New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware Agree to Share Online Poker Player Pools

Following four years of negotiation, the governors of New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware have finally agreed to share online poker player pools.

The interstate iGaming compact links the three jurisdictions – which are currently the only three American states offering legal online gambling – by allowing poker players to compete against one another across state lines.

Nevada and Delaware forged a similar agreement in 2015, with operator 888 Holdings combining online poker player pools across its (Nevada) and 888Poker (Delaware) platforms.

But iGaming industry experts have long contended that the New Jersey market – which is much larger and more active – was the lynchpin to improving lagging player liquidity levels.

Within an isolated iGaming market, also known as “ring-fenced” markets, online poker players can only compete against opponents located in the same jurisdiction. This limitation serves as an artificial cap on liquidity, forcing major platforms like operating in more than one market to divide their customer base by location.

Conversely, under the liquidity sharing programs prevalent in the European and international markets, operators can combine player pools from multiple countries – thus expanding game selection and activity across the board.

In a statement, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey praised the long-awaited agreement as a vital step in the state’s continuing iGaming evolution:

“New Jersey has been a pioneer in the development of authorized, regulated online gaming, which has been a budding success since its launch in late 2013.

Pooling players with Nevada and Delaware will enhance annual revenue growth, attract new consumers, and create opportunities for players and Internet gaming operators.

This agreement marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for online gaming, and we look forward to working with our partners in Nevada and Delaware in this endeavor.”

David Rebuck, who serves as director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), added a statement outlining his agency’s regulatory approach to player sharing:

“New Jersey stands prepared to approve a game offering for all three states as soon as an operator submits such a product for testing.”

Rebuck’s counterpart in Nevada – chairman A.G. Burnett of the Nevada Gaming Control Board – spoke with Online Poker Report to provide perspective from the Silver State:

“The technology teams in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware are going to meet to discuss next steps.

The timeline is to move toward integration ASAP.”

As Burnett mentioned, Christie’s announcement included no details on when implementation will begin.

The company which stands to benefit most from eventual player sharing is Caesars Interactive Entertainment, which owns and operates – the only online poker platform in Nevada. Using software provided by 888 Holdings, Caesars also operates in New Jersey – making it the only site with an active presence in both states.

The three iGaming platforms operated by the Delaware Lottery have an exclusive software provision agreement with 888 Holdings.

Caesars issued a statement praising regulators in all three states for coming to an agreement after years of deliberation:

“We applaud the government leadership and the regulators in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware for reaching this meaningful agreement.

We will immediately begin efforts to take our existing Delaware-Nevada compact and add New Jersey to the mix by following the requirements established by the regulators so can share liquidity with all three states.”

Caesars also holds the license for 888Poker in New Jersey, making it the only entity which could immediately share online poker player liquidity across all three states.

New Jersey’s other major online poker network – which includes BorgataPoker, PartyPoker, and PlayMGMPoker – is maintained by MGM Resorts International, owner of the Borgata casino in Atlantic City.

MGM’s status as a major player in Nevada land-based gaming makes the company a likely candidate to launch similar networks there, which would then be linked to their counterparts in New Jersey.

As for PokerStars, which went live in New Jersey just last year, language within Nevada’s iGaming regulations specifically prohibits the company from operating there. As such, PokerStars wouldn’t be able to benefit from interstate player sharing for the foreseeable future.

NFL Odds 2017: Week 7 Betting Preview

Underdogs continued to exceed expectations in Week 6 of the NFL season, going 11-3 against the spread in a Sunday highlighted by two double-digit dogs winning outright.

After opening as 11.5-point road underdogs at online sportsbook Bovada, the Miami Dolphins (3-2) found themselves in a 17-0 halftime hole against the Atlanta Falcons – but their defense pitched a shutout in the second half to secure a 20-17 win.

On Monday Night Football, another 11.5-point road favorite shocked the football world, when the injury-ravaged New York Giants (1-5) dominated the Denver Broncos (3-2) in a 23-10 slugfest.

Week 7 won’t offer a single upset of similar scope.

Of the 15 games on the docket this week, oddsmakers have capped all of them with a spread between 1.5 and 6 points – so bettors have their hands full deciding between all those close contests.

The showcase game for Week 7 is surely the Sunday Night Football showdown between the Atlanta Falcons (3-2) and the New England Patriots (4-2). This long-awaited rematch from last February’s epic Super Bowl 51 is eight months in the making.

For the Falcons, the game represents a golden chance to redeem themselves. But in the wake of their historic Super Bowl collapse – which saw Atlanta surrender a 28-3 third-quarter lead to lose the Lombardi Trophy – the ghosts may still be lingering.

Atlanta stormed out of the gates last week against Miami, at home no less, only to sputter in the second half en route to a second straight loss when holding a late lead.

As for the defending champions, New England struggled against the surprisingly competent New York Jets (3-3), falling behind 14-0 before narrowly escaping with a 24-17 victory. The game continued a startling pattern of substandard play from the Pats, who have surrendered 26.5 points per game (30th in NFL).

This one’s as close as it gets on paper, and given the grudge match implications, Bovada set a standard 3-point advantage for the Patriots owing to home-field advantage.

What may have been a contender for “Game of the Week” status has been relegated to the undercard, thanks in large part to Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone.

Playing on the road against the Minnesota Vikings (4-2), the catastrophic injury to their star quarterback doomed the Green Bay Packers (4-2) to a dismal loss.

The Pack hosts the New Orleans Saints (3-2) this week, and after last week’s 52-point explosion by Drew Brees (with a little help from the Saints defense), a meeting with Rodgers may have threatened the 90-point plateau.

Instead, backup QB Brett Hundley takes the reins from Rodgers, which is why Green Bay is a 6-point home underdog for the first time in memory.

Most teams use their bye week for rest and recuperation, looking to keep the drama to a minimum – but the Dallas Cowboys (2-3) aren’t most teams. While the rest of the roster enjoyed their R&R, standout running back Ezekiel Elliott made headlines once again, when a federal court allowed his six-game suspension to proceed.

Dallas visits the San Francisco 49ers (0-6), however, a team well removed from its glory days in the 1990s – or even the recent renaissance of Jim Harbaugh’s tenure. Even without Elliott toting the rock, quarterback Dak Prescott, wideout Dez Bryant, and sack-master Demarcus Lawrence should be enough to fend off an inferior 49ers roster.

The line on this one opened with Dallas as 4-point road favorites, but that was quickly bet up to the current 6-point edge.

While the Cowboys look to reach the .500 mark, the NFC East race intensifies on Monday Night Football.

The division-leading Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) host the second-place Washington Redskins (3-2), and an Eagles win would put them a full two games up in the East standings.

Excelling in his second year, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is generating MVP buzz, but he’ll be tested against a stingy Redskins defense that gives up just 228.0 passing yards per game.

With home field on their side, the Eagles are listed as 4.5-point favorites to take a firm grip on their divisional destiny.

Aaron Rodgers Potential Season-Ending Injury Shakes Up Super Bowl 52 Odds

What a difference a week makes.

On October 10 – two days after Aaron Rodgers tossed yet another last-minute touchdown to secure a comeback win over the Cowboys – the Green Bay Packers were 4-1 and online sportsbook Bovada had them as (+500) second-favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 52.

In fact, Green Bay was rated just below the defending champion New England Patriots (4-2), who offered odds of (+450), to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.

Today, however, the Packers woke up to an entirely new reality.

After being driven hard into the turf by Anthony Barr of the Minnesota Vikings (4-2), Rodgers broke his right collarbone, dealing a disastrous blow to the Packers’ offense in an eventual 23-10 defeat. And while the result dropped the Packers into a tie with their old rival in the NFC North race, Rodgers’ likely season-ending injury was obviously the most important loss suffered on Sunday.

The gunslinger’s importance to the Packers’ postseason chances – or their shot of making the playoffs at all – was underscored today when the latest Bovada futures odds went public.

Formerly set at 5 to 1, Green Bay’s title odds have ballooned to (+1600).

Three NFC teams are now ahead of the Pack in that regard – the Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) at (+850), the Seattle Seahawks (3-2) at (+1100), and the Atlanta Falcons (3-2) at (+1400).

Thrust into what had been one of the most secure starting roles in NFL history, backup Brett Hundley – the Packers’ fifth-round draft pick in 2015 – went 18 for 33 passing, with one touchdown to three interceptions. Hundley will obviously benefit from a full week of first-team practice reps, but given the caliber of Green Bay’s upcoming competition, his team may be under .500 within a months’ time.

The Packers host the New Orleans Saints (3-2) on Sunday, a team averaging 29.0 points per game after putting up 52 in last week’s win.

They’ll take a much-needed bye week after that, before hosting the Detroit Lions (3-3) in a crucial NFC North contest played under the Monday Night Football spotlight.

Next up is a trip to Soldier Field to face the surprisingly frisky Chicago Bears (2-4), and while the Packers have already dispatched their nemesis once this season, playing on the road without Rodgers is a different story altogether.

Green Bay fans looking for a shred of hope can at least look back to the 2013 season. That year, after a hot 5-2 start, Rodgers broke his left collarbone and the Packers limped to a 7-7-1 record entering Week 17.

Rodgers returned to play in the pivotal, NFC North deciding game against the Bears, marching his team down the field before throwing a 48-yard game-winning touchdown to send Green Bay to the playoffs.

Accordingly, the bookmakers at Bovada are taking a conservative approach to tabulating Green Bay’s title chances. They’re still ranked higher than the Cowboys (+2200), for example, but struggling teams like the Falcons and Seahawks have now surpassed them in the Super Bowl hunt.

Oddly enough, however, both Atlanta and Seattle saw their respective odds drop as well. Those downward slides are attributable to the Falcons blowing a 17-0 halftime lead against the Miami Dolphins (3-2), and Seattle sitting idle on its bye.

The biggest benefactor of Rodgers going down is, as expected, Minnesota – which currently leads the NFC North over Green Bay by virtue of its head-to-head tiebreaker.

Last week the Vikings held (+3300) odds of winning the Super Bowl, with no less than seven NFC teams – Green Bay, Seattle, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Carolina, and Detroit – touted more highly.

Today, those odds have been cut to (+2000), and both Dallas and Carolina have fallen behind Minnesota.

In the ultimate team sport, the absence of a single player isn’t supposed to create such drastic swings – but then again, there’s only one Aaron Rodgers.

The table below compares every NFL team’s odds of winning Super Bowl 52 from last Tuesday to today:

Team SB Odds on 10/10 Team SB Odds on 10/16
New England Patriots +450 New England Patriots +450
Green Bay Packers +500 Pittsburgh Steelers +800
Kansas City Chiefs +650 Kansas City Chiefs +850
Seattle Seahawks +1000 Philadelphia Eagles +850
Philadelphia Eagles +1000 Seattle Seahawks +1100
Atlanta Falcons +1200 Atlanta Falcons +1400
Pittsburgh Steelers +1200 Green Bay Packers +1600
Dallas Cowboys +2000 Minnesota Vikings +2000
Denver Broncos +2000 Dallas Cowboys +2200
Carolina Panthers +2200 Denver Broncos +2500
Detroit Lions +3300 Carolina Panthers +2500
Minnesota Vikings +3300 L.A. Rams +2500
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +4000 Houston Texans +2800
Houston Texans +4000 Detroit Lions +3300
Tennessee Titans +5000 Washington Redskins +3300
Oakland Raiders +5000 New Orleans Saints +3300
L.A. Rams +5000 Tennessee Titans +4000
Buffalo Bills +6600 Oakland Raiders +4000
Washington Redskins +6600 Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5000
New Orleans Saints +6600 Cincinnati Bengals +5000
Baltimore Ravens +6600 Arizona Cardinals +5000
Jacksonville Jaguars +7500 Buffalo Bills +6600
Cincinnati Bengals +7500 Baltimore Ravens +6600
Indianapolis Colts +10000 Jacksonville Jaguars +6600
New York Jets +15000 Miami Dolphins +7500
Arizona Cardinals +15000 New York Giants +7500
Miami Dolphins +15000 Indianapolis Colts +10000
L.A. Chargers +20000 L.A. Chargers +10000
New York Giants +30000 New York Jets +20000
Chicago Bears +100000 Chicago Bears +20000
San Francisco 49ers +300000 San Francisco 49ers +500000
Cleveland Browns +300000 Cleveland Browns +500000



Supreme Court Sets December Date for Oral Arguments in New Jersey Sports Betting Case

Oral arguments in the case of Christie vs. NCAA et al will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on December 4, marking the next phase in New Jersey’s challenge of the federal sports betting ban.

The date was first announced via Twitter last week by reporter Robert Barnes, who covers the Court for The Washington Post.

Since 2011, when voters approved a constitutional amendment to repeal an existing statewide ban on sports betting, New Jersey has been entangled in a legal controversy over states’ rights.

The state’s Legislature passed a voter-approved Sports Wagering Act the following year, and Governor Chris Christie signed it into law.

This reform was immediately challenged by North America’s four major professional sports leagues – the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Hockey League (NHL) – along with the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

In the resulting case, Christie vs. NCAA et al, the leagues argued that New Jersey’s attempt to regulate sports betting violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. That federal law limited sports betting in the U.S. to just four states – Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana.

After initial judgments ruled in favor of the leagues, New Jersey successfully filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Court in October of 2016.

Over the course of several months, the Court considered several brief amici curiae from stakeholders on both sides of the issue, including the American Gaming Association (AGA), Pacific Legal Association (PLA), and the Attorneys General representing 18 states.

In June of this year, the Court granted New Jersey’s petition and agreed to hear the case.

This decision – which occurs in just 1 percent of cases that file – immediately led to speculation that the Court agreed with the merits of a PASPA repeal.

The likelihood that level of federal reform takes place is said to be so high that many of the leagues challenging New Jersey – including MLB and the NBA – have officially announced their willingness to embrace legalized sports betting nationwide.

Nelson Rose, an attorney specializing in gaming law, took to his professional blog to speculate on the Court’s intentions:

“I’m hoping the Court will give us a clean decision. The worst result would be a ruling that New Jersey only has the right to decriminalize sports betting, but not regulate it.

Other states would follow, with some truly weird statutes eliminating laws against sports betting, and who knows what else.”

Even so, Rose agrees with the general consensus that PASPA has run its course, as several Congressional challenges to the law are also pending:

“Even if New Jersey loses, PASPA is toast. The law was passed in 1992, when there was no World Wide Web, let alone internet gambling, daily fantasy sports or eSports.

States and gaming operators will see that they can create coalitions in Congress on the state’s right issue of letting states make their own decisions about gambling.”

Given the December 4 date for oral arguments, the Court is likely to render a decision in the first half of 2018.

College Football Odds 2017: Week 7 Betting Preview

While the rest of the Associated Press (AP) Top 10 wound up in the winner’s column last week, then third-ranked Oklahoma (4-1) and then seventh-ranked Michigan (4-1) fell in stunning upsets.

The Wolverines – now ranked 17th by the AP – were 10.5-point favorites at home but lost to bitter rival Michigan State (4-1) in a 14-10 defensive grind.

As for the Sooners, they opened as enormous 28-point home favorites over Iowa State (3-2), only to drop a 38-31 shootout.

Incredibly, the Cyclones went into that game as massive (+7500) moneyline underdogs, paying huge dividends for the brave souls who backed them. Accordingly, bettors sizing up the Week 7 slate will invariably be searching for similar matchups with upset potential.

And as is usually the case, the unfortunate team up next for top-ranked Alabama (6-0) is a prime candidate for longshot status.

This Saturday that will be Arkansas (2-3), a team that counts wins over mid-major lightweights Florida A&M (2-4) and New Mexico State (2-4) as its only victories on the year. When faced with stronger SEC competition, the Razorbacks have wilted on both occasions.

That doesn’t bode well for the Hogs as they head to Tuscaloosa for a date with the Crimson Tide. Alabama beat its first two SEC foes by a combined margin of 125-3, and even with last week’s relatively close 27-19 win over Texas A&M (4-2) factored in, the Tide really is rolling. After all, Alabama was up 24-3 over the Aggies before a late comeback bid.

All things considered, Arkansas probably won’t be the next Iowa State, despite a similar consensus spread that puts them as 31-point road underdogs.

Second-ranked Clemson (6-0) has defended its National Championship with a series of dominant wins. That run looks likely to continue this Friday with a visit to Syracuse (3-3), as the Tigers are tabbed as 23-point road favorites by online sportsbook Bovada.

Third-ranked Penn State (6-0) takes the week off, while fourth-ranked Georgia (6-0) should have no problems hosting SEC walkover Missouri (1-4) as 30-point home favorites.

Fifth-ranked Washington (6-0) appears primed for a second consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff.

The Huskies have blown out every opponent they’ve faced, averaging 43.0 points per game on offense while giving up a stingy 10.2 points per for the third-best scoring defense in the nation.

That dominance may be attributable to the Pac-12’s relative weakness, however, as Wazzu hasn’t played a single ranked team on the season. And nothing changes this week, as the Huskies head to Tempe to take on a middling Arizona State (2-3) team.

The books have Washington as 17.5-point road favorites, but they’ll need to be careful, as the Sun Devils do have a 37-35 win over then 24th-ranked Oregon (4-2) to their credit.

If the Cyclones’ surprising upset is to be repeated this week, sixth-ranked TCU (5-0) could be the culprit.

The Horned Frogs travel to Kansas State (3-2) for a date with a formerly feared Big 12 rival. And while these Wildcats may not have the offensive firepower of old, they’re still averaging a healthy 36.8 points per game.

With legendary head coach Bill Snyder back for a second tour of duty starting in 2009, Kansas State has recorded a Big 12 title and a Fiesta Bowl appearance, so the team certainly doesn’t lack for leadership.

The same can be said for Gary Patterson of TCU, who has coached the team continuously since 2000 – posting two 12-1 seasons and a 13-0 campaign along the way.

The Wildcats took last year’s matchup 30-6, but this year the Horned Frogs look like an entirely different team. Even so, the oddsmakers have this as a close contest, with TCU favored by only 6.5 points on the road.

Pennsylvania Folds on iGaming; Michigan Lawmaker Looks to Thanksgiving for Passage

After months of intense debate and political infighting, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives failed to reach consensus on funding the state’s $32 billion proposed budget – effectively ending the possibility of online gambling passage in the process.

The Senate passed a comprehensive iGaming regulation package in May, which was approved by the House one month later, but Pennsylvania’s ongoing $2.2 billion budget deficit crisis complicated the issue.

Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, had originally slated $100 million of the budget outline to be generated via iGaming licensing fees and annual taxes. When lawmakers finally approved a budget framework on June 30, that figure had been increased to $250 million from a newly created iGaming industry.

But the Republican-controlled House objected to minutiae within the iGaming bill, including tax rates and land-based gambling expansion, during a wider debate over funding for an already contentious budget.

Last week, Wolf appeared to end that debate by announcing his intention to bypass the legislature altogether. According to the Governor’s office, Wolf plans to borrow $1.2 billion from Pennsylvania’s state-operated liquor industry rather than wait for the House to act.

In a public statement, Wolf blamed party politics for the budget gridlock:

“Too many Republicans in the Legislature are more focused on the 2018 elections than on helping Pennsylvania succeed.

They’d rather see me fail than Pennsylvania succeed. They’d rather protect special interests, they’d rather protect lobbyists and campaign donors than do the right thing.

I’m not going to play their games anymore, so I’m drawing a line in the sand.”

As the Associated Press (AP) report detailing Wolf’s announcement mentions, this proposal doesn’t incorporate iGaming, or any form of gambling expansion for that matter:

“Wolf’s announcement seemed to mark an end to months of budget wrangling, along with massive casino-style gambling plans being floated in hopes of squeezing tens of millions of dollars more in casino license fees and gambling losses.”

Wolf stated that it would take two months to begin borrowing from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). This timeframe leaves a window for legislators to agree on a full budget package, one which would include the original iGaming regulations.

As excitement dims in Pennsylvania, a lawmaker in Michigan is drumming up optimism for his own iGaming bill.

State representative Brandt Iden (R-61) introduced House Bill 4926 in last month, which calls for legalization and regulation of online poker specifically, along with allowances for other casino games.

The House Regulatory Reform Committee – on which Iden serves as chair – held an informational hearing on September 13 to examine HB-4926.

This marks the first step in a lengthy legislative process, but as Iden told Online Poker Report this week, he’s hoping to pick up the pace considerably:

“Throughout the month of October, I’m hoping to gain a lot of headway.

If I had my way, we’ll be able to get everyone to the table and put a bill together and through the House before the Thanksgiving holiday.

We’ll see how achievable it is, but that’s my goal.”

Michigan has long been a prime candidate to become the fourth state with regulated iGaming.

With three commercial casinos in the Detroit metropolitan area joining 23 tribal gaming establishments across the state, a regulatory foundation for legal gambling is already in place.

But unlike in California, where a divide between tribal casino interests has routinely scuttled iGaming legislation, Iden told Online Poker Report his state’s stakeholders are on the same page:

“I really believe that the industry understands that things have got to move in this direction.

They’re constantly looking to expand their operations with new gamers. They realize they have generations of gamers that are going to be looking at new platforms, and if they don’t get on board they will miss the bus.

I’m telling them, ‘I have the desire to work with you to make this legislation right, but if you don’t come forward we’re going to proceed anyway.’

I think the message is starting to resonate. I’m not naïve. I do understand there are some hoops we’ll have to jump through so everyone believes it is equitable.”

NFL Odds 2017: Week 6 Betting Preview

Just five weeks into the NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) have emerged as the league’s lone remaining unbeaten team.

And while fans of the Chiefs are undoubtedly pleased with the spotless start, bettors are also hopping aboard the bandwagon, courtesy of Kansas City’s perfect record against the spread.

All things considered, the Chiefs look like the class of the NFL to this point, with victories over the Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) and New England Patriots (3-2) bolstering their bona fides.

But head coach Andy Reid faces another perennial powerhouse this Sunday, when the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) arrive at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Steelers didn’t look quite like themselves last week, losing handily at home in a 30-9 rout against the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2). That shocking result, coupled with five interceptions from Ben Roethlisberger, led to some soul-searching in the Steelers locker room.

The Chiefs, on the other hand, rolled through the Houston Texans (2-3) in a 42-34 road romp, and the final score doesn’t do their performance justice. Simply put, Kansas City looked like the best team in football, as they have all year.

Accordingly, online sportsbook Bovada has posted the Chiefs as healthy 5-point home favorites.

Another highly anticipated matchup involves bitter NFC North rivals, as the Minnesota Vikings (3-2) host the Green Bay Packers (4-1).

This one’s a tale of two quarterbacks, or three really, when the Vikings’ woes at the position are considered.

Green Bay can always rely on gunslinger Aaron Rodgers, as they did last week when the stud signal-caller led a last-minute comeback to down the Dallas Cowboys (2-3). But in Minnesota, a Week 1 resurgence by Sam Bradford was quickly washed away by a knee injury, and Bradford could barely walk last Monday night before being pulled for backup Case Keenum.

Even in a second consecutive road game, the bookmakers’ consensus on this one has the Packers as 3-point favorites.

In a game that defines the football narrative of an immovable object meeting an irresistible force, the Atlanta Falcons (3-1) host the Miami Dolphins (2-2).

The Falcons’ offense is soaring like usual, to the tune of 26.0 points per game, but it’s a different story altogether for the Dolphins – who average just 10.3 points per for the NFL’s worst output.

Miami can blame fatigue from a Hurricane Irma induced travel schedule, having played their first home game of the year just last week. But the blame really lies with quarterback Jay Cutler, who has looked limp and listless while guiding the offense to just three touchdown drives all year.

Interestingly, the Dolphins’ defense has held its own, allowing only 16.8 points per game – fourth-best in football.

That impressive defense will look to contain the Falcons’ high-flying pass game, but Bovada isn’t a believer, as the site posted Atlanta as major 11.5-point home favorites.

When pigskin pundits planned their playoff predictions prior to the season, the AFC East belonged – as it almost always does – to the New England Patriots (3-2). Those same preseason primers tabbed the New York Jets (3-2) as possible candidates for the dreaded 0-16 season – but football has a funny way of bucking expectations.

This Sunday the two rivals will meet at MetLife Stadium, and the winner will lay claim to the inside track to a division title.

The Jets have surprised the sports world by playing surprisingly stingy defense, while scoring just enough to squeeze out victories. But their three wins have come against Miami, Jacksonville, and the woeful Cleveland Browns (0-5), whereas New England is in an entirely different class.

Or they were at least, until 2017 saw star quarterback Tom Brady turn 40 in August. That’s usually the end of the road for NFL quarterbacks, even legitimate legends, and Brady’s play thus far hasn’t been up to his usual standards.

When the Patriots lose, however, it’s because their league-worst defense is surrendering yards and points in bunches. Chunk plays aren’t exactly what the Jets offense specializes in, hence the Patriots’ status as major 10-point road favorites.

World Poker Tour Partners with Allied eSports for Event at Holland Casino

When the World Poker Tour (WPT) DeepStacks series arrives in Valkenburg, Netherlands on October 9, the event will mark the first marriage of tournament poker and eSports.

Running through October 15, the upcoming WPT DeepStacks stop at Holland Casino will feature a concurrent eSports event hosted by ELC Gaming, the European arm of Allied Esports.

Both the WPT and Allied Esports are owned and operated by parent company Ourgame International.

Best known for running the “Big Betty” show-truck – which is billed as the world’s first 18-wheel mobile eSports arena – ELC Gaming organizes eSports live tournaments and oversees a dedicated live streaming channel.

ELC Gaming will host a multiday eSports festival which includes a virtual reality booth, a gaming lounge for casual players, and daily competitions. Among the various prizes on offer will be seats to various WPT DeepStacks tournaments, including the €1,100 Main Event which takes place from October 12-15.

Frank Ng, who serves as chief executive officer of Ourgame International, commented on the natural synergy between poker and eSports as part of a jointly issued press release:

“This is an inspiring time in both poker and esports, the two mindsports that have only begun to realize their enormous collaboration potential.

With prominent businesses in poker and esports, Ourgame is uniquely positioned to raise the bar with a new breed of events across the globe to give all of our players more of what they want.”

Adam Pliska, chief executive officer of the WPT, echoed those sentiments while pointing out that the poker and eSports communities often overlap:

“The World Poker Tour is proud to partner with ELC Gaming for this first international poker and esports venture.

The crossover between the poker and esports communities is undeniable, and the addition of a live esports event to one of the WPT’s live poker festivals is a perfect fit to provide an even greater experience for our players.

Backed by the support of Ourgame, the WPT looks forward to this being the first of many collaborations between the World Poker Tour and ELC Gaming.”

ELC Gaming’s chief operating officer Leon Groenewoud made it clear that sharing a parent company ensures the WPT is more than a standard corporate partner:

“We are delighted to be working with our sister company, the World Poker Tour, and Holland Casino to create the first-ever crossover experience between poker and esports.

We have seen firsthand the popularity in both industries grow exponentially, and I’m confident this partnership is a natural next step for players, fans, and business partners alike.

The connection between tournament poker and eSports has been well established by two-way professionals like Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier of France.

Between 2001 and 2004, Grospellier became one of the top-ranked Starcraft players in the world, winning the Euro Cyber Games in 2003 while racking up numerous podium finishes at the World Cyber Games.

Grospellier then transitioned successfully from eSports to poker, and one of his career highlights to date is a first-place finish at the WPT’s $15,400 Festa al Lago Main Event in 2008. That victory netted Grospellier $1,411,015 in winnings, and today he has amassed more than $13.5 million in lifetime tournament earnings.

College Football Odds 2017: Week 6 Betting Preview

Another week of dominant play by Associated Press (AP) Top-10 ranked teams separated the best from the rest, as seven squads won easily, while three others enjoyed a bye week.

And that will likely be this Saturday as well, with only one Top-10 team taking on a fellow AP Top-25 contender.

That game pits eighth-ranked TCU (4-0) against 23rd-ranked West Virginia (4-0), with both teams fresh after a bye week.

West Virginia dropped its season opener to archrival Virginia Tech (4-1), currently ranked 16th by the AP, in a 31-24 shootout. But the Mountaineers rebounded by winning three straight while scoring 57 points per game in the process.

Even so, lightweights like Delaware State (0-4) and East Carolina (1-4) can’t compare to TCU’s offensive firepower. The Horned Frogs have put up 47.8 points per thus far through a spotless season, while playing surprisingly effective defense as well in allowing just 18.5 points on average.

This Big 12 battle takes place in Texas, where TCU has gone 17-0 when ranked in the AP Top-10 under head coach Gary Patterson – which is why online sportsbook Bovada has the Horned Frogs as 13.5-point favorites.

As for last year’s National Championship participants, top-ranked Alabama (5-0) and second-ranked Clemson (5-0) appear to be on a collision course once again.

The Crimson Tide rolled over Ole Miss in a 66-3 romp last week, while the Tigers defeated then 12th-ranked Virginia Tech in a 31-17 game that was never that close.

This week, Alabama visits Texas A&M (4-1) to take on an SEC upstart, as the Aggies are lurking just behind the Tide in the SEC West standings. If not for a 28-point comeback by UCLA (3-2) in a season-opening 45-44 loss, Texas A&M would enter this pivotal game undefeated as well.

Nonetheless, even with home field on their side, the Aggies will be huge 27-point underdogs in this one.

Clemson faces a strangely similar spot this Saturday, hosting a Wake Forest (4-1) team that would be undefeated if not for last week’s last-minute touchdown toss by Florida State (1-2). And just like the Tide, the Tigers face a conference rival that is currently breathing down their neck in the standings.

Continuing the theme, Clemson has been installed as big time 22.5-point home favorites.

Third-ranked Oklahoma (4-0) and fourth-ranked Penn State (5-0) are also mirror images this week.

The Sooners host Big 12 doormat Iowa State (2-2) as huge 28-point favorites, and the Nittany Lions visit Big Ten walkover Northwestern (2-2) with a 15-point advantage.

Fifth-ranked Georgia (5-0) heads to Vanderbilt (3-2), and while Bovada has the Bulldogs as 18-point road favorites, this one may be closer than it appears.

The Commodores are finishing a brutal run of four straight games against ranked teams, and leaving aside a 59-0 shellacking by Alabama, they’ve acquitted themselves admirably.

Vanderbilt handed then 18th-ranked Kansas State (3-1) its only loss on the year in a 14-7 slugfest, and played 21st-ranked Florida (3-1) to a halftime tie before losing 38-24.

Georgia has a pair of wins against ranked teams already, and they’ve looked dominant on both sides of the ball for stretches this season – but they can’t look past the now seasoned Commodores in this one.

Sixth-ranked Washington (5-0) hosts Cal (3-2) as 27.5-point favorites in a Pac-12 clash, and the Huskies enter this one on a roll, averaging 44.0 points per game while surrendering only 10.8 points on average.

Seventh-ranked Michigan (4-0) will look to keep the Paul Bunyan Trophy in Ann Arbor, hosting Michigan State (3-1) in the bitter rivals’ annual grudge match.

The Wolverines had lost three straight to the Spartans, before reclaiming the Bunyan statue last season.

Both teams have looked a bit lethargic this year, winning close games while struggling to put poor teams away.

Accordingly, the books have it relatively close, with the Wolverines listed as 10.5-point home favorites.

Bandai Namco and Gamblit Gaming Launch New Pac-Man Battle Casino Game

One of the most iconic video games of all time will soon be played with more than quarters on the line, as Gamblit Gaming and Bandai Namco have partnered to put Pac-Man on the casino floor.

On October 3, at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, California-based Gamblit Gaming debuted Pac-Man Battle Casino.

The concept is an offshoot of Bandai Namco’s non-gambling game Pac-Man Battle Royale, which was released for consoles like PlayStation and Xbox in 2011. That game expanded traditional Pac-Man gameplay into multiplayer mode, enabling players to gobble up opposing Pac-Man icons while attempting to elude enemy ghosts.

Utilizing the Model GTM multi-player platform manufactured by Gamblit Gaming, Pac-Man Battle Casino incorporates the same style of gameplay. Between two and four players sit around a square gaming cabinet, which is designed to look, sound, and feel like the Pac-Man machines of old.

After placing wagers between $2 and $20, players use handheld joysticks to control their own Pac-Man icon, and the objective of the game is to outlast opponents. As hand-eye coordination and dexterity can offer an advantage, Pac-Man Battle Casino is classified as a skill-based gaming machine.

Once a game has concluded, the winning player then watches a randomized prize wheel spin to determine their payout. Prize amounts are based on the original wager and increase incrementally.

In a joint press release announcing Pac-Man Battle Casino’s placement at G2E, Darion Lowenstein – chief marketing officer for Gamblit Gaming – described the new game as a marriage of modernity and nostalgia:

“Like so many people, Pac-Man was the first arcade game I ever played.

Partnering with the visionary team at Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. to bring an entirely new and innovative experience to fellow Pac-Man fans is truly an honor and a dream come true for me. Pac-Man has been a huge part of our culture and has grown to become so much more than just an arcade game.

With Pac-Man Battle Casino, we’re adding another level of excitement to the classic Pac-Man experience by bringing fans into the modern arcade – the casino.”

Yoshiyasu Horiuchi, who serves as executive officer of the amusement business unit of Bandai Namco, praised Pac-Man as the perfect title to transition video gaming into casinos:

“Pac-Man is one of the most famous and popular video games.

In 2005, it was featured as the Most Successful Coin-Operated Game in the Guinness Book of World Records. So, we believe Pac-Man Battle Casino will appeal to a wide range of people, especially those who once played Pac-Man.

We are also thrilled to see Pac-Man Battle Royale get transformed into a real-money and skill-based game, Pac-Man Battle Casino.”

Pac-Man wouldn’t be the first video game playable on the casino floor, as Bandai Namco rival Konami tested a skill-based version of its classic Frogger franchise – titled Frogger: Get Hoppin’ – in February at the MGM Grand’s Level Up gaming lounge.

Per the press release, Gamblit Gaming plans to launch Pac-Man Battle Casino in early 2018.

Gamblit Gaming specializes in skill-based gambling devices, and the company’s Model GTM ineractive game tables are currently placed in several Las Vegas casinos, including MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, and The Venetian.

Pac-Man Casino Royale has been reviewed by industry media outlets such as Kotaku and Polygon, with the game generally receiving positive feedback.