Saturday, September 29, 2012

Packers vs. Seahawks - a small conspiracy theory

If you pay even a passing bit of attention to the NFL you will be aware that the first three weeks of the season were officiated by "replacement referees" due to a labour issue between the league and its' regular referees.

The results weren't pretty, as could be expected, the NFL might be the hardest league in the world to officiate with 22 players all making all sorts of legal, and illegal, contact over the course of 120-140 plays per game. There were all sorts of questionable calls, wrong markings, poor decisions, wrong yardage penalized etc, etc., and even more frightening was that the 300 pound behemoths that inhabit the league were losing respect for the zebras and all out anarchy was about to ensue, meaning that by week five I'm pretty sure an on field death or two would have occurred.

The "replacement referees" issue came to a head on Monday night in Seattle when, on the final play of the game, the refs completely botched two calls on the same play and turned what should have been a 12-7 Green Bay victory into a 14-12 Seattle victory. You can watch the video of the final play any number of places but this is as good as you can find in my opinion. The possession of the ball is a questionable call, the offensive pass interference call was totally blatant but regardless the result is 14-12 Seattle. The results were long and loud with tens of thousands of letters and emails sent to NFL offices and even commentary from Barrack Obama on the issue. The end result was a swift resolution to the lockout and the real refs were back at work on Thursday.

During the discussion of the Green Bay-Seattle game much was made of the gambling aspect, Green Bay, as 3 point favourites, would have covered and paid off their backers had the erroneous call not been made, instead Packers backers (I just like writing that) lost their bets and Seattle supporters cashed their betting slips instead.

Here's where it gets interesting to me: this game was one of the most lopsided bet games on you will ever see with industry estimates that over 65% of the money was on Green Bay . This is a bad situation for the casinos and sports books because they really in the gambling business, the casinos, bookies, whatever charge a standard 10% surcharge on lost bets, known as the vigorish or vig, so in order to win $100 the bettor must put up $110, if you win you get your $110 back plus your $100 bet, if you lose..........well you lose. The casinos etc. are best served with even money on each side of the ledger and the resulting 10% profit but on Monday night, prior to the final play, the books were looking at a big time haircut.

How big you ask ?  Well according to many sources the amount wagered on the game in Las Vegas casinos alone was $150 million dollars, worldwide it may have been as much as a billion dollars, but lets just deal with the Vegas money. At 65% Green Bay money the casinos were looking at a loss of roughly $40 million had the Packers covered, $97.5 million paid out minus $57.75 collected from Seattle bettors, but the final decision created a huge windfall instead with the casinos netting almost $55 million in profits, $52.5 million paid out and $107.25 million collected from losing Green Bay bettors. The net swing is roughly $95 million for something decided by guys who weren't going to be around as refs much longer regardless.

Kind of makes me go............Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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