The long-awaited fight between welterweight champions Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao has finally been announced for May 2, but Las Vegas sportsbooks have had odds posted on the fight for several weeks.
On Friday morning, Mayweather was as high as a minus-275 favorite at the Westgate SuperBook and as low as minus-240 at William Hill. The SuperBook had Pacquiao at plus-235, with the Wynn offering plus-220 on the underdog.
The early action has been light, touristy and almost all on the underdog, the books said. Ninety-four percent of the money that had been bet at William Hill was on Pacquiao. A $1,000 bet on Pacquiao was the biggest William Hill had taken as of Friday. The majority of bets, though, were much smaller, and came mostly from recreational bettors who were in town for other events like the Super Bowl.
"All small bets," John Avello, sportsbook director at Wynn, said before Friday's announcement.
That will change.
"This is the kind of fight that we'll take a lot of big bets, seven figures," Jay Rood, MGM vice president of race of sports, said.
The big bets will fuel what Las Vegas bookmakers expect to be a massive handle. Statewide handle estimates ranged from $30 million to much higher. Mayweather's fight against Marcos Maidana generated mid-six figures in handle last May at sportsbook operator CG Technology.
"I'd guess this one will do four or five times more than the Maidana fight," CG Technology vice president of race and sports Jason Simbal said.
Avello, a 20-plus-year veteran, believes this will be the biggest fight of his bookmaking career.
"Both fighters have attracted quite of bit of money through their careers; Pacquiao even more so," Avello said. "At one time, his following, the Filipino community was coming in and betting his fights for a lot of money. I think there will certainly be underdog money here. There's no question about that."
Simbal expects the bigger bets will be on Mayweather at his shop.
"We get a lot of guys who come in and lay $30,000 on Mayweather to win four or five [thousand]," Simbal said. "And they do it every time he fights. The price [on Mayweather] is going to be so small, I would imagine a lot of big bets coming in on him."