Mixed signals on World Baseball Classic

Mar 7, 2009 4:30 PM

Today is the first full day for wagering on the World Baseball Classic, whose popularity varies around town.

"We’ve had the WBC up for months," said David Snock, race and sports manager at Planet Hollywood. "The betting has been pretty good considering some of the games were early in the morning. We’ve had the MLB Network up all the time showing the games and many of our customers were watching the replays."

Snock said he expected very good betting action for today’s opening game for the United States against Canada, slated for 11 a.m. in Toronto. "We have a lot of Canadians in the hotel and they were inquiring about the game," he said. "Interestingly we have not had one single wager on the USA and they are the 2-1 favorites. That’s like it was for the World Cup soccer when nobody wanted to bet Brazil."

The WBC features four pools of four teams each playing in four different locations – Japan, Mexico City, Toronto and San Juan. The top two teams from each pool advance with the finals slated for March 23 at Dodger Stadium. The Dominican Republic had been the favorite but dropped to second choice at 5-2 following the injury to NY Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

MGM MIRAGE properties was taking a more laidback approach to the WBC with just the televised games receiving the most attention.

"We put up the Korea-Chinese Taipei game (won by Korea 9-0), but there wasn’t a lot of action," said Jay Rood, director of race and sports operations for MGM MIRAGE properties. "I don’t think too many people are interested, but then we’re not putting much up on spring training either."

Rood did say that as the WBC gets down to the top teams he would be booking the matchups. "I don’t think bettors are used to laying -400 and -500 on every game," he said. "They’re not eager to get in that water. The second round games should be more competitive and then we’ll have something worth betting."

The USA-Canada matchup has the Americans as a prohibitive -500 favorite in what should be the most watched of Saturday’s slate. The USA and Canada are in Pool C along with Italy and Venezuela. The only group of four not in action today is Pool B, which begins play Sunday in Mexico City. Those nations include South Africa, Cuba, Australia and Mexico.

The only games played thus far were in Pool A where Japan beat China 4-0 and Korea blanked Chinese Taipei. Here are the current odds at Planet Hollywood for the 16-team tourney. Japan won the inaugural event in 2006.

USA 2-1

Dominican Republic 5-2

Japan 3-1

Cuba 5-1

Korea 15-1

Venezuela 15-1

Mexico 20-1

Puerto Rico 25-1

Canada 30-1

Chinese Taipei 50-1

Panama 65-1

Netherlands 125-1

Australia 150-1

China 200-1

Italy 250-1

South Africa 300-1

Pool A: China, Japan, Korea, Taipei

Pool B: South Africa, Australia, Cuba, Mexico

Pool C: Canada, USA, Italy, Venezuela

Pool D: Netherlands, Dominican Rep., Panama, Puerto Rico