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And we thought the NFL didn’t like sports betting as they try to stop New Jersey from having it, stating it will “irreparably harm” them if allowed there.

Here they are throwing Las Vegas sports books a bone by staggering their game times again. This time on Sunday, it was a move to 6:30 a.m. (PT) which gave the books four separate waves of action on one day. So awesome!

How thoughtful of the NFL. This is almost as good as starting the afternoon games at 1:25 or adding regular Thursday night football games. It’s big business for television and the NFL.

Most of the reason why is because it’s big business for betting. People love to bet the NFL and it was no more apparent than Sunday morning when books across the Strip had people show up in droves to watch and bet the Falcons-Lions London game at 6:30 a.m. The sun wasn’t even up yet.

“We opened at 6 a.m. and had two steady lines all the way through kickoff,” said MGM Resorts sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback. “Our room was already two-thirds of the way full by 7:30 a.m., and the best thing of all is that it got a lot of people to get their bets in early so there wasn’t that mad rush right at 10 a.m. for the first wave of games.

“I’d like to see more of these type of staggered start times. Hopefully when the NFL is in their next discussion about start times they give Las Vegas some consideration,” Stoneback said with a chuckle. “Didn’t they go to 1:25 p.m. start times a few years ago for the late games for our benefit?”

The move to 1:25 p.m. start times almost a decade ago was huge for sports books because bettors were given a chance to roll over their winnings in the first wave of games that always ended around 1:15.

“It’s kind of nice to be a winner on the day before the big action begins,” said the South Point’s veteran bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro of the Lions, who were popular favorites, but failed to cover the 3.5-point spread in their exciting 22-21 win over the Falcons.

“At about twenty after 7 (a.m.), we had about 30 percent of the room filled up,” Vaccaro said. “We wrote more business to the game than I expected, and we also did very well it. There weren’t many takers on the Falcons and their second-half play showed why many have a tough time putting their money on them. Atlanta just made one bad move after another on cue in the second-half. They should just stay there and become London’s team.”

How’d the books do over the weekend?

“We got beat early with Minnesota (+1.5), New England (-6), Miami (-6.5) and Kansas City (-7), but did well with Seattle (-5.5) not covering and Cincinnati (+2.5) winning,” said William Hill’s Nick Bogdanovich, who came into to work at 5:30 am for the early kickoff and was still at his office after 6 pm.

“In the afternoon, though, Pittsburgh (+5) saved our tails. It was an absolute monster decision for us with all kinds of stuff live going into the Colts. Arizona (-2.5) was good too, but not like the Colts falling.”

“Everything was going to the Colts,” said Vaccaro. “We were heavy with straight bets, parlays, teasers, parlay cards, you name it, everyone loved the Colts on Sunday, so the Pittsburgh win was big for us.”

The result of the Colts game washed away most of the carryover risk from the morning games, but there was still one more obstacle for the sports books to cross until they could all say it was going to be a winning Week 8 for the house — the Sunday night game where New Orleans was -2.5 at home against the Packers.

“Green Bay and OVER (was) a blood bath for us. We were decent up to that point, but could have lost on the day if that combination came in,” said Bogdanovich, who also said Saturday’s college football was a great day for the players and bad for the house. Nicky also said that handle for the World Series has been surprisingly large at his books.

NBA starts Tuesday: I’m not going to say Cleveland will win the East easy, but I will say that they are in a much better position to win than the Heat were in Lebron James’ first season there.

I hear people talk about chemistry and they bring up that first Miami year as an example, but this is completely different mainly because of who Lebron is now.

When he started out in Miami, it was D-Wade’s team and he didn’t know where to fit and that’s where the chemistry problem was. This time he knows exactly where he fits, and now he’s also a better smarter player than he was then. He takes better shots (56% FG last year). He’s also got a great supporting cast around him and will make marginal players better just like he did in Miami.

The competition is also not as stiff as it was in the East when he started in Miami. If Derrick Rose stays healthy, they’ll give the Cleveland a strong run, but the East was much stronger four years ago with Boston, Orlando, Atlanta and New York being tougher, and Chicago came into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed.

With Indiana being way down, this Eastern Conference is quite possibly the worst it’s ever been.

Beating the West may be a different story, especially if the Spurs make it again, but the Cavs certainly have a nice path paved for them, which is why they are the Westgate’s 5-to-7 favorites to win the East.

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

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