Written by David Purdum at ESPN.com
This spring, Las Vegas sportsbooks were treated to unexpected windfalls so unusually large, managers felt the need to re-check the numbers to figure out the reason behind the surplus.
The cause? Uncashed Chicago Cubs World Series bets from last season. Tons of them.
For the Lovable Losers from Chicago, 2016 was finally their year. The Cubs won the World Series. Lifelong Cubs fans celebrated the end of a 108-year drought, saving mementos along the way. They kept things like ticket stubs, souvenirs from Wrigley Field and even betting slips.
Betting on the Cubs has been a Las Vegas tradition that casinos have enjoyed for decades. In fact, there was a running joke among bookmakers about the number of hotels that were paid for by bets on the Cubs to win the World Series. Last year was no different, except, you know, the Cubs were actually good.
Thousands of bets were placed on the Cubs to win the 2016 World Series, more than double the amount of bets on any other team, sportsbooks said. Bookmaker CG Technology, which operates at the Venetian, Cosmopolitan and several other casinos, took roughly 4,000 bets on the Cubs to win the World Series last year.
In May, when the 180-day deadline to turn in the bets passed, more than 30 percent of the tickets on the Cubs had not been cashed.
“When we saw the number, we were just all extremely surprised at how big it was,” Jason Simbal, vice president of risk for CG Technology, said. “We went back and had to check like three times to make sure there was no mistake.”
The vast majority of the uncashed bets on the Cubs were small in size and placed over the counter at Strip casinos, signs that tourists were involved. The average amount of the uncashed Cubs bets at CG Technology properties was only $26. However, with most bets placed at odds around 4-1, the uncashed tickets saved the book more than $100,000 in payouts.
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