Gambling History in the Making: The Golden Knights Advance to the Stanley Cup Final


Vegas Golden Knights players celebrate after defeating the Winnipeg Jets in game five of the Western Conference Final of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

The Highlights

  • The Vegas Golden Knights, who opened the season as 500-1 underdogs, defeated the Winnipeg Jets in five games to win the Western Conference.
  • Now that the Knights are just four wins away from completing a sporting miracle, we put their odds-defying march in perspective.

The Vegas Golden Knights have made it to the Stanley Cup Final. A 2-1 victory over Winnipeg closed out the Western Conference Finals in five games. It’s inexplicable and wonderful at the same time.

Before the season, Vegas was listed as high as 500-1 at some shops, including the Westgate, with other books hanging the expansion team between 100-1 and 200-1.

There have been bigger longshots to win league titles. Leicester City of the English Premier League are the poster children for sporting miracles after they won the Premier League as 5000-1 underdogs in 2015-16.

There is a big difference, however, between a team playing in England’s East Midlands and one playing its first season on the Vegas strip. The whole story is enchanting, but wrapping your head around the fact that this team plays in the sports gambling capital of the world really takes it from a heartwarmer to something bigger.

Back in January, I spoke with Bob Scucci, the Director of Sport and Gaming for Boyd Gaming, about the Knights’ hot start to the season.

“You have to look at it like this,” Scucci said back in January. “How much would you spend, as a corporation, to promote your casino? We spend money on billboards and advertisements and things like that. So whatever we’re going to lose on the Golden Knights is like promotion for the city.”

“Eventually it will come back to us. We’ll have more fans here coming and enjoying the games or maybe even betting on the games, so in this case we’re going to lose, yeah, but way more bookmakers will be rooting the same way I am. It’s going to be great for the city, so whatever we lose, we lose.”

Because of local fans and sportsbook foot traffic, brick-and-mortar Las Vegas sportsbooks have big liability riding on the Golden Knights.

The Knights will face either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final. Tampa Bay currently leads the Eastern Conference Final, 3-2. The general consensus is that the Lightning would open a -140 favorite if they advance, but the Knights would be favored over the Caps.

Here are the tickets the Knights have already cashed this season:

  • Over/Under 26.5 Wins (they finished with 51)
  • Over/Under 68.5 Points (they finished with 109)
  • Make the playoffs: +900 (they were -1600 to miss the playoffs)
  • Win the Pacific Division: +3300
  • Win the Western Conference +9250
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