Call it the Golden Knights effect.
After bettors wagered a little to win a lot on Las Vegas’ NHL expansion team to win the Stanley Cup in its inaugural season, they’ve also backed the Aces at long odds to win the WNBA title in their first season in the city.
The Aces, who open their 2018 season Sunday in Connecticut, opened at 100-1 odds to win the championship at the Westgate sports book. They’ve since been bet down to the 18-1 sixth choice to win the title of the 12-team league.
“There’s been a steady stream of betting support on them,” Westgate sports book manager Jeff Sherman said. “We’ve gotten money at 100-1, 50-1 and 30-1.”
Notable futures bets on the Aces, who relocated from San Antonio, include a $200 wager at 100-1 to win $20,000, $200 at 50-1 to win $10,000 and $400 at 30-1 to win $12,000.
“The largest liability in the league is on the Aces,” Sherman said. “Just like the Knights.”
The Minnesota Lynx are the plus 125 favorite to win their second consecutive WNBA title and fifth in the past eight years.
The Los Angeles Sparks are the plus 175 second choice to claim their second title in three years and fourth in the 22-year history of the WNBA.
The Lynx and Sparks have met in the past two WNBA Finals, with each team winning in dramatic fashion in a decisive Game 5.
“We saw the Cavaliers and Warriors meet in the NBA Finals three straight years, and they have the same type of thing going in the WNBA,” Sherman said.
The Westgate also has posted the Aces’ regular-season win total at 16½. The WNBA has a 34-game schedule, so the Aces must finish with a .500 record or better to cash over tickets.
Before moving to Las Vegas, the San Antonio Stars suffered five straight losing seasons, going 8-26, 7-27 and 8-26 the past three years.
“They’ve got a fresh start with a new coach and a lot of young talent,” Sherman said. “We expect them to have a rise somewhere in that range.”
The Aces will feature the league’s No. 1 overall draft pick in 2018 in A’ja Wilson and the top pick from the 2017 draft in Kelsey Plum.
“I think the next couple of years they’ll ascend really quickly and be really competitive in the league sooner rather than later,” Sherman said. “There’s a lot of young talent which can stay around and keep this team competitive for a while.”
The Westgate posted lines on each of the Aces’ two preseason games — they went 1-1 straight up and against the spread — but Sherman said it didn’t take a single wager.
The WNBA has mostly attracted sharp action in the past, but Sherman expects the betting public to get involved when the Aces play at home at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
“It just depends on what kind of draw they get for their home games,” he said. “The Knights sell out all their games, and there’s so much money bet on Knights home games.
“Obviously, it’ll be nothing like that. But Aces home games will probably be the most heavily bet games in the league.”