Book­ies will lose mil­lions if McGre­gor knocks out May­weather

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LAS

VE­GAS -- Conor McGre­gor is mak­ing a lot of wise guys ner­vous in this gam­bling city.

Should he some­how man­age to knock out Floyd May­weather Jr. in the early rounds Satur­day night, the city's book­mak­ers would lose mil­lions of dol­lars in the big­gest sin­gle event loss in the his­tory of sports bet­ting.

McGre­gor fans have flooded sports books with $100 bills back­ing the mixed mar­tial arts fighter, and even a late surge of money on May­weather might not be enough to bal­ance the books.

"I'm OK now," said Wil­liam Hill odd­s­maker Nick Bog­danovich. "But you might want to have a heart mon­i­tor on me when the bell rings and Conor starts throw­ing wild lefts."

Bog­danovich said his chain of sports books will suf­fer mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar losses — their worst ever — should McGre­gor win the fight in any fash­ion. If he wins early as he has promised, the losses would be even worse.

The big bet­tors are putting their money on May­weather, who is 49-0 as a pro. But so many McGre­gor fans are bet­ting small amounts that the bet­ting slips at Wil­liam Hill were 18-1 in the Ir­ish fighter's fa­vor.

"This isn't pro­fes­sional money, just the reg­u­lar Joe," Bog­danovich said. "The butcher and the bar­ber are putting their $100 on McGre­gor and it's added up."

The ac­tion is re­flected in the odds, which book­mak­ers ad­just ei­ther way as money comes in on the two fight­ers.

Book­mak­ers have been low­er­ing the odds steadily since the fight was an­nounced, but even that hasn't stopped the del­uge of McGre­gor bets.

A fight that be­gan with May­weather an 11-1 fa­vorite is now 5-1 or even less in some sports books. Even that hasn't stopped McGre­gor sup­port­ers from lin­ing up at the bet­ting win­dows to hand over even more cash.

They're back­ing a long­shot, hop­ing that the pay­off will be huge.

"There's plenty of money on a guy who has never been in a box­ing ring," said Jimmy Vac­caro, odd­s­maker at the South Point re­sort. "It's un­charted wa­ters and that's what makes it so in­ter­est­ing."

Vac­caro said his sports book stood to lose about $400,000 on a McGre­gor win, but that was balanced off a bit by a bet­tor who put $100,000 Wed­nes­day night on May­weather. His book also took an $880,000 bet on May­weather ear­lier that would pay off just $160,000 if he wins.

There have also been big May­weather bets at the MGM Grand, in­clud­ing a $500,000 wa­ger on Wed­nes­day at the MGM Grand and a $1 mil­lion bet Thurs­day at Wil­liam Hill.

That re­duces the li­a­bil­ity some, though MGM Re­sorts odd­s­maker Jay Rood said the sheer vol­ume of McGre­gor bets at long odds still over­whelm big May­weather bets.

Rood said his books have taken 6,700 bets on McGre­gor and only 300 on May­weather. The av­er­age bet on McGre­gor is $125, while the av­er­age for May­weather is $4,000.

If McGre­gor wins, Rood said MGM will be a big loser and the state will suf­fer its big­gest sin­gle event loss ever.

"We're all in the same boat," Rood said. "Any­thing McGre­gor one to four rounds is pretty bad. Any McGre­gor knock­out is not go­ing to be good."

So far, the bet­ting has been unusu­ally ac­tive around town, bring­ing pre­dic­tions that the vol­ume could set records. Book­mak­ers say as the fight draws closer the heav­i­est in­flux of money will come, es­pe­cially on Satur­day.

The news is not all bad for odd­s­mak­ers, who have strug­gled to make lines for a fight that has no prece­dent. Most be­lieve May­weather is an easy win­ner and should be fa­vored by a much bigger mar­gin, but have had to cut odds to try and bal­ance their books.

Though an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of the tick­ets are on McGre­gor, a lot of books have more money wa­gered on May­weather. Since book­mak­ers will have to pay out a lot less to those bet­ting May­weather, they will likely score big if May­weather wins as ex­pected.

"We're just kind of go­ing along bal­anc­ing and are in great shape win on both sides, no mat­ter who wins," said Johnny Avello, odd­s­maker at the Wynn re­sort. "A lot of guys are putting down $125,000 or so to win what­ever on May­weather so we're high on him now."

Even if McGre­gor wins and the sports books lose big, all is not lost. Bet­tors like to be re­minded they can win, and the ex­tra bet­ting on football gen­er­ated by McGre­gor bet­tors at the books will help ease some of the pain.

"We don't mind a large de­ci­sion on a big spec­ta­cle like this," Bog­danovich said. "It gets peo­ple in our books."

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