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Books did Super in football despite Patriots

Feb 26, 2008 2:30 AM

Don’t cry for the sports books.

Even though they lost a record $2,573,103 on Super Bowl XLII, sports books in Nevada won a healthy $24,606,000 in December in football, a 13.7% increase over the same month in 2006, thanks in great part to the public’s favorite professional football teams coming down to Earth against the number a bit and a slew of college bowl games.

The Patriots, darlings of NFL bettors in September and October when they went a perfect 8-0 against the number, went a paltry 1-4 ATS in December while the Cowboys (0-4 ATS), Colts (2-3) and Packers (2-3) helped the house bounce back strong in the month as the four went a combined 5-14 ATS (26%).

Also adding to the sports books’ healthy totals in the sport was the revenue generated from the record-tying 32 college football bowl games this year, 21 of which were played in the month of December.

Jay Kornegay, Sports Book Director for the Las Vegas Hilton’s renowned SuperBook, thinks it came down to simple math, as in more weekends in the month to bet on football.

"The only explanation I can see as far as December was ”˜Was there an extra weekend?’" Kornegay correctly speculated of the month which had five weekends compared to November which had just four. "That would be my first guess, an extra weekend of pro football. My second guess is that the public was doing pretty well betting the NFL."

The sports books hold for football statewide in December was a respectable 11.4% according to the recently released numbers by the state’s Gaming Control Board.

Silver State bookmakers also won $6.5 million on horse racing, $3.5 million on parlay cards, $3.4 million on basketball and $1.3 million on "Other" sports — which include hockey and boxing among others — in the month which saw parlay cards again lead the way in hold percentage with a robust 30.82% mark despite being down 9% from the same month last year.

 Partially because of the Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton boxing match at the MGM Grand on Dec. 8, the "Other" category went up 74.1% statewide and 133.8% for Strip area casinos for the month with $1.27 million being won statewide and $770,000 of profit from Strip area properties.

The biggest percentage jump over last December in sports wagering was in basketball which saw a 77.3% increase statewide with a hold percentage of 5%. Strip properties got an even bigger jump in hoops action — a 94.3% jump — but ended up holding just 2.96% of all money bet on the sport.

Kornegay was perplexed on why the books are booking more basketball this winter.

"I don’t know why," Kornegay said of the big jump in action on the hardwood. "Basketball was okay to us in December but I didn’t see large variances either way. I just don’t know why."

Sports books statewide won $31.8 million in the month, up a healthy 19.3% from December, 2006. The hold for the 174 sports books was an impressive 10.2% in December.