When selecting an NFL regular season MVP, there are many things voters can consider.
Team record, individual statistics and overall team expectations are a few.
Whether or not someone is particularly charming or not probably shouldn’t be a part of that criteria.
But a recent mini-controversy involving Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, in a calendar year full of them, highlights a question regulators will face when laying out the groundwork for Canada sports betting.
Chicago scribe: Rodgers’ actions hurt his MVP case
Chicago-based sports writer Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly unloaded a bombshell earlier this month when he did just that.
As one of 50 voters eligible to pick the award for the Associated Press, Arkush said he wouldn’t be voting for Rodgers.
Not because he hadn’t had a worthy season. But because he was a “bad guy.”
“I don’t think you can be the biggest jerk in the league and punish your team, and your organization and your fanbase the way he did and be the Most Valuable Player,” Arkush said, via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.
Later, he added: “I just think that the way he’s carried himself is inappropriate. I think he’s a bad guy, and I don’t think a bad guy can be the most valuable guy at the same time.”
Arkush quickly tried to clean up his mess, noting the following day that he shouldn’t have disclosed his voting plans.
Arkush’s comments highlight issues with awards betting
While unconventional in his criteria, in all likelihood Arkush’s vote won’t sway the outcome in the end.
Consider at the final BetMGM Sportsbook odds in the US: Rodgers was the heavy favourite to win the regular-season MVP at -650 (1.15 decimal equivalent) at the book, which is expected to be among the Ontario operators at launch.
The next closest was Tom Brady at +700 (8.00). Brady had another great season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but as we noted before, he provokes an interesting debate himself.
Regardless, Arkush’s comments highlight a prevalent issue with sports awards determined by voter counts. Human bias and predetermined prejudice seemingly will always creep into them.
Yet they shouldn’t as much as possible.
It’s unfair to the players, league and bettors trying to score on future wagers.
These types of intentions are things bettors simply can’t account for when placing futures.
Ontario offering awards betting for NBA MVP
This all leads to an interesting discussion: Should Canadian bettors wager legally on individual awards?
Currently, legal sportsbooks in Canada are run by provincial lotteries, though more operators are on the way.
In Canada’s most populous province, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation operates Proline Plus Sportsbook.
Proline Plus offers futures on divisional and league winners. On Thursday, markets also were up for NBA MVP, listing Stephen Curry as the favorite at 2.50 (+150).
This means private operators will likely also offer similar markets. Likely, other provinces will follow Ontario’s lead.
Elsewhere in the world, whether this offering exists will vary.
It is generally accepted in legal betting jurisdictions that wagering on the outcome of a game is allowed. But different jurisdictions will have different policies when it comes to betting on awards (futures) voted on by other people.
U.S. betting policy on individual awards
Just like in Canada with provinces, US betting rules are determined at the state level.
In Iowa, you cannot bet on individual awards. In Michigan, you can.
Michigan’s policy states awards that are voted on by “individuals covered under the league’s integrity policy” are fair game.
In addition, the league has to make sure the outcome of voting is confidential until the announcement is made.
However, these are human voters who sometimes disclose their intentions publicly, such as Arkush in Chicago. It makes for good content.
Plus, you now have people in the sports sphere who now have inside information on how a betting market might resolve.
Which brings up another issue.
Integrity issues a constant hurdle for sports betting industry
Moving forward controversies such as the Arkush/Rodgers fiasco are sure to happen again.
Hidden agendas will always creep in. And unfortunately, that will impact outcomes for bettors.
But the first step is recognizing the issue.
Recently, US Integrity CEO Matthew Holt said the misuse of insider information remains one of the biggest integrity issues. His comments held extra weight as they were made at a New York State Gaming Commission meeting.
With Canada’s competitive market set to launch, it will be interesting to see the policies and strictness operators must perform under. Canada will be given a fresh slate with some of North America’s biggest operators expected to jump into the fray.
But Arkush’s have perhaps reminded some gamblers of the unfortunate reality of individual award wagers.
Should Canada proceed with individual awards in the future, then it must maintain that trust.