Many sports books closed the books on the 2019 college football season on Nov. 26. While it was a great season and we came away with some very important moral victories (like Florida taking down Georgia in the finale), it was a tough year overall. The economy took a sharp turn for the worse, and many sportsbooks saw a decrease in wagers as a result.
The 2020 season was supposed to be better. People thought the economy would get back on track, and all the major professional sports would be back. Well, the economy didn’t get back on track, and the sports didn’t return. Coaches like Bobby Bowden and Howard Schnellenberg were practically begging schools to cancel their football programs because there was no money in betting on high school football.
So, what happened? Why did the UCF football game say “Na” (“none” or “no”) on the betting lines?
Increased NCAA Enforcement
The NCAA has stepped up its enforcement of the rules surrounding agent intervention. In the previous two years, there were only a handful of cases in which agents were charged with influencing a players’ choices. This year, there were 16 cases, and 13 of the 16 were for sports agents. This is a major change. In the past, the NCAA focused on the major college football and basketball programs, since they could be more lucrative. However, the current situation forced them to change their tune, and they are now targeting all levels of sports, including high school. In addition, the NCAA has indicated that it will be stepping up its audits and inspections of financial aid offices, as well as targeting schools for major infractions. This could also have something to do with the limited number of games this year.
The ‘Shameless’ Scam
This year, the ‘shameless’ scam became prolific. Anyone that placed a wager on a football game during the season was a likely target, as there were dozens of well-crafted scams designed to steal money from unsuspecting bettors. The perpetrators typically posed as representatives of a bank, and claimed that the individual’s account was in jeopardy because of an expired credit card. In many cases, they also threatened to report the person to the IRS for failing to pay taxes, and accused them of using fraudulent documentation to obtain the loan in the first place.
The best example of this is the Arizona Diamondbacks vs Cincinnati Reds game. Many people that showed up to the game had their money stolen from them after a ‘shameless’ scam artist approached them and requested to discuss Binance with them. Binance is a cryptocurrency that is extremely popular on the market, but it is also one of the most targeted cryptocurrencies by thieves. Binance is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies because it is frequently traded on cryptocurrency exchanges. The fact that it is a widely-held cryptocurrency makes it attractive to hackers, because it is easy to steal. Fortunately, the person that they conned out of over $100 in cash didn’t lose any sleep over the matter, and neither did we, the readers of this column. These types of scams will continue to pop up until the books are reopened, and until then, we will just have to be more careful. You can always spot the thieves, because they will never ask for your bank information, and they certainly won’t ask you to wire them money.
Payback For The Season
One of the most important developments of the 2019 season was the payback that many teams and players delivered to the 2019 college football program. As noted, many coaches and players refused to participate in the program, and therefore, didn’t get paid. For example, the football program at the University of Massachusetts was cut for a whole year, and many players had to find other ways to fund their educations. In some cases, they had to quit playing football altogether. And what happens when you don’t get paid? You can’t buy your kids school supplies, or pay for their private school tuition. So, in a sense, the players and coaches that are still participating in the program are doing the country a favor. They are showing how important school spirit, sportsmanship, and community are, by playing for the ‘shade.’
The Virus That Spreads Like Wildfire
Another major development that occurred this year is the spread of a ‘virus’ that we have never seen before. Unlike the ‘shameless’ scam, where an individual is targeted, in this case, it was an entire country. We are talking about the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The disease began in Wuhan, China, and eventually, made its way to Italy. While the exact numbers are unknown, it is believed that over 100,000 people in Italy have died from it. Fortunately, the numbers in the U.S. are significantly lower. Still, there have been over 6,400 cases in the U.S., and over 40 people have died. The fact is that this disease is highly contagious, and it spreads easily. Like many viruses, it can lurk in the environment for a long time before you start to see symptoms. That is why those that are infected are not always sick. Some people may show no signs of having the disease at all. That is also why it is so important to practice social distancing, and limit large gatherings. For most people, it is a mild illness, with mild to minimal symptoms. But for those that are already sick with heart disease or cancer, or those that have other health issues, it can be a death sentence. The key to beating this virus is with the help of your doctors, making sure that you are taking the right medications, and getting the right tests done regularly. But most importantly, taking social distancing measures, and staying away from other people as much as possible.
Let’s get to the good stuff now. During the off-season, the majority of the college football teams and players don’t do anything. They either train hard or they rest easy, depending on how competitive they want to be in the upcoming season. Well, the same goes for the books. In the off-season, there are no games to speak of, and very little action in terms of wagering. However, as soon as the season begins, everyone wants to get back to their feet as soon as possible, and they definitely want to get back to betting. The next few chapters will deal with the various strategies that are used by sportsbooks to entice people to place bets during the off-season, and the different ways in which they can get revenue once the season begins. But first, let’s look at why the sportsbooks opened, and what made the season so special.
The Multi-Platform Revolution
Many people that we talk to these days are attached to their phones, and access the internet on any device they have available. Some of them only have one computer, and use it solely for email and web browsing. However, most people have several devices, some of which are mobile. So, instead of having to login to a separate device to access their email, they can simply do it on their phone. Or, if they are on the go, and don’t have their laptop or desktop computer with them, they can use their tablet.
The majority of the revenue that the books generate each year comes from online wagers, and many of those online wagers are placed during the off-season. Why? The simple answer is that in the previous two years, the majority of the revenue was coming from mobile wagers. To give you an idea of how much we’re talking about, the four major sportsbooks combined for over $1 billion in 2019. If you take into consideration other books that handle football, as well as the hundreds of smaller books that exist, the number is likely much higher.
TV Ratings & Streams
As we have established, the internet holds a wealth of information, and since there aren’t any strict rules governing the distribution of content, it can be found anywhere. For example, if you search for ‘2020 ncaa football rankings’, you get hundreds of different websites that all have their own take on the subject. As a result, many people that are finding their way to the betting pages are looking for something specific. Sometimes, they are simply searching for the next big game, while in other cases, they have an interest in a team that is currently unranked.
The issue is that most of these websites are probably not going to have the same opinion as the sportsbook that they are reading. While some of the content may be good, it is difficult to discern which is which, when you’re scrolling through a sea of different articles, all of which claim to have the ‘inside scoop’ on the next big game.