It may have taken the Las Vegas sports books a few weeks to get off their losing streak, but the streak is finally over. Not only did the books finally close out the regular season with a rare win, but they also get to close the ledgers on a frustrating final quarter of 2012, one of the worst in Nevada sports books history.
“This was the best weekend we’ve had since early October,“ said LVH Super Book vice-president Jay Kornegay. “It’s nice to finish out the year on a high note because it’s been a difficult season.”
Things started out great for the books in September. Teams were keeping bettors off-balance – like the Cardinals winning every week, including at New England – but as Kornegay said, it slowed considerably in October and the big one hit in November – week 9 of the NFL season – where statewide losses estimated up to $10 million.
On that fateful Sunday for the books, favorites went only 8-4 ATS, but this season the trend has been more about key teams bunched together in four or five team conglomerates – parlays that pay up to 20-to-1 odds. Last week favorites went 8-7 ATS and the books lost. This week, they went 7-8 ATS and the books won.
Much of week 17’s win can be based on two teams losing, or not covering, right out of the gate in the first wave of games. The flames were put out before the blaze could gain momentum.
“Our best games of the day were Panthers winning outright at New Orleans and the Lions game falling 2,” said South point sports book director Bert Osborne. “We had the most parlay liability built up throughout the week with those two games.”
Cam Newton probably wishes the season wasn’t ending as he continued a string a solid performances down the stretch by beating the Saints as a 5-point underdog. The Lions showed some life as well, losing 26-24, but covering the 3-point spread against the Bears.
Other good games the sports books did well on included the Vikings beating Packers outright as 3-point underdogs and the Seahawks failing to cover 11-points against the Rams.
Surprisingly, the big favorites of the Broncos (-17) and Patriots (-12) coming in together didn’t hurt the books too bad because many stayed away from the large number.
“The public doesn’t like to side with double-digit favorites,” Kornegay said. “They still bet them, and don’t like to take the points, either, and the action is weighted to the favorites, but the amount of action is far less than it is with a favorite of 7-points or less.”
Kornegay said he actually did quite well with the Patriots covering because a large house player bet the Dolphins, which is why the LVH had the lowest number (-11) on the Patriots in town.
While Seattle didn’t cover on straight bets and parlays, they did hurt the books in another area.
“Seattle not covering was good for us, but that last touchdown they scored hurt us with teasers,” said Osborne.
The Patriots, Broncos, 49ers, Steelers and Seahawks were all double-digit favorites and went 3-2 ATS, but 5-0 on teasers when subtracting 6-to-7 points off the initial spread.
The books should have known it was their week to win when they got two back door covers with the Raiders (+8) and Cardinals (+16) going their way.
“All season long it seems we haven’t had a back door go our way,” Osborne jokingly said, “and in a matter a few minutes we get two of them with two of the worst offensive teams in Arizona and Oakland.”
The fate of the books were sealed as a winner when the Sunday night game stayed UNDER 48. It didn’t matter for most books whether or not the Cowboys or Redskins (-3) won, the only way for them to lose would have been the game going OVER like the two teams did on Thanksgiving.
The one positive note on 2012 is that when 2013 comes around, the sports books month-over-month numbers in the final quarter will look pretty impressive. They can’t be any worse.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Contact Micah at [email protected].