For most Women's World Cup fans, the first thing that comes to mind isn't Vegas. But for bookmaking pro Johnny Avello, executive director of race and sports operations at Wynn Las Vegas, the Women's World cup means another event to bet on when the NBA and the NHL seasons are kaput. This isn't his first foray into setting odds for events outside the Big Four of sports. In fact, in the 26 years that Avello has been an odds maker, Avello's set the line for American Idol winners, Oscar races and band reunions. He's predicted when celebrity couples might marry and has even been contacted by meteorologists to predict weather patterns. Last week, Avello posted his picks for WWC 2011 and talked with ESPN.com.
ESPN.com: So, people bet on women's soccer?
Johnny Avello: These games are gonna take place [when there's] not a whole lot going on at that time -- NHL and NBA are over, so there's baseball, golf, WNBA, NASCAR, but our summers are rather slow on the sports side.
ESPN.com: Who bets on women's soccer?
JA: As long as the games are on TV, it'll create some action. People might make a bet on their favorite team, but as the matchups continue to go, we will continue to adjust the overall winner and people will continue to bet because they've seen these teams play. They'll get a look at them. As they see them compete, they can decide which bet is better.
ESPN.com: OK, but who's going to win?
JA: My research tells me Germany is the favorite. I have them at 6-5. They've won the last couple World Cups and they're at home.
ESPN.com: What research did you do?
JA: I basically assessed how they played in past World Cup and what kind of team they have assembled.
ESPN.com: And you have Germany over the U.S.?
JA: Of course, the U.S. usually puts a quality team together. Brazil could be a competitor -- they have the best player in Marta. Even at the last World Cup when Germany won, Marta won MVP. That's how good she is. So they're going to be in the mix.
ESPN.com: Who's the long shot?
JA: Equatorial Guinea. I'll be surprised if they even win a game. They're going to be a 20-1 underdog on winning just one game, and I have them at 250-1 for the tournament. Look, there are going to be a lot of mismatches from the beginning.
ESPN.com: Give us a game to watch to watch?
JA: The U.S. will be a 2-3 favorite over North Korea. That's a competitive match.
ESPN.com: Do you think people will be favoring the U.S. out of patriotism or for their dominant reputation?
JA: There will be supporters for the U.S. because the women are usually competitive in this tournament and their chances of actually winning are among the top two or three. People will be disappointed if the U.S doesn't win. In soccer, there's a lot of emotional betting, that's the way the sport is structured. Who doesn't have an emotional tie to a soccer team? I watched a friendly between Ireland and Australia in Ireland and [the Irish] were down three ... and the stadium was still cheering through to the very end of the match. Dedicated fans.
ESPN.com: Is soccer a new sportsbook favorite?
JA: I've been an odds maker for 26 years and I booked some soccer through the years, but now it's all the time EPL, Gold Cup, Italian leagues, indoor -- we're doing soccer more than ever.