Sportsbook Players’ Panel: Let’s Hear from Our Customers Bob Dancer, CDC Gaming Reports · October 10, 2018 at 6:55 pm To probably no one’s great surprise, considering that legal sports betting is the #1 topic on virtually every attendee’s mind, there were a number of panels relating to sportsbooks at this year’s Global Gaming Expo. This one was from the players’ point of view – fitting, considering it was subtitled “Let’s Hear from Our Customers.” The panelists were professional player Steve Fezzik, who regularly appears on radio programs and is used to this sort of thing, and Liz Huey, a poker blogger and recreational sports bettor. Audience members were invited to come up and sit with the panel, but no one accepted the invitation. There were, however, numerous questions from the audience.The general idea of the panel – or, as conference literature had it, the “fishbowl” discussion – was to examine how sportsbook operators can better serve their customers. In no particular order, these were the subjects discussed: Banning players — William Hill, in particular, was called out for banning players who win. Fezzik strongly supported limiting the better players and using their bets as an indicator of what the “right” side should be. The vig — Players have generally accepted -110 bets on each side, meaning a player must be correct something like 52.4% of the time to break even. Some books have gone to -120 lines, which Fezzik believes is ultimately unbeatable by anybody over time. He suggested some books go to -109 and advertise the heck out of it. For a smaller win per bet, the casino would receive a much larger handle. In-line betting — This is when players bet on the next play, or the next inning, or maybe the next quarter. This type of betting is relatively new, and the bugs have not quite been worked out yet. One problem that’s emerged is that bets can’t be processed quickly enough in some cases, so sometimes you don’t know whether you have action or not until after the play is over. It also appears to many players that losing bets get accepted more often than winning bets. Even if it’s just bad perception, it needs to be fixed. One suggestion was that small bets — say, $100 or less — get accepted immediately, without review. Another suggestion is that these bets be limited to TV timeouts, where there is sufficient time to process them. Learning from Europe — Following on the preceding issue, Europe has had in-line betting for a number of years, and there are lessons to be learned from them. Although each area is different, it makes sense for sports books to hire at least some managers who have European experience. Comps — Sportsbooks tend to comp less than slots or table games. Both Fezzik and Huey said that if you want to be comped, you need to either use a player’s card or somehow let the sportsbook manager know how much you’re betting. They suggested that, for regular bettors, comps were attainable. Brick-and-mortar vs. offshore books — Currently, offshore books, even though illegal or, perhaps, semi-legal, offer better lines than brick-and-mortar casinos. The way for brick-and-mortar casinos to compete is via comps. If casinos want these customers, they should make them feel valued. The casinos would do well to treat their best customers (i.e., the ones who lose the most) to double or triple comps. Although it pertained more to online poker than to sportsbooks, there was also an extended discussion of HUDs, or heads-up devices. HUDs provide each player information about the betting habits of the other player. Both of the panelists were against them, saying that they believed that these devices are very useful to expert players and not so useful to recreational players — meaning, in other words, that the best players get an even bigger edge than they already have.