IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Price Setting in the NBA Gambling Market: Tests of the Levitt Model of Sportsbook Behavior


  • Rodney J. Paul

    () (St. Bonaventure University)

  • Andrew P. Weinbach

    (Coastal Carolina University)


Levitt (2004) suggested that sportsbooks do not set prices in the NFL to clear markets, as was commonly assumed, but set prices to maximize profits. This paper uses actual betting data from four sportsbooks to test the Levitt (2004) hypothesis in the NBA. For a sample of the 2004-05 to 2006-07 seasons, it is shown that favorites receive a disproportionate share of NBA pointspread bets. In addition, the percentage of bets the favorite receives increases with each additional point of the pointspread. In the totals market, it is shown that overs receive a much higher percentage of bets compared to unders and the percentage bet on the over increases with each point of the total. Unlike the NFL, however, taking a contrarian position and betting against public sentiment is not found to win more often than implied by efficiency.

Suggested Citation

  • Rodney J. Paul & Andrew P. Weinbach, 2008. "Price Setting in the NBA Gambling Market: Tests of the Levitt Model of Sportsbook Behavior," International Journal of Sport Finance, Fitness Information Technology, vol. 3(3), pages 137-145, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:jsf:intjsf:v:3:y:2008:i:3:p:137-145

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full-text download requires subscription from FIT.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carlino, Gerald & Coulson, N. Edward, 2004. "Compensating differentials and the social benefits of the NFL," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 25-50, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Humphreys, Brad R. & Paul, Rodney J. & Weinbach, Andrew P., 2013. "Consumption benefits and gambling: Evidence from the NCAA basketball betting market," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 376-386.
    2. Norton, Hugh & Gray, Steve & Faff, Robert, 2015. "Yes, one-day international cricket ‘in-play’ trading strategies can be profitable!," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 61(S2), pages 164-176.
    3. Rodney Paul & Andrew Weinbach, 2012. "Sportsbook pricing and the behavioral biases of bettors in the NHL," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 36(1), pages 123-135, January.
    4. Arne Feddersen & Brad R. Humphreys & Brian P. Soebbing, 2017. "Sentiment Bias And Asset Prices: Evidence From Sports Betting Markets And Social Media," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(2), pages 1119-1129, April.
    5. 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.
    6. Humphreys, Brad, 2010. "Prices, Point Spreads and Profits: Evidence from the National Football League," Working Papers 2010-5, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    7. Humphreys, Brad R. & Paul, Rodney J. & Weinbach, Andrew P., 2016. "Performance expectations and the tenure of head coaches: Evidence from NCAA football," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 482-492.
    8. Rodney J. Paul & Andrew P. Weinbach, 2014. "Market Efficiency and Behavioral Biases in the WNBA Betting Market," International Journal of Financial Studies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(2), pages 1-10, April.
    9. Rodney J. Paul & Andrew P. Weinbach & Kristin K. Paul, 2010. "Using Actual Betting Percentages to Analyze Sportsbook Behavior: The Canadian and Arena Football Leagues," New York Economic Review, New York State Economics Association (NYSEA), pages 35-44.
    10. Frank Daumann & Markus Breuer, 2011. "The Role of Information in Professional Football and the German Football Betting Market," Chapters,in: Contemporary Issues in Sports Economics, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Arne Feddersen & Brad Humphreys & Brian Soebbing, 2013. "Sentiment Bias in National Basketball Association Betting," Working Papers 13-03, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    12. Humphreys, Brad & Paul, Rodney & Weinbach, Andrew, 2011. "CEO Turnover: More Evidence on the Role of Performance Expectations," Working Papers 2011-14, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    13. Raphael Flepp & Stephan Nüesch & Egon Franck, 2016. "Does Bettor Sentiment Affect Bookmaker Pricing?," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 17(1), pages 3-11, January.

    More about this item


    efficient markets; gambling; sportsbook;

    JEL classification:

    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:jsf:intjsf:v:3:y:2008:i:3:p:137-145. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Victor Matheson) or (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.