Should Sportsbooks Offer Odds on Hall of Fame Elections?

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The growth of legal sports betting in the United States continues with new markets seemingly opening every few months. In 2023, Massachusetts and Maryland joined the more than 25 states that have launched online and/or retail sportsbooks.

Whether you bet on sports or not, and whether it annoys you to see advertisements for sportsbooks or not, the activity is here to stay. Every emerging market undergoes growth and some backlash is inevitable. The same thing happened for alcohol and tobacco sales, and legalized marijuana. FanDuel and DraftKings may seem pervasive, but betting on sports legally is less harmful for society than someone drinking and getting behind the wheel of a car.

In the old days of sports betting, when the likes of Jimmy “The Greek” were on television hawking their picks, the activity seemed seedy and suspicious. But today, consumers can download an app to their phone and place bets with companies that are regulated. It’s no different than ordering a food delivery with Doordash or getting on a dating app.

Modern sports betting has ushered in new bets that appeal to a younger, hipper, more connected generation. The parlay is the most common betting type now, and it’s exciting action has attracted sports fans who wouldn’t normally wager on their favorite teams or players.

The American system of odds has also changed sports betting, making it easier for the average bettor to understand what’s at stake. It’s usual to now see +250 and -175 scrolling at the bottom of the broadcast of a sporting event.

A sportsbook today typically offers thousands of betting odds daily on as many as 100 different sports. One of the most popular sports for American bettors is Major League Baseball.

In the U.S., whether using Caesars Sportsbook, BetRivers, DraftKings, or some other app, baseball fans can wager on the outcome, final score, player props like how many strikeouts a pitcher will record, who may hit a home run, and much more.

What other bets can be offered that would appeal to baseball fans?

The Futures Market and Baseball Hall of Fame Elections

Most bettors can tell you that the futures market lets you wager on an event that will happen later in the sports year. For example, the MLB World Series futures odds. For that bet you’ll get odds from a sportsbook on each team to win the World Series.

A futures bet can be very profitable because you’re hedging on something that is dependent on so many variables. Especially in baseball, it’s difficult in April or May (or even June) to forecast which teams will win the pennant, or which player will win the Cy Young Award, and so on.

One of the most anticipated baseball events each year is the results of the National Baseball Hall of Fame election. That takes place in January.

Could the Hall of Fame results be added to the sports wagering catalog so bettors could wager on the outcome? How would jurisdictions look at that type of bet? It’s similar isn’t it, to the Oscars, which some states allow to be wagered on.

How would the Baseball Hall of Fame feel about bettors being able to wager on their elections? I can answer that, as someone who once worked at the Hall: they would hate it.

But maybe they can’t stop it.

Likely, any effort to add the Hall of Fame election to the sportsbooks would include some reaction from the Hall of Fame itself. The organization’s leadership could, and most likely would, issue an opinion.

There’s also the concerns over the vote being publicized. Currently, many of the baseball writers make their votes public. That would cause the odds market to be sticky. Maybe sportsbooks would only offer futures odds on a Hall of Fame election for a few weeks after the most recent announcement, say February and March each year.

It might be thrilling to be able to slap down a few dollars on your favorite player to make the Hall of Fame. For example, say you think Yadier Molina is a lock to get into the Hall of Fame, and they offer odds of +150 the minute he retires. Or maybe Zack Greinke is your guy. What if BetMGM Sportsbook offered +2500 odds on Greinke making the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility?

Do you think you should be able to place a bet on who will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is the author of three books about baseball, including Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He lives in Michigan where he writes, runs, and enjoys a good orange soda now and again.
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