Par-what? The deal on parlay wagers

    Now that Delaware has been told by a court that if it offers sports gambling, those bets must be done as a parlay? What is a parlay? Here’s a sports bets 101 tutorial on what it is.

    With single-game sports betting off the table in Delaware, all eyes are now on parlay wagering.

    So, what is it? And what will it mean for the state of Delaware and its three racinos?

    Some of those answers can be found in Nevada, which offers both single-game and parlay betting.

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    According to the website, a parlay is a bet in which two or more events must happen in order to win. If any one part of the parlay bet fails, the wager loses.

    For example, if you place a parlay wager involving six NFL games, you must successfully pick the winner of every game to collect a payoff.

    Gaming officials in Delaware have not decided exactly when sports betting will debut, or what type of games they’ll offer.

    David Strow, spokesperson for Boyd Gaming, which operates nine casinos in Las Vegas, says his sports books offer parlays involving anywhere from three to 12 games. The more games selected, the more difficult it is to win. But the payoff rises dramatically.


    “The advantage of a parlay bet is that you can make a relatively modest wager and win a very large amount of money should all of your bets hit,” Strow said.

    But he also says in his casinos, single-game bets, also known as straight bets are much more profitable to the casino.

    And statistics show that’s the overwhelming case throughout Nevada.

    According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, $2.551 billion was legally bet on sports in Nevada in fiscal year 2009, which ended June 30th. Only $63 million, or 2.5 percent of all money wagered, was spent on parlay bets.

    Frank Streshley, chief of tax and licensing for Nevada’s Gaming Control Board says straight bets are more profitable for many reasons.

    He says people like to bet on their favorite teams; the odds of winning are much greater; and it’s the preferred game of the serious sports gambler.

    “I think your sophisticated bettor is going in there with (a) certain knowledge of what they think is an edge on a game and it’s applied to that single game,” Streshley said. “When you’re doing it on multiple events, it’s different.”

    But Strow says that doesn’t mean parlay bets won’t be more popular in Delaware.

    “They are a way for a more casual player to participate in wagering each particular weekend and have the opportunity to win quite a bit of money.”

    Streshley says he understands the disappointment gaming officials are feeling here in Delaware. He says the handle would obviously be much higher with a full array of betting – both straight bets and parlay.

    But he adds it may not be as gloomy as statistics in Nevada suggest, because some single-game gamblers in Delaware will still want to bet on something.

    “You’ve got to assume some of those will now bet parlays since that’s all that’s offered,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a true translation because it’s a different market.”

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