By Charles Jay
You knew it was going to happen sooner or later, only because the nature of sports betting is such that the smart people – who are out there, rest assured – are not going to sit it out when there’s a bargain in front of them.
All throughout the buildup leading into Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight, the UFC champion was getting the vast majority of bets and the vast majority of money; according to one source who spoke to ABC News, 95 percent of the tickets and 85 percent of the money went the Irishman’s way in the last few weeks, after the initial press conferences. And then there was the illusion that smaller gloves would help McGregor, which had the effect of bringing the odds down even further than they would have been otherwise. Well now, like a group of Wall Street sharks salivating at the opportunity to short a stock, some high rollers have entered the fray, at a point where, frankly, the odds quite possibly were not going to get a whole lot better.
In the last 36 hours or so, two massive wagers have been placed on Mayweather – one of them was for $1 million at the MGM Grand, and the other at William Hill was for $1.2 million, at prices of -550 and -500, respectively. Naturally, there was a reaction in the Las Vegas sportsbooks, which have brought those odds up to the point where Mayweather is -650 at many places, with a takeback of +475 or thereabouts on McGregor (prices may vary according to which sportsbook one visits). There have been some other six-figure bets placed in Vegas, and we are not sure if Mayweather or his “associates” have been heard from yet, although it would not be altogether surprising if he has been responsible for some of these sizable wagers, using this process almost like a “pump and dump” scheme manipulating a penny stock.
About a week ago, the Maloof brothers, Gavin and Joe, who used to own the Sacramento Kings of the NBA as well as the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, and are now minority owners of the brand-new Vegas Golden Knights, an NHL expansion team, announced that they had wagered $880,000 on Mayweather, which the proceeds from any winnings going to charity. They probably got a price in the neighborhood of -500 on Floyd.
Just because the Nevada sportsbooks reacted, that doesn’t mean everybody did. In the overseas market, you can still get a price of -450 at many of the online sportsbooks as of Friday night. The number coming back on McGregor is anywhere between +300 and +350. A prominent Irish sportsbook, which obviously services a number of McGregor fans, the price on Mayweather was raised from -400 to -450. The lowest number we’ve seen is -425 on Floyd. That’s in the UK, and we have seen another number out there at -600. So there is some variety.
For most of the U.S.-facing online books, it’s a slightly different story. One of them has the price all the way up at -675 on Mayweather (+425 on McGregor), and that represents a move from -600/+400, which it was just a few days ago. Another sportsbook has it Mayweather -625, McGregor +435, and that is interesting, because it offers an opportunity – for whatever small amount of money it may represents, to execute a “scalp” or “middle,” laying a lower price with Mayweather at one book (-425) and getting that +435 price, which would enable you to bet both sides and come out a guaranteed winner.
At one of the online sportsbooks that is willing to accept “sharp” money, is posting a price of -601 on Floyd (+426 on Conor), and they have certainly reacted to something, whether it is the news out of Vegas or their own action, as this number was -525/+385 a few days back. But at Bovada, they haven’t changed at all; they had the number up at -450 Mayweather and +325 McGregor as of Monday, and they were holding it right there.
We’ll see what the “walkup” money produces on Saturday. There’s still a ways to go!