Strike up the band. Open the dance floor. The bettors are celebrating, together. Legal online sports betting is here.
The first 18 months of the post-Paspa era wields more than the expected wagering festival. Mobile technology adds socialization, a twist unforeseen by the sport-betting pioneers who won their decades-long fight via the Supreme Court to legalize NJ sports betting.
Yes indeed, community gambling ties spring from the new-age online platform, fueled by mobile apps and the betting-site likes of DraftKings, FanDuel, PlaySugarHouse, William Hill and PointsBet, among others.
It’s contagious. Throughout New Jersey, this new-age realm features younger bettors, already enamored with touchscreen technology, operating hand-held sportsbooks with fingertip control. No lines. No shutouts. No parking.
But they still have the chatter, the emotional fuel subsidizing the sports-wagering industry. The phone is their very own book with legal online sports betting. Bettors who see a game, weigh it, press the box and bet it, all within seconds, seeking kindred spirits.
Mobile apps turn betting into small country clubs, open to all with membership “fees” simply being one’s interest in gambling, depositing funds and texting. For many, it has replaced bar hopping and clubbing after work while retaining social interaction. It has rekindled personal relationships.
Text-messaging threads connect like-minded bettors throughout New Jersey. It can occur at all hours but usually unfolds around a set of games. The texting exchange is informal and unobtrusive. The content regards bets, strategies, deals and fluctuating fortunes. The sessions become a social form of the no-huddle offense, with quick bursts for a few minutes.
Online Books Love It
This functionality was worth the wait for players, exceeding the brick-and-mortar paradise of glamorous sportsbooks, drinks, big screens and boisterous atmosphere foreseen in Atlantic City properties. All of that did materialize, but not as the end game.
The smartphone showed up. So did the apps and betting sites. No wonder 80 percent of New Jersey sports-betting revenue comes from mobile betting according to state and gaming officials. The Internet era, instant accessibility, and technology produced a component the wagering pioneers never imagined.
Players and operators benefit. Bettors obtain information on different sites via the chatter, sharing their betting preference from favored sites.
Online books gain business from people who want to bet more because of increased accessibility or simply as an activity with their friends. The texting revolution, which provides group chatter, images, and witty captions in other realms, thrives in the sports-betting environment.
A GLIMPSE OF THE NEW ERA
What does that look like, in real-time? To underscore this phenomenon, I tabulated responses from my friends in a recent, intense “meeting” of the betting minds” expressed via texts regarding play at the New Jersey betting sites over the past few days.
We experienced a cross-section of what unfolds every day, in thousands of situations involving millions of dollars. This dynamic will spread quickly as more states turn to legal online sports betting.
The participants, who gave their permission for publication, have been given nicknames to ensure privacy.
This group bets lightly, but places wager every day. Its players seek a steady or big score from minimal outlay, as opposed to those who leverage a large bankroll, perhaps thousands of dollars, into one or two key wagers.
My betting patterns mirror this group, for the purpose of objectivity. A “blown call” reference on a $5 bet is a conversation. On a $100 bet, it could suggest bias.
We “meet” whenever someone decides to talk gambling and each week’s games produce a new theme.
Personal Ties Rekindled
One aspect of legal online sports betting is a season-long reunion with friends. It reflects the shared activity model of wagering.
True Blue Eddie, a lifelong buddy, lives an hour from me. Frantic life pace, travel, and raising of families make it difficult for our lives to connect. And then came the magic of recreational sports betting.
When Eddie saw a couple of stories, I’d written on New Jersey gambling sites about 12-leg parlay at PlaySugarHouse and a six-teamer at William Hill, he hit me with a 1:40 a.m. text last week.
“Why don’t WE do that?” he inquired. “We can hit it. I have Fan Duel. I double-dog dare you to come up with four teams, on the spot, that we can play tomorrow.”
Eddie and I took turns selecting teams. We came up with eight of them for $6. Eddie configured the total as $1,032.32 if we hit. To prevent reconciling small tabs,
I picked two games against the spread to bet on the William Hill app the next morning.
“I am going to bed,” he finally announced at 2 a.m., “before I bet anymore.”
It did not matter that we went 5-3, not collecting the parlay and then broke even the next day by hitting the spread picks. We had reunited.
The wagered money equaled a drink at the bar with similar bonding. Eddie “brought the drinks” at Fan Duel, I “brought them” at William Hill.
Two more wager wizards, “Felix the Professor” and “Scotty King Clicker”, shop for bargains, line movements, and free bets. They send gambling texts like two people rushing to catch a train.
Remember early phone plans that charged for more than 500 texts in a month.? These guys, during football season, would have gone bankrupt. But now, unlimited texting and sports-book access have unleashed their betting “app” titude.
“King Clicker” is aptly named because he can’t help doing the see-it-like-it-bet its cycle, all in about 15 seconds. He has great technical skills finding and punching in bets, a must for players who must turn any inspiration into a wager before the numbers changed.
“King Clicker” put $100 in a Draft Kings account last fall and still has some of it after more than 600 bets. He loves perpetual action.
“The Professor”, meanwhile, combines different sites, annexes free bets and puts his phone storage to good use by having several sports-book apps on it. He will bet big within the realm of his budget and he beamed when discussing the resurrection of people, he’d barely contacted in the last 25 years. Now, through mobile betting, they speak four to five days a week. They attend live events together too.
On this occasion, the “meeting” was over Thursday Night football involving the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers.
PointsBet provides an automatic win if the team you select scores the first touchdown Thursday and Sunday according to the “The Professor”, who prides himself on knowing this nuance.
Oakland running back Josh Jacobs got rolling for Felix, who had made a PointsBet wager of $2 for every yard below and above Jacobs’ receiving yards of 19.
That eventually paid $22 because Jacobs had 30 yards. We agreed that one needs to define his betting profile before playing PointsBet’s margin-of-victory section. Every passing or running yard, either way, impacts your bet. It can be fantastic or flammable, the same choice awaiting mutual-fund stockholders who tackle options.
For good measure, we teamed up on one of his sites to take the total on this end on an odd number at halftime. That’s what serious handicapping is for! The half ended 17-14 Oakland, and we hit.
And then came “King Clicker,” parlaying the Raiders plus 1.5 and the over-under of 48, for a hit.
Monday Night Madness
This was our first conversation since the famous Met Life Miracle or Met Life Meltdown, depending upon whom one had bet, which occurred three nights earlier.
When the New York Giants hosted the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football at Met Life Stadium, the over bettors bordered on a tough loss. The over was 48.5 and a 30-18 victory for Dallas looked all but certain.
Twenty-two seconds remained. It was despair and then…. euphoria. The Cowboys scored the rarest of scoop-and-score touchdowns off of a fumble and crazy bounce.
It was surreal. And then all texting hell broke loose.
“Will it stand?”
“They’d better uphold this!”
“I got it. I got it! Can you BELIEVE it?”
Nobody watching the under was part of this text chain. Reverse the joy and imagine the chagrin to capture their feelings.
All felt compassion for their “under” opponents who were forgiven the following day when PointsBet made a Good Karma payout to those burned by this rare event.
NBA, NHL Interlude
On this occasion, other sports were crowded out. I mentioned hitting three straight hockey games and a two-game NBA experiment on William Hill NJ.
“You like that in-game stuff and sure and that’s nice,” King Clicker said, “But tonight we’re betting football.”
I’d gone 1-1 with two in-game bets in three nights. The New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons had a strong offensive start to their game and I bet the over 225-point game total in the second quarter.
So how could it end right at 224? A loser, because nobody scored in the last 40 seconds.
Two nights later, when Detroit played the Indiana Pacers, I tried it again. Second-quarter. Took the over 215.5. As I was punching in, the total went to 217.5. I bit the bullet and took the game anyway.
And it ended on 218, a half-point win. How do these oddsmakers nail it, on a game on a total that large with a result.?
Felix dove into college football, with the Saturday matchup between top-ranked Louisiana State University and Alabama. He bet $50 on Draft Kings with LSU getting six points and quarterback Joe Burrow getting a $6 bonus per touchdown.
Then Felix bet $50 live on Alabama -6 on PointsBet right away to get $50 free bet for later. My goodness, his own form of middling the books. Take each side, get a scoring bonus ($18 for Burrow’s three touchdowns) and a free play.
The wager portfolio of this group reflected some serious angles, some frivolity, and the essential survival component: money management.
The Big Shot
There are many levels of play. Some people have a deep bankroll.
It was time to go outside the group and check with a Union County pal who occasionally bet big. We recalled sweating out the Washington Nationals’ two-run ninth to obtain the over 7.5 run total in their World Series final win over the Houston Astros recently.
What held the bet in the balance was a third-base coaching decision to hold a baserunner after a hit to the outfield. When the ball was bobbled, the runner was finally sent home with our winning run.
“I had five on it,” I said meaning $5.
“So did I,” he said. “Five Hundred.”
And you wonder why blood pressure pills were invented. That’s not in-game betting. That’s in-game SWEATING.
The Good Ole Days?
Fantastic finishes, especially those ending well, summon stories about wagers during pre-legalization, the period in which Eagles great Ron Jaworski told me that in terms of betting, “everybody had a guy”.
Eddie remembers one of those.
“In college, we took the Miami Dolphins on a Monday night game,” he recalled, smiling like someone who’d delivered a 99-yard game-winning interception return. “They win the game but are about to kick a meaningless 47-yard field goal, which we needed to cover, with four seconds left. They commit an offsides penalty to push them back. Oh no. They could just kneel on it instead they kick a 52-yarder to cover! We were at a bar in Philadelphia. We were going nuts. They nearly kicked us out.”
I remembered, as a teenager, catching my dad betting “with a guy” and later playing those sheets that paid 10-1 for going 4-0 against the spread. Talk about a house edge? On some of them, each team was giving two points!
But they were the times. No PlaySugarHouse. No Fan Duel. No Draft Kings and PointsBet. None of the big outfits.
We simply played, and on some level, it was social. Thanks to legal online sports betting.
Now it is social by definition.
The app age has forged a new form of camaraderie, a new vibe, and spirit. Welcome to the club.