Photo Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal (2019)
The Canadian government is putting all their chips in the middle of the table when it comes to sports betting, and the scene is ready to explode.
In July, the Senate voted to pass Bill #C-218, which will allow single-game sports betting in Canada for the first time ever. This is a monumental shift in how the industry is allowed to operate in this country, and federally run companies such as OLG could stand to bring in millions more from these new regulations.
Just a few weeks ago, Canadian company The Score was bought out by Penn National in a $2 billion deal in an effort to acquire their betting platform and capture Canada’s audience in light of the new laws being passed to widen sports betting in the country.
The sports betting industry is now worth up to $1.55 billion in the United States, and in 2020, it grew a staggering 71% over the previous year, as state laws have been relaxed and sports leagues are more open to utilizing sports betting as a revenue stream.
So, naturally, when all the big betting companies based out of Las Vegas released their major NBA betting odds for the year, it became a pretty big deal, particularly in Canada. This is going to be a big season in terms of sports betting, and particularly as it relates to their home team, the Toronto Raptors.
After a disappointing 2020-21 campaign, the Raptors are looking to bounce back in a lot of ways – even if the odds are stacked against them. We’ll walk through exactly what odds were placed, what they are, and what it means for the dinosaur team:
Betting Odds, Explained
There are many different types of sports betting lines. Here is a quick glossary for the ones that we’ll cover today:
Betting Odds (-100): based on the factor of profit on a $100 bet. The lower the number goes into the negatives, the safer the bet – but this also means you will receive a lower payout as a result. Conversely, if the betting line has a plus next to it, this indicates a riskier bet with a higher payout. Example: a betting line of +200 means that if you bet $100, you will yield a return of $300 if you win – a net profit of $200.
Over/Under: Having to decide whether or not a certain statistic will fall above the O/U set, or beneath it. O/U is always listed with a half-point (0.5) next to it, since the bets revolve around whole numbers. Example: In an NBA game, the over/under on total points scored is 224.5; if you bet the over, and the teams score a combined 225 points, you win!
Point Spreads: Also noted with a 0.5 decimal. A point spread indicates how many points a team is projected to win or lose by, and it works similarly to the over/under system. Example: if the point spread is set at -5.5, the team that is favored needs to win by 6 points or more to win the bet; alternatively, you can bet to cover the spread (i.e. the point differential is less, or the underdog wins).
What did Vegas Say About the Raptors?
The Raptors finished with 27 wins in a condensed 72-game season last year, which over a full season extrapolates to about 31 wins. Despite losing Kyle Lowry and turning over much of their bench rotation, their over/under for total wins this season opened at 36.5, with +100 odds on the over and -120 odds on the under.
In addition to this, the Raptors also opened as the team with the worst odds to win the Atlantic division and the tenth worst odds overall to win the NBA Championship:
Per DraftKings, the Raptors also opened with higher odds to miss the playoffs than to make the playoffs. Their betting odds to make the playoffs are listed at +260, while their odds to miss the playoffs are -330.
With the schedule being released last Friday, the Raptors’ odds are out for their season opener at home versus the Washington Wizards as well. The Raptors are favored by 3.5 points to win their first game back in Toronto, and the over/under is set at 220.5. You can check out the full scoop here.
So, What Does It All Mean?
To be perfectly blunt, Vegas was not super kind to the Raptors this year.
The team is projected to be last in their division, 11th in the Eastern conference, and tied for 21st in the league overall with the Sacramento Kings. By every metric, the Raptors are projected to be lottery-bound once again by those who make the odds. By the looks of it, many around the sports world are not projecting the bounce-back season many fans have been hoping for.
Is it a fair assessment?
Look, I’m not at liberty to give anybody any sort of advice on gambling, and I cannot and will not advocate to bet this way or that way. The truth is, it’s a complete unknown. Odds-makers go through billions of data points to assess the risk of each bet.
There are a lot of variables that will dictate how this upcoming season will go, and at this point, there really is no telling how the Raptors are going to perform. The Atlantic division is tougher than ever, with each of the other four teams projected to make the playoffs once again. The team is also objectively worse with Kyle Lowry’s departure to Miami, and Pascal Siakam will need some time to catch his rhythm after missing the start of the season.
On the other hand, the Raptors should hopefully be virus-free this season, there should be plenty of internal growth from key pieces such as OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, and Gary Trent. The additions of Scottie Barnes and Precious Achiuwa should also help strengthen their depth, which was sorely missing throughout most of last season.
The Raptors are no strangers to defying odds, however. In both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, the Raptors crushed the over on their win totals – 55.5 and 46.5, respectively – and, of course, captured a championship with +1400 odds to win the title.
This team doesn’t really care what anyone has to say about them; they thrive on silencing their doubters, and they will salivate at the chance to do so once again. There’s a case to be made for both sides in terms of what to bet on, but you know they will do everything in their power to beat the odds once again.
The Raptors will need to take Fred VanVleet’s mantra quite literally here and bet on themselves as they look to prove the odds-makers wrong this upcoming season. At this point, it’s anybody’s bet as to what they’ll do.