Mayweather vs. McGregor: Expensive Fight for the Bookmakers?
Real world casinos and online bookmakers will be on the hook for massive payouts should Conor McGregor defy the odds and beat Floyd Mayweather in their upcoming boxing match. That’s because no matter how much the odds have shifted since the fight was announced, people just keep on betting on Conor McGregor to achieve one of the greatest sporting upsets of all time.
This will also be one of the biggest betting events of the year, challenging even the Super Bowl in terms of total betting volume. Some Las Vegas people have estimated that Nevada alone will book upwards of $70 million in wagers on this one fight alone. By comparison, the Super Bowl averages roughly $120 million each year in Nevada – and that is not taking into account the huge amount of international action we’ll be seeing at online betting sites.
Oddsmakers typically try to balance the action on both sides of every bet so that they can earn a profit or even just break even no matter what happens. Oddsmakers around the world have tried to do just that by shifting the odds on Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather, but people continue to bet on McGregor despite the Irishman’s increasingly short odds.
We’ve seen a number of interesting reports from sportsbook and betting site managers regarding the volume of wagers taken on both sides of the fight and how much they’ve had to move the odds since the fight was announced. As it turns out, it won’t be just the gamblers with a big stake on this fight.
Vegas Bookmakers on the Hook for Millions
In Las Vegas, the Westgate began taking wagers on the fight back in February before it was even official. They opened with Conor McGregor priced at +1100 (11/1) and Floyd Mayweather priced at -2500 (1/25). Since those early days, more than 95% of the bets on this fight at the Westgate have come in on McGregor.
The managers of the Westgate told ESPN recently that they have since shifted those odds all the way down to +400 (4/1) for Conor McGregor and -550 (2/11) for Floyd Mayweather. The Westgate may actually get off easier than some other bookmakers; they only stand to sustain a six-figure loss should Conor McGregor pull off the upset victory.
Other bookmakers are not so lucky. William Hill US in Las Vegas told CBS Sports earlier this week that they have taken 16 times more bets on Conor McGregor than on Floyd Mayweather. They are looking at “a good seven-figure loss” should McGregor emerge victorious.
William Hill director of trading Nick Bogdanovich also told CBS that he expects late action on Mayweather, but not enough to offset the risk they’re facing with a Conor McGregor win. Simply put, the bookmakers in Vegas need Mayweather to win or else this will be the most expensive boxing match ever for Vegas sportsbooks.
Jay Rood of MGM in Las Vegas reported earlier today that the MGM Sportsbook has booked 6,7000 bets on McGregor and just 300 on Mayweather. However, he noted that the average McGregor bet works out to around $125 while the average Mayweather bet is around $4,000.
Online Betting Sites Equally Committed
Online bookmakers are not without their own share of risk as well. Irish betting site PaddyPower.com recently said the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight is easily their biggest boxing market of all time and predict upwards of £200 million in bets on the fight across all major bookmakers. Paddy Power itself is expecting something in the range of £25 million in bets on the fight.
They expect even more to come in over these last few hours before the fight kicks off. As of a couple days ago, Paddy Power says more than 80% of the bets it has booked on the fight favour Conor McGregor.
PaddyPower.com opened the fight many months ago with Mayweather at 1/20, but all the action they’ve taken over the months have pushed him down to 1/4. Likewise, McGregor has been priced down from a long shot underdog to a much smaller dog with a current price of 7/2.
Other online bookmakers are seeing a similar lack of balance in their markets. Ladbrokes Head of PR Jessica Bridge said they have taken around 10 times as many bets on McGregor than they have for Mayweather.
She says even though they have reduced the odds on Mayweather from 1/12 to 2/7 and on McGregor from 13/2 to 11/4, the money simply refuses to go on Mayweather. She said it does put them in an uncomfortable position, but she also believes the generous odds on Mayweather may prove too tempting for the big punters still lurking out there.
More Bets on McGregor; More Money on Mayweather
Should McGregor win, bookmakers around the world stand to lose millions. Casual bettors are overwhelmingly backing Conor McGregor. However, it is interesting to note that even though most betting sites are reporting that the number of bets on McGregor vastly outnumber those on Mayweather, the amount of money is actually greater on Mayweather’s side.
Despite the larger amounts bet on Mayweather, bookmakers still need him to win due to the way the odds have worked out. With so much money going on McGregor at anywhere from 10/1 to 7/2 over these past few months, their liability is much greater should McGregor win.
Jay Kornegay of the Westgate Superbook recently explained that while 95% of the wagers are on McGregor, 80% of the money is on Mayweather. What this means is casual bettors are placing tons of smaller bets on McGregor while a smaller number of big bettors are plopping down huge bets on Mayweather.
One thing to take from all this is the smart money is going on Mayweather. I’ve talked to a few McGregor backers and they don’t deny that it makes the most sense to back Mayweather if you’re considering skill alone. Getting just 7/2 on someone making his pro debut against the best boxer of our generation is hard to justify from a mathematical perspective.
The thing is, these are just fun bets. It pays more to bet on the under and it’s always fun to root for the underdog. Jay Kornegay also said that he’s often having conversations with people standing in line who have every intention to bet on Mayweather, but then switch their bets as soon as they see the odds.
Here’s how Kornegay said many of his own conversations with punters have gone recently:
“Mayweather’s going to kill him. It’s such a joke, ridiculous. What do I have to bet on Mayweather?”
Kornegay responds: “Based on $100, sir, you have to bet $550 to win $100 — you’d get $650 back.”
Bettor: “What if I bet McGregor?”
Kornegay: “For every $100 you bet, you win $400 and collect $500.”
Bettor: “Give me McGregor.”
Of course, there are some true believers out there who insist Conor McGregor is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. Combine that with the age and size advantages and maybe, they say, this is a better bet than we’re being led to believe.
Whatever the case may be, the numbers we’re seeing from real world and online bookmakers alike leave no doubt that those with the deep pockets are overwhelmingly backing Floyd Mayweather.
ESPN reported in another story that multiple $1 million-plus bets were placed on Mayweather just yesterday. Just yesterday, the MGM sportsbook booked a $1 million bet and William Hill US booked another one for $1.2 million. Both sportsbooks and others around Vegas also booked multiple six-figure wagers on Mayweather that same day.
Watch the odds closely over the next few days. It will not be surprising if even more big money pours in today and tomorrow before the fight. Odds on both fighters are likely to experience fluctuations over the next 48 hours.
Wes Burns has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a writer, researcher, and analyst in the legal online betting industry and is co-founder of OnlineBettingSites.com. Wes approaches his work from the viewpoint of players.