Efficient markets, fair bets, and profitability in NBA totals 1995-96 to 2001-02

Rodney J. Paul, Andrew P. Weinbach, Mark Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The market for NBA totals was examined from 1995-96 to 2001-02. For the sample as a whole, a fair bet could not be rejected, leading to the conclusion of an efficient market. For the highest of the totals, however, the null hypothesis of a fair bet is rejected in the same manner as professional football in that overs are over bet. Although, winning percentages on betting the under above certain totals were found to be above 52.4%, the percentage needed to overcome the vigorish of the sportsbook, statistically significant violations of the null hypothesis of no profitability were not found. In addition, tests of betting with or against streaks in the spirit of the "hot hand" were not found to be profitable. It appears that bettors prefer the over to the under, but informed bettors will bet the under to the point where it is profitable for them to do so, which is enough to allow for the null hypothesis of a fair bet to be rejected, but not enough for profitability to be found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)624-632
Number of pages9
JournalQuarterly Review of Economics and Finance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Contrarian
  • Efficient markets
  • Gambling
  • Sports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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