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Serious Gambling on Arena Football Apparently Thing of the Past

Adam Markowitz
Saturday April 13, 2013

As if the Arena Football League needed another blow to its fan base, the most recent blow came from Costa Rica, of all places. Bookmaker Sportsbook was the authority for Arena Football League betting over the course of the last three seasons, posting betting lines on the day of the game. However, as of Week 4 of this season, Bookmaker has told that it is pulling out of the market and will no longer offer betting on Arena Football.

Though the mass majority of you reading this article probably could care less as to whether there are Arena Football League betting lines posted or not, the fact of the matter is that there absolutely is a market for it. This writer knows of at least seven or eight people that will no longer care one iota about what goes on in the AFL now that they can't wager on it, and there are surely more than just the ones that I know about that only care if there is money to be made on the sport.

Whether the mainstream sports world cares to admit it or not, gambling is a huge part of sports. The only reason the NCAA Tournament is as popular as it has turned out to be is for all of the money that has gone into bracket pools. The amount of betting involved in the NFL is insane. ESPN has gotten to the point that it advertises what the betting lines are for the games. Fantasy football is a popular and growing wagering tool as well.

Proportionately speaking, the Arena Football League betting pools weren't nearly as big, but they were still most certainly sizeable. Prior to the 2009 work stoppage, it was possible to wager well over $10,000 on an Arena Football League game. In 2010, various sportsbooks offered enough $1,000 limits to be able to be able to place quite a sizeable bet. Last year, the writing was on the wall that this was the direction which we are going in, as limits were slashed to either $250 or $500 per game.

Thus far in the 2013 season, there hasn't been a reputable sportsbook that offered more than $500 wagers on the games.

The only websites that posted betting lines for the Arena Football League in Week 3 were 5Dimes Sportsbook and BetOnline Sportsbook. 5Dimes posted betting lines for Friday's games in the 6:00 p.m. ET hour. A representative from 5Dimes ensured, "Yes, we will offer Arena lines… As soon as Vegas has their lines up, we will post ours."

On Friday, the only sportsbook in Las Vegas that offered Arena Football League betting lines was the Las Vegas Hilton, and those lines were not posted until less than three hours prior to kickoff.

BetOnline has consistently been posting AFL point spreads by Thursdays, but they are only offering $100 bets and $250 bets on game days. A $100 bet on a game could move a spread as much as a point and a half.

To put this in perspective, for Wrestlemania 29, a completely scripted event, BetOnline was offering $500 bets on each of the matches. You can bet $2,500 on any game in the MLB or the NBA, and $10,000 on any NFL game.

To put this in further perspective, today alone, Bookmaker is offering betting lines on hockey in Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, and Germany, soccer for 54 different countries, Mexican baseball, handball in three different countries, rugby in two different leagues, and Futsal... Whatever the hell Futsal is... Oh, and you can bet on who will win American Idol and Dancing with the Stars to boot.

Though proportionately speaking, there aren't all that many fans that will be turned off by the lack of AFL betting, when the league was at its height in the mid- to late-2000s, there was no doubt that betting on the game was part of the league's popularity. With this niche seemingly essentially gone, that's one more notch in the column against the AFL.

Adam Markowitz is an accountant and a freelance sports writer living in Orlando. As a Florida State graduate with degrees in music and history, the garnet and gold will forever be a part of him, but he bleeds the black and red of the Orlando Predators like none other. Adam has been following the AFL since 1991 and has been at well over 200 games, including 16 ArenaBowls. You can follow Adam on Twitter @AFLGuru.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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