Measuring the popularity of a sport based on the betting action that sport receives in Vegas may not be fair, but at least it’s quantifiable. And while MMA wagering in Vegas may not approach what NFL or NBA action would deliver in terms of annual volume, it’s enjoying an explosive growth rate. So much so that oddsmakers have been forced to keep up with demand. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal (via Ben Maller):
“[MMA betting has] got to be less than 1 percent of our handle,” [Las Vegas Hilton sports book director Jay] Kornegay said. “But that’s an unfair assessment. It’s not fair to rate it that way. There’s just not enough events to properly give UFC a fair rating.[...]
Kornegay said the total bet on this weekend’s UFC card “would equal a good NFL game. It would surpass a Falcons-Browns game and equal a Giants-Bears game. It’s tough to say sometimes since you might get some large wagers on any given fight or very few large wagers.”
And Kornegay would know; the Hilton’s reputation as the most comprehensive sportsbook in Vegas precedes itself. The Review-Journal says the Venetian actually has lines up for all 11 fights, while most of the others have about half. UFC upstart Brock Lesnar (right) is a minus-220 favorite over Frank Mir in the main event of UFC 100 on Saturday. I’m enjoying the fact that Vegas is being forced to care, but do you care? I have a hard time betting on white people in combat sports. Especially one with a penis-shaped tattoo on his chest. But that’s me.