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2023 NBA Draft Lottery Odds: Why Betting The Victor Wembanyama Sweepstakes Is A Losing Endeavor

2023 NBA Draft Lottery Odds: Why Betting The Victor Wembanyama Sweepstakes Is A Losing Endeavor article feature image

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  • Wagering on the NBA Draft Lottery is fool's gold.
  • Why? We break down the numbers as to why the lottery is inherently negative expected value.

Odds according to FanDuel.

Wagering on the NBA Draft Lottery is a bad proposition.

That’s probably intuitive to most bettors. And it’s why many state regulators don’t allow the marketplace at all.

Still — if you’re in New Jersey, Colorado and the several other states that permit wagers on the lottery — ripping a 44-1 bet on your favorite team might seem like a fun Tuesday night to you. But the moment you press submit on that wager, you’re losing money.

Your wager could win, sure, but you’re losing up to an expected $100 for every dollar wagered when betting on the Draft Lottery.

Let me explain. For many bets across the marketplace, there’s positive expected value. Often, they’re for prop bets, alt lines, or otherwise. Sometimes, they’re for more traditional lines like the spread, moneyline or total.

These edges exist when the probability that something happens is more than the marketplace’s probability.

Take tonight’s Western Conference Finals Game 1, for instance. The Lakers are priced at +200, which imply odds of 33% that LeBron James and company pull out the victory tonight.

Let’s say our algorithms give the Lakers a 37% chance of winning. That extra 4%? That’s your expected value.

For the Draft Lottery, the probabilities for each pick are well defined. The worst three teams have a 14% chance to win the No. 1 overall pick. The next team has 12.5%. And so on. So, in a fixed marketplace like this, the odds for what odds should be are incredibly clear.

So, none of these picks are fair value. The closest may be the Blazers at +800, but even then, you’re losing about 10 cents per $1 bet.

Sportsbooks skew this marketplace in their favor in order to make money. While it’s true for most markets, in many cases, bettors have the advantage.

It’s why professional sports bettors exist — because edges exist, however difficult they may be to glean. The most profitable bettors exclusively exploit mispriced lines or those with substantial betting edges.

The NBA Draft Lottery is the diametric opposite of those principles.

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