Vegas oddsmaker: 'Most of the books are Mayweather fans'

BY Brett Smiley • April 16, 2015

On May 2 at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, the legacies of boxers Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will be on the line, in addition to an estimated $70 million worth of wagers inside Las Vegas casinos alone, an amount rivaling Super Bowl betting.

FOXSports.com had the opportunity to chat with vice president of MGM Resorts' race and sports book, Jay Rood, about Mayweather-Pacquiao wagering, popular prop bets, why books are currently rooting for "Money" Mayweather, and about a horse that may be extremely popular on the day of the fight.

FOX Sports: What was the line MGM posted when it first opened?

Jay Rood: We opened at Mayweather as a -240 favorite and Pacquiao +200 once there was an official announcement that the fight was going to happen (Friday Feb. 20). At that time there were some places dealing Mayweather -300. It's kind of been all over the place but I put us in the middle based on the pricing model that I came up with based on the handle we expect to get.

FS: And where's the line at MGM now (as of April 16)?

JR: We're at about Mayweather -180 right now and Pacquiao +150. We've been getting steadily, nearly all Pacquiao money. We've taken a little bit back on Mayweather at -180 and we're sort of waiting, maybe we'll take another bet then we'll head back toward -200. But we're trying to fade some of the action we've taken on Pacquiao.

I think the line will probably settle in here for the next couple weeks to around -180 to -200. I think we're going to see a lot of Pacquiao money show up early in fight week, and you'll probably see the number drop quite a bit at a lot of places around town. Right now the floor I'm willing to go to on Mayweather is about -180 until there's about 48 hours to the fight and then I think some big Mayweather money is going to show. We're not going to pull the ripcord and panic too soon.

FS: Is it fair to say at this point that the book's greatest exposure is a Pacquiao victory?

JR: Absolutely. I would have to say that most books are experiencing the same with the number dropping all around. At this point in time, most of the books are Mayweather fans.  

FS: How does the betting handle on this fight compare to volume you see during March Madness?

JR: It's a different animal. This is a one-event wagering opportunity with five or six other events to wager around it -- for example, the knockout.

March Madness is just a sea of humanity in every single book. That's not going to be the case here. There's going to be some really big money show and there's going to be a lot of viewing parties here so it will be busy, but you may wander into the book at 6:30 at night and it'll be a ghost town because we're not going to be showing the fight in the book and most of the people will have made their way to a viewing party or the actual fight.

FS: How about compared to another single event like the Super Bowl?

JR: The money will be comparable to what we do on the point spread for the Super Bowl. I think the state is going to see a pretty decent handle.

FS: How many millions are we talking about?

JR: Conservatively, it may reach about $60-70 million statewide and it could reach up there to what we do for the Super Bowl. It's definitely going to be significant for a fight. The MGM will do the lion's share of it as the fight will be on our property, but there will also be windows at places we have viewing parties and we'll be taking bets up until they touch gloves.

FS: With the Kentucky Derby also on May 2, plus NBA and NHL playoffs games and baseball games, among other sporting events, do you expect the fight to impact the volume wagered that night and weekend?

JR: There will be some spillover effect on it. There's also a horse out there that if it makes it to the gate at the Derby, it'll get overbet a ridiculous amount. His name is "Itsaknockout." If he gets in there it'll be pretty funny.

Boxing and horse racing are the two sports that American wagering was really built on years ago and it's kind of cool that the two are coming together on the same day, and people will have the opportunity to play both. The Derby really is about the casual fan because if you look at horse racing handles around America it's been declining. But on Derby day everybody gets out and plays the horse, the jockey, the color, whatever, and the handle is really disproportionate.

FS: So far what have been most heavily bet props on the fight?

JR: The line on the fight itself takes most of of action but "pick the result" -- Mayweather by knockout or decision, Pacquiao by knockout or decision -- is trending way ahead of any fight that we've had in recent history as far as handle. People are really coming out of pocket early here which is not normally the case. Fight money usually doesn't show until the last 48 to 72 hours before the fight. I think once this particular fight was announced, anybody that's coming to town that's a less frequent visitor to Las Vegas is getting down on this fight.

FS. How does the line on the fight now compare with where it was historically, when it looked like they might throw down a few years ago?

JR: The history of it is kind of all over the place. A few years ago when it was rumored to be happening -- Mayweather was as small as -120, and then it flipped sometimes where Pacquiao became a small -120 favorite. Then when Pacquiao had his struggles it steadily started driving up from -120 to -140 to -180.

FS. Parting shot?

JR: It's a great matchup and a great betting opportunity for either side. If you're a Mayweather fan, you have haven't seen him this short in years, maybe eight or nine years.

If you're a Pacquiao fan, he's usually a favorite and a significantly strong favorite in his matchups and now he's a dog and you're drawing plus money to that. So both sides of the support here are getting an absolute dream price.


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