As Stocks and Crypto Crash, is Sports Betting a Better Option?
Updated: Jul 19
Lance Pugmire, USA Today
With stock markets tumbling and cryptocurrency crashing, some investors are scrambling for alternatives.
Could sports betting offer reprieve?
One veteran sports bettor, Bill Krackomberger, said he's enjoyed reliable profits for more than two decades — profits more people can now try to pocket with increased access to legalized online sports betting nationwide.
“I had eight straight months of making money up until February. That’s hard to believe," Krackomberger said.
Even when he endures slumps, like all investors do, Krackomberger's pain hasn’t lasted long thanks to his diligent methods.
“I’ve never had a losing year — or quarter — dating to 1998,” he said.
'It's all gambling'
Financial markets continue to fall and the United States is officially in a bear market. The combination of those downturns and rising inflation is causing people to consider alternate investments.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average nosedived from a record high 36,799 in January to below 30,000 in June, while the S&P 500’s more than 20% drop since its high qualifies this as a bear market. The NASDAQ and bonds are also slumping.
The crypto meltdown, meanwhile, is even more stark. The most popular token, Bitcoin, suffered a 70% decline in value this year. Some crypto lending companies, including Celsius Network, paused customer withdrawals due to extreme market conditions.
The losses are compounded by rising interest rates and inflation, zapping consumer confidence. Some choose to place their money in low-interest savings accounts and CDs. Others consider liquidating their assets.
“Clients are grappling with the rising concern that a recession is on the horizon in 2023,” said Cris Moran, a senior portfolio manager at EP Wealth Advisors Inc. in Southern California. “They’re feeling the pain of inflation. We have some who are scared, and want to liquidate everything they have with us, so we’ll have to talk them off the ledge. The financial plan over the long term doesn’t always follow a straight line.”
Moran said he's never seen liquidating work out in the longterm. He also reminds his clients the stock market is in a “discounting mechanism,” offering prices that may stand as bargains down the road.
Buddy Friedman, a Palm Desert, California, sports-betting pioneer who devised a subscription football odds telephone service in the 1980s, said those financial investments aren't much different than sports betting.
"It's all gambling," Friedman said. “In fact, by depending on your stockbroker, you might wind up paying more than the 10% you pay in juice on a bet.”
And no matter where you invest your money, knowledge is key.
Is Sports the Best Bet?
It depends upon who you ask. Experienced and educated sports betters can pull in returns that beat the stock markets, especially in 2022. Inexperienced betters can suffer massive losses.
“Are you kidding me?” Krackomberger said when asked whether sports betting, stocks or crypto is the shrewdest method of financial investment today.
His latest windfall arrived two weeks ago with the NBA draft. Krackomberger, who lives in Las Vegas, made four trips to Arizona to bet on the Orlando Magic taking Duke power forward Paolo Banchero with the N0.1 pick. The final trip came the morning of the draft after an ESPN report said the Magic would take Auburn's Jabari Smith Jr. instead. Krackobmberger trusted his research and his gut, traveled to capitalize on Banchero's odds plummeting to 12/1, and that night counted $160,000 in total winnings.
“Look, my parents went to their graves worrying about me betting, saying, ‘Be careful, Billy,’" he said. "But compared to the stock market and crypto now, let’s be honest … I’m down money on the stock market over the past 18 months."
Krackomberger isn’t alone. But the risk of uneducated sports betting can result in significant financial loss as well, and non-sports fans should not withdraw their money in the stock market to place it in an online sportsbook.
“The stock market has obvious parallels to sports betting with one major difference — you're not on the inside on Wall Street. You’re on the outside," Krackomberger said. “You have to be on the inside, like I am.
"You have to know the things I know, something that moves me to drive to the Arizona border to get in a bet at 12/1, when a day earlier it was 2/1.”
There are cases of novice bettors winning large sums of money. Amid this wave of online sportsbooks pushing to build their client base, most offer introductory free bets, such as the $500 three-team parlay offer extended by BetMGM earlier this year.
A bettor from Colorado used that to wager on the Los Angeles Rams, Golden State Warriors and Colorado Avalanche winning the Super Bowl, NBA title and Stanley Cup, respectively. When the Avalanche completed the hat trick on June 26 the bettor received $269,000.
BetMGM Director of Race and Sports Lamarr Mitchell said it's the book's biggest score yet on a free bet.
But that's not the norm. “I’m not saying there aren’t winners," Friedman said. "But in the over 45 years I’ve been on the other side of the fence (taking bets), for every 15 to 20 people who lose, there are two people who win."
And despite all of his guidance to help aspiring bettors profit from their sporting interests, Krackomberger said "most people don’t have the temperament for it."
"Even the sharpest guys can’t handle the emotional swings of bankroll loss," he said. “In the end, after the stock market settles to 25,000, investing in the fundamental companies that built our country is the way to go.”
The Sharpest Betters are Patient
So, knowing the risks and rewards — like any good investor — if you decide to put your money into sports betting, how do you win?
Even the most ardent ESPN-watching, sports-page-reading fanatics fall short of digesting the information necessary to reap consistent profits, according to Krackomberger, a Bronx native who earned his betting education from his "old Italian uncles."
He's what the industry considers a sharp bettor. So are his three assistants. And their wagering prep is intense. To improve your odds, he said, do these things:
1. Homework. Read everything.
“You have to be in it long term and have a back-tested method to know your picks are winning picks, and that requires deeper information on things — players, injuries, the weather, umpires,” he said. “I have a guy who reads everything. All the stories, all the Twitter posts, the emotional things going on, tiny nuggets off an injury. So many little things.
“Most people don’t have the patience or skill set to look at that. They just want the winner. But I have the guys, and I have a 30-year playbook.”
2. Search the market.
Look for the most favorable point spreads and totals, the best moneyline odds and the highest betting limits.
“My business, to me, is I’m content with winning 3% to 5% per year, going 6-4 on every 10 games," He said. "If I do that over my lifetime, I’m a multi-multi-millionaire."
3. Detach your fandom from your money management.
“Money management is everything,” he said. “You can’t bring your entire $1,000 to the day. If you have $1,000, your big bet should be $20 to $25 max. Because you can’t outrun the fluctuations. I may lose 10 games in a row. If you do it with $75 games, you’ve effectively lost your bankroll. But if that happens with $20 bets, you’ve lost only one-fifth of your bankroll. That’s the difference.”
Without that sober consideration, Krackomberger said to keep your money elsewhere.