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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Heat-Nuggets Matchup Far Less Appealing To Bettors Than Lakers-Celtics

  • Betting handle could be half of what Lakers-Celtics would have drawn.
  • Sportsbooks will look to capitalize on gaining new customers in Colorado.
Miami Heat
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Finals represent a missed opportunity for sportsbooks — which came close to a dream matchup of the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.

While Gambling.com Group vice president Max Bichsel estimates that several hundred million dollars will be wagered on the Miami Heat-Denver Nuggets series across regulated U.S. markets, he told Front Office Sports that the handle will likely be about half of a Lakers-Celtics series.

That doesn’t mean it’s trouble in paradise, though. “There’s a lot of futures action on the Lakers … so the sportsbooks should be doing well,” Bichsel said.

The Nuggets are the second-biggest favorites (-450) in the NBA finals in the last 16 years, outside the 2018 Golden State Warriors, who swept the Cleveland Cavaliers as -1075 favorites. Sportsbooks in different markets may be rooting for a predictable finals and others for one of the biggest upsets in league history, according to Bichsel.

Florida doesn’t have legalized sports betting, but operators in Colorado — where it is allowed — may be flooded with Nuggets bets and actually prefer a Heat win. Others could be hurt by having to pay out to bettors who wagered on the Heat at +340.

One positive of a series in Colorado is the opportunity for sportsbooks to reach new clientele thanks to the hype of Denver’s first NBA Finals appearance.

“This is a chance for operators to acquire new customers in recreational customers that may not be avid sports bettors,” Bichsel said. “They may be novice [bettors], new to the industry.”

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