The Vegas Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup finals in their very first season as a team, and this is something that big fans of underdogs and historic sports stories love. Yet, the sports books are not rooting for a fairy tale ending for the newly formed team. In fact, most experts agree that if the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup, it could be disastrous to most sports books.
On May 23, 2018, the Washington Capitals beat out the Tampa Bay Lightning (4-0) in the seventh game of the conference finals and took their spot against the Golden Knights. The team hadn’t even made it to the finals since the late 90s, and it is only their second attempt at the cup in their 44-year history.
The Vegas Golden Knights, however, were even more of a long shot since they are a brand-new franchise with a roster of untested novices and newbies. As many have noted, they began the season with odds of making the Stanley Cup Final at a staggering 500-1, with many sportsbooks offering those odds before the season.
Naturally, many sports fans didn’t see any potential…how could anyone have predicted the team’s stellar year. They easily won 12 of the 16 games needed to take the cup and took their spot in the Final by easily winning five games in the Western Conference finals.
What It Means to Sports Books
Because it was the team’s opening season, some actually went ahead and made the 500-1 bets, buying tickets merely, as one report noted, “as a keepsake from the team’s inaugural season.” It is not unusual that sports fans and Vegas residents opted to start building collections of team memorabilia as it is so rare to be present at the creation of professional teams. Yet, as one oddsmaker noted, someone with that bit of memorabilia has “a ticket with a potential six-figure payday”.
CBS reported that 13 bets were indeed made at those odds, with the highest amount $20. That means a net of $10k, which doesn’t seem too problematic. However, as the Golden Knights began to prove their mettle, sports books began slashing odds, “going from 500-1 to 300-1 to 200-1 in a matter of mere months…and are now at 9-2”. However, many began to take those odds while still high, with a single $400 bet made at the 300-1 odds paying out $120k.
Though it seems as if things are shaping up to be, as another expert explained, “the biggest futures loss in Las Vegas history” it can also mean that the Vegas Golden Knights take the Stanley Cup in their very first year of existence. That, as Jay Kornegay, the Las Vegas Superbook race and sports director explained, is an authentic win-win situation. Explaining to an LA Times reporter, “business will take care of itself… if my team wins, they win. But if they don’t, at least we saved ourselves at the book.” Clearly, this may move NHL from the shadows and into spotlight, making this entire situation a win-win for the sport.