Saint Peter's run has sportsbooks facing big risk

Author: David Purdum, ESPN

The improbable NCAA tournament run by Saint Peter’s has some sportsbooks facing historic liabilities and put New Jersey bookmakers in the unusual position of potentially having to pay out on a losing team.


The 15th-seeded Peacocks could be found as long as 10,000-1 to win the national championship before the tournament. They have pulled off upsets of KentuckyMurray State and Purdue, became the only team ever to win two NCAA tournament games as a double-digit underdog and are the first 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight.


Entering Sunday’s game against North Carolina, Saint Peter’s is 40-1 to win the national championship at BetMGM.


According to Jason Scott, BetMGM’s vice president of trading, the Peacocks winning the national championship would cause the largest loss on a futures market — in any sport — in company history. Scott declined to characterize the exact size of the liability, but the largest ticket on a Peacocks national title at BetMGM is $4,000 at 200-1, which would pay a net $800,000. There are hundreds of smaller bets on Saint Peter’s at long odds too.


The Peacocks are an 8.5-point underdog against the Tar Heels in the East Regional final.


New Jersey sportsbooks are prohibited from offering wagering on colleges located in the state. Saint Peter’s is in Jersey City. Still, the state’s sportsbooks did offer odds to win the East Region but did not include the Peacocks as an option. Therefore, even if Saint Peter’s upsets North Carolina, New Jersey sportsbooks would pay out any tickets on the Tar Heels as the “best finisher” of the East Region. Sportsbooks are not allowed to offer a futures market and not pay out on a winner.


As of Sunday morning at FanDuel sportsbook, 89% of the bets and 73% of the dollars wagered on the outright winner of Saint Peter’s-North Carolina were on the underdog Peacocks.



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