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Maryland

Maryland sports bettor wins $714,000 by picking 3 huge underdogs with losing records. He was ‘afraid to watch the games.’

It sure didn’t look like a winning lineup, but maybe that was the point.

If the bettor at Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland had picked basketball teams with less dismal prospects, he wouldn’t have gotten such steep odds — about 141-to-1. But that’s what enabled him to collect $714,000 on a $5,000 wager when his three “huge underdogs” pulled upsets — two in overtime — on the same night.

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The gambler, who the sportsbook operator said was too nervous to watch the games, won by combining NBA teams with losing records and formidable opponents into a single wing-and-a-prayer wager — called a parlay. All three teams had to win for the bettor to succeed.

The Oct. 29 gamble set a record for a sports bet win at the Anne Arundel County casino.

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“From speaking to that individual, they told me that they were afraid to watch the games, so they basically waited until the next morning to see if it actually won or not,” Leon Twyman, general manager of the FanDuel sportsbook at the casino, said in an interview.

Sports betting inside Live! and other Maryland casinos has been legal since December 2021.

Charlotte Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels (6) drives to the basket during the first half of an NBA game against the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 29 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Hornets won, 120-113, in overtime.

The profitable parlay was made less than a month before the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission issued sports wagering licenses to seven mobile sportsbooks. Mobile betting began Nov. 23, just before a bevy of Thanksgiving Day games. The newly licensed sites taking bets online are Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet.

Mobile betting — much of it conducted through apps on phones or other devices — is expected to dramatically increase the volume of sports betting in the state. In addition to the first seven, Betfred, BetParx and Fanatics have received mobile licenses and are preparing to begin accepting wagers.

The winning Live! bettor declined to be named or interviewed, so his reasoning remains a mystery.

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The teams he counted on — the Charlotte Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers — all had losing records and were facing marquee opponents. The Hornets beat the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, the Thunder defeated the Dallas Mavericks and the Pacers beat the Brooklyn Nets. All the games were decided by fewer than 10 points, and the wins by the Hornets and Thunder required overtime.

“The wager on that was pretty high. But to still win over $700,000 is absolutely insane,” said Twyman, who called the winning teams “huge underdogs.”

The Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling, which is affiliated with the University of Maryland School of Medicine, does not take a position for or against legalized gambling, but is preparing for more people seeking help because of the new, wider availability of betting via mobile. Gamblers seeking help can call or text 1-800-GAMBLER and receive treatment for no cost.

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While the $714,000 win is high for Maryland, it does not rank anywhere near the top of sports betting payouts nationally. Wins in other states have soared into many millions of dollars.

Parlays, which contain multiple wagers within the same or different games, are particularly popular because of potentially lucrative payouts and immediate results.

The expansion of U.S. gambling to encompass sports betting came following a 2018 Supreme Court decision striking down a congressional ban that restricted sports wagering to Nevada and a few other states with a history of allowing such bets.

Maryland voters approved a ballot question to allow sports betting in 2020, which was followed by a law setting parameters for the industry.


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