While it was stunning to many to see the Alabama Crimson Tide lose in a National Championship game, Las Vegas was shocked for another reason – the financial blow that sportsbooks too.
The amount of money that was placed on the College Football Playoff championship game was historic. The total amount bet in Nevada was estimated to be between $15-20 million, over twice as much as was bet on the Giants-Packers NFL Wild Card playoff game on Sunday afternoon.
The worst part of it all for many sports books was that most of the money was bet on the Clemson Tigers.
The majority of sports books were heavy on Clemson throughout the week. The money started coming in on the Tigers shortly after they demolished Ohio State on New Year’s Eve. At the Westgate SuperBook, out of the first $11,020 that was wagered on the national championship game’s money line, $11,000 of it was on Clemson. The orange money never slowed down, leaving sportsbooks rooting for Alabama. Out of 12 sportsbooks — in Las Vegas and in the Caribbean — not one of them said they needed for Dabo Swinney’s team. They were all Crimson Tide fans.
When MGM described the loss to ESPN, they said it was in “the high six-figures.” MGM had three six-figure bets on Clemson +6, and a $55,000 bet on the Clemson +180 moneyline (which is a payout of a cool $99,000).
Clemson not only won outright, but the two teams also easily cleared the 51 point total set for the game.
“It was as bad as a result as humanly possible,” William Hill director of trading Nick Bogdanovich, a veteran Las Vegas bookmaker, told ESPN on Tuesday morning.
Bill Sattler, director of specialty games for Caesars Entertainment, said Clemson winning in a high-scoring game produced “the worst loss in any college football game I can remember.”
Sportsbook operator CG Technology did manage to find one silver lining to Clemson’s win – it was the best-case result for the national championship futures market.
Something tells me that these Las Vegas institutions will be fine, though it may be a while until we see a loss this badly ever again. For the sportsbooks’ sake, they sure hope not.