Lopez scores KO on Vegas books

Nevada sportsbooks took it on the chin Saturday night when Teofimo Lopez upset favored Vasiliy Lomachenko by unanimous decision at the MGM Grand Conference Center to win the lightweight world unification title.

It was the first major boxing match since the pandemic and it was also offered for free on ESPN.

“We had a lot more handle on it than I thought we would,” said Nevada BetMGM sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback. “I guess it being televised free had something to do with it. We had a really good day with college football, but gave about 80% of it back with the Lopez decision.”

In all the big fights in Las Vegas Stoneback has booked, bettors routinely bet the underdog just because of the perceived value. Most bettors don’t want to lay $40 to win only $10 so they simply bet the ‘dog so they have something to root for as they watch pay-per-view or watch it live at one of the MGM properties. But this fight took that notion up a notch.

“We had tickets counts on Lopez at a 9-to-1 ratio,” Stoneback said.

Stoneback said they won the pick-the-knockout round prop, the one where they offer odds on each fighter to score a knockout in each round — 24 options to bet but the bettor loses if the fight goes to a decision or draw.

I told him I was surprised books were still offering that prop because it never fails to create angry losers after a decision in any fight. Anyway, Stoneback said their win off the prop didn’t put a dent in their losses with the five-way result and the match itself.

“We intended to keep the Lopez price the lowest and people still bet it,” Stoneback said of their -350/+290 split, a more than fair split. But unlike most big fights in Las Vegas, when the favorite gets to its lowest point on fight night, sharp money usually comes in and scoops up the low price knowing smaller money on the ‘dog adds up large and will force the books to drop the price. But that big late favorite money didn’t show up much Saturday night.

The most attractive price on the fight between low theoretic hold on the props and price splits I saw was offered by Circa Sports, but book director Matt Metcalf didn’t get the type of action BetMGM did.

“We lost on Lopez,” Metcalf said. “Our handle was a little less than I anticipated. I’m not sure if these were big enough names to the casual fan yet. It was an awesome fight, though.”

Circa had Lomachenko -405 and Lopez +330 — an amazing price split, and a total set at 10.5 rounds over -180. They also had the five-way prop with Lopez by decision paying out at +945, and pick-the-knockout round prop that also included each fighter to win by decision and a draw — 27 options.

The Circa Resort and Casino are set for its grand opening on Oct. 28 featuring what will be the largest sportsbook in the state.

NFL great for books

Sportsbooks got the perfect combination of underdogs winning and covering in Sunday’s NFL Week 6 action with favorites going 4-8 against-the-spread and five of the underdogs winning outright.

“It was our best Sunday of the season,” Stoneback said. “We kind of had everything go our way except for one of our house players doing very well betting the halves. One of our best games was your team (Broncos) winning outright which knocked out a bunch of money-line parlays and teasers.”

The Broncos got six field goals from Brandon McManus to win 18-12 at New England, a game that ran from Patriots -10 down to -7 by kickoff and closed a Las Vegas-best +300 on the money-line at William Hill books. Stoneback said he had a bettor buy the half-point down to -6.5 for $270,000 and another $100,000 on the Patriots at -7.

Broncos QB Drew Lock returned to the lineup but was very ordinary. The key to their win was Phillip Lindsay rushing for 101 yards and chewing time off the clock while Cam Newton struggled for the Patriots against a very aggressive Broncos defense.

The biggest decision of the day with just about every sportsbook was the Buccaneers’ 38-10 thrashing of the visiting Packers who had won and covered all four previous games this season.

The game ran from pick ‘em to as high as Packers -3 at the South Point. The Packers jumped out to a 10-0 lead which featured a freaky celebration dance by Aaron Rodgers after he scored a TD — which was reversed by replay. But then he would throw a pick-six in his next possession, his first interception of the year and the first turnover by the Packers all season. In his next possession, he would throw another interception which was almost run back and led to an easy Bucs score and 14-10 lead.

And that was it. Rodgers was rattled and the Bucs would reel off 38 unanswered points. The 5-1 Bears are now in first place in the NFC North after their 23-16 win at Carolina. 

Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay said the Buccaneers were their top win followed by the Falcons who came in 0-5 but absolutely dismantled the Vikings (-4), 40-23, and it wasn’t really that close.

The nine early games saw favorites go just 3-6 ATS and kill off any momentum with parlays and teasers. Going into the two afternoon-games, the books just needed to beat the Packers to secure a great day. Teaser risk into the Dolphins (-9) had already been erased before their 24-0 win, Miami’s first shutout since 2014. The late game also went the books’ way with the 49ers winning, 24-16, against the visiting Rams, but much of the risk had been wiped out to make it not as impactful to the day as a regular Sunday night game.

Another note to mention is that totals went 8-4 to the under, showing that the last two weeks has paid off for those going against the inflated totals in the highest-scoring season ever. What goes up always has to come down.

There will likely be a half-point adjustment downward on each team’s total rating this week, but the first four weeks forced a 2-3-point adjustment upward for most teams. So the unders should still be live for value this week as well.