Art Manteris, who has more than 35 years of experience in the sports-betting industry, claims that he was “sweating it” this spring when the Las Vegas Golden Knights made their charge in the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Golden Knights entered the 2017/18 season as the stone-cold last favorites to win the Stanley Cup — that would have made their odds between +5000–+10000 with most sportsbooks.
The problem for Manteris specifically had to do with his Vegas base.
Sports fans bet disproportionately on teams based near them. That meant a Vegas bookie would have taken in a lot of bets on the Golden Knights during the preseason and early season.
But the Golden Knights did have a good goaltender in Marc-Andre Fleury and the Golden Knights had a good coach in Gerard Gallant.
Fleury was a part of three Cup-winning teams in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Gallant surprised everyone with a divisional title as head coach of the Florida Panthers in 2015/16.
What transpired: the Golden Knights were much better than the early-season odds suggested. Those long odds that partisan Vegas residents took in during the preseason came really close to hitting. The result for a bookie based in Vegas could have been severe.
Manteris said he “was sweating it” as the NHL playoffs played out, fearing that he was in for his largest loss ever.
Luckily for Manteris, Vegas was vanquished in six games over the NHL Finals by the Washington Capitals.
Of course, there is a flip side to every situation in sports Ante Post. Where a huge underdog surprises in a good way, there are preseason favorites that underachieve.
The top-two favorites for the NHL’s Stanley Cup in the preseason were the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Edmonton Oilers. The Penguins fell in the 2nd round of the playoffs while the Edmonton Oilers had a fiasco of a season.
Sportsbooks that took in a disproportionate number of bets from residents of Pittsburgh and Edmonton surely weren’t sweating it during the Stanley Cup Finals.
But it appears that the blind-faith contingent of fans that back an underdog that ends up having more bite than expected can strike fear into local bookies. Those long odds have to be paid out when they win.
Sports betting has been part of Vegas culture for decades. But as the industry goes mainstream in the USA, this is one challenge that American bookies will have to face.
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