Paysafe scoops up two 2018 EGR North America Awards


Montreal, Canada (June 29, 2018) – Paysafe, a leading global payments provider, has been named winner of two awards at the fourth annual EGR North America Awards ceremony in Paysafe scoops up two 2018 EGR North America AwardsPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania last night. The first accolade for the company was to Income Access, Paysafe’s marketing technology and services provider who won its fourth consecutive ‘Acquisition & Retention Partner of the Year’ award.  Paysafe then earned further recognition when the company was named ‘Payments Company of the Year’ for the second time, first being in 2015 under Optimal Payments.

The EGR North America Awards celebrate excellence in the North American online gaming industry, honouring the iGaming operators, land-based casinos and service providers who have shown outstanding performance and innovation over the past 12 months. By awarding these two accolades to Paysafe,  EGR’s judges acknowledged the company’s continuing impact as a key player in the iGaming, e-sports, and online gambling sectors, whether it’s Paysafe’s payment products and services such as payment processing, digital wallets and paysafecard or Income Access’ technology and digital marketing solutions. 

Commenting on the two awards, Paysafe’s EVP of Business Development, Neil Erlick said: “In the post-PASPA American landscape, winning these two awards speaks volumes to the value that Paysafe and Income Access brings the industry in North America. At Paysafe, we remain committed to delivering leading and differentiated solutions as we understand how to help gaming operators stay ahead of the curve.”

Erlick added “Being selected for this accolade and seeing our efforts recognised by industry peers is the greatest honour of them all. We look forward to continuing to play a pioneering part in payments and customer acquisition for the gaming and lottery industries.”

EGR North America’s ‘Acquisition and Retention Partner of the Year’ acknowledges a company that has excelled as a marketing partner to egaming operators during the past 12 months where as ‘Payments Company of the Year’ recognizes a company’s payments service based on its quality and performance of the service and related technology, customer service and commercial success, with special consideration given to innovation.

The EGR North America Awards are judged by EGR’s team of independent, external judges who bring a diverse range of in-depth egaming expertise to the judging process across the 20 categories.  Winners are automatically calculated based on judges’ scores submitted into EGR’s online judging platform.

About Paysafe

Paysafe is a leading global provider of end-to-end payment solutions. Its core purpose is to enable businesses and consumers to connect and transact seamlessly through industry-leading capabilities in payment processing, digital wallet, card issuing and online cash solutions. Delivered through an integrated platform, Paysafe solutions are geared toward mobile-initiated transactions, real-time analytics and the convergence between brick-and-mortar and online payments. With over 20 years of online payment experience, a combined transactional volume of US $56 billion in 2017 and approximately 3,000 employees located in 12+ global locations. Paysafe connects businesses and consumers across 200 payment types in over 40 currencies around the world. For more information, visit www.paysafe.com.

About Income Access
Founded in 2002, Income Access is a technology company, affiliate network and digital marketing agency servicing the global gaming and financial trading industries, including regulated iGaming, lottery, social gaming and land-based casinos as well as online forex and financial market trading. Through its award-winning marketing software and a partnership-centric approach, Income Access delivers comprehensive data and strategic insight on marketing campaigns across all digital and offline channels.

In September 2016, Income Access was acquired by Paysafe Group, the company behind the digital wallet brands NETELLER and Skrill. Income Access is partnered with over 300 gaming and financial trading brands worldwide. These include: Betfred, Bet Victor, BGO Group, Caesars Interactive, Coral, ETX Capital, GAIN Capital, Gala Interactive, IGT’s Lottomatica, Jackpotjoy, Lottoland, Michigan Lottery, Pennsylvania Lottery, Pinnacle, Sportingbet, Stan James, and Tote Ireland.

Follow Income Access on Twitter / LinkedIn / Facebook / Press Room / Content Hub

For media enquiries, please contact
Amy Gregus
Head of Corporate Communications, North America, Paysafe Group
Mail: amy.gregus@paysafe.com / Phone: 514-294-0247

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Why We Celebrate Pride



By Brooklyn Manga, 18, Contributor


June 26, 2018

At 15, I was a proud bisexual girl, even if I wasn’t vocal about it at school. Living in Georgia, I was pleased that the kids in my high school seemed progressive about LGBTQ rights. Until one day, a classmate said, “Why do the gays even need a pride month? If they want to be considered normal, why don’t they just act like it?” Several people chimed in. Even my teacher!

After I left class that day, I felt paranoid. I thought for sure that everybody knew I was bisexual, and they were disgusted by it. I started to question my pride, my identity. Little did I know then that this was an experience all too familiar to members of the LGBTQ community.

The story of LGBT Pride Month started on June 28, 1969, when a raid—led by the Public Moral Squad, a now-defunct section of the NYC Police Department—occurred at a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. These raids were common at gay bars across New York City and getting arrested could have dire consequences for those outed, including losing jobs and being kicked out of homes or assaulted.

This raid was like any other until a trans woman named Marsha P. Johnson changed LGBTQ history forever. As one story goes (and there are many different stories about what happened), Johnson threw her shot glass at the mirror as officers fought with the people in the bar and shouted, “I got my civil rights!” People threw rocks, bricks and whatever else they could find at the police. Soon, there were hundreds of people standing up to the police. The now-called “Stonewall Uprising” or “Stonewall Rebellion” lasted for days. After the uprising, LGBTQ activist groups were formed, and the modern-day LGBT liberation movement was born.

In spite of calls to be “out and proud,” my insecurities surrounding my sexual identity remain with me, and I battle with internalized homophobia every day. But when I think about the story of how far we’ve come, the barriers we have broken and the strength that comes from even being able to admit to ourselves that we do not fit the template set out for us, I feel hope. Even if we can’t always be loud, we can be proud. We deserve to be.

In other words, this is our heritage, my story and our story, and the reason why we celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month. Every year, on June 28th, we celebrate more walls broken; we celebrate the marriages, the love, the pride, the courage and everything else that comes with being a part of the LGBTQ community.

 



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Deep Dive into Slovakia: How iGaming sites can build traffic (Part 2)


This is a guest contribution by Ivana Flynn, a Malta-based SEO Consultant. If you would like to submit a contribution please contact Bill Beatty for submission details. Thank you. 

Our deep-dive into the Slovak market takes a closer look at the reality on the ground and how you can profit from it.

Deep Dive into Slovakia: How iGaming sites can build traffic (Part 2)In Part 1 of Deep Dive into Slovakia, we discussed the reality on the ground and how iGaming operators and affiliates can profit from it. Now let’s look at how the typical marketing strategies employed by iGaming firms can be applied to Slovakia. 

Marketing strategies for operators and affiliates who want to apply for licence

If the laws do get changed, and you apply and receive a licence, then you will have access to the standard advantages.

These are:

The possibility to use Google Adwords PPC campaigns. I have found one of the top affiliates which is using Adwords on google.sk, and they seem to have complete control of this market right now. There are a lot of big keywords which they don’t even try to cover, so PPC could be worth exploring.

Greater advertising choices. Most of the big local sites use display advertising, and you must negotiate with the site directly (not with a network). If you can show you have a licence, then you will have a better chance of being accepted, as the site won’t have to worry about any advertising fines. Similarly, a lot of the big native and display advertising networks do accept gambling adverts but often want to see a local licence before accepting them.

Marketing strategies for operators who don’t want/can’t wait to get a Slovak licence

With so many international operators seeming not to care about the potential fines, and Slovak ISPs and banks seemingly not blocking sites or payments, there will be a temptation for operators (and affiliates) to not bother waiting for a licence. This is especially likely with a proposed tax on revenue of 23% and considering the unstable political climate.

For those in this position, here are some strategies to gain a share of the Slovak market.

SEO

No good strategy in a market like Slovakia would be complete without some good old-fashioned SEO.

Aside from building quality on-site content in the Slovak language, operators and new affiliates would obviously need to build links from quality local sites to their pages, to challenge the top spots.

Acquiring links from existing Slovak sites might be difficult, because of the potential €250,000 fine that the site owner might face. Foreign operators in Malta might not feel threatened by such fines, but a small amateur site owner in Bratislava is likely to take these threats very seriously. The situation for link-building in Slovakia is likely to be very similar to the one in Finland right now.

Slovakia therefore looks like the kind of market where you may need to run a quality Private Blog Network (PBN) to build rankings.

A potential PBN strategy for Slovakia

I would recommend a multi-tier structure, with the bottom tier being made up of expired .sk domains with positive metrics.

The content on these sites should be recreated as much as possible using the waybackmachine downloader tool. A new landing page would then be created with casino content in Slovak, and a link from that page to the upper tier sites.

These upper tier sites would be made up of expired .com or .eu domains, with positive metrics. The content would be changed to iGaming content in the Slovak language, with links to the money sites.

This mix would protect against the .sk sites being confiscated by Slovak authorities at any future stage, while still allowing for some local TLDs.

.sk domains no longer require to be registered to a Slovak business address, but anonymous ownership is not allowed, although some registrars will allow you to use their details. You can buy expired .sk domains at Webhouse.

Top keywords for your SEO strategy

Keyword research of the Slovak market shows that poker is still a popular subject in the country, as is roulette.

The data below is pulled from SEMRush and Google Trends, and shows the following suggested keywords to focus on (where available, monthly search volume is given).

Kasino: 1000
Poker Online: 880
Ruleta: 1000
Ruleta online: 210
Poker: 14800
Online Ruleta: 20
Kasino online: n/a
Hracie automaty: 15 – 100
Hracie automaty online: 0- 100
Online kasino: n/a
Hraj v online kasine: n/a
Online kasina: n/a
Hraj online: n/a
Stavky online: n/a
Online stavky: n/a
Stavkuj online: n/a
Online stavkovanie: 0 – 90
Vyhraj v online kasine: n/a
Ako vyhrat v online kasine: n/a

Right now, the top keywords seem to be mostly informational in nature, reflecting the newness of the Slovak market. The user intent seems to be about learning more about how to bet online, and not about which is the best casino.

Building landing pages with content focusing on satisfying these user intents seems to be the way to go for now. It might not convert immediately, but building trust is an important step at the top of any sales funnel.

Social media

Deep Dive into Slovakia: How iGaming sites can build traffic (Part 2)There’s no surprise about who dominates the social network scene in Slovakia, with Facebook and Instagram both the most prominent.

Facebook’s targeting tools are second-to-none, but they require a big advertising spend before they will allow you to run gambling ads. In a small country like Slovakia, it probably isn’t going to be worth it.

However, gambling fan pages that aren’t too pushy should work well.

I see three basic ways of getting traffic from social media in Slovakia:

– Find a local influencer on FB or Instagram and get him or her to endorse your brand
– Start a FB group where people can swap tips, bonus offers etc.
– Start an Instagram account and send out a mix of funny gambling-related pictures/quotes, and offers such as welcome bonuses

Partner with existing Affiliates

Operators looking to gain a quick foothold in the Slovak market will naturally turn to the affiliates who are dominating the google.sk SERPs.

The current reluctance for these affiliates to partner with licenced local operators means there could be room for some negotiations.

Use Adwords even if you don’t have a licence

I have heard that some clever PPC ninjas use cloaking to display adverts in countries where they don’t have a licence. It sounds really risky to me, but if you have plenty of accounts that you don’t mind sacrificing, and don’t put landing pages directly on the money sites, then it might work.

Display

This form of banner advertising dominates the top local sites. Most of the big media sites will probably turn down gambling content because of the fear of fines.

That said, I know that one of the big names on the blacklist uses display advertising on one of the top 50 sites in Slovakia. I won’t name names, to protect both parties, but this shows it is possible.

Adult

Several of the top 50 sites are adult-themed and are part of the Trafficjunky network. The targeting options on Trafficjunky are excellent, allowing you to target even to the city level.

This could be useful in a diverse country like Slovakia. For example, Google Trends data shows that the hracie automaty (online slots) keyword is much more popular in the east of the country than the west. Similarly, you can target by gender, so you could perhaps offer games popular with women on the ‘female-friendly’ adult niche.

If you want to try the adult channel, you should know that visitors who are there for the free content tend to have low conversion rates. That could be a problem on a CPM model (as Trafficjunky is) as you might have to burn through a lot of cash to see results.

However, premium adult subscribers tend to convert a lot better, and Trafficjunky have several sites which offer these customers, making this network the perfect place to experiment.

Native

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, you probably have been exposed to native advertising.

In contrast to display ad banners which leave no doubt they have a commercial intent; native ads aim to blend in with other articles on a site. Here’s an example of native advertising from the Times of Malta recently, alongside some classic display banners.

This form of advertising has become very popular in the English-speaking markets in recent years, especially on informational websites like online news, forums and other places where users come to consume information. However, it’s pretty new in Slovakia and not many publishers have signed up with the big networks (yet).

Native works well for binary options and other such financial niches. People are always on the lookout to make some money, and if you can create native adverts which claim to spill the secrets that the casinos don’t want you to know about, then this could be the perfect way to tap into the Slovak customer’s hunger for information.

The MGID ad network allows gambling content, and doesn’t specifically prohibit it in Slovakia, but you should check with them before trying this out.

TL; DR: What you need to keep in mind about iGaming in Slovakia

Slovakia has a lot of potential for the right operator or affiliate seeking to expand into a new market where customers are still in the information-gathering stage.

Anybody thinking of entering the Slovak iGaming market will need to be flexible to deal with unstable and unreliable laws and regulations. Don’t be scared off by media reports on the potential sanctions for not having a licence—keep a pragmatic and realistic view of how you can reach Slovak customers.


Ivana Flynn is a Malta-based SEO Consultant dedicated to helping iGaming operators and affiliates improve their organic search rankings. Her biggest professional passion is using SEO to break into new and tricky markets. In her spare time, she bakes, works out and plays with her cats.

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    HPV vs. HIV: Do You Know the Difference?



    By Carley Campbell, 17, Staff Writer


    June 25, 2018

    Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently talked about two separate meetings he’d had with President Donald Trump during which the president asked Mr. Gates what the difference was between HPV and HIV. This is something that someone like President Trump—a 72-year-old man (who also happens to be a husband and parent)—should know. In fact, this is something we all should know.

    HPV and HIV are both STDs. Both have H in their names, and both have V in their names because they’re both viruses. But that’s where the similarities end.

    Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a super common STD. It can be passed from skin-to-skin contact or oral, vaginal or anal sex with someone who has the virus. A person might not even know they have HPV; most HPV infections clear up on their own with no adverse effects. However, in some cases, HPV can cause warts around the mouth, anus and genitals. And some strains can lead to cervical cancer in women and penile and anal cancer in men. There is a vaccine available, and while condoms and dental dams do not completely prevent HPV, they can lower chances of infection.

    Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is less common than HPV. It can be transmitted when a mucous membrane (like the mouth, vagina or rectum) comes into contact with fluids (such as semen, vaginal fluids or blood) from someone with the virus. HIV weakens the immune system, and there is no vaccine or cure. But there are medications that reduce the amount of the virus in a person’s bodily fluids, which helps them live a longer, healthier life and reduces the chances of the virus being passed on to a partner. Without treatment, HIV can weaken the immune system and lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Condoms are very effective at preventing the sexual transmission of HIV when used correctly.

    People who are engaging in sexual behaviors should get tested regularly for STDs. Girls do not need to get Pap tests, which screen for abnormal cervical cells caused by HPV, until they are 21.

    You’re hopefully a lot more informed about the difference between HPV and HIV. Ideally, this is information we would all be learning in comprehensive sex education classes. But the irony is that President Trump, who isn’t clear about the difference between HPV and HIV, is heading up an administration that is threatening to cut funding for sex education. Let’s keep speaking up for better sex education, so no one ever has to wonder what the difference is between HPV and HIV.



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    National HIV Testing Day—Reduce Your Risk



    By Sara Kleine, 17, Contributor


    June 25, 2018

    June 27th is National HIV Testing Day, an annual occasion for learning about how and why to get tested for HIV and how to reduce our risk of getting and spreading it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in seven people in the U.S. with HIV don’t know they have it—and young people are the most likely to be unaware of their HIV status.

    Ben Stearn, M.D., of Washington, D.C., is a doctor who specializes in HIV. He stresses the importance of getting tested: “Finding out (you are) HIV positive (can) result in early treatment, and early treatment maintains a full and healthy immune system.” Stearn says that if you discover you are HIV-positive, you should start treatment as soon as possible.

    Getting tested is a way to take charge of your sexual health. As teens, we have the power to start lifelong habits to maintain good health. That’s why getting tested is a good choice for all sexually active teens. You can find a free testing center near you.

    Aside from getting tested, it’s important to know the basic ways to prevent HIV. Using a condom the right way every time you have sex is crucial. People at a high risk of contracting HIV can also ask their doctors about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). This is a medicine that reduces the chance of contracting HIV.

    National HIV Testing Day reminds us to be aware of our risks and take control of our sexual health. It’s important to take steps to keep ourselves and our current and future partners healthy. Be sure to use protection correctly and don’t forget to get tested!



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    Evenbet expands its platform with crypto currency in poker


    Over the last years, Evenbet Gaming has been actively supporting and developing crypto poker solutions. Company’s portfolio of realised project is growing from year to year.

    Evenbet expands its platform with crypto currency in pokerEvenbet supports bitcoin in gaming since 2010. Depending on the customer’s needs the room may support crypto currencies only, or multiple currencies types including real and play money.

    In many jurisdictions, using crypto currency is a fast and convenient way to launch a profitable online poker project in many markets including those where real money online gambling is prohibited but using bitcoin and other crypto currencies is not regulated.

    In 2018, several new crypto poker rooms using Evenbet platforms were launched, for instance, Pokercoin, Bet&BitPoker.

    Functionally, crypto poker by Evenbet Gaming is similar to a regular online poker platform. It has an ultimate choice of cash games and tournaments, different types of bonuses and jackpots, variable rake size, affiliates and agents support, etc.

    At the same time, the platform is constantly evolving technologically, and new options for crypto currency projects are frequently added. Recently, Evenbet Gaming has integrated a bicoin.io wallet – a fast and secure service to proceed transactions. It is integrated into the most technological platforms using Ruby, Java, Node.js, Python, and PHP and supports operations with bitcoin, litecoin, and dogecoin.

    All mentioned crypto currencies are already available for all Evenbet Poker customers. Moreover, we may add any other currency support on customer’s demand and integrate a new wallet type into the system.

    Learn more about Evenbet Gaming and poker solutions: http://evenbetgaming.com

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    Japan residents take casino crash course ahead of IR opening


    A growing number of residents in Japan have been enrolling in casino schools in anticipation of the country’s anticipated opening of integrated resorts.

    Japan residents take casino crash course ahead of IR openingThe Agence France Presse reported that Japanese casino schools have seen a meteoric rise in the number of enrollees wanting to learn how to deal baccarat games, spin roulette wheels and supervise betting on green baize tables. Casino school owner Masayoshi Oiwane pointed out that more Japanese are hoping to land a job in the lucrative gambling industry based on the “unprecedented level of enrollment momentum.”

    In pitching for the passage of the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill (IR Bill), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe argued that the integrated resorts will help attract foreign investments, which, in turn, will boost the country’s economy.

    The opening of casino resorts in Japan will also create new employment and culture, fueling the country’s international competitive power, according to Abe.

    Gaming analysts estimated that the Japanese casino market could be worth $15.8 billion, larger than Las Vegas’ $11 billion market. International credit-debt watcher Fitch Ratings gave a more conservative valuation of $6 billion for Japan’s potential annual gaming revenues.

    Japanese casino expert Toru Mihara estimated tens of thousands of jobs will be created even if the government decides to allow just a single brick-and-mortar facility in the country. Aside from gaming, Mihara believes that Japanese government should pursue conference and exhibition businesses.

    “Tourists will come to energize various regions. This can grow as a new and major industry,” Mihara said, according to the news outlet.

    On Tuesday, the lower chamber of the Japanese Diet made history when it approved the IR Bill. In a nutshell, the bill paves the way for the construction of casinos in up to three locations in the country. The bill also limits Japanese residents from entering casinos by imposing a ¥6,000 (US$54) entrance fee and by setting a maximum of three casino visits per week and 10 visits per month for locals.

    The IR Bill is now on its way to the House of Councillors, despite continued strong public opposition to casinos.

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    Toddlers consuming too much added sugar, study finds


    Toddlers in America are eating too much added sugar, and the problem only gets worse as they get older, a new study conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control found.

    Extra sugar consumption has been linked to high levels of obesity, cavities, asthma, and risk factors for heart disease later in life. It’s also been associated with higher cholesterol levels and elevated blood pressure. Added sugar is especially bad for children, as it sets diet preferences that could lead them to make poor nutritional choices later in life.

    The American Heart Association already recommends that children under the age of 2 avoid food with added sugars, including ready-to-eat cereals, baked goods, desserts, sugary drinks, yogurt, and candy. But researchers at the CDC found that some parents don’t seem to be following those guidelines.

    “This is the first time we have looked at added sugar consumption among children less than 2 years old,” lead study author Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist from the CDC, told ABC News.

    The study, conducted in Maryland, asked the parents of 800 children aged 6 to 23 months what their child’s “added sugar” consumption was in a 24-hour period. Herrick and her team found that the amount of added sugar increased along with a child’s age.

    For the 6- to 11-month-olds, 61 percent of the sugar in their diet was added sugar. But by the time children reached between 1 and 2 years old, that amount was even higher: 98 to 99 percent of the sugar those children ate was added.

    PHOTO: A young girl eats cotton candy in an undated stock photo.STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
    A young girl eats cotton candy in an undated stock photo.

    And that added sugar added up: the oldest toddlers in the study, aged between 19 to 23 months, averaged about seven teaspoons of added sugar per day, more than the amount in a Kit Kat bar, the study found.

    The study is limited in some ways because sugar consumption was measured based on parent’s memory of what their child ate during a short period of time. In addition, the study has not been peer-reviewed. It was shared at a medical meeting.

    The research team also plans to examine the specific sources of added sugar young children are consuming in the future.

    But researchers have known for a long time that children should be getting their daily sugar from vegetables and fruits, not from added sugar, which contributes nothing but calories. An apple, for example, contains natural sugar as well as good fiber and nutrients.

    But high amounts of added sugar can be hidden in seemingly healthy food: a single-size serving of yogurt with fruit at the bottom can contain up to six teaspoons of sugar. In a regular 8 ounce serving of apple or orange juice, there are 5.5 teaspoons of sugar, on average. Dried fruits are also loaded with sugar — there are 21 teaspoons in one cup of dried fruit alone. Energy and protein bars can also contain a lot of sugar, and it’s also found in the condiments we add to foods: each tablespoon of ketchup contains one teaspoon of sugar.

    Although the U.S. government’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) states Americans over the age of 2 should consume less than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugar, they do not yet include recommendations for children under 2.

    Herrick said that the CDC has recently launched a website that “makes some recommendations on which foods and beverage to limit in the diets of infants and toddlers.”

    Parents can expect recommendations for young children to be in place for the 2020-2025 DGA guidelines, but for now, less added sugar should always be the goal.



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    World series odds update: Yankees the June betting favorites


    The New York Yankees have the best winning percentage in baseball as of this writing, so it’s no surprise that the Bombers are +500 favorites to win their first World Series title since 2009. Yet, the Yankees might not even win their own division – the Boston Red Sox are right there in the AL East – and they also clearly have some issues in the rotation.

    Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com

    World series odds update: Yankees the June betting favoritesThe team recently lost young left-hander Jordan Montgomery, the No. 5 starter, to season-ending Tommy John surgery. Then, No. 2 starter Masahiro Tanaka injured both hamstrings running the bases – another argument for the NL adding the designated hitter as it happened during an interleague game – and will miss about a month.

    As it was, the Yankees had questions in the rotation behind ace and All-Star Luis Severino. It’s all but a lock that New York will trade for a frontline starting pitcher, perhaps Texas’ Cole Hamels, as it has the need, the money and the prospects to do so. Now that we are into mid-June, trade talks should start heading up, with the non-waiver trade deadline July 31.

    The Houston Astros (+525) and Boston (+600) are just behind New York. The Red Sox and Yankees figure to stage an epic race for the AL East title all season, with the runner-up forced into the Wild-Card Game. Houston, meanwhile, is in a surprising race in the AL West with the Seattle Mariners (+2200), who seem to be getting no respect from oddsmakers.

    Seattle is an astounding 21-9 in one-run games this year (easily the most such wins in MLB) thanks in part to a terrific bullpen anchored by closer Edwin Diaz. The Mariners don’t seem to miss All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, who won’t return until mid-August due to an 80-game PED suspension. Seattle has the longest playoff drought in the sport, last reaching in 2001. It has never reached a World Series.

    In the National League, the Chicago Cubs (+750) are playing their best baseball of the season and have taken over the Senior Circuit’s favored role, with the Washington Nationals (+800) and Los Angeles Dodgers (+1000) right behind. The Cubs, Nationals and Dodgers have all won their division at least each of the past two years and it would be an upset if they don’t each again.

    The Arizona Diamondbacks (+2800), though, currently lead the NL West. The Atlanta Braves (+1600) are atop the NL East. The Milwaukee Brewers (+1600) have a short lead on the Cubs in the NL Central.

     

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