A trying time for the books and bettors

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I was supposed to use this space to talk about how the limited wagering menu is affecting Nevada sportsbooks and what bettors should do with some of their future and prop wagers. But this coronavirus story in Las Vegas has since become far too personal and evolved far more than what I could offer about how the books are doing.

This virus has dropped Las Vegas to its knees, something I never thought possible in such a resilient city that has withstood major fires, floods drenching casino floors, the 9/11 aftermath when no one wanted to travel, the housing crash, and a mass murder shooting.

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Each time the effects caused major staffing cutbacks with layoffs or a skeleton schedule with every employee understanding business levels warranted it. But they also knew Las Vegas would bounce back to normal levels very soon because that’s how Las Vegas works with some kind of force field around it that didn’t suffer the same type of economic pitfalls as other business around the country might. And the guests always came back.

But seeing the casinos throughout the city close their doors temporarily for at least two weeks is something I thought I’d never see in Las Vegas.

“Despite our commitment to dedicating additional resources for cleaning and promoting good health, while making difficult decisions to close certain aspects of our operations, it is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression,” MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said in a statement.

I was impressed by both Wynn and MGM doing the closing by themselves rather than the state mandating as other states have done. They jumped ahead for safety purposes to their employees and guests but also factored was risk management weighing out possible lawsuits from those infected.

It’s deep stuff to get a grip on. The majority of my friends work in casinos all over the state and many of them will be going through a rough time with no work. But we all help each other in times of need. That’s what Las Vegans do.

My entire life has been about the Las Vegas casino business from the first time my father brought us to it after he got the call of a lifetime to design neon signs on the strip — his Flamingo and Horseshoe signs are still standing — and my mother later got a job cocktail waitressing at Circus Circus. They both made a good living.

And Las Vegas kept growing and getting stronger. When I turned 21 while at UNLV, I took a part-time job at a sportsbook and then got promoted to the point I couldn’t go backwards to a less-paying job outside the casino business I had studied for. I was hooked and made great money, and I loved it. Now I write about the process.

The casino business has been good to me and I’ll always owe it. So I will be there for it when it needs me such as now.

As for the city’s sportsbooks, when there are no sports be played, there’s no business and drastic decisions have to be made to cut down labor because Mexican and Turkish soccer doesn’t have a following, yet. Circa sports have been booking those leagues and a few others with Rugby, Bellator, and UFC as well as creating and posting 2020 NFL season win totals — Chiefs and Ravens highest totals at 11.5 wins.

The Circa crew is doing a great job of communicating on Twitter when asked questions about season win totals in NHL and NBA that are likely to be refunded because of not playing 82 games, and The Masters future wagers likely being refunded because of not being played within eight days of the scheduled event. They refunded all 2020 futures on NCAA basketball, baseball, and hockey.

Other sportsbooks have done likewise in getting the word out to their customers via social media.

With the CDC recommending eight more weeks of staying away from public gatherings, all the sports leagues will likely follow suit which gives us a bare spring viewing schedule like never seen before.

March is usually my busiest time of the year where right now I’d be arguing about a team that got left out of the NCAA’s, touting a pitcher that is having a light’s out spring training that should be bet early in April or talking about how LeBron James has gotten himself into playoff mode with the regular season coming to an end.

March is also the month where the sportsbooks have their most consistent percentage of win annually. No ups and downs, it’s always a steady win. 

All I can say to my Las Vegas friends is let’s follow CDC recommendations and let’s kill this virus and get back to work and prove once again that Las Vegas can bounce back from anything.

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