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Even Oddsmakers Have Hope For Long-Suffering O's Fans

By Bill Ordine

A sports team's performance against a wagering line reflects whether the club has exceeded expectations, but often those results relative to the odds are also predictive.

The notion is relevant during this Orioles season, because it can help answer this question -- can the O's keep their competitive ways going?

Some betting numbers can help answer that question. During the first 81 games, the Orioles were 44-37 in the standings, five games behind the American League East-leading Yankees, and still in contention for a wildcard playoff berth.

So -- can the Orioles keep it going?

Viewed through the prism of wagering odds, the forecast is optimistic, but not conclusive.

Through the first half of the season, the Orioles led the AL and were second in the majors in return on the wagering money line.

For the first 81 contests, the O's were +1,370, according to, a Web site that reports sports wagering information. That means if someone bet 100 units on the Orioles during the first 81 games, that bettor would have a profit of 1,370 units. Only the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates had a higher return on investment, +1,732 through 81 games.

Last season, all five major league teams that had an ROI of +1,000 units or more for the season made the playoffs, which makes Baltimore's ROI a favorable indicator.

A longer view of wagering ROI is a little more sobering. In 2010, only three of eight teams with a money-line return of +1,000 or more made the playoffs. Because expectations determine the money line, even a poor team that wins a handful of games in which it was a huge underdog can post a positive ROI. For example, the 2010 Houston Astros were +1,146 units for the season, but finished 10 games less than .500.

Extend the look back even more and the picture is more focused. During the last five seasons, 20 of 32 teams with a +1,000 or better ROI betting line performance made the playoffs, or about 60 percent.

It's also important to note that although low expectations favorably impacted the Orioles' early wagering results this season, meaning they scored upsets as heavy underdogs during multiple games, oddsmakers have figured out that the Orioles are a pretty decent team. During one stretch at midseason, the O's were favorites in nine of 12 games. Who can remember that happening during recent history, regardless of the opponents?

The bottom line is this. Before the season, if you had offered Orioles fans the prospect that on the Fourth of July, the O's would have an approximate 60 percent chance to make the playoffs, many long-suffering followers would have accepted that possibility gladly.


Speaking of return on investment, consider the performance of Maryland Live!, the state's newest casino.

The casino revenue results for June showed that for the first 24 days since Maryland Live! opened in June, it grossed $28.5 million. Maryland Live! cost $500 million to build.

In Atlantic City, the newest casino is called Revel. During its first two months of operation, April and May, it grossed $27.3 million total. That resort, with both a casino and hotel, cost $2.4 billion to build -- nearly five times the cost of Maryland Live!.

To be fair, this comparison is based solely on gaming revenues, not hotel, food, beverage and other sources of revenue, and does not take into account the vastly different tax rates in the two states. Revel is also in a fiercely competitive market, while Maryland Live! has a lock on the Baltimore and Washington markets for now. Still, that's quite a contrast.


The Maryland Lottery is offering more chances to win this summer in a contest called the Summer of Like. By liking the lottery's Facebook page, contestants can register to win concert tickets, sports tickets and free scratch-off tickets.  

Issue 175: July 2012