With a little under three-and-half minutes left in the Chicago-Minnesota Monday Night Football game, the Vikings were on the threshold of making some NFL history in a game that was otherwise eminently forgettable. Stumbling through a dreadful contest with the Brears, the Vikings held a 10-9 lead but had the ball first-and-10 at the Chicago 43-yard line with 3:27 left in the fourth quarter.
A likely scenario would have the Vikings eke out a few more yards for a field goal try while causing Chicago to burn its timeouts. In the next few plays, Chicago did use its last two timeouts but the Vikings — instead of gaining even 5, 6, 7 yards for a field goal which would have forced the struggling Bears to score a touchdown for the win — went into reverse.
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Losing 5 yards on the possession, Minnesota punted from the Chicago 48-yard line. The Bears then came out of their offensive lethargy just enough to get in position to kick their own 30-yard field for a 12-10 win.
Other than raising the Bears’ record to 4-7 and dropping the Vikings to 6-6, the lost chance for Minnesota – which was a 3-point favorite — to win the game by a count of 14-9 also saw a possible record slip away.
Going into the game, the betting favorites over the Thanksgiving weekend had enjoyed a 12-3 record. Reportedly, the favorites had never covered in 13 games over an NFL weekend. And after the Bears-Vikings game, they still have not. The legal online sports betting record still stands at 12 for favorites covering in a single weekend.
Yet, it appears to be an immensely profitable weekend for the little guys, meaning the wagering public. See, the public loves favorites and when favorites win, the bookmakers lose.
This is what Christian Cipollini, the Trading Manager for BetMGM had to say: “The public feasted on favorites Thanksgiving weekend and it resulted in the biggest week for sports bettors this NFL season at BetMGM.”
The books may have gotten some relief on Monday night as BetMGM sportsbook reported before the game that 77% of bets were on the Vikings as 3-point favorites against the Bears.
While the lost opportunity for a wagering record was the headline, at least for folks interested in the betting nuances of the NFL, the overall trend of the weekend will be noticeable in the weeks ahead. Of course, we have all the best NFL betting promos for you to take advantage of as well.
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November Sports Betting Numbers Likely to Fall From October
Each month, the handle and revenues of the sports betting universe become public information as various states report the sports gambling action in their respective jurisdictions. October was a particularly good month for sports books, mobile sports betting apps, and also for tax collections in a number of states.
However, the big last weekend in November for the betting public combined with one fewer NFL Sunday/Monday in November (there were four as opposed to five in October) is likely to produce poor month-to-month comparative numbers for sportsbooks in handle and revenue, and also for state tax collections.
In general, the apparent poor showing of the November 2023 sports betting action when held up to comparison against October 2023 is a reminder of the volatility and the vagaries of the sportsbook business. Despite the fact that the sportsbooks have the mathematical advantage of the vigorish, sportsbooks are actually gambling when they take bets and there can be big swings. That stands in contrast to, say, slot machines where the “hold” is generally set by random computer number generators, and while big, multi-million-dollar jackpots hit all the time, the grind of a predictable hold percentage gives the “house” a consistent reliable return.
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Operators Will Continue to Push Online Casino Gambling
That reality is why the same companies who have a high-profile presence as online sports betting operators are pushing for more states to legalize online casino gambling, meaning internet slot machines and table games.
In the case of online casino gambling, also called iGaming, gambling operators will be more insulated against occasions where the betting public is able to “feast” in the one-sided way it did over this past Thanksgiving weekend.
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Bill Ordine was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years. He covered the World Series of Poker for a decade and his articles on gaming have appeared in many major U.S. newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and others.