I have highlighted a few “current events” betting markets over the past year that I thought were unethical and vague on behalf of bookmakers – markets on which the outcome was a matter of opinion.
Such moves contradict the #1 reason why people enjoy sports gambling and often the sports themselves. Scoreboards are objective. If you gamble on an NFL team to beat the New England Patriots in a playoff game and it happens (I promised myself I’d touch on “science fiction” in this post so there you go) then Pats fans can say New England actually won the game were it not for the crooked referees or fully-inflated footballs or whatever. Doesn’t matter at all. The final score is what it is. No honest bookie can withhold payment on a final outcome no matter what the controversy.
That’s not always the case in current-affairs gambling. For instance, a prop bet posted by Bovada Sportsbook earlier in 2019 asked, “Will Roger Stone flip on President Trump?”
To my understanding “flip” is a slang term and not an actual term of legalese. We know what it means to flip on someone, but there was no real objective outcome at hand. Did Michael Cohen “flip” on Trump? Yes, because he testified that Trump is a big jerk who deceived people – but no, because he didn’t give prosecutors everything they were hoping for. Who’s to say Roger Stone couldn’t do the same thing, making the outcome a matter of opinion, and making it easy for the sportsbook to decline payouts?
Of course, any Democrat reading this intro probably thinks of Stone as a villainous alien life form sent from outer space to destroy the Earth, or at least to destroy the Clintons.
Roger Stone was actually raised by the same alien cult that made the Mayans shape their skulls. pic.twitter.com/bZlFU6YO0t
— David Neiwert (@DavidNeiwert) February 3, 2019
Which leads us to our topic for today.
A new proposition line at MyBookie asks, “Will They Find Aliens at Area 51 During the Raid?”
I don’t know which part of that prop I find more objectionable – “They” or “Find Aliens.” It seems to me that both the subject (player, person, or organization) and the Yes/No standard (outcome) of a gambling market should be crystal clear.
It’s clear that some large number of investigators (and a lot of cooks, grifters, and hangers-on) will descend on Area 51 on the scheduled “raiding” date of September 20th, 2019.
But the proposition “Will They Find Aliens” is as muddy as Woodstock.
Area 51 Betting Odds: Evaluating the Prop Lines at MyBookie
I’ll admit to having some strong feelings about the word “they.” Sportswriters like to imitate what they hear on TV, and “they” is overused (and wrongly used) by almost every TV commentator and thus by an awful lot of handicapping bloggers.
“The University of Arkansas had a hard time last year. They only won a few times,” says Kirk Herbstreit, forgetting that a University is not a person or group of people and thus cannot be a “they.” Internet marks then follow suit. “What do you think about Sweden in the World Cup? They seem pretty good,” a podcaster says to another. Let’s ask Mr. Sweden, I think to myself.
MyBookie’s careless (or tricky?) use of “they” in its Area 51 markets is only part of the problem. Simple logic tells us that if the government has been hiding evidence of alien life for 75 years, then any old hippie who wanders into a mausoleum of Martian bodies on September 20th won’t be allowed to go to CBS News with cell-phone pics. She’ll just wind up in a headline, “Drug Use Rampant at Area 51.”
Sports outcomes are generally not kept hidden from the public (except for Tim Tebow’s combined run + pass + ball-security effectiveness in 2011-12) but a government will almost always continue to keep whatever secrets it has (or has not) been keeping.
“Find Aliens” is also vague and meaningless. If the sportsbook wanted to be really tricky, it could refuse payment on “Yes” wagers unless the aliens someone discovered were actually alive. “Evidence of” long-deceased alien life forms is not written into the proposition.
But let’s step back for a moment. MyBookie may have posted a weird and debatable gambling prop on Area 51 (“Yes” wagers are currently being booked at 35-to-1 by the way) but it’s not the only market available for 9/20. The Costa Rican sportsbook is probably just trying to keep things fun – and a variety of tighter Area 51 prop bets offered there are written in much more precise language.
Here’s a handicap of each (legitimate) Area 51 “Raid” market at MyBookie.
Will Area 51 Be Raided on September 20th, 2019?
- Yes: (+300)
- No: (-500)
In the past, a bookmaker could quibble with a bettor about the outcome of this proposition too. “Raiding” a U.S. military base (or an experimental aircraft/weaponry base such as Uncle Sam is most likely keeping hidden in New Mexico) in the old days would have required some sort of tangible proof that something of physical substance was taken from the premises.
Otherwise, it couldn’t be called a proper raid. “I told you it was 5-to-1 that people would raid Area 51, not just walk around on it and say that they were there,” a stingy bookmaker could say.
But in the age of the internet and insta-viral evidence, a “raid” doesn’t have to mean stealing or taking anything of value except digital photographs. Police could “raid” an illegal brothel or casino and not need to confiscate anything – just snap a bunch of incriminating photos or send on-hand interviews to detectives through email or Slack.
So I’m not too worried that MyBookie will reject “Yes” outcomes at 3-to-1 if alien-investigation enthusiasts storm Area 51 on 9/20. I’m assuming that a raid is defined by the sportsbook as people actually crossing over the military’s boundaries and barricades and onto the actual patch of land known as Area 51…but I’ll try to get a confirmation on that from someone at MyBookie.
I’m sure any “borderline” (excuse the pun) case will go in the shorter-payoff “No” outcome category though. If a bunch of security guards and hippies square-off at the signpost in the image above, and some wise-guy sticks his foot over the boundary before running away from an MP, that will not constitute a “raid.” But a group of investigators crossing far enough over the line to snap and share some photos of the military hardware at Area 51? That’ll do.
I’d be wary of the “No” market and even inclined to lean toward the “Yes” market as the September 20th date approaches.
President Trump and the generals involved at Area 51 are each cognizant (at least we hope) of the “authoritarianism” vibe surrounding migrant detention camps along the U.S.-Mexico border. The last thing Uncle Sam can afford these days is to line the border of Area 51 with combat troops in masks and gear, ready to teargas anyone who steps foot past the “No Trespassing” signs.
More likely, the Air Force will take steps to ensure that if thousands of people show up to “raid” Area 51, they won’t get far enough or be privy to enough information to come back with any kind of clear picture (excuse the pun again) or tangible evidence of what we know – at the very least – are some top-secret experiments going on behind the scenes in the desert.
In other words, those “threats” of “meeting trespassers by force” were so much hot air – just like Trump’s “fire and fury” warning to the North Koreans.
A manager named Maya from MyBookie – perfect name for a person to talk to about extraterrestrial artifacts near Mexico – just informed me that if a single person manages to cross the military’s “No Trespassing” borderline, the “Yes” market wins the proposition.
So while we’re unlikely to see a Tom Green-style stunt of people running around with alien bodies…
…I’m convinced that the military’s threats are not so serious as to prevent people from hanging out with rattlesnakes and Joshua trees a few feet inside the boundary on 9/20.
Speaking of blowing hot air, I should probably now offer a couple of less long-winded handicaps of Area 51 prop betting markets for those impatient scrollers who don’t care who my favorite comedians from the 90s are – they just want to get on with the action.
Trump to Tweet Warning Not to Raid Area 51
- Yes: (+300)
- No: (-500)
At a glance, this 3-to-1 “Yes” market seems like a value pick. Love or hate President Trump, he breaks all the rules as Leader of the Free World, and what better rule to break for a POTUS than to – egads! – actually acknowledge the existence of Area 51 in New Mexico.
But as ignorant as I am of goings-on behind the scenes when it comes to Presidents and top-secret military missions, I can’t believe that Trump would tweet a warning about raiding Area 51…even after President Obama publicly acknowledged the existence of the military complex in 2013.
Why? Because the Orange One almost always elaborates in his tweets. It would actually be hard for any Commander-in-Chief not to elaborate on a tweet about Area 51. “Don’t raid Area 51 please” by itself would be an early Christmas gift to conspiracy theorists everywhere. “Don’t raid Area 51, there are no aliens there, just weird weapons we don’t tell anybody about” could make it even worse.
So in the confidential Oval Office discussions we know will take place before the fateful date in September, President Trump is likely going to agree – or be forced to agree – not to bite off that cookie. Trump’s scatter-shot tweeting style is a loose cannon as far as the generals are concerned. He can defy them as their superior – but behind the scenes he usually goes along to get along.
That doesn’t mean Trump won’t wait for the smoke to clear and tweet something relatively-harmless about the event a little later on.
Will President Trump Mention Area 51 in a Tweet by End of September?
- Yes: (+260)
- No: (-340)
Stop for a moment and imagine the near future.
If you can’t imagine President Trump tweeting out something like this on September 21st:
Thank you to our Amazing and Wonderful Military for showing so much Restrant (sic) with the UFO hunters who came to Area 51 on Fryday (sic). Isn’t it Great that in America peeple (sic) are free to Hunt UFOs! MAGA! Vote for ME, New Mexico!
…then you, madam or sir, do not know Twitter (or U.S. politics in 2019) quite like you think you do.