Viable Uses of Sports Betting Data to Sports Industry Managers

Rodney Paul and Andrew Weinbach

It is easy to find betting market information about upcoming sporting events. Point spreads, totals, and odds appear on websites, television, and newspapers, even though in most places in the United States placing wagers on these events is illegal. Although these numbers seem to be most important to bettors (legally or illegally), there seems to be some inherent value in having these pieces of information available to the general public and as entertainment tools. On the surface, it might appear that knowledge of betting markets may be of little use to sport and entertainment industry professionals, other than those who directly work for sports books in Las Vegas. What needs to be remembered, however, is that sports betting is an entertainment marketplace. In an entertainment market, prices are formed and these prices provide valuable information to prompt discussion and debate. For instance, the amazing attribute of sports betting markets is that they provide a forecast of different aspects of a game, such as which team is expected to win, the anticipated margin of victory, and the number of points likely to be scored in a game. These entertainment-related forecasts are generated in advance of the game and, if accurate, can provide managers in sports-related industries with information that could be helpful in making better decisions, maximizing their company revenues, and/or reducing business costs. Further, this information can provide a framework for entertainment executives to entertain fans on radio, television, and other media venues. This article provides a background on the formation and uses of market prices in sports betting we have been involved with and provides examples of their use outside of the gambling environment.