Large bets for as much as $500,000 showed up on Gennady Golovkin at Las Vegas sportsbooks in the final hours before Saturday's title fight against Canelo Alvarez. They would all have to be refunded, after a controversial decision left both bettors and bookmakers disappointed and confused.
Heading into the decision, oddsmakers believed Golovkin had won the fight. International sportsbooks had Golovkin as high as a -500 favorite when live betting on the bout closed.
But when the decision was announced, judge Adalaide Byrd had seen things differently. She had Alvarez an easy 118-110 winner, a stunning difference from the cards from judges Dave Moretti (115-113 Golovkin) and Don Trella (114-114). The fight was ruled a split draw.
Shortly after the decision was given, lines formed at sportsbooks, with bettors looking for refunds. Straight bets on the winner of the fight were refunded in Las Vegas. Wagers on the method-of-victory props, which included an option to bet draw, were not refunded.
"There were some long lines, with some of the customers happy to get their money back and others disappointed," Frank Kunovic, director of specialty games at Caesars Palace, told ESPN. "They weren't yelling at us, but I think they were frustrated like we were about the decision."
Caesars reported taking a six-figure loss on the draw.
"We opened the draw at around 30-1 and closed at 16-1, so we got hurt on that," Kunovic added.
Golovkin began Saturday as around a -140 favorite, but the price grew throughout the day and closed at -200 at MGM sportsbooks. Significantly more bets were placed on the underdog Alvarez, who went off at around +160, but the larger bets were on Golovkin. Still, when the opening bell rang, most sportsbooks said they were rooting for Triple G.
"We needed Triple G by decision," Jay Rood, vice president of MGM race and sports, said. "The draw was a big swing for us."
The MGM took its biggest bet on the fight -- a $500,000 wager on Golovkin at -170 odds -- roughly three hours before the fight. The bet, placed by a "well-known casino player" was refunded in chips, Rood said.
"We took a lot of late money on Triple G," South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrew said. "And those guys feel like they got robbed."
Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology said it took more than a million dollars in bets on the fight, including five wagers on Golovkin ranging from $50,000 to $80,000. The largest bet the book took on Alvarez was $20,000.
Statewide, bookmakers estimated $20 million to $30 million was bet on Golovkin-Alvarez in Nevada, roughly one-third of how much was estimated to have been bet on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight.
"A lot of people got refunds," Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay said. "But thank God it wasn't a Mayweather-McGregor draw. We'd be refunding for a week."