The confetti had barely hit the hardwood after the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA title when money started pouring into Las Vegas sportsbooks on the Los Angeles Lakers to win the 2020 championship.
A bettor at the Westgate placed a $10,000 wager to win $50,000 on the Lakers at 5-1 odds three hours before they acquired Anthony Davis in a June 2019 trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Bettors continued to pound the Lakers at lower odds all season, and their faith in LeBron James and Co. was rewarded Sunday when LA beat the Heat in six games to win the franchise’s 17th title, which ties the Boston Celtics for the most championships in NBA history.
The Westgate, William Hill and BetMGM books each reported losing six figures on futures bets on the Lakers.
“They bet them from the very beginning and they were right,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “Hats off to the visionaries.”
The Westgate also took a $10,000 wager to win $17,500 (+175) on the Lakers last summer and a $20,000 bet to win $28,000 (+140) in September.
“From before the season when they got Anthony Davis and people were thinking they were going to get Kawhi Leonard, there was steady support on the Lakers from then to the end,” Westgate vice president of risk Jeff Sherman said.
The Westgate on Sunday took a $20,000 wager to win $280,000 on the Brooklyn Nets (14-1) taking the 2021 NBA title.
“That’s the type of bet we expect to be able to work down next year and not have liability sitting there at the end,” Sherman said. “But there was sustained liability on the Lakers the whole year, no matter what adjustments we made. They were even betting them at the low numbers.”
Bogdanovich said the low odds on the Lakers saved books from a huge loss.
“That’s the beauty when a favorite wins. When you lose, you lose something you can probably stomach,” he said. “If you get a flyer coming in at 50-1 or 60-1, you can really get taxed.”