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Majors owe NBA

Jul 1, 2008 6:57 PM

On The Mark by Mark Mayer | Baseball is enjoying a banner year in the Las Vegas sports books at the expense, unfortunately, of the bettors. And would you believe the NBA playoffs are partly responsible!

For insight we turned to three big baseball fans in the industry – Mike Colbert (Plaza), Mark Dufty (Jerry’s Nugget) and Frankie Turco (El Cortez). Their responses may not offer help, but they’re honest.

"The house has capitalized on a nice combination of favorites and underdogs winning," Colbert said. "The Plaza has been holding at a very high percentage and volume is up from last year. Parlays have been especially successful for us."

As pointed out regularly in this column, there are no dominant teams in baseball. Aside from the Chicago Cubs, popular betting teams such as the NY Yankees, NY Mets and LA Dodgers are all in the negative. Moreover, unheralded franchises like Tampa Bay, Florida, Oakland and Minnesota continue to win.

"It has been a pleasant surprise to us," Colbert said. "Baseball tends to even itself out. Division races are close and there are a number of chances for bettors to win. Here at the Plaza, our -105 takebacks give regularly give the bettors a chance to rally back."

So what about this unexpected NBA angle?

"The NBA playoffs were tough on the bettors," Dufty said. "I think a lot of NBA customers turned to baseball as a way of getting their money back. There’s no question that baseball is the easiest of all the sports to win on a regular basis. With the run lines, totals and side bets, there are lots of options to consider."

 Even though baseball wagering is up, there’s no threat to football and basketball in popularity.

 "If I were to break it down, at least 60 percent of our volume from wagering is from football, 25 percent from basketball and 10 percent from baseball," Dufty said. "The rest will come from hockey, NASCAR and all others."

Turco said baseball has been a winner at both the El Cortez and sister casino South Point.

"If the house does well, you can bet a lot of it comes from baseball parlays," Turco said. "I just think it’s been a bad start for bettors and that things will even out. Maybe they should also bet keno. We just had a $25,000 winner here."

Fine. We’ll parlay Tampa Bay and keno under 10.