Bills, lack of handle help books survive

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Bettors could have really stuck the Las Vegas sports books with a good size loss if they had all collectively bet with the same intensity they showed in the first 14 weeks of the NFL season, but instead Sunday’s action saw handle down.

With the holiday season bearing down, the usual bankroll reserved for the week of games might have had to be shared a bit for buying gifts. It’s also possible the first Saturday without major college football action hurt because there was no churn or spillover action from the day before.

“Handle was way down from the same week last year and what we did last Sunday,” said MGM Resorts VP of race and sports Jay Rood. “Part of it is from Christmas coming up, and then we’ve got the rodeo in town and most of the Cowboys don’t bet big on sports.”

Rood’s chain of 10 MGM sports books across the Strip might have had the biggest losses on Sunday around town where favorites ended up going 8-5-1 against the spread.

“Not good for us,” said Rood. “Every big game we had lost for us between a combination of big house payers winning and sharps. It was an ugly week for us.”

The big difference between why there were mixed results around the city is simply because of the type of action books like MGM take and the type of action others off the Strip take.

MGM has a much higher percentage of their overall wagers on straight bets (lower hold percentage) while the local books near neighborhoods like Station Casinos and South Point have a higher parlay handle (higher hold percentage). Station reportedly broke even for the day and the South Point ended up in the black.

“It was a small winner for us,” said South Point sports book director Bert Osborne. “The difference in our day winning or losing basically came down to winning on the half-point parlay cards. If I take that win out of the overall equation, it was a break even day for us.”

The South Point has a thriving parlay card business while Strip properties just don’t get the same type of parlay action nor do they have the traffic through their books like the local books do Monday through Thursday.

“The Jets game was loaded with big Jets plays and the Broncos were a big loss for us too – all the afternoon games were a big loss for us. It was a big cash register for bettors today,” said Rood.

The Jets won, 16-11, as 3-point favorites at Tennessee, a side that many sharp bettors rolled with. The Broncos won, 22-10, as 4-point favorites in another slowdown pace by the Broncos as they try to sharpen their running game for the playoff run. Sunday was full of slower games as 10 of the 14 games stayed UNDER the total.

The one game every sports book won big on was the Packers losing outright at Buffalo, 21-13, as 3.5-point favorites.

“The Packers saved the day for us,” said Rood. “It would have been a complete disaster if they won because that was one of the more popular bets of the day. That was our one bright spot.”

Aaron Rodgers failed to throw a touchdown pass and had two key second-half interceptions to seal their fate. The Packers are now 0-6 all-time at Orchard Park and the Bills managed to go 4-0 against the NFC North this season.

The Bills win was one of three underdogs to win outright. The Bengals and Cowboys were the others.
 
Johnny Manziel threw for only 80 yards and had two picks in the Browns, 30-0, home loss to Cincinnati. The Bengals were a 1-point favorite to start the week, but when Manziel was announced as the starter on Tuesday, it moved to pick ’em and by kickoff the Browns were -2.5. However, there also plenty of bettors siding with the Bengals who felt strongly about Manziel’s chances to not play well in his starting debut.
 
By the time the Sunday night game around with the Eagles as 3-point home favorites over the Cowboys, action was so split at most places that the game didn’t allow books an opportunity make up for the day’s losses, but most were rooting for the Eagles. At the MGM books, they needed the Eagles more than most.
 
“I had some house players that loved Dallas on the money-line and also taking the points, so that hurt us pretty good,” said Rood. “I got some buy-back on Philly at +3.5, but not enough to close the gap we had on Dallas.”
Could it be!
 
Let’s make it happen! The fight we’ve been waiting to see – Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Paccquaio, for almost a decade – is starting to gain some traction, or at least there’s reason for optimism.
 
“We are ready,” Mayweather told Showtime on Friday during an interview. “Let’s make it happen. May 2. Mayweather versus Manny Pacquaio. Let’s do it.”

 

 
That quote is a breath of fresh air. The right people are talking about it, but the public wants to see it actually get done instead of just chatter. We all wish we could have seen the two fighters battle in their prime, but better late than never.
 
For Mayweather, who may decide to hang it up soon, he needs this fight to cement his career and place in history and I think he sees that urgency. He’ll forever be champ and one of the greatest fighters of all time, but he’ll always have that ‘ducked Pacquiao’ stigma attached if they don’t fight.
 
John Avello at Wynn Las Vegas opened Mayweather a -260 favorite with Pacquiao getting +220 and a stipulation that the fight must occur by Dec. 31, 2015 for action. Here’s to hoping the fight happens and also hoping the fight happens at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, “Money” Mayweather’s home.
Cubs getting action
 
Las Vegas sports book operators had to keep up with each transaction during the MLB winter meetings last week and adjust team ratings along the way, which ultimately determines daily lines and future odds to win the World Series.
 
Daily lines have plenty of time to be tinkered with until the regular season starts, but future wagers are happening now as bettors are investing on several active winter meeting teams trying to gain an edge on numbers the books may not have moved enough.
 
The most popular team being bet before and after the winter meetings held in San Diego has been the Chicago Cubs. William Hill sports books, with over 100 locations across Nevada, has seen 18 percent of their overall World Series handle come on the Cubs as well as 15 percent of the overall tickets written.
 
“The Cubs are getting the most reaction after the (Jon) Lester deal, but they were plenty popular with bettors before the deal as well.” said William Hill oddsmaker Adam Pullen. “We’ve dropped them from an opener of 50-to-1 in October down to 30-to-1 before the meetings and now down to 16-to-1.”
 
It’s not unusual for the Cubs to have the most future jeopardy because they’re always the most bet team. It doesn’t matter whether the prospects of actually winning are good or if they’re bad, people just love the Cubs for some reason.
 
“Cubs fans are passionate and have built up a big base,” said Pullen. “They’ve been a team through the advent of cable TV that fans from all over the country were able to watch daily and grow to love.
 
“Because it’s been so long since they’ve won, they have these paranoid fantasies about eventually winning a World Series, but this year they can actually can win. We just saw the Royals make it, showing how possible it is.”
 
The Cubs haven’t been called World Series champions since 1908, but they have someone in charge of the operation now who has brought a World Series title to a starving hungry city already.
 
“Theo Epstein knows what he’s doing,” Pullen said. “He’s got a plan in place and he’s executing it perfectly.”
 
In addition to Lester and Epstein being reunited again, the Cubs had already added catcher Miguel Montero and manager Joe Maddon to a roster with top level prospects that are ready to produce.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected] mingToday.com.

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