Regulations prevent Las Vegas sportsbooks from offering odds on things like where a player signs or other props that aren’t decided in game play. Those regulations exist to prevent props from being fixed or influenced from things outside of game play, to protect both the books and bettors alike.
Offshore books that aren’t beholden to regulations can offer props on all manner of things, which is why if you want to bet on where LeBron James will sign this offseason, you’ll have to do so at an offshore establishment rather than in Vegas (or New Jersey or Delaware, now). Even though Vegas can’t offer an actual prop on where LeBron signs, they are tipping their hand when it comes to the teams they’re favoring to land him this summer in other ways.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook released new 2018-19 NBA championship odds on Saturday and there were some peculiar odds for teams like the Sixers, Lakers, and Heat.
The Sixers having equal odds to the Rockets was fairly surprising (and the fact that they’re significantly ahead of the Celtics in the East). The Lakers and Heat both being a 20-1, ahead of the Spurs, Cavaliers, Raptors, and others also raised some eyebrows. On Sunday, SuperBook manager Jeff Sherman posted to Twitter to offer an explanation of those odds and that, while they can’t specifically offer a prop on where James signs, the title odds are a direct reflection of where the SuperBook expects LeBron to sign this summer.
Boston will jump ahead of Philadelphia should James sign anywhere else, which means this is probably a good time to hop on the Celtics future if you are so inclined. It would be very bold to take that Sixers number, but it being that high shows Vegas is taking the LeBron-to-Philly possibility very seriously. The SuperBook is also protecting itself from being too liable from sneaky futures bettors should LeBron sign in Los Angeles or Miami, moving both of them up to 20-1 (with both of them likely moving even further up the board if James does actually sign there.
The most interesting option of them all are the Cavaliers, the current Eastern Conference representative in the Finals, who sit at 30-1, which would be very low if James returns (which indicates they aren’t expecting that outcome at all). That’s probably the value play on the board, but it’s rare for Vegas to hand out easy money so that may signal they think they know a little something most of us don’t.
You can dig into these and read into them a lot (Houston being 7-2 also indicates they aren’t too worried about James going there), but at its heart this is a sportsbook keeping itself from a wave of bets on one of the prospective LeBron suitors at a high number (like, the Lakers, who without LeBron will probably jump immediately to 100-1) which would make them liable for a huge loss, like they’re facing with the Vegas Golden Knights right now in the Stanley Cup Finals.