Betting the Cubs to reach the World Series is nothing new, in fact it’s been going on in Las Vegas for some three decades. Only this time, the house wasn’t laughing.
"It’s like looking at the cup and seeing it as either half full or empty," said Larry Weiss, race and sports director at Santa Fe Station. "The Cubs not being in the Series definitely helped the book, but not having a Cubs-Yankees matchup hurts. We can’t have it both ways."
The general consensus around Vegas books was relief that the Cubs are not playing this week for the world championship. If the schedule went as planned. Florida’s pitching sensation Josh Beckett figured to start Game 3 for the Marlins tonight (Tuesday) at Pro Player Stadium in the best 4-of-7.
"The Cubs were a big minus for us if they won the pennant," said Johnny Spot, race and sports manager at Barbary Coast. "Cubs fans have been betting them for more than 25 years out here, usually starting as 100-1 future wagers. It would have put us at great risk had they won."
How great? Possibly as high as three quarters of a million dollars.
"The Cubs would have killed us," Spot said. "We’re happy to have a heavyweight like the Yankees in it."
Chuck Esposito, race and sports director at Caesars Palace, sees the Marlins-Yankees matchup as a classic, "David vs. Goliath."
"It has been a long time since baseball has created the excitement we’ve had here at Caesars," Esposito said. "Both the NL and AL championship series created an atmosphere equal to the Super Bowl with standing room only crowds in the book each game. If the excitement continues on to the World Series, it will be incredible."
Of course, one man’s glee could be another’s sorrow.
"It stinks," Las Vegas Club race and sports manager Larry Richards bluntly said. "Our book lost money on the futures with the Marlins, and the Yanks also cost us a little. We needed the Red Sox. They could have made us 5G for the pennant and 10G for winning the Series."
John Avello, race and sports director at Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas, also dislikes the Yankees-Marlins matchup for business reasons.
"The Red Sox or Yanks against the Cubs would have been one of the most heavily wagered baseball games ever in Las Vegas," Avello said. "The Cubs were key. Without them, the Series loses its betting luster."
Still, with the Yankees involved, the World Series has carries historical value.
"I’m going to complain about the matchup," said Jay Kornegay, race and sports director at Imperial Palace. "I think the Series will receive a lot of action. I think I could drive 2,000 miles to find a Marlins fan, but our book save a lot money when the Cubs were eliminated."
The experienced Yankees opened as substantial favorites to win their 28th World Championship, booked as high as -300 at Imperial Palace. The Marlins, however, have youth, tenacity and the fact they’ve never lost a postseason series.
"The Marlins believe they can win," Esposito said. "It’s tough to go against the Yankees, but this is an intriguing matchup. I think we’re in good shape either way."