Woodstock 50: Las Vegas Bookmakers Lay Odds on Whether the Fest Will Go On

It’s not just amateurs who look at the ongoing imbroglio over the Woodstock 50 festival and think: What are the odds that it ends up being a go? Don’t worry — the pros in Las Vegas have set their minds to it, too.

Jay Kornegay, the head of the Race & Sports Book Operations at Westgate Resorts in Las Vegas, has done his research. “You have so many different views here, with a lot of contradictory information,” he says. “I don’t have a dog in this fight, but based on what I’ve gathered, it’s close to a ‘pick-em,’ a 50-50 bet.”

Woodstock founder Michael Lang is used to bucking odds. After all, no one thought the beatific hippie could pull off the original Woodstock back in 1969, but after all the location disputes, gridlocked traffic, mud and free admission, he and his partners ended up with a money-making documentary and a brand that has seemingly withstood the test of time.

The promoter continues to insist Woodstock 50 will take place August 16-18 at Watkins Glen Speedway in upstate New York, and the acts remain on hold, having been paid. But the well-publicized travesty of the Fyre Festival has people increasingly gun-shy about how to overcome such tough logistics. The loss of Japanese financiers Dentsu and now Lang’s production company, Superfly, compounded by a missed on-sale ticket date of April 22, have left the fate of the festival very much in doubt.

“I’m going -$150 for it not to happen, a slight favorite over +$130 that it will happen,” Kornegay explains, meaning someone who believed Woodstock 50 won’t take place has to wager $150 to win $100, while a bettor who is confident it will take place would have to put up $100 to win $130. “Still, I wouldn’t take a bet over $500 on this.”

Kornegay warns us that “these are hypothetical odds … for entertainment purposes only,” and his casino would never actually take wagers on such a proposition — with the threat of insider information becoming a concern — even though his sports book did accept bets on the recent NFL draft.

The bookmaker does reveal he does have a source — a vendor who reportedly revealed that his deposit for a booth had already been refunded — that has him leaning towards a cancellation.

With the emergence of aggressive tech/betting companies like FanDuel and DraftKings since the federal restriction on sports wagering was repealed last year, there have been more “prop” bets than ever — although, as Kornegay points out, they have to be related to the game itself for his sports book. “We won’t take wagers on the length of the National Anthem, or whether Adam Levine will be taking his shirt off, where there’s no official, mutually agreed-upon result,” he says.

Seth Schorr is the CEO of Fifth Street Gaming, which owns and operates casinos in Las Vegas and develops gaming products. Bets on the outcome of events like the Academy Awards or a presidential election must be approved on a case-by-case basis by the state’s Gaming Control Board. A veteran festival promoter himself, Schorr — who has been involved in Vegas’ massive “Life is Beautiful” event — knows how difficult it is to organize and successfully execute something of the scale of Woodstock 50.

“I don’t see a favorite; it’s just too close to call,” Schorr says of Woodstock 50’s chances to take place. “And as a bookmaker, you just hope that people bet on both sides, and you make the vig.”

“We always want to maintain the integrity of the bets, so I’d keep the limit pretty low on this one,” says Schorr. “Personally, I wish them the best of luck because it’s a great brand and could be a fun event.”

“Maybe it’s my heart talking, but I’d love to see it happen,” adds Kornegay. “Not that I’m going.”

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