Vegas sportsbooks handle $50-80M
May 05, 2015 3:00 AM
by Micah Roberts
Las Vegas continually seems to top itself with one fantastic show after another, but Saturday’s show will be a benchmark that seems improbable to duplicate.
There was something for everyone, beginning with the Kentucky Derby and NHL Playoffs, and then Chris Paul’s game winning shot advancing the Clippers past the Spurs into the second-round of the NBA playoffs. In baseball, the Yankees were beating the Red Sox for the second straight day of what would eventually be a sweep and the Astros would win their ninth straight game.
That alone would have been an epic day for any sports fan visiting Las Vegas, but those were mere appetizers to the main course with the Fight of the Century between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao the entire world had been waiting for. This wasn’t just a sports event, it was a cultural happening, and Las Vegas, as always, was up for the challenge and produced a better event than the fighters themselves.
The sportsbooks were slammed and for the thousands who didn’t get to watch the fight, they followed ESPN boxing columnist Dan Rafael’s scorecard on ESPN’s ticker shown on the big screens. When the day finally ended, the books had raked in the cash, but that’s only a small fraction of the revenues generated on table games, restaurants and clubs that served as a playground for the world’s celebrities, as well as all the people who came to town without any tickets to the fight just to be around the sensational hype.
Mayweather’s unanimous decision proved to be a winner for most Las Vegas sportsbooks, despite a flurry of late action on the undefeated boxer on Saturday that pushed his odds from -190 to -250 at several betting venues.
“This was a fight that should have probably been -350 to begin with,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay. “It was a good, solid win for us – like a big NFL game. We found ourselves in kind of a no-lose situation.”
About half the money bet in the state of Nevada was handled at MGM’s 10 sports books along the Strip. While the MGM’s chain of books fell just short of its expected handle, it still wrote more action than any other fight.
“We had strong handle, but not the type I could see us getting over $60 million statewide,” said MGM Resorts VP of race and sports Jay Rood, who closed the fight with Mayweather as a -240 favorite after beginning at -200 on Saturday. Estimates for state-wide handle ranged from $50 million to $80 million.
The net result for the MGM books was a win of over $1 million. Despite several inquiries, MGM books didn’t take a single $1 million wager.
Off the Strip, many books didn’t get the type of late Mayweather money like MGM properties did, and it was to their benefit.
“It was a good day,” said Aliante sportsbook director Marc Nelson. “We closed at -200 and did well on all the props. After rounds six through eight, it looked like a draw, but Mayweather took control.”
Race and Sports Book Award
There aren’t any awards given to the books for their hard work and efforts (should be), but they do deserve a little credit, especially on Saturday where directors, supervisors and ticket writers worked overtime with few breaks writing and cashing tickets non-stop. But while most books got to take a deep breath after the Kentucky Derby ended and the Clippers game started at 5 p.m., the MGM Grand sportsbook was still pumping out fight tickets non-stop, not only in their book but also at a satellite station inside the Grand Garden Arena. Book director Lamar Mitchell and his crew make what should be a frantic situation look easy. They’ve had lots of practice with so many big fights at this time of year. The Derby is a beast of its own, but to add the fight on property as well? Man, that is some serious pressure, but once again they aced the test. Well done MGM crew!
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at MicahRoberts@GamingToday.com.