Knights have taken over Las Vegas
April 17, 2018 3:11 AM
by Micah Roberts
We’ve all got Vegas Golden Knights fever and it’s one of the most impressive things I’ve seen with a united Las Vegas since 1980, the year I arrived as a kid in what was a small town.
Now, with over two million people calling this grand valley in the desert home, it’s the first time we’ve all been united as one without a tragedy forcing us together. Even Lady Liberty on the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd. is wearing a 600 pound Knights sweater.
Sure, we had UNLV win the NCAA Basketball Tournament in 1990 and that was an amazing time with car horns honking in streets across the city, but it wasn’t for everyone who lived here. People had their own schools or didn’t feel part of the community yet, and even some had a morality grudge against Coach Jerry Tarkanian.
With the Knights, every transient in the city can call the Golden Knights their team in this, the inaugural season. It’s incredible what has transformed in the community, and then to see this team battle so hard, win the Pacific Division, and take the first three games of the playoffs by one goal each against the Los Angeles Kings. Wow, really… a sweep? This is like a dream.
And of course, one of the pastimes people from Las Vegas enjoy is going to the sportsbooks to bet on their favorite teams. With the Knights’ success I would think the books would be getting hammered, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case.
“We’ve had huge handles, but not big decisions as the action has been two-way on the game,” said Station Casino sportsbook director Jason McCormick. “Puck-line action was lopsided on the Knights.”
Station books get a ton of action from the locals going to the game or just supporting the home team while watching with new friends in one of the plush books or bars – Red Rock is having Knights viewing parties in their lounges – and local love getting max return on any kind of wager. So laying -1.5 goals to get better than 2-to-1 odds back in the first two home games were attractive wagers over the counter and on the phones.
That’s where the house tempts us and wins, using our own greed against us – bet a little to win a lot is a popular mantra. On Wednesday the Golden Knights won 1-0 and on Friday they won 2-1 in triple-overtime. Those house puck line results certainly balance out the losses of those laying -150 and -165 with Vegas to win, and even the side-to-total parlay cashing with the Under each game.
“It hasn’t been too bad just because we always get money from the wise guys to balance things out,” said MGM Resorts sportsbook hub manager Jeff Stoneback.
That’s been the case at most of the Strip properties with sharps jumping on any kind of value offered when the public runs a number up.
“Our (decisions were) not huge, but we lost both games,” said CG Technology VP of risk management Jason Simbal, who acknowledged sharps taking the Kings have eased the risk, but they have another strategy working early on for the house.
“We took a series price bets on the Kings to win $50K after Game 1, so losing a little to the Golden Knights each game is okay,” he said.
How are the Golden Knights futures looking?
“Futures?” asked Stoneback, as if he’s been answering the same question often. “They’re looking really bad. If they (Knights) win it all, it’ll be the biggest futures loss in any sport since I’ve been here.”
MGM books surround the T-Mobile Arena at every angle and they offered the Golden Knights at 300-to-1 odds before the season. They’re 7-2 now. Some books around town initially offered them at 500-1.
The futures risk angle is going to make some book directors a bit queasy if this Golden Knights dream season continues chopping through each series. While all of them are rooting for the Knights, at some point they’ll have their loyalties questioned within themselves when staring at a seven-figure risk in a typically dead month of June.