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Who is determining sports gambling odds?

EAGAN, Minn. — It’s not the news Minnesota Vikings fans want to hear, but definitely expect.

When it comes to predicting how well the team will perform this season, the oddsmakers in the gambling world have them as nothing more than average.

Who is determining the gambling odds? Good Question. Jeff Wagner learned what factors go into those decisions

As the next Vikings season approaches, optimism and realism converge at TCO Stadium in Eagan.

“I think they got a strong team,” said fan Cullen Wolff.

“Kind of average, mediocre-ish,” is how Kurtt Richman described the team.

Lucas Lommen predicted the Vikings would get to 11 wins. His friend Grant Frum settled on 10. Wolff was bold with a prediction of 14 wins. David Derfast however wasn’t too excited.

“Honestly, I think 7-8 wins is about the best they’re gonna do,” he said.

Oddsmakers currently have the Vikings over/under win total for next season at 8.5. That means bettors wager if they’ll win more or less than that number.

When it comes to winning the Super Bowl, the Vikings are listed at 40 to 1 odds, in the middle of the pack of the 32 teams. The packers meanwhile are 10 to 1 odds, the fourth lowest odds in the NFL.  



Who is making these odds? 

“Well-seasoned bookies, I assume,” said Richmann.

“It is a ton of people in the market now,” said Frank Schwab, senior writer for Yahoo Sports. “Some of these sports books get their numbers from this big group that sets these lines. But some of these sports books set the lines themselves.”

The blanket term for who sets the odds is “Vegas” because back in the day, that’s where you had to go gamble on sports. Sports books and experts there decided the odds. 

“Vegas is a misnomer now,” Schwab said.

Sports gambling is now legal now in 25 states and Washington D.C., meaning sportsbooks country wide and gambling websites like DraftKings are leading the charge on odds making. Offshore sites in different countries also influence how the odds are set.

How are these gambling odds determined? It starts with a team’s recent performance, such as their record in the previous season, but with deep analysis.

“It’s not just basically copying last year’s record. You look at how the team got there,” said Schwab.

Off-season changes like a new coaching staff, free agent signings, and draft picks also factor in.

Most importantly Schwab said, it’s the “market” itself. That includes the tendencies of how people bet certain teams and their popularity in terms of how much money is bet on them. For example, a team like the Dallas Cowboys can be predicted to perform poorly, however Schwab said their fanbase is well known for betting heavily on them no matter what.

“It’s a little bit of combination of the market setting this, but also smart people who know their football saying this is about where [teams] should be slated, this is about what the odds should be,” he said.

Sports books and gambling websites often agree on how the odds are set, if not for minor differences. While many sports books have the Vikings over/under win total at 8.5, some have it at 9.

“Everybody kind of comes to almost an agreement. It’s not collusion necessarily. But they know, hey, we don’t want to be way different than everybody else because the sharp bettors are gonna come in and grab our number that’s way off the mark,” said Schwab. 

The advent of sports betting apps the past few years has also forced sports books to create and change odds much faster than they used to.

How much can these odds change before the season starts? It can happen in huge ways or barely at all. 

“If you see a major injury, if you see a big-time trade we don’t see coming, it could change, it could change [a team’s predicted win total] a full game or two,” Schwab said.

But if your team avoids those headline grabbing changes, the odds stay firm, along with the hope of proving the gambling experts wrong.

“I think we can go a lot further than Vegas is giving us credit for this year,” Wolff said of the Vikings record next season.

Source: CBS Minnesota

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