Las Vegas sportsbooks had been patiently waiting for Week 1 of the NFL to kick off since March Madness was the last frenzied crowd they’ve seen in their rooms.
This is the season where the bulk of the yearly revenues are made and where director’s end-of-year bonus percentages are determined. However, bettors have also been waiting for this day just as long.
It’s America’s favorite pastime; betting football. And the bettors took Round 1 in the head-to-head matchup with the books, as favorites went 9-4 against-the-spread on Sunday.
“It was a great Sunday for the players,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick. “The Rams and Bills were our only winners out of the 12 early games.”
Every book came into the weekend knowing they were going to have to knock down four key teams: the Colts (-2.5 at Buffalo), Seahawks (-4 at St. Louis), Packers (-7 at Chicago) and Dolphins (-4 at Washington). The books got half the games in they needed, which on a regular weekend would be outstanding and destroy lots of parlay liability, but in Week 1 all the other favorites that mattered covered.
There was almost no interest in the battle of No. 1 and 2 draft picks at Tampa Bay squaring off where the Bucs were 3-point home favorites, but lost 42-14 to the Titans. This was one of the underdogs that covered, but no one cared about it.
“It was a real good day for the public,” said South Point sportsbook director Bert Osborne. “They’re having a festive time on this opening day.”
Natural instinct has the public generally siding with the favorites. Wise guys usually take the dogs and more times than not, it’s the books rooting for the same side as the wise guys because the public parlay risk is so great.
The perfect example of a game with bittersweet results for the house was the Bills’ impressive 27-14 win over the Colts in Rex Ryan’s Buffalo debut. This game has stood out since the first line was posted in April because the public absolutely loved it.
They love the Colts to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, so winning at Buffalo in September with Andrew Luck seemed like easy money, and “they’re only laying -2.5.”
The sportsbooks had to watch the risk grow on this game for the past six months, but on Sunday morning wiseguy action came in on the Bills and the number dropped all the way to pick ‘em. The books were happy to be balanced before the decision came in, but all the winnings essentially passed through the books and went straight into the wise guys wallets.
“We had zero win on the parlays today,” said Osborne, “and we lost on the straight bets and teasers.”
With so many favorites coming in, there was lots of live parlay risk going into the Sunday night game where the Cowboys were 7-point home favorites with the total at 52.
Osborne said he had a four way loser, with each side and total, and that the risk was morphing into something massive for the Monday night game no matter who won Sunday night.
The Cowboys won 27-26, which went OVER the total and happened to be the worse result for Osborne and his South Point book. The UNDER would have been less harmful. The Vikings-Eagles favorite combination on Monday night is going to be brutal for the house, but would make several bettors very happy if it comes through.
The last games posted of the week always carry the greatest risk for the house because of every live parlay waiting to cash with the results. For example: a bettor has five teams already in running the gauntlet from Thursday through Saturday and Sunday at 5-0 so far.
Now she had the Eagles this past Monday night to get paid 40-to-1 odds on a six-teamer. That’s the story with a lot of people and the books have no way to even out a game when paying multiple tickets with odds at 6-to-1 and higher. They can shave off a couple hundred thousand in risk, but for the most part, they don’t give away the house and just root the dog in.
As you can imagine, with almost everyone winning on the day, there were quite a few opening day smiles in the sportsbooks.
“It was awesome,” said McCormick of the scene at his Red Rock sportsbook. “It was the busiest non-Super Bowl day ever. Everything went incredibly smooth. All the guests got their bets in without long waits in line and the new video wall stole the show displaying all the games in style.”
I’ll be checking out that million dollar wall next week in a football/spa stay-cation.
Congrats to all you winners out there. Job well done! With all that extra cash floating around, the sportsbooks can expect an extra boost in handle for Week 2.
I was optimistic about the Broncos chances coming into the season and thought of them as a team who could surprise while everyone was discussing the Colts, Patriots, Ravens and Dolphins as AFC representatives for the Super Bowl.
Manning never has been a great performer in preseason and he’s never had a strong arm, but what I saw Sunday against the Ravens, showed me he’s more scared than ever of getting hit.
Manning without confidence is the same Peyton we saw in the Super Bowl against Seattle, the same that was one and out at home in the playoffs two of the past three years and who couldn’t beat the Florida Gators four straight years while at Tennessee.
He’s 39-years old in his 18th season. Father time is ticking and showing up for the first time in his career. It’s only one game, but zero TD passes and one pick at home on opening day is a first. We’ll see how this all unfolds, but Denver is a 1.5-point down grade for me just on Manning question marks alone.
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. Twitter: Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected].