It’s a bizarre baseball season, highlighted by a record-setting pace of home runs. One red-hot team seems to win every day, but good luck seeing the Los Angeles Dodgers on your TV screen.
For the betting public, a winning game plan is not as simplistic as playing the Dodgers and banking on high-scoring games across the board. It has been a good summer to be a bookmaker.
“I can say the baseball results have been very positive,” Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay said. “There are no complaints about baseball.”
Numbers announced by the Nevada Gaming Control Board prove it. The state’s books won $31.7 million on baseball in the first three months of this season, beginning with holds of $10.2 million in April and $6.6 million in May. In June, the state set all-time records for win ($14.9 million) and handle ($207.1 million).
The wagering handle is up, and so are the win amounts for Las Vegas bookmakers, who are coming out ahead on most head-to-head battles with sharp bettors, not just the general public.
For sharp players, there has been no value in betting against the Dodgers at inflated prices. The Dodgers are 71-31, including 62-20 since April 25.
The South Point sports book closed Los Angeles as a minus-435 favorite in Clayton Kershaw’s most recent start on July 23. Kershaw left with a back injury after two innings, but the Dodgers won 5-4 to improve to 19-2 in his starts this season.
Washington ace Max Scherzer went off as a minus-300 favorite on Thursday. The Nationals hit eight home runs, two by Bryce Harper, to embarrass the Milwaukee Brewers 15-2.
“You’re seeing larger lines on some of these pitchers than you’ve ever seen,” Kornegay said. “Sophisticated players are not going to lay those big moneyline prices. You don’t have a lot of square play in baseball, and the majority of play is from sophisticated players. A lot of the underdogs are not coming through.”
The Chicago Cubs were bankroll burners for the public while stumbling into the All-Star break with a 43-45 record. But the Cubs are 11-2 since the break to overtake the Brewers in the National League Central.
“The Cubs certainly helped us out in the first half,” Kornegay said, “but now they are starting to get on a roll.”
The same is true with the Cleveland Indians, last year’s World Series losers and flops in the first half of this season. The Indians are suddenly hot, winners of seven straight games.
In most years, Las Vegas bookmakers would complain about grinding out low hold percentages on baseball. This season, due to a combination of factors that are not easy to pinpoint, the complaints are coming from the bettors.
Still, it’s not exactly a mystery why June produced a record win in the state — the correlation was a record handle. Bettors are playing more and losing more. But all trends turn, and individual results will vary, so there’s always hope for the players.
“It’s not like we would lose in baseball, but we keep a low hold percentage,” Kornegay said. “With teams like the Dodgers and the record-setting home run pace, it might seem like that would make it easier for the players, but we’re not seeing that.”
Nevada books took big NBA playoff losses in May: https://www.vsin.com/nevada-books-took-historic-nba-playoff-losses-in-may/
Super Bowl handle is another state record: https://www.vsin.com/super-bowl-handle-of-1385-million-is-another-nevada-record/