- Joined ESPN in 2014
- Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008
Bookmakers will tell you that Las Vegas, with its proximity to Los Angeles, is a Lakers town — and the betting on the odds to win the NBA championship is proof.
More money has been bet on the Lakers to win the title than has been bet on any other team across town. It’s really not even close. At some books, the Lakers have attracted four times as much money as the Milwaukee Bucks, their opponent Friday in a potential Finals preview (10:30 p.m., ESPN). The Lakers opened as 1-point favorites over the Bucks at Caesars Sportsbook, but the consensus line has since settled at pick ’em.
Despite facing a net loss if the Lakers win the championship, some Las Vegas bookmakers earlier this week adjusted their title odds. The Bucks are now the favorites at many sportsbooks.
Caesars Sportsbook on Monday made the Bucks co-favorites with the Lakers at +200 to win the title. The SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas went a step further and moved Milwaukee ahead of the Lakers. It’s the first time all season that any team other than the Lakers or LA Clippers has been the championship favorite at the SuperBook, according to vice president of risk management Jeff Sherman, who oversees the book’s NBA odds.
“It’s their path to the Finals,” Sherman said of the Bucks. “It’s just easier compared to the teams in the West. Generally speaking, it looks like Milwaukee could be favored in every game in the Eastern Conference playoffs.”
At sportsbooks operating on the East Coast and in midwestern states like Indiana, The Bucks surpassed the Lakers and became the title favorite a few weeks ago. At Caesars’ sportsbook in Indiana, 39% of the money that’s been bet on the odds to win the NBA championship is on Milwaukee, by far the highest percentage. At Caesars’ books in Nevada, however, the Lakers have attracted the most bets and the most money.
The top two favorites to win the regular-season MVP also will be on display in Friday’s game. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo is the overwhelming, odds-on favorite at most sportsbooks, with the Lakers’ LeBron James being offered at 10-1 at some shops. In February, the SuperBook had a $30,000 bet on Antetokounmpo to win MVP at -600 odds. If successful, the bet would win a $5,000.
On Thursday, Caesars posted a prop bet, offering the Lakers and Bucks versus the field to win the NBA title. The Lakers-Bucks opened at -140.
The Clippers are very much in the mix, as well, at sportsbooks around the nation. On Monday, DraftKings reported taking a $976,000 bet on the Clippers to win the Western Conference at +230 odds. If the Clippers reach the Final, the bet would net $2.2 million.
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