Books score!

Feb 8, 2005 11:49 AM

The Big Game became a Super comeback from a season’s worth of losing weeks for Las Vegas sports books.

"The dog and ”˜under’ typically spells relief," said John Avello, director of operations for Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas. "The outcome (New England 24-21) was where the line should have been. Past Super Bowl history had a lot to do with the bookies raising the line. The smart money knew it."

The official handle will come out later this week, but a consensus of Vegas bookmakers believe it will approach last year’s record $81 million handle for the Patriots- Panthers match-up. The record hold — $12.4 million in last year’s game — could also be in jeopardy.

"It had been three years since Philadelphia had been a dog of four points or more," Avello said. "The line was just too many points. The public had won all year betting New England, which had an incredible record of covering the number. It was our turn."

Avello also said the net win could surpass all previous Super Bowls.

"I certainly believe that’s possible," he said. "Our customers at Bally’s and Paris/Las Vegas were happy. Everyone at our parties was pleased. The bars and lounges were full. It looked like New Year’s Eve here.

The Stardust’s oddsmaker Bob Scucci, a guest on a local radio show Monday, said his sports book’s handle was almost identical to last year.

"If you had the Patriots, you were losers," Scucci said. "I’d be surprised if we beat last year’s handle, but we came pretty close. The Pats covered about 13 games. They owed us the last two."

GamingToday contributing writer Jimmy Vaccaro said that the majority of the $50,000-plus wagers were on the Eagles.

"Whoever understands this racket knows there was no sense jumping in and taking the Eagles last Wednesday," said Vaccaro, who took Philadelphia at +7 "The last 3-4 hours the big money showed. Bookies understand it, the wise guys understand it, but the amateurs don’t."

Jay Kornegay, Las Vegas Hilton Sports Book manager, said this Super Bowl betting was textbook big-game betting.

"This was the first Super Bowl in a while that pretty much went as anticipated," Kornegay said. "Early on, about four of every five dollars went on the Pats, then the betting leveled off. Closer to game time, the larger wagers came in on the dog. It was a blueprint of how to follow big game betting."

The parties, though, were kept low-key due to the NFL mandates concerning promotions using the Super Bowl name. Nevertheless, they were well attended across the area.

"I did get a little nervous about the handle," Kornegay said. "But the floodgates opened Sunday. It was a one-night stand we liked."