Tampa Bay futures put bookies at risk

Oct 14, 2008 5:10 PM
by Kevin Stott |

Don’t think that the sports books don’t feel some of the same exact pains that sports gamblers do – at a much larger level.

Faced with a large number of futures bets on the Tampa Bay Rays to win the World Series, sports books from Henderson to Summerlin are now finding themselves pulling heavily against the upstart Rays.

Making its first-ever postseason appearance in the ALDS last week, TB defeated the White Sox to move on to the ALCS where they are now playing the World Champion Boston Red Sox in the best-of-7 series.

One of the major players in Las Vegas, Boyd Gaming, which operates Sam’s Town, Suncoast, Gold Coast, The Orleans, California, Fremont and Main Street Station, is one major operator with a sizable amount of liability according to Race and Sports Book Manager Bob Scucci.

"We took a lot of early money back in January on the Rays at 300-1 so obviously it doesn’t take a whole lot of money to get the liability up at 300-1 – every $1,000 bet is $300,000 (liability)," Scucci revealed.

And to hedge into this massive possibility, which every day seems like it could be more of a reality, Scucci and his staff decided to post a prop bet halfway through the MLB season to entice some anti-Tampa Bay money.

"It was midway through the season and it was right after they won two of three against Boston and we said ‘This team looks like they are for real,’ so we did try and hedge a little off on that exposure so we hung a prop ‘Will they (Rays) or won’t they win the World Series?’ Scucci said.

"And we made the ‘No’ at -700 and the ‘Yes’ at 5-1 so we took quite a bit of money on the ‘No’ that they won’t win it which allowed us to hedge our position a little bit – enough to make it palatable," Scucci said laughing.

The main sports man at Boyd said he also adjusted his ALDS, ALCS and individual Rays games prices a bit to hedge the possible scenario that Tampa could win the World Series.

"I wanted to be in a position where I could let someone lay $7,000 to win $1,000 or $70,000 to win $10,000 to get some of that hedge money back," he admitted.

Despite the fact he’s generated some "anti-Rays" money to try and prevent a big imbalance in his books, Scucci, and probably most sports book directors in town, are pulling against The Little Engine That Could of MLB.

A similar "situation" occurred back in 1991 when the Minnesota Twins – who finished in last place in 1990 – had their World Series odds set at 100-1 while the Atlanta Braves were set even higher at 250-1. Both teams were bet heavily by the public and both made the World Series.

Sports books in Las Vegas faced a heavy liability then with a $10 bet on Atlanta possibly yielding $2,500 while a $10 bet on Minnesota would have had a possible payback of $1,000. Although it was ugly for the books, they escaped a major disaster as the Twins won it all, thus avoiding a massive Braves payout. The following year, no MLB futures odds were set higher than 100-1.