Online sports book Bovada.lv is taking bets on college lacrosse for the first time.
The move is a rarity in the gambling world. No Las Vegas sports book offers betting on the sport, which is growing in popularity.
“We have had clients inquire a few times about college lacrosse, so we will try it out,” Bovada sports book manager Kevin Bradley said Wednesday in an e-mail. “The sport has seemed to grow, however from a betting perspective only time will tell how popular it will be.”
The website currently lists only money-line odds for 10 total men’s and women’s games. No. 2 Syracuse is a -500 favorite against No. 10 Albany on Thursday, meaning a $500 bet would return $100 plus the original investment.
Friday’s game between No. 7 Virginia and No. 8 North Carolina has both teams listed at -120. No. 1 Notre Dame (-110) is a very slight underdog to defending champion Duke (-130) for their game on Saturday.
Las Vegas sports books don’t offer lacrosse wagering because the sport doesn’t satisfy two major requirements for setting consistent lines, according to David Malinsky, a former oddsmaker and gambling analyst for handicapping website Pregame.com.
First, it costs money to research lines, and there may not be enough interest to offset that cost, Malinsky said. Secondly, the sport isn’t televised enough for books to get a firm grasp on how to set the lines, meaning they could take a financial hit if lines are set incorrectly.
“If you’re in Las Vegas and you make a mistake, it gets pounced on pretty quickly,” Malinsky said.
Bovada, based in Latvia, will limit bets to $100 for now during its lacrosse trial run, which lessens the exposure. For comparison, some Las Vegas books will accept $10,000 wagers for this weekend’s NCAA tournament basketball games.
According to a Sports & Fitness Industry Association survey, there were about 1.8 million lacrosse players in the U.S. in 2013, up 56 percent from 2009, the second-largest jump in team sports behind rugby.