View Full Version : Replaement Refs affect Vegas betting

09-20-2012, 08:07 PM
Replacement refs affect Vegas betting

UPDATED SEP 20, 2012 2:07 PM ET

Las Vegas casinos think this weekend's NFL games will be the highest-scoring ever thanks to the league's replacement officials.

Oddsmakers say casinos are changing their expectations as interim referees add new variables to the game, changing its pace and the approaches taken by players and coaches.

Casinos haven't fully changed lines yet because there have been only two weeks of games and referees might adjust how they call games based on weekly feedback from the league. But oddsmaker Mike Colbert of Cantor Gaming says home teams will deserve an extra half-point in their favor if games are called all year the way they were officiated in Week 2.

''It's starting to concern us a bit,'' Colbert said. ''(Officials) should have no influence on the total or the side.''

Penalties were skewed in favor of home teams during the first two weeks this year, with visitors getting 55.1 percent of 419 penalties. Last year began in a similar fashion -- visitors took 54.8 percent of 407 total penalties through the first two games -- before evening out over the rest of the season. Penalties were relatively even between home and road teams for all of 2010 and 2011, and it's anybody's guess how this year's penalties will split.

Sports books make money by encouraging balanced betting action; they get it by using point spreads to account for the advantage one team has over another. In Week 2, home teams went 11-4-1 after going 8-8 in Week 1.

Future lines with interim officials will take a lot of guesswork, said Colbert, whose company runs sports books in six Las Vegas casinos and provides betting lines for the vast majority of Nevada sports books.

''You've got to use prior experience -- I don't know if anyone has prior experience with something like this,'' he said.

NFL teams generally get a 3-point edge in sports books just for playing at home. An extra half-point added to that would be the equivalent of a team having a superstar receiver or running back on the field or an opponent missing its star because of injury, gambling expert RJ Bell of Pregame.com said.

''That's a strong statement that the people are really considering this to be a legitimate phenomenon,'' Bell said. ''When you're taking hundreds of thousands of dollars per game, those half-points are really meaningful.''

In the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl earlier this year, oddsmakers said Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski would shift the line a half-point depending on whether he appeared in the game. He played but caught only two passes in the loss to the Giants.

Public perception makes a big difference in a sports betting world built on complex math and opinion markets -- even if popular opinions don't entirely match what's happening on the field.

Statistically, there were few differences from last year in the way the first two weeks of this season were called. The average number of penalties is down and player safety calls like roughing the passer have been about the same. But defensive pass interference calls are up; there were 44 defensive pass interference calls in the first two weeks this year compared with 30 in the first two weeks last year. And games are taking about six minutes longer on average.

Casinos expect an average of 46.1 points scored per game for Week 3 -- the highest projected total ever for Vegas casinos, Bell said.

Bell said the jump can't just be another sign of a pass-happy league with rules designed to foster offense.

''What else has changed other than the referees?'' he asked.

SportsBettingOnline.ag, a Costa Rica company that takes bets online, is taking referee bets directly to fans, allowing them to wager on different kinds of penalties league-wide, including the number of pass interference calls, how long games will last and whether home teams will take fewer penalties than visitors. Online sports gambling is illegal in the United States, and such bets wouldn't likely fly in Las Vegas.

Colbert said Cantor plans to allow bettors to wager for the first time ever on total points for the entire league. The over/under line was set to open Thursday morning at 732.5 points, an average of 45.8 points per game.

Colbert said that while it's high, it's lower than the totals of each of 16 games added up, in part because he thinks some casinos are overreacting to the referees and inflated their numbers.

But he said that might not matter to bettors, who notoriously love high scores.

''My gut instinct is they'll bet over,'' he said

09-22-2012, 03:39 AM
posted by Dale Lolley

Interesting to note that the line on this game has dropped to 4 points after the Steelers opened as 6-point favorites.

But there is some basis. The replacement officials have called home teams for 44.9 percent of the penalties. Compare that to a 51-49 split for the regular officials.

Possibly because of that, home teams are 23-9 straight up and 19-12-1 ATS through two weeks this season.

On average over the previous three seasons, the home teams were 19-13 straight up and 16-15-1 ATS.

Coincidence? Maybe. It's something we'll keep an eye on this week.


09-22-2012, 07:00 AM
No one is forcing the oddsmakers to put out betting lines, that's something that has spun off because people will bet on games. There's risk, now there's more risk, if you don't like the risk, get out of the business of taking bets on football games. If you're a bettor, then don't bet if you think the refs affect the outcome of the game. The NFL shouldn't care one bit if the replacement refs are causing Vegas problems.


09-22-2012, 07:22 AM
NFL issues on-field conduct warning regarding replacement officials to all 32 teams
By Doug Farrar | Shutdown Corner – Thu, Sep 20, 2012 7:00 PM EDT


After the debacle that was Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season, the league office has taken swift and proactive action to remedy the problems between coaches and replacement officials.

Unfortunately, that action has nothing to do with training or replacing those officials with better ones, or the real ones who have been locked out for months.

Instead, the NFL has issued a warning to all 32 NFL teams insisting that the behavior seen from coaches such as Atlanta's Mike Smith, Denver's John Fox, and San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh will no longer be tolerated. Those coaches, who were reacting to ridiculous mishandlings of in-game situations by unqualified refs, have been told in no uncertain terms to cut it out.

ESPN's Adam Schefter was told by NFL VP of football operations Ray Anderson that "We contacted [the teams] to remind them that everyone has a responsibility to respect the game. We expect it to be adhered to this weekend and forevermore."

Schefter asked what would happen if any coach violated the sanctity of the league's new hands-off policy. "If someone were to make that mistake, he would be flagged on the field and he would be hearing from our office in a very firm way," Anderson said.

Clearly, this is yet another example of the NFL trying to cover its own collective backside in a labor war with its longtime officials that has been a severe detriment to the game. Perhaps the best example occurred on the most national stage. During the "Monday Night Football" game between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos, there were several interminable delays that had the telecast going just short of the four-hour mark as the replacements tried in vain to take charge of a game that was spiraling out of control at all times.

Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards actually put his hands on an official during one fracas and was not ejected, Broncos center J.D. Walton pulled one official out of a pile and wasn't even penalized, and there were two embarrassing spot foul mistakes that you wouldn't expect of first-year high school refs.

ESPN's broadcast crew, normally cognizant of its relationship with the NFL, went rogue because it could do nothing else. Play-by-play man Mike Tirico called the situation "an embarrassment," and color man Jon Gruden, never one to mince words with officials when he was a head coach with the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was eventually rendered speechless by the incompetence he saw.

The NFL, intent on driving the locked-out officials back to the bargaining table on its own terms only, has refused to acknowledge that the issues even exist. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello will only say that "[The NFL is] going to continue to do everything possible to raise the level of performance of the current officials."

And while that behemoth project is in the works, there will be no in-game reminders or admonishments from the coaches whose jobs could depend in part on what these officials do. The NFL and the NFL Referees Association did meet this week, per Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, but little progress was made.

After that Monday night disaster, ESPN analyst and Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young went on a blistering tirade about the state of the game.

"Everything about the NFL now is inelastic for demand," Young said. "There's nothing they can do right now to hurt the demand for the game. The bottom line is, they don't care. Player safety doesn't matter in this case. Bring in the Division III officials — it doesn't matter. In the end you're still going to watch the game, we're going to all complain and moan and gripe but … it doesn't matter. Go ahead, gripe all they want. I'm going to rest. Let them eat cake."

Indeed. And just to add — let them eat cake and shut up about it.