Why Are US Sportsbooks Making a Killing From Parlays?

  • Sportsbooks often promote big parlay wins to try to attract more users
  • The average margin for sportsbooks on parlays is 20% versus 5% for single bets
  • The chances of winning a parlay dramatically drop as you add more selections
  • Successful bettors usually tell people to avoid parlays if they want to be profitable
Sports betting card
US sportsbook operators are making significant money off parlay bets and are trying to promote them as much as possible. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The thrill of a big win

Winning a life-changing sum of money from a small bet is what dreams are made of. This is why so many people play slots that carry massive jackpots and place long-odds parlay bets on their favorite sports.

great marketing tools to entice people to place their own wagers

While sportsbooks regularly highlight massive wins on social media, they are not doing so out of the goodness of their hearts. These stories are great marketing tools to entice people to place their own wagers in the hopes of winning big. What you don’t see are the thousands of losing parlay bets each and every day.

Big business

The average win margin for US operators is approximately 20% for parlays versus 5% for a typical single selection wager, so the former is clearly very lucrative. Total revenue for New Jersey sportsbooks was $170m in January, with parlays accounting for over 67% of this return. In Illinois, more than 60% of all sports bets in a typical month are combination wagers.

constantly trying to push them in any way that they can

Operators are constantly trying to push them in any way that they can. Promotions, for instance, will offer money back if just one leg is a loser or give an odds boost if you include a minimum number of selections. Platforms also highlight popular parlay bets that other users have made and frequently roll out new products like same-game parlays.

Juicy margins

The reason why this bet type is so profitable for sportsbooks is that the more results you need to go your way, the chances of winning your overall wager drop. Operators achieve better margins when you combine the selections rather than backing each one individually.

Talking about this phenomenon, DraftKings Founder and CEO Jason Robins explained: “It’s equivalent to if you made a bet, and then you took those winnings and you reinvested in another bet.”

Advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence can help operators offer complex parlays involving thousands of different markets in an instant.

In a Washington Post article, Neil Greenberg explained that much of the time, bettors believe they are backing a sure thing with their parlays. He used an example of how combining six favorites that each individually has a 70% probability of winning their respective games only has a 12% chance of hitting on a parlay.

Very enticing

Successful sports bettors will typically tell people to not get overly invested in placing parlays if they’re in the business of making money. Some industry experts also warn of the potential dangers of these bet types.

An Illinois gaming lobbyist Steve Brubaker called same-game parlays “predatory” and asked regulators to look into how operators promote them. He placed a $1 same-game parlay that FanDuel advertised on its home page for 50 consecutive days and just one of them was a winner, leading to a total loss of $37.

The thrill of hitting it big is why so many people buy lottery tickets.

The desire for people to get rich quickly means that parlays are always going to be an attractive type of wager. There’s nothing wrong with people placing these bets to have a bit of fun and add some excitement to their wagering. The thrill of hitting it big is why so many people buy lottery tickets. Once bettors are aware of how profitable these wagers are for operators, they can place parlays with their eyes wide open.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *