Las Vegas is a city that hates underdogs, so what happens when the best underdog story of the year is its own? The Vegas Golden Knights are advancing to the second round of the NHL playoffs in their inaugural season, and the city (not to mention the rest of the league) is swept up in Golden Knight-mania. From the to the enthusiasm of a motley crew of veterans and young players, it's hard not to like this team.
With that being said, not everyone in Vegas is necessarily enjoying the Golden Knights' miraculous run. The LA Times reports that Jay Kornegay, the Las Vegas Superbook race and sports director, is facing the repercussions of the uncertainty that a new expansion draft brings. Westgate Superbook gave the Golden Knights 300-1 preseason odds before changing those odds to 500-1 to encourage betting -- the worst odds in the NHL. MGM Resorts also had the Knights at similar odds, according to its race and sports director.
As it turns out, the ability to take the eighth forward and fourth defenseman of every team (with a bit of help from a questionable Panthers trade that landed Vegas Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault on a vaunted first line) built Vegas a pretty good squad. People just didn't know it at the time. Only 13 bets were taken on the 500-1 odds, with the greatest amount being $20 (which would yield a $10,000 payout at those odds).
The Knights progressively slashed the odds and convinced people they were for real, going from 500-1 to 300-1 to 200-1 in a matter of mere months. Even though Superbook stands to lose money with the team's success, however, Kornegay is OK with the run, and he doesn't agree with fellow Vegas-dwellers that the Knights "need" to be knocked out, saying that "business will take care of itself," per The Times.
Kornegay, in fact, sees it as a win-win. "For me, it's like, 'Well, if my team wins, they win. But if they don't, at least we saved ourselves at the book.'"
It's a unique situation, and one that was often-discussed when it came to adding a team in Vegas. Could that skew the bets? Based on the quantity of bets that Vegas has received in hockey, historically one of its slower sports, perhaps it has to an extent, albeit not in a negative way. It's likely just that people are paying attention to a sport that they didn't have a reason to before.
The Golden Knights' have their second-round series against the San Jose Sharks fast approaching after sweeping aside the Kings. The competition, of course, will only get better as they try to bring home a Stanley Cup in what is already the most memorable inaugural season for an NHL expansion team.