Washington Secrets

Opening downer: Bettors prefer NFL over MLB

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Sorry Davey Johnson and the likely playoff-bound Washington Nationals, but when it comes to who bettors prefer to watch and bet on, the Washington Redskins and just about every other NFL team rule.

According to an unusual study of sports betting provided to Secrets in advance of baseball's opening day, bettors quickly shift from wagering on Major League Baseball once the football season begins in September.

And, according to the report in the Journal of Sports Economics, they don't make the change because football wagers pay better. Bettors do it because they think football, even college ball, is more fun to watch on weekends than baseball. In fact, they don't even expect to make money in the first few games, said the scientific analysis.

"We suggest that due to the popularity of the NFL and college football, bettors wager on football games instead of baseball games because they prefer to watch football games," wrote the authors, professors at Syracuse University and Coastal Carolina University.

They sized up betting by looking at the wagers placed on the premium Sports Insights website in 2009. According those figures, baseball betting hit a peak of 25,000 bets a day in early June. But once the football season opened, baseball bets dropped to about 3,000. NFL bets peaked at 141,000 a day, college ball at 74,000. They presented no specific team statistics.

On some days, notably weekends when football and baseball compete, baseball betting dropped 75 percent.

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