Super Bowl
helps books
avert disaster

Feb 15, 2005 9:57 AM

The books are already eager for the 2005-06 NFL season to begin, figuring they weathered a potential disaster.

"The Patriots made everything right in the Super Bowl," said Leroy’s spokesman Jimmy Vaccaro. "The fact that the books took a hit for three weeks in November makes for great copy, but if the books just keep writing tickets it works out well in the end."

Black Sunday came during the middle of a three-week run in November when road favorites covered nearly 65 percent, with both wiseguys and regular players wagering against the underdogs.

"Most of the general public tend to bet favorites," said Mike Kostich, supervisor of race and sports at the Rampart in Summerlin. "We didn’t feel the losses as badly as some of the books on the Strip, but there’s no question that the Super Bowl was a big winner for the house and made things equal."

Many sports books at neighborhood casinos were facing their "worst football season" ever, until the Super Bowl rejuvenated their bottom line.

The Super Bowl handle set a new record at $90.7 million, up from last year’s $81.2 million. The amount Nevada books won, $15.4 million (17 percent of the handle), also set a new record, up from last year’s win of $12.4 million.

"What happened this past year with the books losing so much early was an aberration," Vaccaro said. "Normally, wiseguys and regular bettors don’t side together, but favorites did very well most of the season. It usually happens once every seven years or so when there is such a run of favorites. The books can handle underdogs going on a run, but when favorites do it that’s trouble."

Kostich agreed, citing that parity in the NFL had much to do with the change in trend away from underdogs.

"It’s fair to say that parity is why books lost so early," he said. "The lines were off the first three weeks and the bettors saw that a few teams were doing well covering as favorites and they stuck with them."

Vaccaro noted that college football was a separate deal from the NFL and not affected by this past year’s pro trend.

"Leroy’s did well in college football as a whole because so many underdogs wound up covering," he said. "The Super Bowl result made everything well. I don’t see the same thing happening this year. The favorites won’t cover as much, in my opinion."