Sports books enjoy
Sweet November

Jan 16, 2007 6:09 AM

A recent Wall Street Journal article suggested sports handicapper Dr. Bob may have brought commercial bookmakers to their knees with his expert selections and high win percentage.

In Nevada, the bookmakers are probably still on their knees, praying for more selections to stimulate business.

In November, football betting fueled a $35 million surge in sports gaming win for Nevada sports books, a 538 percent increase over last November’s total.

The sports win represents a solid 11.8 percent "hold" percentage of all bets made.

Football win accounted for $26.5 million, a 335 percent increase over November 2005 figures.

Not surprisingly, parlay cards were also lucrative for sports books in November. The win on parlay cards was $6.5 million, a 229 percent increase over last November. The "hold" on parlay cards was a whopping 44.4 percent.

"No question Dr. Bob had a good year, but we had a better year," said the sports director at a major Strip casino. "Regardless of his winning percentage, which dropped off as his plays were bet higher and higher, he mostly stimulated business, and that’s always a good thing for us."

The sports director added that most Nevada books have had winning weeks ever since the football season began, except for the second week of the season in September.

Betting on basketball, however, decreased about 12 percent to $4.3 million in November, the first full month of NBA and college action.

"Interest in the NBA has dwindled in recent years, perhaps because the game simply isn’t as exciting as it used to be," the director said. "In the college ranks, we’ll see more interest as the teams get into their conference schedules this month, which will lead to high-octane tournament play in March."

Nevada race books were happy to reverse a trend in declining race bets. Pari-mutuel win increased 24 percent in November to $7.9 million.

The Breeders’ Cup probably stimulated the surge in action. If so, next November should be even better as the Breeders’ Cup announced last week an expanded card in 2007, adding three new races and dividing the event into two days.