Hot Dog! NJ Permitting Wagering On Nathan’s Famous Contest

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New Jersey historically has been a cutting-edge state for legal gambling innovations in the U.S. — most famously winning a six-year legal battle in 2018 when the Supreme Court vacated a 26-year-old law that banned all but Nevada from offering Las Vegas-style sports betting.

And speaking of “famous,” the state Division of Gaming Enforcement announced on Wednesday that it will allow wagering on the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

But this first foray by state regulators into the world of competitive eating comes with caveats.

As remarkably popular as “in-game” betting has been on so many sports in so many states, this wagering offering will only be for selecting a winner before the first frankfurter is gobbled down.

Also, this allowance covers only “who will win” and “will a particular record will be broken.” As a state official put it, “There will be no wagers permitted related to non-event type bets, like the color of someone’s clothing or the weather.”

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NJ not going it alone

DraftKings is an “official partner” of the contest and also has gotten approval to offer the same bets in New Hampshire and Colorado. A free-to-play pool with $25,000 in prizes is offered for all U.S. residents, since there is no money being risked in that contest.

Meanwhile, just as we recently have had PGA Tour events, NASCAR, and boxing and mixed martial arts matches without fans, there will be no throngs on the Coney Island boardwalk this year rooting on the combatants.

Instead, the event will be held at a “private, undisclosed location,” according to organizers.

Will that affect all-time hot dog gobbling champion Joey Chestnut, who seems to, well, feed off the cheers from the crowd?

DraftKings oddsmaker Johnny Avello doesn’t seem to think so. He installed Chestnut at -1250, so you’d have to risk that amount to win a mere $100.

If you prefer “the field” — all other contestants combined — you can wager $100 to win $650.

Other “frank” betting options

Miki Sudo also is a heavy favorite on the women’s side at -850, while the field is +500.

Looking for more even odds? Try Chestnut at over 72.5 hot dogs eaten at -150, or under at +115. (Joey ate 71 last year.)

For Sudo, go over or under 40.5 wieners at the same prices. (Miko ate 31 last year.)

If you buy into the notion that Chestnut will lose some superpowers without the adoring crowd, you may want to bet the field and the under on dogs eaten. But as is typical with wagers that move in the same direction, you can’t turn those hunches into a parlay.

The other contestants are so relatively obscure that the bets above are your only wagering options on the contest at DK.

Hot dogs not NJ’s first betting twist

In 2019, New Jersey broke new ground in U.S. legal sports betting circles by offering extensive pre-event betting on The Academy Awards.

Avello also was the oddsmaker for that, and it turns out that he had decades of relevant Oscars experience. The limit on such bets was $1,000, and the same sort of ceiling is likely for the Nathan’s event.

That worked out well in the first Oscars betting last year.

A viral internet rumor had an obscure longshot winning the Best Director category in the hours before the curtains opened. That led to widespread gambling, especially on the illegal offshore sportsbooks.

As it turned out, the favorite won as expected — and the legal books didn’t have at much at stake as they could have, even while scrambling for hours to keep adjusting the odds on the longshot.

Photo by Shutterstock.com

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John Brennan

John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record.

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