Wagering on Golf: A New Trend at Vegas Sports Books

By Ray Brewer, Contributor

LAS VEGAS - It was your average Saturday morning at a Las Vegas sports book.

Locals and tourists alike filled the smoke-packed area as the start to a weekend of sports action was only minutes away.

For a majority of sports bettors, wagering on an athletic event is an avenue to further enjoy the game - whether it's football, basketball or hockey.

And who can forget about golf.

Typically, bettors place their money on the major sports. But on this particular Saturday, tourist Robert Rincon from Fort Worth, Texas, broke the trend by wagering on golf.

In retrospect, Rincon could be a trend setter.

Even though sports books make a majority of their money on revenue from the major sports, book are starting to post lines on golf tournaments.

Rico Ruggeroli, assistant race and sports book manager at the Strastophere in Las Vegas, says books recently got into the habit of booking odds on golf.

"We primarily just book the four major tournaments," Ruggeroli said. "We'll have odds on golfers to win it all as well as head-to-head."

Rincon wagered money on this past weekend's PGA opener in Hawaii, placing two separate bets on tour star Tiger Woods. Woods was a -145 favorite against David Duval and a -210 favorite versus Ernie Els in the head-to-head odds.

With this type of wager, Rincon has to lay $145 on Woods to get a payout of $100. On the other hand, Duval was +125, meaning if Rincon would have placed $100 on Duval and his final score was lower than Woods', Rincon would win $125 for the $100 wager.

Simply put, betting on golf, just like other sports, makes watching the event a lot more exciting.

"You have to like Tiger every weekend," Rincon said. "The guy is head-and-shoulders better than any golfer on tour. How many tournaments has he won?

Ruggeroli says a majority of the money wagered on golf comes from an individual betting on their favorite golfer to have success on a particular week.

"He [Woods] draws a lot of action," Ruggeroli said. "…For early in the year we had a lot of money bet on the first event.'

Bookmakers across the valley hope the action continues to increase when the majors roll around.

Ruggeroli, for example, almost cashed a big ticket from his bet on this past year's Masters. He had a $100 wager on Phil Mickelson at 40-1 to win the event - with Mickelson losing in a playoff to Payne Stewart.

According to Ruggeroli, Stewart was around 25-1 to win the event, giving someone with a winning ticket $25 for every dollar wagered.

Gaming industry leaders expect the trend of wagering on golf to continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

"Whenever you get a sports that is growing and getting more television coverage, it is going to become more popular," Ruggeroli said. "The same thing is true with World Cup soccer."

Ray Brewer, Contributor

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