I had hoped to write this article while there were no NASCAR lines available. But less than 48 hours after the end of the NASCAR Cup championship Caesars released odds for both the 2023 Cup Championship and Dayton 500 . In any event, with the 2022 season behind us let’s take a look at the state of the NASCAR betting industry in 2022.
CURRENT STATE OF LEGALIZATION
As of November 22, 2022, 31 states plus the District of Columbia have operational legal sports betting. Four more states have legalized sports betting but are not yet accepting bets. Unfortunately Texas and California have both seen their attempts to legalize betting fail. Despite the lack of legal betting in California and Texas most of the country now has access to legal betting.
VOLUME OF NASCAR BETTING
States are inconsistent with how much data they provide on betting activities. Despite this we do know that since 2018, when the Supreme Court allowed states to legalize betting, tens of billions have been legally wagered on sports in the US. Yet, the volume of betting on NASCAR remains quite low. Since I live in Virginia, I’ll use that state as an example. In Virginia, from January to September 2022 (the most recent month with full data) books took approximately $3,218,000,000 in wagers. Of that large total though, only around $7,400,000 (0.23%) was on NASCAR bets.
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CURRENT NASCAR BETTING OPTIONS
Despite the low volume of bets on NASCAR 2022 saw great strides in the industry and the industry is in a good spot. In February DraftKings was the undisputed leader in the variety of bets offered. As the 2022 season went on though other books added new options. So let’s take a quick look at what options bettors had available by the end of the 2022 season.
The most basic NASCAR bet is a bet on the winner of the race. Every book that offers NASCAR odds offers this bet. The second most common type of bet offered are matchup bets. In Virginia, all but one book, Sports Illustrated Sportsbook, offers matchups. Most books that offer NASCAR odds now also offer Top 3 and Top 10 bets. In addition, many books offer Top 5 bets and the Kambi books (BetRivers, UniBet, and Barstool) even offer a “no” option on a driver finishing in the Top 5.
Another common option is a bet on which manufacturer will win the race. A related bet, the top driver of each manufacturer, is also becoming common. Towards the end of the season Caesars also added “matchup” bets between the manufacturers. This allowed bettors to bet on Toyota vs Ford, Toyota vs Chevy, etc…
Midway through the season we also began to see bets on the driver to win the pole position. We also started seeing bets on which diver would win each stage. DraftKings was first to both of these markets, but Kambi followed soon thereafter. Towards the end of the year Caesars got in on the markets as well.
Finally, towards the end of the year we started seeing matchup bets offered by DraftKings. While most books have long offered live bets on the outright winner, DraftKings expanded this to featured matchups. I personally never made one of these bets, but it was an interesting option that I hope hangs around for 2023.
WHAT I WANT TO SEE IN 2023
While I’m happy with the growth we saw in 2022, there is still a lot of room for improvement. First, books need to do a better job drafting NASCAR specific rules. In July 2022 we saw utter chaos after the race at Pocono. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, who had finished first and second, were both disqualified. After this happened It became clear that books were using copy and pasted rules from Formula One for NASCAR. The house rules for many books talked about results based on the “podium presentation.” Of course NASCAR races don’t have podium presentations, creating confusion. While I’m not holding my breath, having books draft NASCAR specific house rules would be the single most important change I would like to see for 2023.
Of course I’d also like to see books continue to expand the types of markets they offer. At the start of 2022 DraftKings and Kambi were both offering Top 20 odds, however after a few races this bet disappeared. The odds had become so poor that the bets were not worth making. I suspect that the books were not getting enough action to justify continuing to offer the market. This is because books didn’t know how to price the markets. If books would invest in some actual NASCAR experts to help with pricing a return of this market could be a lot of fun.
I’d also like to see matchups with position differential. While the occasional matchup with one driver priced at +200 or longer pops up each week, the vast majority of matchups are between drivers expected to perform similarly. This limits the number of matchup options we see each week. Adding position differential, for example Driver A +7 positions -110 vs Driver B -7 positions -110 would allow expanded matchup markets.
Finally, I’d like to see over/under finishing positions for drivers, similar to the “no” option that Kambi offers on Top 5 bets. This would be a fun new prop market allowing us to take advantage of weeks where drivers are priced entirely to short on outright, Top 3, Top 5, and Top 10 bets. We did see this option once last year when Caesars offered it for the Daytona 500. Caesars, bring this back!
Anyway, hit me up on Twitter, @GMatherne84, and let me know what options you want to see in 2023.
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