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January 23, 2019

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After first-year rush at Vegas sportsbooks, betting number on Golden Knights no longer inflated

Flyers Beat Golden Knights 5-2 in Season Opener

Steve Marcus

Fans cheer a first period goal by Vegas Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault (81) during the Knights’ season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers at T-Mobile Arena Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018.

Bettors who wagered $100 on each of the Golden Knights’ first 21 games this season would find themselves down $583 — the second-worst result in the NHL if following such a strategy, according to the handicapping website oddsshark.com.

The Los Angeles Kings would be the only worse bet at a minus-$788 result. At plus-$609, the Buffalo Sabres would be the best bet.

It was a different story last season.

A $100 bet on every Golden Knights game would have put the bettor up $1,786 after the 82-game season. Vegas was the underdog for 17 of its first 20 games last season, while it has been the underdog for only six games so far this season.

“The one difference this year as opposed to last year is that we were, although from a fan's perspective always rooting for the Knights, from a business perspective rooting against them more frequently last year,” said Chuck Esposito, director of race and sports book operations for Station Casinos. “This year, some nights we actually need the Knights, which is a stark change since last year.”

At the Westgate Las Vegas, the Golden Knights opened at 10-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, tied for best in the Western Conference and second overall. Now, they are down to 16-1, tied for ninth overall.

Their odds to win the Western Conference dropped from 4-1, the odds-on favorite, to a fifth-best 8-1.

Last year, of course, books were at risk because many local fans had souvenir future book tickets on the expansion team. The Knights opened as high as 175-to-1 to win the Cup.

“Not quite the response we’ve seen last year,” Westgate Las Vegas Superbook oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said. “Last year they won so many times that they were liabilities. With them losing, we’ve been better.”

Because of the Golden Knights’ sluggish start this year, the lines have flattened at Station Casinos.

“Last year, because they were so successful early on and the bettors were betting them no matter what the price was, I think you were seeing some numbers a little bit inflated throughout the season, because they were such a popular bet,” Esposito said. “I think this year, it’s a more traditional line.”

Meanwhile, the handle on Golden Knights games has seen a dip, according to one local executive.

Jay Rood, vice president of Race & Sports for MGM Resorts International, said action "has been slightly tempered" compared with last season.

"I would say we are at about 60-70 percent of what we were seeing last year at this time on the VGK games,” he said.

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