Scrolling through an online list of college bowl games, Greg Durham stops on one of them.
“Whoa – The point spread here is 22. Akron against Florida Atlantic,” he chuckles. “Who watches these really obscure bowl games? One possible answer is gamblers.”
There is money to be made by sportsbooks – and perhaps by gamblers, as well – from even the more obscure, less popular games. ESPN reports this year’s meetup of Akron and Florida Atlantic involves the “biggest bowl underdog in the past 40 seasons.” The American Gaming Association estimated in 2016 that fans would bet $90 billion dollars (in both legal and illegal bets) on both NFL and college football games.
“With point spread betting specifically, this turns a game with an otherwise obvious outcome into a more intriguing, essentially 50-50 proposition,” said Durham, a clinical associate professor of finance at the IU Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis. “Consider this game. While expectations are apparent that Florida Atlantic will win the game, the proposition of whether FAU will win by more than 22 is much more uncertain.”