Thursday, March 7, 2013

Betting on NASCAR Went Full Throttle in 1998

Mark Martin won the first Las Vegas Cup race in 1998 (Getty)
By Micah Roberts
The Linemakers on Sporting News

LAS VEGAS -- It’s not too often that a bettable sport appears out of thin air and is served on a platter for Las Vegas sports books. But that’s happened in 1998 when the NASCAR Sprint Cup series made it’s debut at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

At the time, there were only a handful of sports books offering weekly NASCAR odds, and the volume was very small. The sport had a niche audience that had book directors wondering if it was worth hanging odds on. Sure, the Daytona 500 handle was huge because the odds were posted for several weeks and visitors could take their tickets home with them, but races at tracks like Martinsville and Sears Point didn’t attract too many wagering dollars.

That all changed when over 100,000 fans came to the city for the first NASCAR weekend in Las Vegas. Not only were visitors betting NASCAR at a high volume, but the locals got involved due to the excitement the race generated in their city. It was a happening, a sporting event, and odds were offered. The handle on that first race won by Mark Martin raised some eyebrows at several books, and they immediately changed their policy and began offering odds weekly, something that remains consistent to this day.

After 15 years, the action is still coming strong. In addition to odds to win the Las Vegas race, most sports books offer odds on just about everything that can be found on a race result sheet — from cautions to lap leaders, lead changes, winning car number and winning manufacturer.

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