Las Vegas sportsbooks face substantial hit if Golden Knights win Stanley Cup

Everyone in Las Vegas is delirious about the Golden Knights, and how great would it be for Sin City if the team went all the way and won the Stanley Cup?

“This would be a punch to the face,” says Jay Kornegay.

It would be a what?

Kornegay is vice president of race and sports book operations at the Westgate In Las Vegas. The hilarious irony about the success of the Vegas hockey team is the pain it might cause the Vegas houses. Quite a few homers bet on the home team going into its inaugural season, which looked to be a long shot … until it wasn’t.

“There is plenty of liability attached to the Golden Knights hoisting the Stanley Cup,” Kornegay says. “The amounts will vary from house to house. I’ve heard six to seven figures around town.”

Westgate would get hit with a “healthy six figures” and plans to hedge its losses as the team gets closer.

Related: See Vegas odds for the remaining teams: 

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Stanley Cup odds for the teams heading into Round 2
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Stanley Cup odds for the teams heading into Round 2

San Jose Sharks: 10/1 odds

Via Vegas Insider

(Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Washington Captials: 7/1 odds

Via Vegas Insider

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Penguins: 13/2 odds

Via Vegas Insider

(Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Winnipeg Jets: 6/1 odds

Via Vegas Insider

(Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Vegas Golden Knights: 5/1 odds

Via Vegas Insider

(Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

Boston Bruins: 5/1 odds

Via Vegas Insider

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning: 17/4 odds

Via Vegas Insider

(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) =

Nashville Predators: 17/4 odds

Via Vegas Insider

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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This hasn’t been a problem in the past, because there hasn’t been a hometown team that’s threatened to win a major championship. Back when UNLV basketball was a power, the books didn’t take bets on the Runnin’ Rebels. “We were basically closed down the night they beat Duke,” Kornegay says.

Now, though, there is a beloved hometown team and what better way to show some spirit than to grab that historic Cup-winning ticket? It’s great for the enthusiasm; it’s not as great for the house. Many fans have plunked down the price of a game ticket, then wagered the same amount on the team winning that night, and walked away with basically a free night of hockey. The team went 29-10-2 at home in the regular season.

The sportsbooks are in this position because, simply, expansion franchises don’t win in their inaugural seasons. Period. Of the four major North American leagues, not once has an expansion franchise had as much as a winning record, according to CBC. Couple the long odds of the Knights’ success with the fact that their hometown is the betting capital of the country, and the books end up with a recipe for a substantial hit.

“We just didn’t see this coming,” Kornegay says. “This is mania out there. This is Vegas’ team.”

It might be helping the crowd atmosphere as well, which has been notably bonkers all season. After all, it’s hard to beat winning money on your winning team. One sportsbook vice president told Covers.com, “The betting activity on Golden Knights games is higher, as a percentage, than any team in any sport that I’ve ever seen.” So for the experts, it’s both euphoric and just slightly nerve-wracking.

How does this compare with other punches in the face? Kornegay says it’s a little bit like an 11-seed going to the Final Four. The house doesn’t really take a bath unless a Loyola or a George Mason wins it all. That hasn’t happened in March Madness in a long time, and that still hasn’t happened with the Golden Knights (yet). So he calls it a NCAA Cinderella team liability “on steroids.”

See the best photos from the playoffs so far: 

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The best photos from the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs
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The best photos from the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 13: William Carrier #28 of the Vegas Golden Knights tries to stay with the puck as he gets knocked down by Paul LaDue #38 and Trevor Lewis #22 of the Los Angeles Kings in the second period of Game Two of the Western Conference First Round at T-Mobile Arena on April 13, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - APRIL 13: Brandon Tanev #13 of the Winnipeg Jets fights Daniel Winnik #26 of the Minnesota Wild in Game Two of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 13, 2018 at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 16: Joonas Donskoi #27 of the San Jose Sharks shoots and scores getting his shot past goalie John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks during the second period in Game Three of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 16, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 16: Blake Coleman #20 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his empty net goal at 19:02 of the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on April 16, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Lightning 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 11: Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins makes a diving save against Scott Laughton #21 of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena on April 11, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 12: (L-R) Timo Meier #28, Brent Burns #88 and Paul Martin #7 of the San Jose Sharks celebrate Burns' goal in the second period against the Anaheim Ducks in Game One of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on April 12, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - APRIL 11: Fans of the Winnipeg Jets welcome their team to the ice as they took on the Minnesota Wild in Game One of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 11, 2018 at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 14: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period of Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 14, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 17: Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings allows a goal to Brayden McNabb #3 of the Vegas Golden Knights for a 1-0 lead during the second period in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on April 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. The Golden Knights would win the game 1-0 and sweep the series 4-0. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Apr 14, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) makes a jump screen as Colorado Avalanche goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) makes a save during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 18: Dylan DeMelo #74 of the San Jose Sharks and Nick Ritchie #37 of the Anaheim Ducks collide during the first period in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 18, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 18: Nolan Patrick #19 of the Philadelphia Flyers is unable to get the puck past Matt Murray #0 and Brian Dumoulin #8 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 18, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 22: Austin Watson #51 of the Nashville Predators celebrates scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche in Game Six of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on April 22, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 22: Jake Guentzel #59 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates a first period goal by Sidney Crosby #87 against Michal Neuvirth #30 of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on April 22, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Penguins defeated the Flyers 8-5 to win the series 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Apr 22, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Referee Tim Peel (20) breaks up Colorado Avalanche defenseman Patrik Nemeth (12) and Nashville Predators left wing Kevin Fiala (22) in the second period in game six of the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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This kind of perfect storm will likely never happen again. The Raiders, when they move to Vegas, won’t be an expansion team and will likely have more expectations going into their first season in Nevada. And of course the Golden Knights will be expected to win a lot more next season than they were this past season.

As the team gets closer to the Cup – the Knights begin their quarterfinal series Thursday against the San Jose Sharks — the Westgate and other books will try to cut down the liability. The goal is “a really bad NFL Sunday,” Kornegay says. But the team was 150-1 to win the Cup last June (via Bovada), and whoever put down some coin on that will ride the wave of winnings along with the players themselves. (LINK: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davecaldwell/2018/03/02/the-first-year-golden-knights-are-a-stanley-cup-favorite-outside-vegas-too/#35c723e22bd9)

“We’re gonna be open the next day,” Kornegay quips. “The lights might be a little dimmer. There might be a few less tater tots at the buffet. But we’ll be open.”

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