Underdog Holly Holm delivered a significant body blow to sportsbooks Saturday night, but after a rash of NFL underdogs came to the rescue Sunday, Las Vegas is doing just fine.
When Holm knocked out heavily favored Ronda Rousey in the second round on Saturday night, the MGM sportsbook suffered its largest loss ever on a UFC fight, a six-figure gut punch that disintegrated any college football profit on the day. For every one bet on Rousey, there were 50 on Holm, said MGM vice president of race and sports Jay Rood.
The Westgate SuperBook was sweating similar lopsided action on the underdog in the hours before the fight, before a bettor placed three limit bets on Rousey at -1,000, -1,100 and -1,600. Each bet was to win $2,000.
"At one point, we were approaching six digits on our loss," SuperBook assistant manager Ed Salmons said. "We had some late money on the favorite, which essentially made us a small loser on that fight. But with what we could have lost at one point, it felt like a big winner."
At William Hill's Nevada book, 96 percent of bets were on Holm, but 72 percent of the money was on Rousey, highlighted by a $72,000 straight bet at -1,800 that would have paid $4,000. Ouch.
There were some big winners on Holm, too. A bettor won $48,000 off a $5,000 bet at Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology, and Caesars sportsbook took a $5,500 bet on Holm that paid $37,550.
Holm closed as high an 8-1 underdog but could be found at double-digit odds in the month leading up to the fight. Holm's longtime agent and trainer, Lenny Fresquez, said he laughed at the odds. He also took advantage of them.
"We made a lot of money," Fresquez told MMAfighting.com. "And thank you, Vegas, for putting the odds up like that. We got into some really good money. We got into six figures, I'll put it that way."
Las Vegas recovered quickly Sunday, when NFL underdogs went 10-2 against the spread with nine outright underdog winners. For the second straight week, multiple books reported that it was their best Sunday of the NFL season. It was a different story for bettors, though.
A bettor at the Flamingo sportsbook put $72,000 on the Green Bay Packers to beat the Detroit Lions straight up. At odds of -800, the money-line bet would have paid $9,000, but the Lions, 10.5-point underdogs, beat the Packers 18-16 at Lambeau Field.
"That was our biggest win on an [NFL] game this year," Rood said at the MGM Mirage.
CG Technology vice president of race and sports Jason Simbal said taking into account teasers, parlays and straight bets, his shop won 11 of 12 games Sunday, with its only loss being the Pittsburgh Steelers covering the spread in a blowout win over the Cleveland Browns.
The sportsbook at the Aliante was headed to its biggest day ever, according to director of race and sports Marc Nelson, but the final underdog to cover on Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals, proved costly for the book. The Cardinals beat the Seattle Seahawks 39-32 in the Sunday night game.
"We were one ticket away from having the best day in the history of Aliante when the Cards outright win completed the eighth leg of an eight-team reverse teaser at odds of 5,000- 1. In 25 years in this business I've never paid more than a five-team reverse teaser until yesterday."