In addition to being decent ways to make and quickly lose money, sports betting organizations are useful markets of public opinion. Vegas odds aren't markers of what the books think will happen; they're reactions to how a mass of bettors has (or can be expected to) responded to the events or games at hand. The goal of a sports book is to make a modest profit, because any situation in which one outcome has too much money invested has the potential to produce a major loss.
A whole set of odds, then, can give a general sense of public confidence surrounding a story like the NBA lockout. Consider the odds released Friday by Bodog.eu for the number of games played in the 2011-12 NBA season (via EOB):
No games: 5/4
82 games: 8/5
1-50 games: 3/1
51-81 games: 5/1
These odds are pretty clearly based on bettor confidence and not basic facts of the lockout, because it makes little sense on a factual level that "no games" and "all the games" are almost as likely as each other to occur. On top of that, the idea of a 20, 30, or even 40-game season is unlikely -- if the sides get that deep into the calendar with no resolution, it's likely we'll end up with no season at all.Read More »from Betting odds favor there being no NBA season