Public teams helping out betting public

May 22, 2001 11:10 AM

They just keep betting the Lakers and the house just is having a hard time staying afloat money wise with their games.

The betting public is riding the Los Angeles Lakers’ tidal wave of 16 consecutive wins through the weekend.

The 16th win came against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Finals 104-90 Saturday in San Antonio. The Spurs were 2½ to 3-point favorites for the game.

And the books are hoping the Spurs drown the Lakers for the series. At The Mirage sports book, the Lakers opened -130 to win the series and closed -150.

"They love to bet the Lakers," said Robert Walker, The Mirage race and sports book director. "We did have some Spurs money to off set."

The story was the same at Terrible’s sports book.

"We did lose money on that game," said John Williamson, Terrible’s race and sports book director. "It wasn’t that bad though. It was about four percent. Not a bad loss for a Lakers’ game."

And if the Lakers win the Western Conference title, the Eastern Conference representative will be projected to sink.

"I think the Lakers would open up 7-1, 8-1 favorites or higher," Walker said. "If the Lakers win the (Western Finals) in four or five games, then they would be a 10-1 or even a 12-1 favorite. The Lakers swept the preseason favorite in Portland, they swept the Sacramento Kings."

While the Lakers are a public team, other teams like San Antonio, Milwaukee, Charlotte and even Toronto are not popular with bettors.

Walker said there was almost double the amount of tickets written for the Lakers-Spurs Game 1, than for the Hornets-Bucks Game 7, which was on Sunday.

"If you didn’t have cable TV, you probably couldn’t see the Hornets play at all this year," Walker said. "Nobody really follows the Bucks, Hornets or Raptors, but the Raptors are starting to become a public team with Vince Carter emerging into a superstar."

Philadelphia is a public team with Allen Iverson’s superstar status. At The Mirage Friday night for Toronto’s Game 6 win over Philadelphia, just about all book patrons were cheering for the Sixers.

But at Terrible’s, bettors are not falling in love with public teams.

"We’ve had good two-way action with the NBA," he said. "The same is true with hockey."

House hurt by NHL too

In the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche are sinking the books as well.

"The public is hoping for a New Jersey-Colorado (Stanley Cup Finals)," Walker said as both teams lead 3-1 in their best-of-7 conference finals as of Monday afternoon. "New Jersey would be a solid favorite, but Colorado has looked awfully good."

Colorado did some damage to the house on Friday night. The Avalanche were +165 underdogs against the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis. But when Colorado won 4-3 in overtime, the crowd at The Mirage cheered wildly.

Tennis anyone?

Not many bettors say ”˜yes’ to that question.

But this is the biggest period of the year for tennis.

The French Open starts next week and Wimbledon will start next month, two of the four major tournaments for the year. Odds are only posted in Las Vegas for the four major tournaments.

But for those who love this sport enough, they bet women’s tournaments heavier than men’s, according to Walker.

"Tennis has not hit the mainstream," Walker said. "There are too many international players that people just don’t know about. If Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras start playing better, then action on the men’s side will pick up."

French Open odds are posted at the Imperial Palace. Agassi and the field are both 3-1 favorites to win the men’s draw. On the women’s draw, Martina Hingis is a 5-2 favorite to win at Roland Garros.

Also on the men’s side, Gustavo Kuerten is 4-1. Other notables with odds are Sampras and Patrick Rafter, both 15-1. Sampras has never won the French Open. The field is 15-1.

Also on the women’s draw, Jennifer Capriati is 9-2. Venus Williams is 3-1, while sister Serena Williams is 5-1. Lindsay Davenport is 8-1. The field is 15-1.