A Las Vegas sportsbook is already paying out bets made to those who picked the Warriors to “finish best” in the Western Conference, despite the fact that the series between Golden State and Houston has yet to begin. The reason? The owner of the Golden Nugget casino in question, Tilman Fertitta, is also the owner of the Houston Rockets.
Anyone who bet on Golden State can cash in now, because regardless of if Golden State loses the series ore not, they will finish best of any team in the Western Conference not named the Rockets.
“We’ve already graded (the Warriors) a winner,” Golden Nugget sportsbook manager Aaron Kessler said via ESPN. “Bring your ticket and you’ll get paid.”
Since Ferititta’s purchase of the Rockets in September for $2.2 million, the Golden Nugget has not accepted any bets on Houston all season, and removed the team from all “futures bets” lists. With the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals,
Removing teams from betting lists to avoid conflicts of interest is a common practice in Vegas. Caesars Palace sportsbooks stopped taking bets on the Boston Celtics, after executive Gary Loveman took an ownership position with the team in 2006. Station Casinos didn’t take bets on UFC events, until Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta sold the organization in September according to ESPN.
“It’s crazy,” Nugget sportsbook director Tony Miller said via ESPN. “Two great teams in the Western Conference finals, and we’re doing more explaining every day than anything else.”
Miller says he is asked almost daily why people can’t bet the Rockets.