Theo Epstein lowers Cubs odds
The splash of the Chicago Cubs' hire of Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations reached all the way to Las Vegas.
I would have to say of the 'underperforming' teams, the Cubs are No. 1 at the wagering windows.” -- Jay Kornegay
Hilton sportsbook director
The Cubs opened at 25-1 odds to win the 2012 World Series at the MGM Resorts sportsbooks in Las Vegas. That's lower than several other gambling outposts.
Did the Epstein hire affect the line?
"Slightly," wrote Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports at the MGM Resorts, in an email. "It might have been 40-1 before."
The Las Vegas Hilton wasn't as impressed with Epstein's immediate impact, apparently, because the Cubs opened at 40-1 there. The Cubs opened at 35-1 at Caesar's Palace, and online sportsbook Bodog.com has the Cubs at 26-1.
Despite a 103-year championship drought, the Cubs always are one of the most popular future bets in Las Vegas, making them the truly "lovable losers" of the city's sportsbooks.
"The Cubs usually represent about 10-12 percent of the money wagered in the Future pool," Rood said.
Given their tortured history, any money wagered on the Cubs to win a World Series has been pure profit for the sportsbooks.
While it's been said that sportsbooks open the Cubs at lower odds to bring in more money from hopeful fans, Hilton sportsbook director Jay Kornegay said that's not the case. However, if the Cubs do well during the season, he won't hesitate to make the odds worse for gamblers. Typically, though, that's not a problem.
"We don't lower since they are the lovable losers," he said. "We might move them a little faster if they start to perform better, since we probably already have liability on them."
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According to the website Vegasinsider.com, the Cubs opened the 2011 season at 50-1 and got up to 75-1. They finished 71-91 and in fifth place in the NL Central.
Rood said the Cubs and New York Yankees usually are the top two baseball futures tickets, in terms of volume, written every year. Though, for different reasons.
Kornegay said the Cubs "are usually in the top five or so" of future bets. Hot teams obviously get more action during the season.
"I would have to say of the 'underperforming' teams, the Cubs are No. 1 at the wagering windows," Kornegay wrote in an email.
The Chicago White Sox opened at 40-1 at the Hilton and 30-1 at the MGM.
Jon Greenberg is a reporter for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.