to bet on the over, it’s -140, as in you have to bet $140 to win $100.
The under is +120: a $100 bet gets you $120 back. You can move that total around on DK, but that’s the starting number.
How did we get to this number? How do oddsmakers view the Pats in 2023?
I had the chance to speak to the Director of Sports and Racebook operations for DraftKings Johnny Avello to try and get an expert’s sense of where we are here with this number. The 2021 Sports Betting Hall of Fame inductee has been in Vegas for 40 years and is one of the most important figures in the game.
Did the number start at 6.5 or has it moved there?
“6.5 was the original opener. That was bet over. The 7.5 was bet under, so, 7 is kind of the right number but we don’t deal with whole numbers so we can avoid ties.”
How has the public been betting the Patriots?
“I think the feeling from the public is the Patriots can win over 6.5 games. The 7.5 to the pubic seems like it might be stretching it a little bit. I think the Patriots are an okay team, it’s just that the division is kind of loaded. When you have all these teams with these high win totals, somebody in the division has to be at the bottom. And that’s where they are. Now that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily have a poor season. But that’s where they’re positioned at this point.
Remember one thing about oddsmakers, oddsmakers try and put up the number that based on calculated odds, what a team will do. It’s not really an opinion on where the team will land.”
As an oddsmaker, after decades of dominance, is there any sticker shock on posting the Pats number at 6.5 wins?
“Kind of is yeah. The Patriots have been known to perform well, year after year, Brady and Belichick…they make it happen. And they just can’t make it happen right now. But who knows? I think the quarterback is a good player and eventually it will click but the question is when.”
Are they still a “public” (popular) team for bettors?
“They are not because of their performance over the last three years. And without Brady. I think Brady was the star. He was the guy everybody worshipped and without him being there…are they worshipped up in the New England area? Darn right, they are. But outside of that, no.”
How about teams that have taken money on win overs or Super Bowl futures?
“The Jets are one of those teams..their futures have been bet pretty heavily. They’re one of the more heavily bet teams in the future book. The Bengals have also taken some money. As far as the other teams it’s pretty spread out, but no one has taken as much money as those two teams. And that counts the Chiefs and the Eagles.”
Appreciate Johnny adding his expertise. Given their schedule, I’d lean under on the Pats but not a bet I would make today. A lot more on the Patriots next week.
TODAY’S FOUR-PACK IS PRESENTED BY NYRA BETS
I can’t believe it’s closing week at Saratoga.
Want to thank NYRA Bets for giving MutStack Fans and new NYRA Bets users a great deal all summer long.
New users can take advantage of the MUT200 promo and get up to a $200 deposit bonus when they sign up at NYRABets.com. It’s where I’ve played for over 10 years. They are great. Bet any track, anywhere, anytime.
When you use the MUT200 promo code you’re supporting MutStack. And when you play at NYRABets you’re supporting New York Racing.
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On the future of thoroughbred racing in Massachusetts…
Lucky Number 12?
Doesn’t feel that way.
By some accounts, the latest attempt to resurrect thoroughbred racing in Massachusetts, this time in the City of Gardner, is the 12th such try.
You had rumors of Stronach Racing coming in to build something big.
You had the former owners at Suffolk Downs, Sterling Racing, trying to breathe life back into Great Barrington and the famous Barrington Fairgrounds.
You had rumors of a huge facility in Lancaster, MA.
And this past January, you had the residents in Harwich, MA soundly reject a proposal for a racing facility and track in that town. This attempt, again, was spearheaded by Suffolk/Sterling.
The Gardner proposal looked like it had some momentum before this past Friday. From Lynne Snierson and Bloodhorse:
The possible restoration of live racing in New England will be pushed back even longer now that officials in the city of Gardner, Mass., want additional time to examine the proposal of Bay State Racing to develop a new racetrack within city limits to be named Gardner Park.
The matter of rezoning two parcels of land on which a racetrack might be built was taken up by the planning board at its most recent meeting Aug. 22. In a unanimous vote, planning board members decided to wait before they issue any recommendation to the city council regarding a change to the status of the current zoning at the proposed site. Instead, the board decided that in order to move forward on the matter they will require more information from the town's city solicitor and legal department.
The next step in the process is for the planning board to reconvene Sept. 19. The two parcels of land in question would have to be rezoned from residential to commercial to allow any further consideration of the Bay State Racing proposal.
Hope was for a “boutique” meet in Gardner, with a few weekends of racing per year with huge purses: $500,000 per day.
But like past attempts, residents have turned out at meetings to voice their displeasure at the idea of any race track in “The Furniture Capital of New England.”
The deadline to get approval for racing dates for 2024 is next month, October 1.
That’s not going to happen.
Given the deep history of racing in New England, it’s a shame there is no longer a track the region can call home. But you can’t force residents to okay a racetrack. You’ll need a town that accepts racing - potentially a town that could really use the financial benefits of the additional tax revenue that racing brings.
There’s also this - any racetrack is also essentially guaranteed a sports betting license in Massachusetts. That’s pretty valuable too.
The feeling from a few people I talked to this week close to the situation: it’s a long shot. Asked one insider to give me the odds for racing in the next five years. “50-1…no wait 40-1.”
As long as that sports betting license is tied to a live racetrack, there is hope for racing to return to Massachusetts. But it’s not going to happen until 2025 at the earliest. And at this point probably later than that.
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On more evidence for Lou over Youk in the booth…
This week you had a heavy dose of Kevin Youkilis in the NESN Sox booth.
You got Youk somehow defending Reese McGuire for a terrible play at the plate that cost the RedSox a run.
Then he mentioned on the air that he had a chance to talk to Mookie Betts on the field before Sox/Dodgers.
Betts told the world Friday he wanted to be a member of the team for life before the Sox traded him; Betts being back in town was the biggest story in Boston sports over the weekend. And that’s what you get.
Meanwhile, Lou is walking his dog and giving an honest assessment of the team on X.
I asked around this week and the consensus was NESN like the rotating cast. Too bad. 85% of you said last week here you want Lou in the booth full-time. I agree. We got more evidence this week of why that should happen.
On a racing executive “saying the quiet part out loud”…
I’m sure horse racing has ‘fans.’ As in, folks who watch racing as just fans and not bettors.
They watch the Triple Crown races every year. They have a horse key chain. They go to the races once a year. They’re fans of the horses. Awesome.
Horse racing in America cannot survive on this fanbase.
But there are racing executives who don’t seem to grasp this.
The latest is Ted Nicholson, VP of Racing at Kentucky Downs.
Kentucky Downs in Franklin, KY is known for its short, all-turf race meeting held just once a year in early September. They only run for about a week. They have a unique turf course. They’ve become the darlings of horseplayers because of low takeout and full fields.
About that takeout…
This year, Kentucky Downs raised their takeout. By 1%. They didn’t really have to - they made about $126 million a year ago from racing. And much more on slot machines in Kentucky.
But they blamed all sorts of other people for the decision. This made horseplayers angry, on the X.
What should anger them even more was this answer from the aforementioned Ted Nicholson, talking to the Daily Racing Form. He was asked a question about adding amenities to the remote racetrack.
He mentions everyone…except the horse. And the horseplayer. Racing Exec 101.
If the NFL says no more betting, the Super Bowl is still one of the most-watched TV shows of the year. If the NBA says no more betting, people are still going to jam the Garden to watch Jayson Tatum. No betting in MLB? Yankee Stadium is still packed if the Yankees are a World Series contender.
If horse racing says no more betting, the sport no longer exists. Period.
The real stars of the game.
In 2014, $15.9 million was bet on Kentucky Downs races. Last year it was $80.2 million. Do you think that’s because of the trainers? Owners? BREEDERS?
The real stars of the game.
Nicholson is not alone. Racing and race tracks have done a poor job of giving back to the horseplayer. Now that same horseplayer is getting free bets and odds boosts from their favorite online sportsbook. At some point that horseplayer becomes more of a sports bettor and he’s out of the game.
Because on top of that neglect from racing to horseplayer are a myriad of other legit issues. Data that's not free. High takeout rates. CAW groups that infiltrate every pool and lower payouts at the last minute. Small fields. Inconsistent steward’s decisions…I could go on.
There has been a lot of discussion this year about the safety of the equine athletes - and rightfully so. There have been huge strides made over the last decade - cutting deaths on the racetrack by over 35%. And there are more advancements coming to make the game even safer.
If racing doesn’t realize how much they’re alienating the horseplayer with comments like the one from Ted Nicholson, there’s not going to be a game to save.
Good luck if you’re playing the Pick 6 Carryover at Saratoga.
Enjoy the last days of summer.