LeBron James and Tiger Woods should hike wagering

Jun 12, 2012 3:00 AM

The sports books got the best possible matchup in the NBA Finals from a public appeal stand point which translates into the best possible revenue generator. The public is in the corners of both the Heat and Thunder for different reasons.

Regular bettors and casual fans all know who Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are, but everyone else across the land got their first chance to really watch all three clicking at the same time erasing insurmountable leads against San Antonio.

The Heat have a captive audience who just want to see what they’ll do next. The three highest cable ratings in NBA history came during the seven game series that just concluded with the Celtics.

Sure, Boston has their large supporting audience to help spur the ratings, but let’s be real, Kevin Garnett doesn’t generate that type of national audience. This is all about LeBron James and America wants to see if he can finally get over the hump and get a title or watch the train wreck ensue if he fails.

You can say whatever you want about some of the bad decisions LeBron made in his transition from Cleveland to Miami, but there aren’t many sports fans that didn’t admire how he stepped up to the plate with his legacy on the line.

The first two Game 1 spreads in Las Vegas came up simultaneously Saturday night following the Heat win with vastly different numbers. Wynn Resort opened the Thunder as 3 ½-point home favorite while MGM Resorts opened the game minus-4 ½. Those numbers quickly evaporated with both books – and most everyone else – settling on the Thunder at a market price of -5 by Sunday.

Coast Resorts opened the series price early Sunday morning with the Thunder being -150 to win the Championship and it quickly rose to -165 by the time the book closed.

We’ve seen a Jekyll and Hyde performance out of the Heat during the entire playoffs, but I think they found themselves in the final two games against Boston. It was the first playoff games with Miami where James was assertive and took control of the team without deferring to Dwyane Wade. This is LeBron’s team finally, with Wade now gladly deferring. Now that the little back-story of whose team this is has been settled, it’s time to finish it off.

My first instinct says this series should go at least six games, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it end in five with the Heat winning the championship at home. The Heat winning would be good news for the sports books because most of them win the most in futures with Miami. 

The books would prefer to have a seven game series to get maximum action that a series of this magnitude will create.

U.S. Open

With Tiger Woods fresh off his victory at the Memorial, coupled with our desire to see him do well, it’s not hard to tell who the public is betting to win this week’s national championship at the Olympic Country Club in San Francisco.

Just before the Memorial, Woods was listed as tied for the second choice to win at 15-1 at LVH Super Book, just behind Rory McIlroy, who was posted at 10-1.

After getting his second win of the season, Woods’ odds dropped all the way down to 6-1 where it currently sits now. Other golfers that have been seeing action include Lee Westwood and Luke Donald at 12-1, Rickie Fowler and Jason Dufner at 25-1 and last week’s St. Jude winner, Dustin Johnson, at 25-1.

Most sports books will have adjusted odds to win and matchups after each round throughout the tournament. Should the tournament not be a runaway, the LVH will offer in-progress wagering while the match is going on during the final round.

Euro Cup Action Light

After talking with a few different sports books, I’m being told the first three days of action on the Euro Cup was lighter than expected. Part of the reason has been that there have been only two outstanding matchups out of the six played through Sunday. The other part is that there was so much going on that the casual bettors’ spotlight hasn’t found soccer yet.

Friday’s opening games didn’t offer anything outstanding and then on Saturday and Sunday there were day baseball games taking priority. The big betting push will come this week when soccer is the only thing going on from 9 am to 2 pm (PT) which is where the bettors will get hooked and then continue to follow and wager throughout the tournament.

Between the World Cup and Euro Cup, every two years in June the sports books have been able to rely on continued revenue growth in a sport that some say Americans don’t like.

Belmont Handle Up

The good news is that most race books reported an increase in handle of about 10% over last year. The bad news is that it could have been much higher had Triple Crown candidate ‘I’ll Have Another’ not been scratched the day before the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes.

“I went back and took a long look at our Belmont Stakes betting history and it showed an increase of 20 to 30% in years when a horse was running for the Triple Crown compared to the previous year when there wasn’t,” said Wynn Resort race and sports book director John Avello.

When news struck that the horse would be scratched, a somber mood hovered over every race book and Avello was right in the thick of it all with them.

“I just had this sinking feeling,” said Avello. “We had a horse coming in with a legitimate chance to win the Triple Crown for the first time since 1978, that I think everyone wanted to witness, and then the announcement came and it just kind of took the air out of us all.”

Bradley Decision OK

Most Las Vegas sports books broke even for the fight because of the large Pacquiao following that evened out of the risk on the Bradley. In most title bouts, the underdog always gets most of the action because the general public loves to bet a little to win a lot. Bradley cashed in at 7-2 odds with most of those bettors believing the scoring was done just right, at least for their wallet.

“We were pretty well balanced on the fight,” said MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood. “We had a lot more tickets written on Bradley, but our day rested entirely with the fight going the distance. We needed a decision by anyone.”

One of the shops that fared well on the Bradley decision was the Golden Nugget and director Tony Miller said he had all kinds of disgruntled bettors loudly voicing their opinions about the scoring.

“We got a lot of Pacquiao money early at -400 and then up to -425, so we didn’t have a lot of the other liability on the dog that some of the other places might have had,” said Miller referring to the price he offered that was well below the market. “When the fight was over, some of the bettors were extremely angry, yelling ‘fix’ and wondering how Pacquiao could’ve lost when he dominated the fight.“