Rovell: This Is the Reason Why Most Sportsbooks Can’t Offer Odds on the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest


Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Hamidou Diallo

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Saturday to reflect the recent news that DraftKings’ sportsbook in Iowa is offering Dunk Contest odds.

Almost every legal sportsbook in the United States will not be taking action on the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest.

PointsBet spokesman Patrick Eichner said New Jersey’s Department of Gaming Enforcement told the sportsbook that the it could not offer odds on the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest because the judges of the contest are celebrities and are not covered under the NBA’s betting integrity policy.

Indiana also did not approve the dunk contest to be offered by the state’s sports betting operators for the same reason, Jenny Reske, deputy director of the Indiana Gaming Commission told The Action Network on Wednesday afternoon.

The lone exception, from what we’ve been able to tell, is the DraftKings Sportsbook in Iowa. DraftKings initially told The Action Network it was not offering the dunk contest odds in any state, but on Saturday, bet slips from DK’s sportsbook inside the Wild Rose Casino in Jefferson, Iowa, showed differently.

A DraftKings spokesperson confirmed the sportsbook is taking Dunk Contest bets there and only there.

Check out DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

While almost every other book outside the state of Iowa is prohibited from offering Dunk Contest odds, they’re free to take bets on the Skills Competition and the Three-Point Contest because the winner is determined on the basketball court.

Offering odds on events not determined on the field of play has long been considered taboo by the Nevada Gaming Control Board and, more recently, gaming authorities in legal betting states, because subjective decisions can be influenced.

But exceptions have been made.

Both New Jersey and Indiana posted odds for the Gatorade color prop on Super Bowl Sunday, but Reske said that’s because anyone influencing what was in the buckets, or poured on the coach after the game, is covered by the NFL’s integrity policy.

Even though journalists, who aren’t bound by league integrity policies, vote for MVPs, states that allow legal sports betting have typically allowed operators to offer those markets.

Neither New Jersey nor Indiana offered odds on the halftime show or the length of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.

New Jersey allowed betting on the Oscars but only at books licensed within the state who had casinos.

The NBA has not yet announced who will be judging the Slam Dunk Contest, which takes place on Saturday night.

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