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October 17, 2019

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World Cup bettors get ball rolling at sports books

World Cup venue

AP Photo/Andre Penner

Corinthians’s and Figueirense players battle it out during a Brazilian soccer league match at the Itaquerao, the still unfinished stadium that will host the World Cup opener match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, May 18, 2014. Only 40,000 tickets were put on sale for Corinthians’ match against Figueirense because some of the 20,000 temporary seats needed for the World Cup opener are still being installed.

Station Casinos sports books have posted future odds, game lines and prop bets for this year’s FIFA World Cup. Bookmakers will spend the final few days before the tournament, which starts Thursday in Brazil, supplementing the betting board with more wagers.

“It’s going to end up in a packet like you see for that big football game in February, as far as betting goes,” said Chuck Esposito, Sunset Station sports book director. “All those different options show how popular and how much growth we’ve seen in soccer.”

Esposito surely wasn’t comparing his first World Cup in the betting industry more than 20 years ago to the Super Bowl.

The tournament has grown tremendously in betting circles over the past two decades. Nowadays, casinos prepare for it as one of the biggest gambling events on the calendar every fourth year.

Every sports book in town will post an expansive wagering menu, and for its monthlong duration, the World Cup will serve as sports books’ biggest draw.

“Both the handle and interest will be huge,” Esposito said. “You look at the crowds that we saw for the last World Cup four years ago, and it was amazing and highly successful.”

That success came with the built-in disadvantage of a nine-hour time difference between Las Vegas and South Africa, the 2010 host country. Most games began at 4 and 6 a.m., hardly ideal times for casual gamblers to cast soccer bets.

But the Brazilian sites have only a three- or four-hour time difference from Las Vegas, meaning games will start at a more manageable hour, many at noon or 3 p.m.

“Everyone knows around the world just how diehard soccer fans are,” Esposito said. “It’s the same thing in all of our race and sports books. They’re loud, emotional and into it. It’s fun and contagious throughout the rest of the casino when you hear the roars from the sports book.”


Argentina (9-to-2 odds):No country is more assured to get out of the preliminary round than Argentina, which is a tournament-high minus-600 (risking $6 to win $1) to win its group. With the world’s best player in Lionel Messi and an ideal counterpart in Sergio Aguero, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Argentines roll from there. Brazil remains the only team that sports books would favor over Argentina, and the line wouldn’t be as lopsided as perceived.

England (30-to-1 odds):Sports books across the valley have raised England’s odds over the past few months. Pessimism stemming from woes during qualifying made bettors stay away from England and potentially created value at the hiked price. Getting such a lucrative payout with a country rostering as much young talent as England is promising.

Chile (50-to-1 odds):For the obligatory long shot. Chile is as far as we’re willing to stretch. Twelve teams are listed ahead of Chile at the Superbook, but it’s No. 5 in the world according to the Soccer Power Index metric. All four previous World Cups in South America ended with a country from the home continent victorious. Why couldn’t it be the team no one is talking about this year?

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