Sportsbooks facing 7-figure liability over surging Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles began the MLB season as one of the biggest long shots on the board at sportsbooks and were underdogs in their first 26 games. But at the All-Star break, the Orioles have emerged as the best bet in baseball.

The Orioles were 2,000-1 to win the World Series in mid-June but have gone on a tear, highlighted by a 10-game winning streak that put them in the thick of the American League wild-card race. The Orioles are 46-46 at the break, 3½ games out of the AL's third wild card.

Sportsbooks have been adjusting Baltimore's odds furiously -- the Orioles are down to 250-1 to win the World Series and 15-1 to make the playoffs at Caesars Sportsbook -- and still find themselves facing seven-figure liabilities.

Bookmakers say they're not overly concerned about the Orioles yet and are expecting them to level off during the final months of the season, but they also are well aware how expensive a massive long shot getting hot can be.

"We got burned a few years back with Leicester City [winning the 2016 English Premier League title as 5,000-1 long shots], when every bookmaker in the world said they have no shot," said Eric Biggio, lead baseball trader for Caesars Sportsbook. "Everybody kind of learned that lesson."

On July 12, Caesars reported taking a $1,000 bet on the Orioles to win the World Series at 500-1 and another $1,000 bet on Baltimore to win the AL pennant at 250-1. The book also took several bets on the O's at 2,000-1 and 1,000-1 odds.

"Those add up," Biggio said.

In June, the betting public began backing the Orioles on a game-to-game basis, a significant shift from the first months of the season. Approximately 90% of bets were on Baltimore's opponents in many of their April and May games, according to data from DraftKings.

Now despite their .500 record, the Orioles are up approximately 17 units on the money line, meaning bettors who wagered $100 on Baltimore in every game this season would currently have turned a $1,700 profit -- the best mark in baseball.

Biggio estimates the Orioles' money-line value has improved "40 cents" from the beginning of the season. If the Orioles were a +140 underdog in a matchup early in the season, they may be pick 'em in a similar game currently, he said.

"In April and May, along with the A's and Reds, [the Orioles] were one of the teams that we were just rooting for on a daily basis," Biggio said. "We knew we were going to need that team to win in order to have a decent day. Now, it's flipped."

Bettors in Maryland are especially jumping on the Orioles' bandwagon. At the Caesars Sportsbook at Horseshoe Baltimore, more money has been bet on the Orioles to win the World Series than has been bet on any other team. That includes a $200 ticket on the Orioles to win the World Series at 2,000-1 odds.

While Biggio isn't sweating the Orioles yet, he said things could get serious if they land a top-tier starting pitcher at the trade deadline. Even if they don't, Biggio will still be keeping an eye out on the Orioles.

"While the reasonable baseball person says, 'Yeah, they still have no shot,' you can't just write it off. You have to factor it in." Biggio said.