LAS VEGAS – Nevada’s race & sports books lost a record $11.45 million on baseball in November, according to figures released by the state’s Gaming Control Board early Thursday morning.
That still didn’t keep the books from making an overall profit for the 52nd straight month as they profited $9.82 million on sports, plus another $4.25 million on the race side in a month that included the Nov. 3-4 Breeders’ Cup. The sports figures were bolstered by a $10.89 million win on football despite favorites dominating in NFL wagering (note: the state doesn’t split up college and pro football figures), with another $6.69 million in profits from basketball, $2.81 million from parlay cards and $1.5 million in the “other” category, which includes hockey.
The baseball loss is shown more in the fact that the $9.82 million sports win in November was down 48.79% from November 2016 and the overall hold percentage on sports bets was a mere 1.86%.
But while the headline news is about the huge baseball loss in November, it’s a little misleading. There was only one MLB game during the month, Game 7 of the World Series when the Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 on Nov. 1 to claim their first world championship.
Nevada books obviously didn’t lose $11 million on that one game, right? So what accounts for the massive loss?
Well, for one thing, the Astros were popular future-book plays and those winners were paid out the night of Nov. 1 at the earliest.
But do you remember the wild week of betting that preceding Game 7? It was already a pretty popular World Series betting matchup, but then there were the stories of the mysterious “Bettor X” going around to Vegas books and winning a string of six-figure bets no matter what odds he was laying. And then there were the big hedge bets from Houston furniture store owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, who had a promotion in which he would refund the purchase price of your mattress if the Astros won the World Series, and ticket brokers hedging against the fear they would have worthless Game 7 tickets if the series didn’t go the distance.
All those winning hedges on the earlier World Series games, along with all the winning bets from regular customers that weren’t cashed by midnight on Halloween, were paid out in November with the losing wagers recording by the books as profits in October.
(Note: in a stat I haven’t seen anywhere else, Nevada’s sports books won a whopping $6.28 million on baseball in October, 38.48% better than October 2016).