Expect record handle for Mayweather, McGregor
August 22, 2017 3:12 AM
by Micah Roberts
Let the festivities begin! It’s fight week in Las Vegas and according to early betting patterns, Saturday’s bout between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor could be the most bet fight in Las Vegas history. It’s the undefeated boxer in a match using boxing rules against the most popular UFC fighter on the planet.
“I’m not calling this a fight or a bout, I’m calling it an event, because that’s what it is,” said Wynn sportsbook director John Avello. “Or at least the jury is still out on what we’ll eventually call it after it happens.”
The event has created a buzz and a great money making operation for all involved, including the MGM Resorts properties, which have 10 sportsbooks lined along the Strip. The big story the sportsbooks are dealing with is how much risk they’re willing to take, how low the price will eventually go and if the action ever balances out. William Hill, with 108 betting outlets, has seen 95 percent of all their tickets on McGregor and they’ve dropped down to -500/+400.
Jason Simbal, the VP of risk management for CG Technology, said he expects to write four times as much action over the next week than what he’s booked since opening June 15 with Mayweather -950 and McGregor +650. Over the weekend, he began flirting with one of the shortest prices in town.
“Since dropping to -490, with a +390 take-back on McGregor, we’ve had good two-way action, which is a big change from what we had the last two months of betting where ticket counts were dominated by McGregor wagers,” said Simbal, who moved back to -500 on Sunday afternoon. “The average wager on McGregor is $131. The average wager on Mayweather is $5,100.”
The big question Simbal is going to have to come to terms with himself, his staff and his corporate bosses is how much risk they’re willing to incur. Is it $250,000, $500,000 or $1 million?
“We’ve already accepted that we’re willing to take a position by needing Mayweather to win, but how much that final number could be also depends on what happens with props. If McGregor wins, it’s likely to be by knockout, which pays 5-to-1 and is already a big risk for us; and they’re betting if that happens that it will be in the specific rounds of round 1, 2 or 3. And those knockout rounds are large negatives,” Simbal said.
The seven CG Technology sportsbooks across Las Vegas took $3 million in action last year during the final week before Mayweather/Pacquiao.
“You know what, I think we might write more for this one,” Simbal said in a surprised tone.
Avello’s newly refurbished books have also been taking big action already.
“We’ve taken 3 three-quarter million dollar bets,” Avello said on Saturday. “All on them on Mayweather, so that’s given us an opportunity to be a winner with any outcome. I’m on a win-win now, but I don’t expect it to be that way by fight night.”
Avello had the lowest price in town last week with Mayweather -450 and -475 before getting enough action to get back to -500 on Saturday night
“We got knocked down that low and immediately got some Mayweather money,” Avello said of his move up to -475. “The reason we were at -450 was because a bettor I respect a lot took +425 on McGregor for a small wager, only $10,000. I was asking myself why this guy would be betting that side, but he’s very sharp so the amount he wagered didn’t matter. I just respected the opinion.”
Tony Miller’s sportsbook at the Golden Nugget posted -450 as well last Friday. Within four minutes they found takers, got the big wager they wanted and went back to -500.
Every decision has consequences, that’s why keeping the boss in the loop of what’s always happening during the week with millions at stake is a wise decision.
Seeing Mayweather’s tweets that he’s hanging out at a Las Vegas strip club all weekend might make a few bettors think again whether they’re on the right side, but it’s all a Mayweather ploy. The only thing that means anything to him is his 49-0 record and he doesn’t ever jeopardize that by not being prepared.
Taking Mayweather at -400 seems like the deal of the century considering the Westgate SuperBook opened Mayweather -2,500 weeks before the bout was officially announced. Will we ever see -400?
“If anyone is looking to lay -400 with Mayweather at some point, they’ll find it,” Avello said.
Some have suggested they could see McGregor get DQ’d after being frustrated chasing the quicker, more elusive Mayweather. Maybe not a Tyson ear-bite, but a kick, take down or low blow could be candidates as how McGregor DQ’s himself. Bettors don’t care and are coming strong in record numbers to the windows.
“I’m not in the eight figures just yet,” Avello remarked about his fight handle so far, although his tone suggested he’s close. “No, we’re still in the seven figures.”
Sportsbooks have never lost with Mayweather. They go into all his fights needing him because the general public doesn’t want to lay his normal -700 prices and would rather take the dog instead. He’s a cash making machine for the Las Vegas books like no other fighter.
If McGregor actually does win, it will be the sportsbooks’ biggest single loss in Las Vegas boxing history. The approved 8-ounce gloves would appear to be an edge for McGregor and the line movement reflects it.
“With the decision on the 8-ounce gloves, we moved our price on Mayweather from -600 to -550,” said William Hill’s head bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich who is now at -500. “We are hoping that McGregor’s two-round knockout prediction with the smaller gloves doesn’t ring true. As of today, it would be our worst sports result ever.”
Enjoy the fight and the city, folks.