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Informed Traders and Price Variations in the Betting Market for Professional Basketball Games


  • John M. Gandar

    (University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Massey University, New Zealand,)

  • William H. Dare

    (Southwest Texas State University,)

  • Craig R. Brown

    (Ernst and Young, Chicago,)

  • Richard A. Zuber

    (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)


This paper examines betting line changes from the opening to the closing of the point spread betting market on National Basketball Association games for evidence of informed trader betting. We show that within-betting period line changes significantly improve the accuracy of betting lines as forecasts of game outcomes. We examine individual line change magnitudes and show that these are directly and proportionately related to biases in opening lines. Further, line changes are of sufficient magnitude to remove these biases by the close of betting. We interpret these results as evidence that informed traders are influential in this market. Copyright The American Finance Association 1998.

Suggested Citation

  • John M. Gandar & William H. Dare & Craig R. Brown & Richard A. Zuber, 1998. "Informed Traders and Price Variations in the Betting Market for Professional Basketball Games," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(1), pages 385-401, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jfinan:v:53:y:1998:i:1:p:385-401

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cox, John C & Ingersoll, Jonathan E, Jr & Ross, Stephen A, 1981. "A Re-examination of Traditional Hypotheses about the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(4), pages 769-799, September.
    2. Campbell, John Y, 1986. " A Defense of Traditional Hypotheses about the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 41(1), pages 183-193, March.
    3. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1991. "Yield Spreads and Interest Rate Movements: A Bird's Eye View," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 495-514.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brown, Gregory W. & Hartzell, Jay C., 2001. "Market reaction to public information: The atypical case of the Boston Celtics," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2-3), pages 333-370, May.
    2. Gandar, John M. & Zuber, Richard A. & Lamb, Reinhold P., 2001. "The home field advantage revisited: a search for the bias in other sports betting markets," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 439-453.
    3. Igan, Deniz & Pinheiro, Marcelo & Smith, John, 2011. ""White men can't jump," but would you bet on it?," MPRA Paper 31469, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Štrumbelj, Erik & Vračar, Petar, 2012. "Simulating a basketball match with a homogeneous Markov model and forecasting the outcome," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 532-542.
    5. Boulier, Bryan L. & Stekler, H. O., 2003. "Predicting the outcomes of National Football League games," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 257-270.
    6. Baryla Jr., Edward A. & Borghesi, Richard A. & Dare, William H. & Dennis, Steven A., 2007. "Learning, price formation and the early season bias in the NBA," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 155-164, September.
    7. Carsten Schmidt & Axel Werwatz, 2002. "How accurate do markets predict the outcome of an event? The Euro 2000 soccer championships experiment," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-09, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    8. David M Pennock & Sandip Debnath & Eric Glover & C. Lee Giles, 2012. "Modelling Information Incorporation in Markets, with Application to Detecting and Explaining Events," Papers 1301.0594,
    9. Stekler, H.O. & Sendor, David & Verlander, Richard, 2010. "Issues in sports forecasting," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 606-621, July.
      • Herman O. Stekler & David Sendor & Richard Verlander, 2009. "Issues in Sports Forecasting," Working Papers 2009-002, The George Washington University, Department of Economics, Research Program on Forecasting.
    10. Richard Zuber & Patrick Yiu & Reinhold Lamb & John Gandar, 2005. "Investor-fans? An examination of the performance of publicly traded English Premier League teams," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(5), pages 305-313.
    11. Igan, Deniz & Pinheiro, Marcelo & Smith, John, 2015. "A study of a market anomaly: “White Men Can’t Jump”, but would you bet on it?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 13-25.
    12. Ray Fair & John Oster, 2002. "College Football Rankings and Market Efficiency," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2377, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Aug 2007.
    13. David Paton & Leighton Vaughan Williams, 2005. "Forecasting outcomes in spread betting markets: can bettors use 'quarbs' to beat the book?," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(2), pages 139-154.
    14. Krieger, Kevin & Fodor, Andy, 2013. "Price movements and the prevalence of informed traders: The case of line movement in college basketball," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 70-82.
    15. Raymond Sauer & J. Waller & Jahn Hakes, 2010. "The progress of the betting in a baseball game," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 142(3), pages 297-313, March.
    16. Berkowitz, Jason P. & Depken, Craig A. & Gandar, John M., 2015. "Information and accuracy in pricing: Evidence from the NCAA men׳s basketball betting market," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 16-32.
    17. Martin Spann & Bernd Skiera, 2009. "Sports forecasting: a comparison of the forecast accuracy of prediction markets, betting odds and tipsters," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 55-72.
    18. Vikram Krishnamurthy & Sujay Bhatt, 2015. "Sequential Detection of Market shocks using Risk-averse Agent Based Models," Papers 1511.01965,
    19. Les Coleman, 2007. "Just How Serious is Insider Trading? An Evaluation using Thoroughbred Wagering Markets," Journal of Gambling Business and Economics, University of Buckingham Press, vol. 1(1), pages 31-55, February.
    20. Arne Feddersen & Brad Humphreys & Brian Soebbing, 2013. "Sentiment Bias in National Basketball Association Betting," Working Papers 13-03, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    21. Ioannis Asimakopoulos & John Goddard, 2004. "Forecasting football results and the efficiency of fixed-odds betting," Journal of Forecasting, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(1), pages 51-66.
    22. Evan Osborne, 2001. "Efficient Markets? Don’t Bet on It," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 2(1), pages 50-61, February.
    23. Dare, William H. & Dennis, Steven A. & Paul, Rodney J., 2015. "Player absence and betting lines in the NBA," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 130-136.
    24. Benjamin Waggoner & Daniel Wines & Brian P. Soebbing & Chad S. Seifried & Jean Michael Martinez, 2014. "“Hot Hand” in the National Basketball Association Point Spread Betting Market: A 34-Year Analysis," International Journal of Financial Studies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(4), pages 1-12, November.

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