Faced with losing out on more than $20 million in potential profits if the World Series isn’t extended to a Game 7, ticket brokers are looking to Las Vegas to balance out their risk.
Las Vegas sportsbook directors tell ESPN that they’ve taken bets of several hundred thousand dollars from brokers over the past two weeks on the World Series and American League Championship Series.
More big bets, almost certainly on the Houston Astros, appear to be on the way ahead of Tuesday’s Game 6.
The Astros lead the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-2, in the best-of-seven series and opened as a slight favorite in Game 6. Game 7 would be Wednesday in Los Angeles, if necessary.
Sources tell ESPN that brokers own roughly 15,000 tickets for each World Series game at Dodgers Stadium. The Dodgers sell more season tickets to brokers than any other franchise in Major League Baseball, sources said. The season ticket allows the brokers to also purchase a commensurate amount of postseason tickets.
According to three brokers, the average price of a ticket to a potential Game 7 is expected to be around $2,000. In total, minus initial costs, there is more than $20 million in profit on the line for brokers in Tuesday’s Game 6. If the Astros win, the tickets are worth nothing.
Two brokers who requested anonymity said Las Vegas was the best alternative to make sure they didn’t come away with nothing should Houston prevail. To balance out the risk, the brokers said they’d be betting on the Astros, who opened as minus-110 favorites for Game 6.
“I’ve never seen so many brokers place bets here,” said John Avello, director of the race and sports book for the Wynn. “And I know they’re brokers, because they are upfront with me and tell me their intention to hedge based on what they have in tickets.”
Avello said the brokers, on average, have bet $200,000 to $300,000 on past games.
“And that’s just me,” Avello said. “You can assume they’re spreading it across town.”
MGM sportsbook said a broker had already called to inquire about betting on Game 6, but had not shown up to place any wagers as of Monday morning.
“It’s not uncommon,” Jeff Stoneback, assistant manager at MGM race and sports, said regarding ticket brokers looking to hedge their investment. “Last year, a guy wanted to bet on the Packers in the playoffs because his Super Bowl tickets were going to be much more valuable if the Cowboys were involved.”
The Packers defeated the Cowboys in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
Las Vegas has become a popular place in recent years for the more powerful ticket brokers to balance out the risks of their business. Avello said it’s because it’s the easiest and quickest way to get insurance on one side.
Ticket brokers aren’t the only businessmen hedging their investments on the World Series at Las Vegas sportsbooks. Houston furniture store owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale offered to refund any mattress purchase of at least $3,000 if the Astros win the World Series.
McIngvale, who is known for his promotional savvy around sporting events, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he is facing $5 million in liability if the Astros win.
“The vast, vast majority of the hedge was through the insurance companies,” McIngvale told the Review-Journal. “But I did some hedging in Las Vegas. It’s all legal. It’s a hedge bet, and it’s all on Houston.”
Multiple sportsbooks also reported taking big six-figure wagers from the same bettor on each of the first four World Series games. The bettor has been playing — and winning — at several sportsbooks around town.
“He hasn’t lost yet,” Chris Andrews, sportsbook director at the South Point casino, said.
Overall, the money bet on the World Series at Nevada books has reached record highs. On Sunday, more bets were placed on Game 5 of the World Series at William Hill sportsbooks than were placed on all but one NFL game, the prime-time matchup between the Steelers and Lions.
Games 1, 2 and 3 of the World Series attracted more bets on the day of the game than any NFL matchup this past week.
Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill U.S., said the betting on the first two games of the World Series alone may have topped the amount of money wagered on last year’s entire World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.
“It has been absolutely insane,” Bogdanovich said.