UFC’s fight card Saturday night on ESPN generated the weekend’s largest betting handle at Las Vegas sportsbooks.
But on a weekend that also featured the return of NASCAR, golf and Bundesliga, Russian table tennis was the surprise runaway runner-up in money wagered at William Hill.
“UFC was No. 1, Russian ping pong was No. 2 and the rest were far, far, far below,” said William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich, who estimated there was five times as much money bet on table tennis Sunday than on NASCAR, soccer and golf combined.
“It’s just so much bigger than anything else going on on a daily basis,” he said. “Every bookmaker I talk to says the same thing. For whatever reason, it draws a ton of action.”
While William Hill took close to $1 million in bets on Saturday’s UFC event, Bogdanovich said it takes close to $1 million in daily wagers on Russian table tennis.
“There’s 100 matches a day and steady action all day long. By the end of the day, it adds up,” he said. “We didn’t know we’d write that kind of business until we started it.
“We put up everything — darts, judo, Burundi soccer, esports. They all have the same ability to draw action and haven’t. For whatever reason, they gravitate toward that sport.”
UFC also led the way in weekend handle at South Point, MGM Resorts and the Westgate.
“UFC has really been carrying the book since we reopened (the Westgate mobile app),” Westgate sportsbook director John Murray said. “If it wasn’t for the UFC, there really wouldn’t be a reason for us to be open the last two weeks.
“Other sports have been tough sledding. I don’t think we’re going to see a big handle number from public players until we see a sport come back like (Major League Baseball).”