US Sports Bettors Look Forward to 2018 Winter Olympics Bets

Saturday, February 10th, 2018 | Written by April Bergman
US Sports Bettors Look Forward to 2018 Winter Olympics Bets

U.S. sports bettors might have their best chance to beat the Las Vegas sportsbooks in a while by betting on the 2018 Winter Olympics, at least if USA Today is to be believed. 2018 is the first time Americans can bet legally on the Winter Olympics, after a decades-long ban was lifted in the summer of 2016, just in time for the Summer Olympics that year.

Jason Simbal, CG Technologies VP of Risk Management, said Las Vegas bookmakers are using elementary research techniques on some of the winter sports.

Simbol added, “A lot of the time it is just best for us to use the internet to look stuff up. Often we can also look to see what a lot of the European bookmakers have done. They have been doing this for many years, and we are new at it so using them as a resource can help.”

The longstanding ban means the city’s best bookmakers, professionals who set the lines for the sportsbooks, might not understand the intricacies of an Olympic sports the way they understand mainline professional sports. They might be as much in the dark as some gamblers.

Ban Lifted on Olympic Betting

The idea behind the ban was the Summer and Winter Olympics featured amateur athletes, so Las Vegas did not want to encourage betting on games with competitors who might be easier targets for match fixers. Since the Olympics started allowing pro athletes in the NBA and NHL — and quasi-pro athletes in track & field and other Olympic sports — that ban did not seem to make much sense.

The ban might never have made much sense, given the fact the Las Vegas sports books have offered betting on NCAA football and NCAA basketball for decades. Whatever the case, Nevada approved Olympic sports bets, so Americans can wager legally on the games like most other bettors in the civilized world.

Betting the Bookies

As for the US Today, the newspaper touted bets on biathlon, bobsled, and speedskating as ways to beat the casino with a sports bet, presumably because Las Vegas bookmakers are not as experienced with such sports as they would be with football, baseball, or hockey. Winter Olympics betting lines might be soft and exploitable.

The only problem with that logic is whether American sports bettors know more about those biathlon, bobsled, and speedskating than the bookmakers do. In the vast majority of the cases, that is not likely, though hardcore ice skating fans might have an inside track. As many fans have noted over the years, ice skating judges have favorites and a good oddsmaker probably has a decent chance of figuring out which skaters might receive favor from the panel of judges. Of course, Vegas Strip bookmakers also might spot those patterns and account for that knowledge in the line.

Like Jason Simbal said, Las Vegas’s bookmakers who are not that comfortable handicapping biathlon or some other sport can look at the European bookmaker’s results, because they have been setting lines on Winter Sports for decades. It would be unwise to think you handicapping of an Olympic bet is more precise than the bookmakers’, who are proven experts, have the world’s best databases, and have all day to research.

Betting for Enjoyment

Of course, it is always a bad bet when a sports bettor think they know more than the bookmakers. A few handicappers might be able to beat the casino, but they put a lot of time and effort into the process. And if they are really good, they’ll probably end up working for a sportsbook operator somewhere.

That is not the point. The point is to spice up one’s enjoyment of the 2018 Winter Olympics with a few well-placed bet. If your wife insists on watching every night of the ice dancing competition, you can make the night’s tv viewing a little more interesting by putting a bet on the results.

Olympic Sports Bettor’s Experience

Traditional sports bettors are giving positive feedback so far. Simon Paulsen, 36, from Claremont, California, said he bet on the Rio Summer Olympics and it enhanced his viewing experience. Paulsen also noted it created a much different gaming experience than betting on a few NFL or NCAA games.

Paulsen said, “I had been to Vegas for March Madness, been here during big fights and during NFL season. The Olympics wasn’t like that in terms of the buzz, not even close.”

“But I love the Olympics and I always watch it religiously so this made it a bit more exciting. I do feel that some of these lesser known sports give you a real chance of making some money. The casinos just don’t have as much knowledge about them.”

2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Storylines

The Winter Olympics are great, because obscure athletes become national heroes in an instant. Continuity is important, as great athletes stake their claim on history by pursuing multiple golds and career-defining world records.

The storylines will change as the Olympics transpire, but here are some of the top stories to look for entering the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. All-time greats Shaun White (snowboarding) and Lindsey Vonn (alpine skiing) making perhaps their final appearances in an Olympics, as both will be in their late-30s next time around. Mikaela Shriffin was the youngest slalom champion in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and she’s back to defend her title in 2018.

Speedskater Maame Biney is the second person born in Ghana to represent Team USA in the olympics. Chloe Kim, a Winter X Games star, is looking for her first Olympic medal at age 17. Ted Ligety is looking for his third gold in alpine skiing. Six national teams are making their first-ever appearance in the Winter Olympics: Singapore, Malaysia, Ecuador, Kosovo, Nigeria, and Eritrea.

In a highly symbolic act for the host country and its neighbor, a bitter rival, South Korean bobsledder Won Yun Jong and North Korean women’s ice hockey player Hwang Chung Gum carried a Korean unification flag at the opening ceremony. Hockey players from the unified Korean hockey team carried the Olympic flame to the giant cauldron at the top of the Pyeongchang stadium.

With 108 Olympics gold medals up for grabs, bettors can find a few interesting propositions to wager on throughout the 2+ week spectacle