Sports bettors rarely have days like this past Saturday.
Not only was the long-awaited fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao held, bringing in an unprecedented number of bets on a boxing match, but that fight came at the end of a very busy day in the sports world.
That made it a day to remember for fans, bettors, and perhaps most of all, sportsbooks.
All day long, there were events to be bet on. There was playoff hockey early on, as the New York Rangers beat the Washington Capitals to even up their series at one game each.
Later in the evening, there was the thrilling game seven encounter between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers; a big performance by Chris Paul sent the Clippers on to the second round.
And there was plenty of baseball all day long, including a clash between the Yankees and the Red Sox, a matchup that always generates plenty of attention.
Kentucky Derby Won by American Pharoah
But there were two big events that really drove the betting action on Saturday. First, there was the Kentucky Derby, the first of the annual Triple Crown horse races.
The race was won by favorite American Pharoah, who finished a length ahead of Firing Line while second choice Dortmund came in third.
Since the three horses that finished in the money were the three top favorites, that meant a lot of racing fans were cashing in winning tickets after the race.
But because of the busy day in betting, that wasn’t a concern to the sportsbooks.
“I was really worried that a lot of customers wouldn’t make it in because of the crowds,” Golden Nugget’s director of race and sports Tony Miller told Covers.com. “But it turned out to be the best Derby I’ve ever had.”
Miller said that because the favorites won, customers were able to use their winnings to bet on events later in the day, including the races at Churchill Downs that come after the Kentucky Derby.
“If it would’ve been a long shot that won, everybody would tear up their tickets and walk out the door,” he said.”
Mayweather Win Suits Sportsbooks Just Fine
But the biggest event of the day was undoubtedly the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
It wasn’t exactly the bout many casual boxing fans had hoped for: while many viewers agreed that Mayweather was impressive during the fight, there were precious few moments where either fighter showed dominance or appeared to be in trouble, leading many to call the contest a boring one.
Overall, the sportsbooks in Las Vegas felt that the fight went just fine for them, however.
Many bookmakers reported that they couldn’t lose on either a Pacquiao or Mayweather victory: while far more bets came in on Pacquiao, most of the big money bets were on a Mayweather win.
That created a balance that left only a few unlikely scenarios, like a draw, as potential killers for the sportsbooks.
“It was a wash with a Pacquiao win, a net zero,” Miller said. “But we pushed all our eggs into Mayweather by decision. We had to dodge…Pacquiao by knockout in the seventh round, where we had a seven-figure liability, and the draw was just shy of seven figures.”
The draw was the biggest concern for many bookmakers, which sent the odds down to as low as 6-1 as sportsbooks reduced their risk because of how much money was coming in on the result.
Online bookmakers also reported high volume on the fight. According to a report by Covers, a spokesperson for Sportsbook.ag said that the fight generated three times as much betting as the previous boxing record for them, which had come when Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.