Cubs’ run allows Vegas bookmakers to be just fans
Four months after the Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, ending their 86-year championship drought, then-Caesars Palace sportsbook director Chuck Esposito was sifting through baseball revenue numbers, trying to figure out why they had won so much more money than he had expected.
“A lot of the [Red Sox] futures tickets went uncashed. People saved those as souvenirs,” Esposito recalled. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the same thing happened again with the Cubs.”
Las Vegas sportsbooks allow guests to mail in winning tickets anytime from up to 30 days to as much as a year after the event is completed. At Station Casinos, the deadline is 180 days to cash a winning ticket. (Although, being the generous bookmakers they are, the rule is loosely enforced). There are a massive amount of Cubs futures tickets out there, each with mailing instructions on the back. The Cubs, as longtime lovable losers, have always been a popular bet in Las Vegas and were often among the sportsbooks’ worst-case scenarios.
This year, with the Cubs the favorites, even more bets showed up at the windows. Three and four times more bets were placed on the Cubs to win the World Series than on any other team. And, yet, Las Vegas still won.
“We actually needed the Cubs in the Series and in Game 7,” Esposito, now the sportsbook director at the Sunset Station casino, said. Esposito, a Chicago native and lifelong Cubs fan, watched Wednesday’s Game 7 at Brando’s, a Las Vegas sports bar that caters to Chicago fans. He said the bar went silent when Cleveland Indians centerfielder Rajai Davis tied the game with a two-run home run off Cubs reliever Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning.
Shortly after, Esposito elected to race home during the 17-minute rain delay between the ninth and 10th innings. He made it home and got to enjoy a special moment for him, his 12-year-old son Nicholas and all of baseball.