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The WNBA is a modest grab for the sports books during the summer.

It draws interest, more from an analytical bunch better educated with the sport. They like the product; they love the value.

Overall, the league barely flinched after the first season with the Aces in Las Vegas.

“I’m sure we had a few more tickets even though it’s still dominated by educated players and the public really hasn’t hopped on as of yet,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook vice president Jay Korn­egay. “That might change going into the season.”

With the Aces favored to win the WNBA title at +250, and a projected starting lineup that would feature five players drafted no later than third in their respective drafts — including three No. 1 picks — the Westgate anticipates a bump in action.

While oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said it was noticeable (the handle) went up during home games, the Aces aren’t a liability this season in terms of future bets.

Last year, the Westgate refunded all win-total bets, which ranged between 13.5 and 16.5 when the Aces forfeited a game at the Washington Mystics after their flight plans were delayed more than 25 hours. It became the first WNBA game to be canceled in the league’s 22-year history.

Sherman, who is also the Westgate’s VP of Risk Management, said win-total wagers paid on 34 regular-season games played, and the Aces played 33. Las Vegas landed in the middle with 14 wins. This year, he said, forfeits are excluded.

Considering the enthusiasm inside Cox Pavilion for a Sunday afternoon scrimmage, it may be good to have all angles covered. The Aces dropped their 79-75 preseason game to the Minnesota Lynx in front of an exuberant bunch that caught one heck of an exhibition.

“It was fun to just be able to play in front of a crowd tonight, and just know what the Vegas fans are like,” said top overall pick Jackie Young, who scored 16 points in her Aces debut. Young made 7 of 10 shots, grabbed four rebounds and finished with a team-high +19.

The addition of Young and Sugar Rodgers helped nudge the Aces toward the top of the Westgate futures board, and when the Liz Cambage rumors first started, the book was prepared.

“We did hear rumors of this trade prior to it happening so we were aggressive on the movement,” Kornegay said. “We lowered them as the rumors kind of heated up, down to 3-1 and closed the win total. Once the trade was finalized, we lowered it to 5-2, with the win total down to 22.5.”

Which is where they’ll start the regular season, the favorite to win the title.

“I would expect going into this season there’s gonna be high expectations with the Aces and I understand why they have those expectations with a loaded lineup,” Kornegay said. “Probably expect a few more public or recreational players to bet into the future pool.”

Just behind the Aces are the Mystics and Los Angeles Sparks, each at 3-1. The Connecticut Sun and Atlanta Dream are next, both at 7-1.

A reunion of teams from Las Vegas and D.C. vying for a professional league title might hype some headlines after the Washington Capitals defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, which was swept in its first trip to the WNBA Finals by Seattle last September, returns with a vengeance and has five core players from last season back: Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver, Ariel Atkins, LaToya Sanders and Natasha Cloud.

The Sparks have a different sort of revenge brewing, as they fell off their perch last season, finished as the sixth seed, won just one playoff game against Minnesota and had their season brought to an abrupt halt in a blowout loss to Washington. Derek Fisher is now the coach and the additions of All-Star center Chiney Ogwumike and first-round draft pick Kalani Brown, also a center, the Sparks will be tough under the basket.

“I think it’s a very competitive league,” Kornegay said. “You have the best players in the world here. You don’t have a distinct favorite, where (in the NBA) almost 9 out of 10 people probably, before the season started would have told you the Warriors were gonna win.

“The WNBA is more open and very competitive and to a certain level there’s a lot of parity in this league.”

Sherman said game lines are posted the day before, with the opening numbers dictated by the market. The Aces open their season Sunday against Los Angeles at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

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About the Author

W.G. Ramirez

W.G. Ramirez is a 32-year veteran covering sports in Southern Nevada, and resident of 46 years. He is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press.

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