After news broke Sunday evening that James is headed to Los Angeles, the Westgate SuperBook reopened the Lakers at 9-2 to win next year's title.
The Lakers' odds immediately were trimmed to 7-2 after a "respected wager" quickly came in on the Lakers, according to Westgate assistant manager Jeff Sherman.
Only the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors have better championship odds than the Lakers at the Westgate. The Warriors are odds-on favorites at -110 to three-peat.
The Lakers were a 35-win team last season, finishing 12 games out of the playoffs. Yet when sportsbooks posted opening odds for next season, the Lakers were installed at 20-1, better than the Cleveland Cavaliers, who opened at 30-1.
As anticipation grew that James would leave the Cavaliers for the Lakers, bets poured in on the Lakers over the past month. At the Westgate, more bets have been placed on the Lakers to win next year's title than on any other team, including a $4,500 bet at 12-1. The Westgate already is facing a "six-figure" liability on the Lakers, according to Sherman.
Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology said it took a $5,000 bet on the Lakers at 10-1 on June 13. CG Technology has the Lakers at 3-1.
Bookmaker William Hill U.S. said that twice as much money had been bet on the Lakers as had been bet on any other team at its Nevada sportsbooks. However, in New Jersey, more money had been bet on the Celtics than the Lakers at the William Hill books at Monmouth Park racetrack and Oceans Resort Casino in Atlantic City.
The Westgate was among the Las Vegas sportsbooks that halted betting on the NBA over the weekend as free agency tipped off. Other books chose to keep taking bets but shortened the odds on the Lakers significantly in advance.
"We have [the Lakers] lower based on anticipated support and the possibility of adding to the roster," Sherman told ESPN in a text message.