There’s an especially weird story about the Western Conference Finals revolving around a certain Las Vegas casino. It began before the season started.
Leslie Alexander sold the Houston Rockets back in September to businessman Tilman Fertitta for $2.2 billion. Along with being famous for owning Landry’s, Inc. and hosting “Billion Dollar Buyer,” Fertitta owns the Golden Nugget Las Vegas.
To avoid a potential conflict of interest, the casino decided to eliminate the option for patrons to bet on Rockets games. David Purdum has an interesting story about it on ESPN.
Essentially, the Rockets might as well not be in the league if bettors wager on things related to the NBA at that casino. Since the Rockets “don’t exist,” the Warriors have guaranteed themselves to be the top team in the Western Conference according to the casino.
Anybody who bet on the Warriors at Golden Nugget Las Vegas can already claim victory and collect their money since the Rockets aren’t even an option.
It’s an extremely bizarre situation, although this is typically what happens when an owner of a casino also has a stake in a professional sports team.
What makes this scenario noteworthy is that the Rockets finished with the best regular season record in the NBA and are on the verge of potentially making the NBA Finals.
If they beat the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, this casino won’t be able to take bets on the NBA Finals.
So if the Rockets make the NBA Finals, any futures bets on the team that will have won the Eastern Conference championship will be deemed immediate winners.
It puts Fertitta in an awkward situation. The casino would make way more money if the Rockets lose to the Warriors because they could then take bets on the NBA Finals, but Fertitta obviously wants his Rockets to win.
In either outcome, something good happens for Fertitta, though. The Warriors would gladly send the Rockets home so Fertitta’s casino can make more money.