The Vegas Golden Knights have stunned the sports world in their first season of existence, earning a berth in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. They advanced on Sunday with a 4-1 series win over the Winnipeg Jets. Vegas will face the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals.
This is arguably the most unlikely team achievement in North American sports history, and if it concludes with Lord Stanley’s cup, it will also cost sportsbooks big time.
A year ago, the Golden Knights entered their inaugural season with long odds to win it all. Most sportsbooks had them in triple digit odds, with 500/1 the longest of the odds. They have since come down, and the Golden Knights would be favored over the Capitals, but a year ago, quite a few people decided it was worth placing a long-shot bet on the expansion franchise.
Following the Golden Knights win over Winnipeg, MGM sportsbook manager Jay Rood said this is probably the biggest liability of any team or sport in his 10 years at the casino. ESPN’s Doug Kezirian posted the single biggest liability faced by a handful of Las Vegas sportsbooks.
Single biggest @GoldenKNnights ticket liability for handful of #Vegas sportsbooks:@Westgate : $400 at 300:1....$120K@CGTechnology_ : $500 at 200:1....$100K@SouthPointLV : $400 at 150:1....$60K@GoldenNuggetLV : $250 at 200:1....$50K@WilliamHillUS : $1,000 at 50:1....$50K— Doug Kezirian (@DougESPN) May 20, 2018
This situation was the result of an unlikely confluence of events. Prior to last Monday’s Supreme Court ruling, betting on team futures was limited to Nevada and online sportsbooks. In 2016, the NHL announced Las Vegas would receive an expansion team dropping the puck for the first time in the 2017-2018 season. The Golden Knights are the first major sports team for the growing city.
Any futures bought last year were viewed primarily as souvenirs from the team’s inaugural season. Much like someone will buy a T-shirt or a cup or any sort of first-year souvenir, in Las Vegas, local fans will place a wager on their new hometown team. Few, if any, expected to cash it in, and it would be something fun to include in a memorabilia collection.
Instead, they are turning into huge winners. The wagers Kezirian reported are the biggest liabilities, but they are far from the only five- and six-figure liabilities. Here are just a few of the wagers placed on the Golden Knights over the past year.
$200 at 200/1 here on superbook app - not so bad after having $1k on eagles at 40/1 pic.twitter.com/qo6DRhrSv2— Russ Axelrod (@RussAxelrod) May 20, 2018