The biggest sports and entertainment betting stories of 2017

It’s only a matter of days before 2017 is in the history books and with most gamblers knee-deep in handicapping bowl games and college basketball conferences, Covers is doing its duty of selecting which betting stories from the past year are going into the official time capsule.

Here are the wagering storylines that dominated discussions at the water cooler, in forum threads and text changes with friends over the last 12 months.

Mayweather-McGregor fight
The rumors started swirling in February about the real possibility that Conor McGregor

Mayweather vs McGregor

– an MMA fighter – would step in the ring to take on the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. Sports Interaction opened odds with Mayweather installed as a -10,000 favorite. But after six months of one-way action on the underdog Mayweather’s odds dropped all the way to -550 by the time the books closed their windows before the start of the fight.

McGregor lost by way of a technical knockout in the 10th round and every bookie in Nevada and offshore collectively fisted pumped.

“We did very well,” Jeff Stoneback, director of trading for MGM Resorts books, told Covers after the fight. “It was our largest boxing win ever. Basically, it was as good as the Super Bowl for us.”

Mayweather-McGregor broke the Nevada record for largest handle on a boxing match with about $60 million wagered on it.

New England Patriots improbable comeback in Super Bowl LI
New England, the 3-point Super Bowl favorite before the game, was facing 0.2 percent win probability when it fell behind 28-3 midway through the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons. There were numerous plays that went just right for the Patriots to complete the comeback which led to a 34-28 overtime win but none more ridiculous than Julian Edelman’s catch.

There were a number of in-game bettors who cashed tickets on the Patriots to win the game with long odds. ESPN’s David Purdum reported the Pats’ odds to win were as large as +1600 in the fourth quarter.

The game set a new Nevada record for most money wagered on a NFL game in Super Bowl history with a $138 million handle.

Vegas Golden Knights
The NHL can rival – and maybe even surpass – the NFL in terms of league parity, but there has never been an expansion team play this well in Year 1 of its existence.


Vegas Golden Knights opened as +10,000 longshots to win the Stanley Cup and after the first three months of the season that number has dropped to +800.

The Golden Knights own the league’s second-best record with 52 points in 36 games. They’ve won 15 of their 18 home games and they are the most profitable team from a sports bettor’s perspective. A diehard fan would be up $1878 if he/she had bet $100 on Vegas in each of its games.
And it’s not like there hasn’t been much action coming from the locals. Westgate SuperBook manager Jeff Sherman told the Las Vegas Sun the handle on Golden Knight home games is comparable to a lightly bet NFL game.

Iowa State becoming a covering machine in college football
The Cyclones put opposing gamblers in the spin cycle all season long. Iowa State finished with the best ATS record (a 90.9 ATS win rate) since the 2012 Northwestern Wildcats who covered the number in 12 of their 13 games.

The peak moment for the Cyclones came in Week 6 when they beat Oklahoma, in Norman, 38-31 as 31-point underdogs. It ended up being the Sooners’ only loss of the year. Sportsbooks were offering Iowa State at +5000 to win outright against Oklahoma.

Miami Heat and Boston Celtics crazy ATS runs
The Miami Heat were among the worst teams in the NBA on January 16, 2017. They were 11-30 straight up and 19-22 against the spread, and appeared to be a lottery-bound team. But then they went on a 13-game winning streak, and then followed it up by winning 17 of their final 28 contests.

Miami fell just shy of qualifying for the postseason but the club filled the pockets of its backers handsomely.

The Boston Celtics’ 2017-2018 season was marred by the horrific injury to Gordon Hayward in the opening game of the year. The Celtics rebounded by going on a 16-game winning streak and carrying a 17-3-1 ATS mark after the first 21 contests of the campaign.

The Oscars Best Picture Fiasco
It surprised no one when Faye Dunaway blurted out La La Land as the winner of the best picture at the Oscars. The film tied Titanic as the most nominated movie in Oscars’ history and was a -700 favorite to win best picture. People were surprised and confused when it was realized on live television that La La Land didn’t win best picture – Moonlight (second favorite at +500) had.

Cleveland Indians MLB record-setting win streak
For a good chunk of the baseball season, the Cleveland Indians were stuck in first gear. They were above .500 and leading the AL Central division but certainly not running away from the competition like the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers.

On August 24th they snapped a two-game losing streak by beating the Boston Red Sox 13-6 as +145 underdogs. Cleveland didn’t lose again until September 15th and by that point the club had broken the MLB record for longest winning streak with 22 victories in a row.

A faithful Tribe fan could have banked $2.7 million if that person had bet $100 on Cleveland at the start of the win streak and let the winnings ride until Game 22.


Team USA failing to qualify for the World Cup
No one would have figured the US Men’s National Team would have won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but having the team failed to even qualify for the tournament is a big blow to the sport’s future in the country and the betting action sportsbooks anticipate generating on the event.

Sportsbook directors and offshore oddmakers told Covers senior writer Patrick Everson they expect a dip between 15 and 25 percent in the handle on the World Cup because of Team USA’s absence. It doesn’t help that the tournament is taking place in Russia and the team zones don’t exactly match up with those living in North America.

GGG-Canelo Controversial Draw
The match boxing fans had been waiting to see for years lost some of its lure because of all the attention the Mayweather-McGregor fight drew from fight fans and causal supporters alike.
Gennady Golovkin was the short favorite around -165 and most people who matched the fight thought he got the better of the underdog Canelo Alvarez (+145).

That’s not how the fight judges saw it. Dave Moretti scored it 115-113 for GGG, Don Trella had it even at 114-114 while Adalaide Byrd saw Canelo as the winner scoring it 118-110 in his favor.

Many boxing experts were upset with Byrd’s card although boxing and MMA oddsmaker Joey Oddessa predicted a draw as a likely outcome because if either fighter didn’t win convincingly because it would be a better set up for a high-paying rematch.

The draw was paying out as high as +1850 and sportsbooks had to refund any and all bets involving a straight winner. It was not the result sportsbooks were looking for with such a high-profile boxing match.


| Title: The biggest sports and entertainment betting stories of 2017
| Author: Ashton Grewal
| Date: Dec 29 2017

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