NBA All-Star Game’s New Format Fun for Fans

The new format for the NBA All-Star Game might be a novelty, but it proved entertaining, if not a big moneymaker for sportsbooks or bettors. Oh, and Team LeBron edged out Team Giannis in a high-scoring affair.

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NBA All-Star Game’s New Format Fun for Fans

The NBA All-Star Game turned out to be far from a defensive gem. The 157-155 score in favor of Team LeBron was not unexpected. But the format this year was.

Under the changes, every quarter turned into a separate mini-game for charity. Each time a team won a quarter, it earned $100,000 for charity. In the final quarter, teams played to a target score, instead of a 12-minute period. The fourth quarter also restored the point totals for the first three quarters to determine the winning score.

The targeted score for quarter four was 24 points, in honor of Kobe Bryant’s jersey number.

In the game, Team Giannis led 133 to 124 over Team LeBron after three quarters. Adding 24 points to Team Giannis meant the winning team had to score 157 points total. Team LeBron had to score 33 points to emerge victorious.

Got it? Team LeBron did. So did bettors.

“There was way more betting this year. Something with the way the teams were structured. It was one of the better All-Star games,” said Johnny Avello, director of sportsbook operations for DraftKings.

There was no drop-off in handle this year, said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill U.S., which operates a sportsbook at the Ocean Resort in Atlantic City. “I think the masses probably didn’t know about the rule changes, and the ones that did, it didn’t seem to bother.”

While the handle stayed steady, over-bets ended up on top, and William Hill took a hit on the game itself. Team LeBron was the favorite, and when it fell behind, the average bettor’s normal instinct would be to bet the better team to come back, and win at a plus price. And that’s exactly what happened, Bogdanovich said. “So I believe the general public had a very enjoyable three hours, they won a few bucks, and got a highly entertaining show.”

Even if the sportsbook did not come out on top.

“The last quarter was spectacular. Both teams wanted to win,” Avello said.

DraftKings made a little money on the three-point contest. Big money was bet on Jayson Tatum in the skills challenge, which included dribbling, shooting and passing.

“In-game wagers on the game itself went really, well especially on totals,” Avello said.

As for the same format for future All-Star Games?

“They gave away a lot money to charity,” Avello said. “There’s no reason why they would not do it again. The fourth quarter was something special.”

There might be some fans who may view this as an appealing introduction into the world of in-game betting, said Alex Donohue, sports gambling expert for the website

“Whenever there’s a big talking point in sports and among groups of sports fans,” Donohue said, “inevitably fans have an opinion, and when they’re legally allowed to bet, it’s an opportunity to express that opinion.”

Articles by Author: Bill Sokolic

Bill Sokolic is a veteran journalist who has covered gaming and tourism for more than 25 years as a staff writer and freelancer with various publications and wire services. He's also written stories for news, entertainment, features, and business. He co-authored Atlantic City Revisited, a pictorial history of the resort.