Leicester City title could cost English sportsbooks more than $14 million

Premier League longshot Leicester City won again on Sunday, decreasing the chances that bookmakers will be able to buy bettors off.

At 5000/1 odds to win the league at the beginning of the season, William Hill spokesman Graeme Sharpe estimated that the Foxes winning the title will cost the English sportsbooks more than $14 million in payouts.

"The fairytale is definitely alive for punters [gamblers], and the bookies' nightmare is becoming a reality," Sharpe said.

He disclosed that William Hill has 25 bettors who plunked down money on Leicester when the team was 5000/1.

The sportsbook has been trying to buy out gamblers ahead of the team's increasingly likely-looking clinching of the title, with Sunday's 1-0 win against Southampton meaning they're seven points clear of second place Tottenham.

On Friday, William Hill offered $4,019 for each $1.42 bet on Leicester City, trying to lure those who had bet on the Foxes at 5000/1 to make a deal. On Saturday, the offer rose to $4,121. And after Sunday's win, it became $4,659 per each $1.42 bet.

Sunday's number pays out 66 percent of what bettors will win should Leicester hold on and win the Premier League.

With six games of the season to go, the Foxes will clinch it by winning their next four games in a row. The final game in that stretch would be against Manchester United at Old Trafford on May 1. They could win it as soon as April 18 if Spurs and Arsenal lose their next two games.

William Hill said they've been able to make abbreviated deals with some gamblers.

A man named Leigh Herbert, who lives in Leicester, cashed out $2.84 of his $7.10 bet. He was paid $8,028.74 for taking 40 percent of his bet off the table on Friday.

"I am a big Leicester fan and I strongly believe they will go on to win the Premier League," Herbert said, in a release by William Hill. "But my fiancé has made me acknowledge that sometimes you have to make decisions with both your head and your heart. I still have a decent chunk on Leicester and will be watching this go down to the wire."

Another man, from Manchester, cashed out half of his $28.40 bet on Leicester at 5000/1. He was given $40,144 for that piece, which will save William Hill more than $30,000 if Leicester goes on to win it all.

Sharpe said the firm also completely settled a $28.40 bet made on Leicester at 1500/1 odds. The man was paid $24,110, which is a 44 percent discount on what he would have received had he waited the season out and the Foxes won.

If Leicester does win the Premier League, its beginning-of-the-season 5000/1 odds will be considered historic.

"These types of odds are not offered in any other sport," said John Avello, director of the sports book at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

"Teams in other sports are thought to have much better chances to win than the teams at the bottom of the Premier League. It's almost like there are two teams that are the equivalent of the Patriots, two teams that are the Packers and two teams that are the Broncos. Who would bet on any team under them?"

Yet Leicester, whose roster is considered budget conscious compared to the big boys in the Premier League, has been virtually unstoppable this year. The team has won a remarkable 14 of 16 games this season decided by one goal.

David Williams, of British betting shop Ladbrokes, said it now would be a "major shock" if Leicester didn't win the title. Ladbrokes now has odds of the team taking the trophy at 4/11.

He said the payout for the company will be the most expensive single payout in football history. He would not reveal how much exposure the company has or if it has been able to successfully make deals with bettors as its competitor has.

Leicester's win on Sunday was a little sweeter. To celebrate the chairman's birthday, fans in the stands received a free beer and a free doughnut.