Las Vegas Grand Prix Bringing Bettor Interest, Despite Concerns

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The Las Vegas Grand Prix is just days away, and Nevada retail sportsbooks are expecting a record motor racing handle over the weekend.

For the first time since 1982, the F1 spectacle returns to Sin City, where drivers will race around the iconic Nevada casinos of the Las Vegas Strip.

But the excitement is not contained to the hosting city. Many U.S. online sports betting operators are also looking at high interest in the race.

BetMGM, the online sports betting arm of Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International, anticipates this event to be the largest handle for a motor racing event in its history.

“Race weekend in Las Vegas has the potential to shatter every company record for the sport. Popularity for automotive sports in the U.S. continues to grow, and the activity we’re already seeing around this event is remarkable,” said Matt Prevost, BetMGM chief revenue officer, in a press release.

Sportsbooks Rooting for Verstappen

Earlier this week, we reported on falling ticket sale prices for the event, as various problems converge on the upcoming race weekend.

Part of that concern was this F1 season’s dominance by one driver, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. The Dutchman secured his third consecutive Driver’s Championship weeks ago, far ahead of anyone else in the field.

Verstappen’s heavy favorite odds of -250 to -500 for this weekend’s race are not very appealing, and not many other drivers are considered likely shots, potentially leading bettors to stay away.

However, several last minute surprises have changed that narrative slightly. Race organizers admitted this week that they had been unprepared for the relatively cold nighttime temperatures in Las Vegas, which would have affected race prep for the team.

That has changed some value searchers’ minds. But there’s also been an influx of casual bettors, attracted by the race popularity and the longshot odds on most drivers.

“We’re almost always rooting for Verstappen, because there’s really no value betting on him,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said, speaking to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“We actually have more tickets on Norris, Hamilton, Perez, Leclerc and Alonso than we do on Verstappen.”

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Other Bets Appealing

With Verstappen still the heavy favorite in 58% of all wagers on the race at BetMGM, bettors have also been showing interest in prop bets.

Popular prop bets at BetMGM include Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez, finishing in the top three, and a Mercedes car winning the race, according to the operator’s release.

The unpredictability is heightened by the cold temperatures expected during the night race.

Betting odds from various sportsbooks reflect this uncertainty, with odds favoring Verstappen, but having fallen in recent days.

This acknowledges the potential for upsets from competitors like McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, although both are still far off the favored Dutchman.

There are also bets that don’t involve the overall race winner, such as parlay bets on the podium finishes, or the fastest individual lap.

“There will be betting on Verstappen, but the general public wants to take someone with a decent return,” said an assistant director of trading at Caesars.

 “Once people get here in town, the action is going to pick up tremendously.”

The race itself begins at 10 p.m. on November 19, with practice runs and qualifying starting from November 17.

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