Updated May 23, 2021 - 2:19 pm
Most of the money wagered on the NFL Draft is from sharp bettors, who historically have beaten sportsbooks on the event.
ESPN “Daily Wager” host Doug Kezirian said he partnered with a pro bettor on April’s draft, and it paid off in a big way. Kezirian won almost $300,000 on a prop bet.
He made multiple wagers totaling $3,500 to win $297,800 on Tyson Campbell to be the first safety taken in the NFL draft on an index prop at BetMGM.
The former KTNV-13 sports director said he made the bets the Monday night before the draft on self-serve kiosks at the Bellagio, where Campbell opened at 100-1.
The pro bettor, who wants to remain anonymous, had tipped off Kezirian that Campbell’s draft stock was rising. His draft position over-under opened at 60½ and closed at 46½ at Circa.
Kezirian said he was looking to bet the under on Campbell when he noticed that the Georgia cornerback was listed as a safety on the BetMGM prop while every other book listed him as a corner.
“I had to do a double take,” he said. “There are always a few different subtleties between books. MGM had two guys on their corner index that were listed as safeties at Circa. I just thought, at 100-1, it was a worthwhile play.”
So he drove straight to the Bellagio, intent on pounding the prop.
“We all have different strengths as bettors, and mine are instincts. I can tell when it’s a situation to just bet as much as you can,” he said. “Because these things don’t stay up there that long. One bet on a random draft index, it’s going to move.”
Kezirian said he knew the kiosks wouldn’t accept wagers that pay out more than $25,000, so he made a series of $200 bets that paid $20,000 each.
“I just bet it multiple times and spread it out over the span of like 90 minutes,” he said. “I bet a bunch at 100-1, and then the odds started to move. When they moved it to 50-1, I stopped.
“When I came home, it was 25-1, and by morning Campbell was removed from the index.”
MGM Resorts director of trading Jeff Stoneback confirmed the bets were made on Campbell.
Trevon Moehrig closed as the -450 favorite to be the first safety taken in the draft, and his draft position closed at 28½ after opening at 24½. Over ½ safeties in the first round was a -200 favorite as well, but none was selected as Kezirian sweated out each pick.
The next day, the Jacksonville Jaguars had the first pick of the second round, and Campbell was a -400 favorite at Boyd Gaming to be their selection. Kezirian said he hedged his bets through side wagers with pro bettors.
When the Jaguars took Campbell, Kezirian had hit the biggest sports betting jackpot of his life.
“It was just a perfect storm of the safety position not being a high priority to teams and the Raiders being the Raiders and drafting a third-round tackle in the first round,” Kezirian said. “The whole thing was a whirlwind. Moehrig dropping was key.”
When Kezirian went to the Bellagio the next day to cash his tickets, he said he was initially told the wager was not a winner. But after some initial confusion over Campbell’s position, he was paid in full.
“They were all professional and could not have been cooler about it,” he said.
According to BetMGM house rules, players are assigned to one playing position predraft by the book, and once a position assignment has been made, it is final.
BetMGM vice president of trading Jason Scott declined to comment for the story.
It was the second time in less than a year that the self-serve kiosks at the Bellagio were jammed overnight with winning wagers of more than a quarter-million dollars.
On June 28, approximately 50 wagers were placed on Korean and Chinese baseball games after they had started. The bets were allowed to be placed because incorrect start times were posted on the games because of a manual entry error, according to an ESPN report at the time.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board ruled in favor of BetMGM in a dispute with bettors, voiding more than $200,000 in outstanding past-posted parlays.