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Las Vegas sports books get a bit of a primer this week to prepare themselves for the massive onslaught of guests that will pile into every book for March Madness, which begins next Thursday with the NCAA Tournament.

This week will be kind of a prep course for every ticket writer and supervisor as 32 different conference tournaments will be happening at all hours of the day. Three will be held right here in Las Vegas.

Every sports book director will be going through a check list to ensure they’ve got everything ready for the intense crowds they’re about to see. That includes proper staffing where every ticket writer will be asked to work extra and all vacation requests have been denied. The room has to be in tip-top shape with every television working properly with an excellent picture.

Then there has to be internal cooperation from other departments that will play a huge role in making every guest experience a memorable one.

The food and beverage department will need to have additional cocktail servers in the book and a security presence will be needed to keep a room full of partiers in order and ensure no minors are in the book.

Internal maintenance will be needed for more sweeps through the room to keep it clean as empty beer bottles and ripped losing tickets will pile up more than at anytime of the year.

It’s a total team effort and every book does a great job. It’s why there is no better March Madness experience in the country than Las Vegas. In the end, it’s all worthwhile. From the gambling angle, the books have the most consistent hold percentage in college basketball for March than any other sport or time of year. While football and baseball have their ups and downs, college hoops in March always holds 8 to 10 percent.

A few books will also be offering contests geared toward the Tournament. Station Casinos will have their popular Last Man Standing elimination contest where $25 (buy four get one free) gives you a chance to win $50,000 by picking one game a day against the spread throughout the tournament.

If you lose a game, that entry is done. If you win, you live on to pick the next day. Station will also be offering $2 Bud and Bud lights throughout the tournament and $1 hot dogs.

The South Point has a $5 contest card with a guaranteed $10,000 prize for picking the most games correct (no spread) between all games played on Thursday and Friday. It may sound easy picking games without a spread, but part of the Madness is all the upsets.

McCoy trade

Las Vegas sports books barely blinked when All-Pro RB LeSean McCoy was traded from Philadelphia to Buffalo for Kiko Alonso last week.

The Westgate LV SuperBook and MGM Resorts made no adjustments to their Super Bowl odds. Station Casinos shortened the Bills from 30-to-1 to 25-1 and kept the Eagles at 22-1. The only move made at The Wynn was a lengthening of the Eagles’ futures price.

“No movement on Bills – they are already low at 50-1 due to bets,” said Wynn sports book director John Avello. “We can’t go much lower until they show they are a contender. We took Philly from 15-1 up to 20-1. Who will run the ball for them?”

Right now, those running the ball for Philly are newly signed Frank Gore, Darren Sproles, Chris Polk and former Oregon Duck Kenjon Barner.

Apparently, McCoy and Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s relationship had soured recently. As we saw last season with All-Pro WR DeSean Jackson, you either get with Kelly’s program or get out. In this case, Kelly was able to grab another one of his Oregon guys in Alonso – he now has 9 on his Eagles roster.

World Series odds

The Royals and A’s both made the MLB playoffs last season, and their AL wild-card game became an instant classic, a thrilling 12-inning, 9-8 win by Kansas City. Las Vegas sports books, though, downgraded each team’s chances to make the postseason this year, largely because of key personnel changes, including both starting pitchers from that wild-card game.

However, over the past 10 days, the betting public has shown with its money that it believes the Westgate is wrong. The 2015 World Series odds on the Royals and A’s have been shortened from 40-1 to 30-1.

Immediately following the 2014 World Series, which the Royals lost in seven games to the Giants, Kansas City was posted at 16-1. After losing their ace, James Shields, to the Padres in free agency, and to a far lesser degree Billy Butler to Oakland, the Royals’ odds were boosted to 40-1.

The A’s have had far more changes to their roster since the wild card loss. They opened at 20-1 in October with the belief Jon Lester would sign elsewhere. Then, their main power sources from 2014 – Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Derek Norris – all departed and were replaced by Butler, Brett Lawrie, Ike Davis and Ben Zobrist, and the adjustment to 40-1 was made. Donaldson and Moss combined for 54 homers and 179 RBIs last season.

The public excitement around the Royals and A’s translated to the futures odds only, as season win totals still have the A’s at 81.5 and the Royals at 80.5. In the minds of most sports books, both are .500 ball clubs.

NASCAR handle

Nearly every sports book in Las Vegas reported their handle for the Kobalt 400 last weekend was down about 15 to 20 percent from 2014 and no one has any real explanation.

Attendance at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday was only about 90,000, which is much lower than past years and that could be part of the reason. One book director said not having Las Vegans Kurt and Kyle Busch participating could have lessened the enthusiasm for bettors and another director noted one particular betting group that bet NASCAR last season hasn’t been playing this year.

The first three races have all seen declines in handle at the books.

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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