A field of 87 professional golfers teed off Thursday for the 83rd Annual Masters Tournament, and bettors are also coming out stronger than ever.
The Masters is golf's most heavily bet on tournament of the year and with legalized sports betting taking hold in several states across the country, experts say that the state of golf betting is stronger than it's ever been.
At MGM Resorts, Masters weekend is a top 10 weekend for drawing in sports bettors. The 24 hours before the tournament starts is when most of the wagers come. Between 90% to 93% of bets placed are on who will win the tournament, with about 5% to 10% of bettors wagering on the prop bets and match-ups, according to Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports at MGM Resorts. The company's biggest liabilities are Kevin Kisner, Tiger Woods, Tommy Fleetwood and Dustin Johnson.
A 43-year-old Woods enters the tournament ranked twelfth in the world as he looks to win his first Masters since 2005. At the start of the tournament, odds for him to win were at 14/1 behind Rory McIlroy (8/1), Johnson (13/1) and tied with Justin Rose, according to sportsbook.ag. Rood said Woods' impact on betting causes activity to increase when he's in the mix, although his impact was significantly stronger four to five years ago.
While Las Vegas once had the monopoly on legal sports gambling, the legalization in many states has had a positive impact for their properties.
"Sports betting has proven to be something that drives activity and visitation to our property," said Rood. "Our Mississippi property saw an uptick of 20% in visitation and activity to table games and slot play when it became legal there."
In terms of the Masters, Rood said the game offers great value to bettors. "I think there is no other sport for a betting revolution than golf. You have 87 of the best golfers in the world … some guys are 300 to 1 and they are multiple tournament winners."
Daily fantasy operators Draftkings and FanDuel are also getting a piece of the Masters' action.
FanDuel has a promotion going on where if Woods wins the Masters, everyone gets their entry fee refunded, whether he's in their FanDuel fantasy lineup or not. The company also has a $1 million mega-prize pool with $200,000 going to first place.
The company said 10% of all bets to win the Masters outright are on Woods, followed by McIlroy (8.5%) and Fleetwood (7%).
At competitor Draftkings, the company is offering a Masters Millionaire Maker contest. The company said golf has been extremely successful with about a quarter of their total customer base playing golf contests this year.
By money, Draftkings said Spieth has the most bets, followed by Woods and McIlroy.