Kurt Busch Gives Las Vegas Oddsmakers a Much-Needed Victory
Posted on: February 28, 2017, 10:00h.
Last updated on: February 28, 2017, 11:09h.
Las Vegas oddsmakers are celebrating their hometown boy Kurt Busch this week after the Nevada native won the Daytona 500 in Florida. Sin City sportsbooks aren’t simply thrilled to see a local win NASCAR’s most prestigious race; they’re happy for their bottom lines.
Busch entered the race as a 28-1 long shot to finish in victory lane. Though his storied resume includes three runner-up finishes at Daytona, he was 0 for 15 in winning the biggest race on the NASCAR calendar prior to last weekend.
On Sunday, it appeared he was headed for 0 and 16, but a series of crashes allowed him to make up ground late in the race. Busch led the 500 for just one lap, but it was the only lap that mattered: the one with the white flag.
Busch’s last-minute heroics were made possible by Chase Elliott, who ran out of gas with just three laps remaining. Elliott was the pole sitter to begin the race and closed with odds at 7-1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the overall favorite at 3-1, but his shot at winning his third Daytona 500 was over after Busch’s younger brother Kyle caused a wreck that ended his day.
William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that an Elliott victory would have been disastrous for the oddsmakers. “We really needed Elliott to collapse. We had so much action on him,” Bogdanovich explained.
Win for Books
Nevada sportsbooks have been on an up and down ride over the past year. There’s been shocking upsets: the Cleveland Cavaliers upending the Golden State Warriors during last June’s NBA Finals, the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908, Leicester City winning the Premiere League title, and Villanova taking the men’s NCAA basketball tournament on a last-second three-pointer.
But the casinos got the Super Bowl right, as the New England Patriots orchestrated a nearly unthinkable comeback to beat the underdog Atlanta Falcons.
The big game set records in Nevada in terms of handle. Sportsbooks took $138.48 million in bets on Super Bowl LI, and held 7.9 percent for a win of $10.93 million.
NASCAR in the Pits
The NFL made plenty of headlines during the first part of the regular season for its decline in television viewership. However, pro football numbers returned in the second half and the league deflected concerns and said the ratings were simply part of an ebb and flow of sorts.
For NASCAR, it appears trepidations regarding the sport’s popularity are more than warranted. Viewership is down 50 percent since 2004, and live attendance has dropped 30 percent over the last six years. While Busch’s victory was a win for sportsbooks, for NASCAR, it wasn’t exactly ideal.
It was only two years ago that NASCAR suspended Busch for allegations of domestic violence. Though he was never charged, the driver was accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Busch was the first, and is still the only driver in NASCAR history, to be suspended for domestic violence.
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