California missing out on sports gambling that will generate millions in wagers on MLB playoffs

Listen to this article

More than a dozen states, from Rhode Island to Iowa to New Mexico to, of course, Nevada, will have a keen interest in the baseball playoffs, which are expected to generate millions in wagers.

From everything to whether the first pitch of the World Series will be a ball or a strike to home many home runs will be hit throughout the postseason, there will be plenty of money riding on the outcome.

But despite being home to five baseball teams, including two – the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A’s – California hasn’t given the green light to sports gambling, where it has made headway west of the Mississippi in Oregon, New Mexico, and Montana.

While there are plenty of obstacles for sports gambling in California, where it is run by private investors and tribal groups who have long had a stranglehold on casinos, this much is clear: the amount of money that will be wagered on the 10 teams battling for the Commissioner’s Trophy over the next month will be astronomical.

Unlike playoffs in other sports, teams often play playoff games on consecutive days, meaning a team’s momentum plays a much bigger role than in other sports. For example, there could be seven World Series games in a nine-day span. No other sport’s postseason – not the NBA, the NHL or NFL – offers gamblers and more specifically a team’s fan base, more opportunities to wager in such a short period.

Who wins it all? It’s a tough call.

For the first time in history, four teams – the Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, and Twins – all won at least 100 games. But oddsmakers say the Astros, who won the championship two years ago over the Dodgers, are the favorite to win the World Series, with odds set at 9/4. The team with the next-highest odds is the Los Angeles Dodgers (5/2), followed by the New York Yankees (7/2), Atlanta Braves (10/1) and Twins and St. Louis Cardinals. Who are each at 12/1, meaning a $100 bet would pay out $1,300 since you would recoup your original wager.

Two of the most intriguing teams, however, are the Milwaukee Brewers (40/1) and Twins. Milwaukee, which came within a game of reaching the World Series for the first time since 1982 last year, seemed destined to miss the postseason this year their best player, Christian Yelich, who was vying for his second straight MVP award, suffered a season-ending injury by fracturing his right kneecap a few weeks.

However, the Brewers have been resilient, as they won 17 of 19 games to earn a playoff spot. The Brewers went a combined 22-22 against the rest of the National League playoff field during the regular season, so why couldn’t they win a five or seven-game series, especially with the way they are playing?

The Twins came out of nowhere to unseat the Cleveland Indians atop the American League Central Division, winning it for the first time in nine years. The Twins’ strengths are simple: pitching and homers, both of which are staples of championship teams. The Twins broke the Major League record for home runs in a season earlier this month – they’ve since been past by the Yankees – and entered the final two games of the regular season with 55 road wins – by far the most in the majors. One area for concern for the Twins, who haven’t won a World Series since 1991, is how they’ve played at home, where they’ve won 46 times, which is by far the fewest such wins among American League playoff teams.