Online Sportsbook Betting Against the Lakers?

The online wagering business is a tricky one that often requires websites to throw out interesting gimmicks or propositions to gain market share from their competition. And at first, the latest promotion from -- where they're offering refunds on wagers against the Lakers if L.A. happens to win the championship -- seems to be just another one of those.

But it's actually something else.

At first glance, it appears that the website is confident that L.A. won't be crowned the champs in June. So much so, that they'll give you your money back (up to $50) on any wager placed on another team to win it all -- if the Lakers do in fact emerge as champions. Look a little more closely though, and you'll see that it's exactly the opposite: The book is terrified that the Lakers will win, and that they'll get buried paying out all of the bets made on L.A. -- unless they can get people to start wagering on some other teams, which is precisely the point of this promotion.

Here's the "money" quote, from sportsbook manager Richard Gardner (via Darren Rovell):

“In all my years in the business I’m not aware of any sportsbook that has ever taken a side, especially against a favorite such as this years’ Lakers to win the NBA Championship," said sportsbook manager Richard Gardner. "However, I just could not resist the temptation to take a stand, especially since the general public is betting the Lakers down to even money. The Cavs are clearly playing better basketball than the Lakers and if the Celtics can get healthy by the semifinals, they can handle the Lakers as well.”

Did you catch that?

The part that's a dead giveaway as to the sportsbook's intentions is the line where Gardner says, "especially since the general public is betting the Lakers down to even money." What this means (for all you non-degenerates out there) is that the book is getting nothing but wagers on the Lakers to win it all, so they're now desperately trying to get some money in on some other teams to even things out and lower their risk.

Translation: If L.A. wins, the sportsbook loses -- big time.

So this promotion isn't about bravado on the part of the sportsbook, or about who they truly believe will win the NBA title. It's about covering themselves financially -- which is why they're now begging (and bribing) people to put down their cash on anyone but the Lakers.

Sounds like a sucker bet to us.

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