National League-Best San Francisco Giants Present Giant Liabilities For Legal Sportsbooks

Written By Derek Helling on October 13, 2021

Over the course of the 2021 MLB season, the San Francisco Giants have emerged as a giant liability for legal sportsbooks in the United States.

With the team just nine wins away from another title, World Series bets on the National League West champions are looking like a potential problem for books.

In fact, multiple sportsbooks stand to payout over $1 million if the Giants do raise the Commissioner’s Trophy this month. It’s a reminder of the potential value of a regulated system in California in the future.

World Series bets on Giants have sportsbooks nervous

According to ESPN’s Doug Kezirian, San Francisco is several books’ biggest World Series liability at this point. That’s due to both the size and volume of wagers on the Giants to win it all.

SuperBook executive director John Murray told ESPN that it has $1,000 wagers outstanding at 3oo-to-1 and 200-to-1 odds. Similarly, Jeff Soneback, executive director at BetMGM Sportsbook, said his book would get “crushed” if the Giants win.

How did these books get into these positions on a team that won 107 games during the regular season? Murray explains it best himself.

“We didn’t think they had a real chance to do this. We consider the [Los Angeles] Dodgers to be the best team in baseball. We’ve thought that the whole season and thought it was just inevitable they would pass the Giants.”

Murray also revealed that before the season, the book had the Arizona Diamondbacks finishing higher in the standings than the Giants. The cost of 100-win seasons for both the Dodgers and Giants was one of the worst seasons in Arizona’s history.

So, they whiffed on their forecasting preseason. Then they never backed off on the long odds because they thought San Francisco would eventually fade. That also happened despite taking a solid number of bets on the line.

While this story could go down as simply a reminder of what happens when sportsbooks fail to adjust, it’s also a reminder of the value these books are missing out on by not being able to take bets in California. That applies no matter what kind of season the Giants are having.

California’s popularity and population make it a prize

The Giants’ recent postseason successes, winning three titles in a five-year span from 2010 to14, make them a popular wager for bettors anytime they qualify for the playoffs. Now, the public is hoping they can repeat that success.

This year, the unavailability of legal sports betting in California might have played into books’ hands. If people in the greater San Francisco metro had the option to put down bets and everything else stayed the same, the liability could have been even greater.

At the same time, though, betting on the Dodgers and perhaps the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics might have offset at least some of that. What seems certain is that due to the state’s large eligible population, the amount of money and tickets on the World Series might have been much larger.

Initiatives are in the works to allow legal sports betting in CA in some form in the future. When that time comes, sportsbooks will do their best to not make another Giant error.

Photo by AP / Jed Jacobsohn
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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