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The most improbable race and sports lineup in Labor Day history gave bettors a little of something for everyone to bet on Saturday and most sportsbooks came out ahead to start the 2020 football season.

“We had a very very strong Saturday,” BetMGM’s VP of trading Jason Scott said. “Sunday was a bit tougher but we kept our nose in front. The Lakers covering (vs. Houston) was nasty.”

The Lakers bounced back Sunday in Game 2 after a Game 1 loss with a 117-109 win against the Rockets, making the most popular parlay with the Lakers (-5.5) and over (222.5) a winner.

Saturday’s events featured the most popular college football side failing to cover with Memphis (-21.5) beating Arkansas State, 37-24, which stayed under 71.5. The NBA games saw both sides the books needed to win outright with the Raptors evening the series 2-2 after beating the Celtics, 100-93 as 1-point favorites, and keeping the total under 214. All four games in this series have stayed under. The Nuggets also evened their series, 1-1, with a 110-101 win against the Clippers. The Nuggets didn’t need the +9 points and paid out +350 on the money-line while staying under 219.5.

Saturday’s sports win was boosted further with house race book wagers accepted (no pari-mutuel) in the Kentucky Derby with Authentic upsetting favorite Tiz the Law. Authentic paid out at $18.80 for the win and Tiz the Law got the place ($3.40) followed by 46-1 long shot Mr. Big News who paid $16.80 to show. The 50-cent trifecta paid $655.90.

The book directors don’t usually sweat anything with the Derby but they booked it themselves this year and didn’t have to share any fees with the track or Nevada Dissemination despite paying out the same prices as what the track did. Nevada Gaming allowed books to use the NBC feed as the source for posting the races which cut every usual pari-mutuel service out.

Wynn sportsbook director Doug Castaneda said he had to sweat out a big house players trifecta wagers who had almost every Derby combination bet except the winning one with Mr. Big News likely being the savior for Wynn.

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Others were not as fortunate and had the trifecta capped at 500-1. At the Rampart, there were five winning trifecta tickets.

All in all, it was a very surreal environment with almost all the sports on TV in the books and the Kentucky Derby filling the books with guests maintaining social distancing and covering their faces with masks.

I walked around the Strip and Downtown over the weekend for the first time since the shutdown happened as I’ve been just fine being isolated and bunkered down. But if there was ever a week to come out of hiding it was Labor Day weekend.

Special thanks to all the employees on the front lines putting themselves out there that allowed for me to visit open casinos and also another big thank you to Kelly in Vegas who set my friend up with her proxy service and entry into the Circa Million II pro football contest which had an overlay of $1.3 million as of Sunday. The Circa is guaranteeing $3 million in prizes with each entry costing $1,000. I make it a -180 favorite that they reach over 3,000 entries over the next week.

NFL Week 1

How is BetMGM’s Jason Scott feeling about Week 1 of the NFL in what will be their first season taking total control of the Nevada MGM books?

“Excited, optimistic and can’t wait for (pro) football to commence,” he said.

The season kicks off Thursday night with the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs hosting the Texans and according to South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews, the number has been dropping

“We moved from the Chiefs from -10 down to -9, but it wasn’t about the business we’ve been taking, it was more about me wanting to need the ‘dog more,” Andrews said.

Andrews went over a few of their biggest moves since initially opening Week 1 numbers on May 8.

“We’re a Raiders town now and they’ve been betting the home team where the Raiders have gone from pick ‘em to -3 at Carolina,” he said. “The Seahawks have gone from -1 to -2 (at Atlanta) and the Lions have a big buzz going as they’ve gone from -1 to -3 against the Bears.

“Cardinals money has been showing forcing us from +8 to +7 against the 49ers. The Cowboys have gone from -2 to -3 at the Rams and the Steelers have moved from -3.5 to -6 at the Giants, but I think Daniel Jones finished out 2019 on a pretty good note.”

The popular South Point sportsbook has moved seating around to follow state guidelines, but in addition to all the great places they have to watch an NFL Sunday inside the casino, they’ve opened another area for viewing near the race book in an area they’ve never utilized before.

Monday Night Total

I’m trying my hardest to figure out the logic behind such a low total posted (41) on the Monday night game with the Titans visiting the Broncos.

Snow is expected in Denver on Tuesday but Monday night is expected to be beautiful, so it’s not the weather. Last season, the Joe Flacco-led Broncos beat them 16-0 with both teams combining for only 23 first downs. Marcus Mariota started the game, threw two picks, was yanked and the Ryan Tannehill era began and then they started scoring in bunches and got over the total in nine of their last 10 regular-season games.

The Broncos’ offense looked much more fluid with Drew Lock in the final few games and they drafted more speed at WR for him in an attempt to outscore the high-powered Chiefs within the division. Over is the play.

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