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Sportsbooks Must Stay Competitive During "Slow Months" by Jeremy Martin
Once March Madness ends, most online sportsbooks enter a lull that lasts until football heats up in September. The general betting public is not that enthusiastic about wagering on the National Basketball Association or online baseball betting. This puts some Internet sportsbooks in a precarious position. Some of the smaller shops - the ones that keep afloat with a heavy reliance on cash flow - could have trouble staying in business during these slow months.
There are so many individuals that love to bet football that there will always be enough customers to go around during the National Football League and college football seasons. March Madness is also a huge draw for the general betting public. Although there are many bettors who enjoy gambling year around, the competition for this handle is fierce.
NBA and MLB will be the books' main moneymakers until football starts but these leagues are not huge draws for the public bettors that are so highly coveted by the books. Many of the players who wager on these leagues are the more sophisticated bettors that have a better chance of beating the house on a regular basis. Regardless, the books must get creative in order to lure these customers to their operations. They must also market to players that enjoy betting on some fringe sports like golf, horse racing, tennis and Nascar.
According to Mickey Richardson, general manager for Costa Rica International Sports (CRIS), incoming handle drops approximately 20 percent once football season ends. Once March Madness is completed business decreases another 15 percent. After the NBA playoffs, the book loses another 20 percent of its handle. CRIS enjoys a sizeable spike in business during the MLB playoffs and World Series but other than that they are taking in less than half of the business they book during football once the NBA season is completed.
"We pretty much just prepare ourselves for next football season starting right now," commented Richardson. "There are a lot of people who are March Madness fanatics. After March Madness, that is it for them until football season. The NBA playoffs come and, yeah, there is a jump. But it is just a flicker on the scale there. You have your hardcore gamblers that go year around and you have your guys that are just football, March Madness and that's it."
CRIS is one of - if not the No. 1 - Internet sportsbook worldwide in terms of volume so these numbers are likely consistent throughout the industry.
Baseball may be an American pastime, but online baseball betting just doesn't draw interest from tons of sports bettors. Most players who do bet MLB on a regular basis are considered the more sophisticated type of player. At CRIS, the hold percentage for online baseball betting is the lowest for almost any sport it books. The oddsmaking team must be extremely cautious when setting their lines.
It's not that baseball isn't a popular sport, according to Richardson. The lack of handle has more to do with the time of year than the lack of interest in the sport.
"In Summertime people go on vacation - they lose interest," he said. "People just need a break. It's hard to go year around betting on sports. (For the) baseball playoffs, it's different. There is significant volume for the baseball playoffs. But for the regular season it is basically everybody's recreational time and the gamblers just aren't there. Truthfully, I look forward to the summer because it gives us a little bit of time to breathe and prepare for next (football season)."
Not all books have the same luxury of CRIS, which has been around for years and is considered a very stable book. Inevitably, some of the books that take in less volume may struggle to survive during these slow months. That's why bettors must do their research before signing up with a new book.
Because there is a shortage of bettors during these slim months, the books must offer more wagering options than their competition in order to draw business.
"There are different ways we can increase our handle," added Richardson. "We offer first and second halves in baseball and total strikeouts for every game and total homeruns for every game. We have total runs hits and errors for each team and much more. We do our best to keep the players involved on a daily basis."
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