Against Logic: Why Bettors Go With Their Home Teams

Bettors often go with heart over brain hoping for a win

When a bettor is throwing down money on a game, there’s a good reason it’s likely on a team they want to win.

First and foremost, homer betting shows up in future betting more than any other form of sports betting. It’s the area most likely to shift odds making significantly if sports betting is legalized nationwide. Even so, as fans travel from across the globe to Las Vegas, it’s fun to put money down on a team—no matter the long shot—and head back to the hometown bar to show off the ticket.

A casual bettor isn’t worried about the price. They’re doing it for the shock value or the hope that their team will pull it off.

“It’s just fun for that person to head back to all their buddies in Minnesota with a ticket that has the Twins winning the World Series and show it off,” said Jason Simbal, CG Technology Sportsbooks vice president of risk management.

The hometown logic offers a peek into the liabilities of a sportsbook. Without even looking at numbers, Simbal will know he needs to have the team playing the New England Patriots to win. Teams with nationwide popularity are a guaranteed big bet week in and week out.

“If the Pats are playing the Jets, we’ll need the Jets,” Simbal said. “I don’t need to know the point spread. It’s not even the homer logic, but the popularity of the Pats nationwide. People just bet on them to win.”

Any of the non-marquee teams? It doesn’t matter, the book will need those teams to win—people aren’t betting on them.

“People want to bet with the perception of how good a team is,” Simbal said. “If the Packers are playing the Titans, unless they’re 13-0, the teams could be 6-2 against 5-3, we’re going to need the Titans. As much as the game might be 50-50 on the field, the betting tips in the favor of the popular team.”

Betting offers a fun outlet for sports fans to channel into their cheers.

The casual bettor who only places a few bets a year or less tends to bet what he wants to happen. Those bettors would rather see an underdog take down a major power.

For casual bettors, taking the over is far more popular than the under.

“Emotion is designed to trump logic,” Simbal said. “They tend to bet on positive things. They want their team to score more. There’s a psychological aspect, too. If they bet over, they’re always in the action. The game could go to overtime. They could score more. If they go under, they could be out of it early.”

For a casual bettor, facts, logic and circumstances are often thrown out the window. The story is different for bettors who do it day in, day out, but they’re treating sports betting more like the stock market than a fun escape. The casual bettor is following their heart.

It provides more entertainment, excitement and hope for $20 than slamming the same amount in chips down on a blackjack table.

“The less amount of bets an individual makes, the more likely they are to be a homer,” Simbal said. “If they’re just looking to have fun or for an escape, $20 on the Browns; if they somehow pull it off, they have a couple hundred, and if they don’t, they still get their $20 worth.

“At a blackjack table, $20 is two seconds of enjoyment.”