WynnBET certainly hasn’t been a big winner in the Great Sportsbook War. It is, in many respects, an afterthought. So much so that the New York Post reported in January that Wynn Resorts is trying to sell off its Wynn Interactive unit for $500 million, down from the $3 billion valuation the company was talking about a year ago.
So it might come as a bit of a surprise that WynnBET has launched what objectively may be the greatest single sportsbook-related item in the short history of American legalized online betting.
Welcome to the … well, it doesn’t even have a title. But in the last few weeks, most days, sometime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. PST, Matt Lindeman, WynnBET’s senior lead trader, hops on a Twitter live feed along with other traders he works with and proceeds to set the next day’s NBA lines.
They talk through the games, note the injuries, and hang a line.
Live. For everyone to follow.
The WynnBET trading team is opening up tomorrow’s NBA lines LIVE! https://t.co/JGYy87bjhp
— WynnBET (@WynnBET) March 2, 2022
“We’ve always talked about it, everywhere I’ve worked, and this is the fourth risk room I’ve been in. And we’ve always thought how cool it would be if you could be a fly on the wall in one of these rooms,” Lindeman said. “We’ve always felt like it was the most intriguing, most fascinating content there is in this industry.”
Opening the NBA
So a few months ago, Lindeman and his team decided they were going to start opening NBA lines, and he thought this would be the perfect live broadcast.
“I said to one of the other senior traders, Mo Pearson, this is the thing where we can show a little bit of what we’re doing,” said Lindeman.
In short: Lindeman and Co. are literally opening up the book on the book. And in the world of American online sports betting — which has quickly devolved into a Spy vs. Spy battle between sportsbooks and their customers — this is the most open and transparent thing going.
spy vs spy pic.twitter.com/VrHStkphbl
— gavin (@gavondorf) February 27, 2022
“That’s what we’re trying to do,” Lindeman said. “In the sake of transparency we want people to see a little bit of our process and what we’re doing. More than anything I want people to see it’s not as technical and analytical as they might think. We’re not perfect, we’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to miss things. I don’t want people to think we’re unbeatable and these math whizzes from MIT. It’s not that at all.”
In fact, there have been mistakes. Plenty of them.
“We’ve made some big mistakes,” Lindeman said. “Early on some of the sharper guys decided to test us by faking us out on some games with injury situations they knew about. We had an instance early in the season where we opened the Warriors as 5- or 6-point road favorite on back-to-back, and the sharp guys knew that Steph and Draymond were going to sit. So they bet the Warriors the day before, and then went absolutely nuts betting the other way after they faked it up. So we’ve had a few situations like that.”
And there’s also the fact they’re doing this live, which creates a little bit of a high wire act. For instance, let’s say the group decides the Brooklyn Nets are going to be 6-point dogs …
“I’m literally typing ‘Nets +6’ and then clicking ‘activate’ while I’m saying it,” Lindeman said. “I could very possibly put in a backwards line in real time. That’s what makes it so intriguing. I want people to see the whole process. I want them to see that we’re human. And I think that will help improve the relationship, because right now there’s a lot of work that needs to be done on the relationship between the books and the bettors.”
That last bit is an early favorite for “Understatement of the Year.”
Strengthening the business
“Listen, we’re competing, there’s money involved, it’s pretty straightforward,” Lindeman said. “But there’s so little trust on both sides. Bettors are convinced the books are out to screw them over, and a lot of the bookmakers I talk to are convinced everyone is trying to pick them off and steal from them.
“It needs to change if this industry is going to grow and evolve. And that’s one great thing Circa brought into the market, trying to eliminate the adversarial relationship between the sportsbook and their customers.”
And Lindeman believes what he and his team are doing will help that process. He believes that by originating lines — WynnBET is now often beating the offshores with opening NBA lines — will help sharpen the market and lead to larger limits for customers.
He also thinks the industry should be hiring more people to work his side of the counter.
“If we can’t get smarter people on this side of the counter, I don’t know how the industry is supposed to survive,” Lindeman said. “How can you survive when your customers are smarter than you and you have to kick out everyone that’s good to stay profitable? It’s just not going to work.
“I don’t know the answers,” he continued, “but I do think transparency is a place to start.”