The NBA has long been one of the most progressive leagues when it comes to sports betting, and now one of its marque franchises is going all in with a high-stakes poker player.
According to ESPN, the Dallas Mavericks have hired renowned sports bettor Bob Voulgaris as director of quantitative research and development.
The report stated that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is expected to utilize Voulgaris as a “strategic thinker who will help examine on-court strategy in big-picture ways.” Terms of Voulgaris’ deal with the Mavericks and its high-profile owner were not disclosed.
The Voulgaris hiring comes less than five months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law that banned single-game sports betting outside of Nevada. The leagues have warmed to the idea of gambling, even lobbying now for new federal mandates. The casino industry prefers state-by-state legalization over another federal regime.
Voulgaris, who has more than $3 million in lifetime poker tournament earnings, has made untold millions as a professional sports bettor. His specialty is the NBA, where it was once reported that he had a 57 percent win-rate on his picks.
Betting on basketball has never been more popular in Nevada, the only state with historical sports betting data. According to data compiled by the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Center for Gaming Research, Nevada sports books took just under $1.5 billion worth of basketball bets in 2017, an all-time high for the Silver State. The Nevada Gaming Control Board doesn’t release data on college versus professional wagers.
The market for sports betting could reach $15 billion annually in revenue if it’s available in all states. The leagues are expected to reap billions of dollars as well from widespread sports betting regulation. The casino industry says that nearly $150 billion is bet each year on the black market.