The Vegas Golden Knights are the odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup Finals at both online and Sin City sportsbooks.
With a record of 39-16 and 82 points, Vegas sits atop the Western Conference, and are tied with the Boston Bruins for the second best overall record behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning (40-17, 83 points).
In only their first season of play after becoming an expansion team and putting the first major professional sports franchise in Las Vegas, the Westgate SuperBook now has the Golden Knights at 5/1 to win the title.
Tampa Bay and the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins are next at 6/1. They’re followed by the Nashville Predators (7/1), Bruins (8/1), and Toronto Maple Leafs (9/1). Online book Bovada has the Knights at 6/1, tied for the shortest odds with the Lightning.
In early February, Vegas set the NHL record for most wins by an expansion team. Their 34th win on February 1 snapped a 24-year-old mark.
However, not all sportsbooks agree that the Golden Knights are the favorites. CG Technology, the odds provider for Strip casinos such as The Palazzo and Venetian, Hard Rock, Cosmopolitan, and Palms, has Tampa Bay the shortest at 6/1. Vegas is next at 7/1.
Nevada sportsbooks take fewer bets on the NHL than the other Big Four sports, and it’s not even close. NFL, MLB, and NBA therefore also generate the most revenue for the casinos.
In 2017, total win for football totaled $76.9 million, $87.4 million on basketball, and$14.3 million on baseball. Per the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the sports pool “other” category, which includes everything from hockey to boxing and MMA, won $32.3 million.
While commissioners of the NFL, NBA, and MLB are actively monitoring the potential repeal of the federal sports betting ban, wagering on hockey is so minimal that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last year, “Gambling for us is an entirely different focus than say football or basketball. We’re about one percent of the book.”
The Golden Knights increased betting activity on the NHL, as the franchise plays its home games just steps from the Strip at T-Mobile Arena. And despite a relatively low volume of title bets, a Stanley Cup hoisted by the Vegas Golden Knights would deliver a financial blow to sportsbooks.
The team opened as long as 500/1 to win the championship, meaning every $100 wagered by the lucky gambler at those odds nets a staggering $50,000.
Oddsmakers Weigh In
Westgate sportsbook director Jay Kornegay tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal that after lethargic early futures action on the Golden Knights, fans became a bit more enthused after the team got off to a strong start by winning eight out of their first 10 games.
“We certainly had some fans that came in and placed small wagers on them at 500/1, but there wasn’t any significant money,” Kornegay explained. “Then the small bets continued to come in and it really snowballed as the season progressed.”
At William Hill, 18 percent of all NHL futures have been on Vegas. CG Technology also confirmed in December that it took a $500 bet on the Golden Knights at 100/1 odds. That would net the bettor $50,000.