Can you believe football is already back? The scorching sun of the devil’s breath in Las Vegas says it’s still summer, but in Canton, Ohio Sunday, the first kickoff of the new season will occur as the Giants and Bills face each other in the Hall-of-Fame game.
The kickoff is a sign of seasons changing even though Las Vegas’ thermometer says otherwise. For Las Vegas sports books, it means a big shift in revenues where they have the opportunity to contribute mightily to the overall casino win after a few bare months during baseball season.
“This year is a little different from the past because there really hasn’t been a lull in the summer months due to the World Cup,” said Wynn sports book director John Avello. “Usually, I get a little bit of a teacher’s break coming into football season, but it’s been pretty busy heading into this weekend.”
In addition to getting ready for booking the football games, the behind the scenes activity for the books is just as intense.
“Right now, I’m getting all my TV contracts done with pro and college football, making sure my room is perfect for viewing and getting my additional staff prepared for the season where we’ll write considerably more tickets,” said Avello. “It’s not just for football either, because the fall months also present a busy time with the baseball playoffs beginning and then basketball and hockey start, so it’s an extremely busy time of year to prepare for.”
The Bills are a 1-point favorite with the total sitting at 32.5. It may not sound like a lot of points, but the offense is always way behind the defenses this early in preseason.
AFC South action: The Indianapolis Colts made major strides last season in their second year under quarterback Andrew Luck and are favored to win the AFC South again this year. But by looks of betting Super Bowl futures betting patterns, the public is expecting much bigger things than just winning the division or advancing to a road divisional playoff game. They’re thinking Super Bowl.
“Right now, the Colts would be our third worst decision among the 32 teams,” said MGM sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback. “They’re right behind the Raiders and Chargers as our biggest risk. We opened them at 22-to-1 – have been as low as 15-1 – and currently have them at 20-1. Overall, we’ve written the sixth most tickets on them to win it all.”
With 10 properties located along the Las Vegas Strip, the MGM books have more rooms for visiting guests to lodge than any other and their future write for all sports is larger than any other chain because of all those rooms constantly saying hello to new visitors.
Getting a peak at their future action is very indicative of what bettors from all across the country are thinking. While they love Luck and the Colts, they’re not too excited about the rest of the AFC South.
“We opened the Texans at 45-to-1 and got some early action on them, dropping them to 30-to-1, but no one has touched them since and because of risk on other teams and lowering numbers, we’ve been raising their odds quite often,” said Stoneback. “They’re all the way up to 75-to-1 now and would be our fourth best scenario to win the Super Bowl.”
Meanwhile, the Titans have been treated like the plague with bettors.
“We see this every year with the Titans where they are totally ignored, kind of like BYU in football and basketball,” said Stoneback, a Seattle native and skeptic of former Washington QB Jake Locker.
“Our movement has been almost identical to what we saw last year: we opened at 50-to-1 and have pushed them up to 125-to-1, and still no serious takers. We have the lowest amount of tickets written on them. In fact, the team that is No. 31 on the least amount of tickets written – the Bills – have twice as many tickets on them as the Titans,” he said.
As for Locker, who has shown signs of being a good field general – kind of like a Jake Plummer, Stoneback isn’t sure he has what it takes to be a consistent QB in the NFL.
“I don’t think he has the arm it takes to win in the NFL. I’m rooting for him, but I don’t think he’s the answer to taking Tennessee to the next level.”
The Jaguars have the least amount of expectations among all the AFC South teams, but at such high opening odds, it doesn’t take a lot of cash wager to accumulate risk.
“We opened them at 200-to-1 and have had to drop them down to 125-to-1,” said Stoneback. “There’s a lot of positives with this team, not so much as to win the Super Bowl, but to be more competitive than what we saw at the beginning of last season.”
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].