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Rovell: Sportsbooks Set for Pretty Penny Should Japan Beat U.S. in World Baseball Classic

Rovell: Sportsbooks Set for Pretty Penny Should Japan Beat U.S. in World Baseball Classic article feature image

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American bookmakers are in a tough situation tonight — money over nation.

Sportsbooks witness this phenomenon whenever the U.S. competes in big games during international tournaments.

In the World Cup late last year, roughly 93% of the total money was on the U.S. to win outright against Iran during a win-or-go-home group stage game. That’s in a sport with three potential game outcomes.

It’s no different for tonight’s World Baseball Classic Final between Japan and the United States, especially at PointsBet. About 93% of all bets at PointsBet have been on America to win tonight.

At BetMGM, the books are far more even, indicating traders at MGM have done a better job at leveling incoming wagers. Thus, they’ll be taking less of a gamble on tonight’s contest.

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There, about 76% of the money is on the U.S. to win at roughly -140 odds.

While BetMGM’s exposure is lower, they’ll still stand to profit far more should Japan pull off the upset tonight.

And “upset” might be stretching the term, a tad. Japan are roughly +120 underdogs throughout the marketplace, implying their odds to win are about 45%.

In the futures markets, sportsbooks have big-time exposure on both teams. Enough to effectively cancel each other out.

Japan — which opened at +400 — have the second-most number of tickets (23%) and the most money (30%). The U.S. has the most bets (26%) but the second-most money (28%). The Americans opened at a +260 clip.

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Japan were +350 vs. Mexico entering the bottom of the ninth during last night’s semifinal, down by a run. A Shohei Ohtani double on the first pitch of the inning was followed by a walk. Then, two-time Central League MVP Munetaka Murakami smacked a walk-off double into the gap, capping off the improbable comeback.

The United States, meanwhile, also needed a comeback to beat Venezuela 9-7 in the quarterfinals. Venezuela had beaten Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to reach that stage. The U.S. then easily dispatched Cuba 14-2 in the semis.

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