For years, the main job of the owners of sportsbooks has been to set the odds. That way they ensure they are going to walk away with a profit. But this year even the bookies themselves admit they have no clue how to set them.
With American sports coming back soon that's a bit of a problem. If too many of them set the odds wrong it could mean a huge outflow of money to the bettors and maybe even the bankruptcy of a few sportsbooks.
The problem is that odds have always been set based on previous performance, who has the home-field advantage, and how each team has been expected to play. But this year all teams have been long gone for a while. They are going to be playing in empty stadiums and nobody has any clue how a given team can be expected to play.
According to Nick Bogdanovich of William Hill U.S., sportsbooks can expect what’s coming to be a “complete crapshoot with all the unknowns.” He adds, “We’re just going to have to react as fast as humanly possible. It’s going to be a wild time.”
The director of operations at DraftKings, Johnny Avello, says, “The totals are a little tricky. We don’t know what that’s going to be like without fans in the stands. Is that going to make [teams] score more than they would normally score because they are focused? Or is it going to be less because their momentum isn’t driven (by the roar of a crowd?) That is something we’re going to keep a close eye on.”
This of course sets up a unique chance for bettors to win big. If they can figure out what the true odds for any game should be and find an online sportsbook that is completely wrong they could make a huge bet and win big.
That said the odds of American bettors having any idea what the odds should be when even the bookmakers themselves are clueless seems pretty low. What is certain however is that they will make mistakes and some lucky wagerers are going to score big time off of them.