FanDuel Dangling Money At Michigan State Fans — And Savvy Gamblers

FanDuel promises to 'move the line' one point in Michigan State's favor for every 2,500 fans who bet on the Spartans.
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It’s a familiar scenario in more “mature” sports betting sites such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but gamblers in Michigan – who just got to start betting legally in January – might do a double-take when they see a FanDuel promotion this week.

The deal is this: Michigan State is favored over UCLA by 1.5 points in Thursday’s “play-in” game of the NCAA men’s basketball March Madness tournament. The winner claims an 11th seed in the 64-team main bracket and faces sixth-seeded Brigham Young on Saturday.

FanDuel promises to “move the line” one point in Michigan State’s favor for every 2,500 fans who bet on the Spartans. The maximum bet is $50 at -110 odds, for a potential payout of $45.45.

So once 10,000 wagers on Michigan State are made, then the line for the Spartans goes from giving 1.5 points to getting 2.5 points.

And in past versions of this promotion elsewhere, the more the line moves – the more the line moves. That’s because as news spreads of the increasingly favorable line, it becomes more and more enticing for fans of the team to place the bet, and to tell family and friends about it.

The line becomes too good to be true – but it’s true

For instance, in Week 16 of the 2020 NFL season, a promotion touting the Buffalo Bills against the underdog New England Patriots wound up with Bills backers getting a preposterous 98 points – or 25 more points than the most lopsided result in NFL history.

A similar thing happened last July, when the FanDuel promotion turned the slightly-favored Los Angeles Lakers into an underdog of more than 25 points against their crosstown rivals the Clippers.

So is this a guaranteed $45.45? The short answer is yes. In fact, by noon ET on Monday, the Spartans already were getting 15.5 points and climbing.

But for those cautious souls, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter when you place your wager before gametime – you get the final odds boost regardless.

So if you decide that the Spartans getting a dozen points is too good to resist, so you lay down your money, and then the line zooms up to Michigan State +40 points – you get that line, not +12.

Why does FanDuel give away money like this? Mainly because they want to entice new signups in states like Michigan that are new to sports betting.

While Michigan has a robustly competitive mobile sports betting marketplace, industry experts have long known that many casual bettors will only sign up with one, two, or three sportsbooks.

So for $45 presumably lost – or less, on bettors who don’t fully grasp the promotion – FanDuel gets a customer if not for life, than perhaps at least for years.

It’s not only Michiganders who should take a gander

The Michigan State “free money” is available in most states with legal sports betting, so anyone with a FanDuel account in those states can don green and ride Michigan State to a point-spread victory.

One exception is Tennessee. So there, FanDuel is offering players in the state a free $50 wager – if it wins, you win roughly $45. If it loses, you get your $50 back.

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but conservative gamblers who keep an eye on eye-opening promotions have a hard time losing money in this brave new world. The challenge is to keep betting within one’s means and to not get too caught up in the excitement of gambling.

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