2013 Golf Masters bets up at the Las Vegas sports books

Apr 16, 2013 3:03 AM

I’ve never been a big fan of watching golf. Maybe the fact I was a pretty decent golfer at age 14, but then never improved during the next decade of trying, finally giving up the game, has something to do with that.

Many of my friends couldn’t disagree more. (One of my long-time buddies works 10-hour shifts in a milk factory, starting the day at 4 a.m. Bliss for him is watching a qualifying round on the Golf Channel after the kids are asleep.)

Betting interest for the 2013 Masters was the strongest in quite a while. An obvious explanation is Tiger Woods. Even golf’s biggest fans would have difficulty denying something was missing when Tiger wasn’t in the mix. When Woods is front and center, we get both TMZ-level drama plus a hint of nostalgia for the energy emanating from his dominance.

The best price I saw available on Tiger this week was +350. The second favorite, Rory McIlroy, was available at +1200. Tiger was a big story – which meant bigger interest in the 2013 Masters.

Interest in a sporting event leads to betting. For example, there’s more interest in the Super Bowl than a regular season matchup between the Lions and the Rams – and thus there’s more betting action.

I’m often asked on the radio how much betting events like the NCAA Women’s Tournament or Arena football games generate. My simple answer is always the same: tell me how much interest the event generates, and you have a pretty good idea of the betting handle.

Dive one level deeper, though, and it’s not as simple. Take the Super Bowl example, and consider how much extra handle is generated from all the prop bets. Some sports books report over 50% of their action stemming from these alternative bet types!

Jeff Sherman at the LVH does a world-class job with golf props. Applying effort and creativity, his golf props gives both the sophisticated bettor, and the newbie, additional appealing betting options. Alternative bets is something the offshore industry has excelled at over the years, to their great benefit.

Considering the offerings from Vegas and offshore, Masters’ props such as Would Tiger Woods make a hole-in-one (80/1); the age of the winner (over/under 34.5), and the lowest round from any golfer (65), increased the betting interest on the tournament.

Creativity pays off for the bookmaker. Hopefully the obviousness of this fact will motivate more Nevada shops to make the effort. BetFair, an Internet betting exchange, reported handling over $50 million on the 2013 Masters alone. That’s one outlet on one golf tournament generating more than half of this year’s Super Bowl handle for the entire state of Nevada.

Vegas, take notice.

RJ Bell is the founder of Pregame.com - and co-host of FIRST PREVIEW, heard Sunday through Friday night at 11 p.m. on ESPN 1100/98.9 FM. Follow on twitter: @RJinVegas. NFL Vegas Rankings updated every Tuesday at Pregame.com. Contact RJ at [email protected]

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