The Houston Astros are one game away from winning the World Series, something that would be costly for New Jersey sports books — largely due to one bettor who doesn't even live there but has wagered around $4 million on the Astros winning it all.
Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale has been making headlines back in his home state of Texas for the large bets he has been placing on the Astros to win it all. The furniture mogul who owns three Gallery Furniture stores in Houston is offering a promotion to his customers where he would give full refunds up to $3,000 if the Astros win.
"I believe in the Astros,'' McIngvale told the Asbury Park Press. "I've watched them play all year."
The bets are in part a hedge against the cost of the promotion, said Darren Rovell, a sports business analyst and betting expert who works for Action Network.
The Astros lead the best-of-seven World Series 3-2 heading into Tuesday night's game against the Washington Nationals.
McIngvale had a similar promotion at the furniture stores in 2017, when the Astros defeated the Dodgers in the World Series. He lost $13 million in sales on the promotion.
"I think he's doing this seriously," Rovell said. Adding, "he's in a tough position because of this promotion."
All of McIngvale's bets, in and outside New Jersey, on the Astros winning the World Series total about $11 million, which would make him a $19 million profit, according to Rovell, who has been tracking McIngvale's bets.
"I’ve been covering the betting business for 20 years and I am pretty sure this is the biggest bet of all time on one team collectively," Rovell said.
McIngvale added to his bets after the Astros lost the first two games of the series, with sports books making the team the underdog. "At plus-220, I think it's a good bet," he said.
McIngvale said he's been an Astros fan for about 25 years.
From Friday to Sunday, the Astros won all three games to take a 3-2 series lead. In that time, McIngvale profited $889,212 from single-game bets, mostly from New Jersey sports books Unibet and William Hill.
His liability on the promotion is nearly $20 million, according to Rovell. Since he did not get insurance on the promotion, he is placing large bets to offset the damage if the Astros win.
It's unclear exactly how much McIngvale has on the books with New Jersey operators but it's been estimated at $4 million, wagers that would net him almost $6 million.
When asked if he has ever seen anything else like this in sports betting, Rovell said the only one he could think of is bettor known as "Duffle Bag Boy" who allegedly flies to Las Vegas with duffle bags of cash to bet against the Rutgers football team.
McIngvale placed his first bet on Oct. 1 with DraftKings in Mississippi, where he wagered $3.5 million. DraftKings operates in multiple states, including New Jersey. The next day, he bet $1.5 million with FanDuel in New Jersey. He also has around $1.1 million in pending bets with Unibet and $300,000 pending with William Hill.
FanDuel's Trade Director John Sheeran said the $1.5 million dollar wager that McIngvale made through the FanDuel app is the "biggest bet in the history of sports betting" in New Jersey as well as the biggest online bet ever placed.
Teterboro airport hanger and placed around $1 million more in bets.
He traveled here because New Jersey's sports betting law requires bettors to be physically present in the state.
Two of the bets, totaling $650,000, were on the Astros to win game three of the series, which they did and he profited around $450,000.
After going back to Houston Friday night and watching the Astros beat the Nats in person, he flew back to New Jersey Saturday to bet $300,000 on Game 4 of the World Series with the William Hill sports book, according to Action Network. The Astros won and he netted $300,000.
When people think gambling, they think Las Vegas, so one could figure that would be the natural place for McIngvale to go to place his World Series bets. But, the reality, McIngvale said, is "New Jersey takes more (higher bets)."
One of the complicating factors, according to Rovell, is that there is not a lot of people betting on the Nationals, so there is not that much balance to offset McIngvale's massive bets. "He's challenging people to take his money."
Another reason McIngvale has chosen New Jersey is because he has more value to the books here, Rovell speculated.
"It just provides competition for Vegas and I think Jersey has more wants because there is more competition within Jersey because there are so many apps, so I think he has more value to the books in Jersey."