by Mike Hayes - 03/10/2006
After a break of nearly two years, fans of the Sopranos don't need much incentive to tune in when the program resumes Sunday but there is another reason to watch this season and it might even add a little more juice to the viewing experience. Sopranos betting is getting very popular and is offered at some of the best online sportsbooks.
Both Bodog and Pinnacle Sportsbook are among the Web sites that are taking action on the hit series - with the first moneymaking opportunity involving correctly identifying who will be the first character to be killed-off during the final 20 episodes of the series.
"We are already seeing a lot of betting action on these entertainment props," said Greg Jorssen, spokesman for Bodog. "This is the first time we have offered odds on the Sopranos, and we anticipate even more betting action leading up to the show's season debut."
The HBO hit chronicles the lives and actions of fictional mob boss Tony Soprano, his immediate family and extended crime family, and his efforts to sort out all of their dysfunction and his resulting anxiety through shrink Dr. Jennifer Melfi. HBO will air 12 episodes that are scheduled for this calendar year and the final eight episodes of the series will air in January.
Pinnacle Sportsbook is offering odds on who among 18 regular characters will be the first to be killed off this season, with the early moneymaking Uncle Junior the favorite at 11-2 and Tony's nephew Christopher the second choice at 6-1.
The odds on Tony's sister Janice being the first to go opened at 29-1 but were quickly bet down to 11-1. The longest shots on the board at the moment are Tony and his immediate family, wife Carmela, son A.J. and daughter Meadow, each at 70-1 or 75-1. Dr. Melfi also appears safe at 70-1, as does Silvio at 52-1.
"In the past our bettors have correctly predicted the outcome of television shows like American Idol as well as world events including the Papal conclave and Presidential elections," said Simon Noble of Pinnacle Sportsbook. "If the betting trend continues it could mean the end of the line for Uncle Junior or Christopher, who both have several risk factors making them vulnerable to being killed off."
Bodog, which has a $50 limit on Sopranos wagers, is offering odds on who will be killed-off first for 10 regular characters, though the odds are significantly lower than those offered at Pinnacle Sportsbook. Here Paulie Walnuts is a 9-5 favorite, followed by Uncle Junior at 5-2. Tony is a surprisingly low 9-1 considering there would not be much of a show without him, and Carmela has the longest odds at 16-1.
Establishing wagering lines for entertainment props is far from an exact science, which is one of the reasons that Bodog has set a $50 limit for individual Sopranos betting. "There are many unknowns," commented Jorssen. "It's not like a typical sports game, where the bookmakers can compare lines, research past betting trends and size up the teams.
"Another reason for the lower minimums is that there is greater potential for leaked or inside information. In the case of the Sopranos there could be some insiders at HBO who already know the outcome of the show, so we have to be extra vigilant when it comes to monitoring the lines. To mitigate some of the potential risks, we keep the minimums low," Jorssen added.
Bodog is also giving bettors an opportunity to predict how the series will end. Tony's family walking out on him is the 1-2 choice here followed by Tony getting arrested at 8-5. Tony retiring from mob life is the longest wagering opportunity here at 11-1.
If you think there will be a feature film version of the Sopranos before January 2008, you can lay $110 to win $100. If not, you need to lay $130 for $100.
Jorssen said the props are part of Bodog's continuing effort to provide customers with unique wagering opportunities, which has the added effect of attracting new customers.
"Entertainment wagers are designed as an added-value offering for Bodog players," he added. "They are fun and entertaining, and most of all they are unique. Once a customer feels comfortable placing a couple of dollars on the outcome of say, the Sopranos series, they will find it much easier to transition into other betting channels, such as the online sportsbook."
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