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Las Vegas books survive Super Bowl XLIII

Feb 3, 2009 5:11 PM
by Mark Mayer |

Just about anything would have surpassed last year’s Patriots-Giants carnage for the books, but Super Bowl 43 generally was fine for Las Vegas sports books.

"It was definitely a positive for us," said Ed Malinowski, race and sports director at the Stratosphere. "There were no big liabilities out there like last year with the Giants. We had a chance to win a lot if the Steelers and over had come in. But at least we did have the over."

Malinowski said he was pleased with the volume, didn’t expect to eclipse last year’s handle of $92 million.

"Betting was a little lighter than past Super Bowls, but we figured that with the economy," he said. "We had a lot of Arizona futures bets at our Aquarius resort in Laughlin so we had to keep the money line lower on Pittsburgh to offset that. But we felt good at kickoff and at no time in the game did I have to polish off my resume."

Planet Hollywood drew close to 2,700 customers for its Super Bowl festivities and wound up with a sizable hold of 12 percent on the game. "A great weekend with awesome results," said David Snock, race and sports director at Planet Hollywood. "We had long lines and a lot of happy guests."

The hold was nearly as good at the Rio, the hub of Harrah’s properties, which reported a solid 10 percent on SB 43.

"The game fell fine for us," said David Pemberton, race and sports director at the Rio. "We needed Pittsburgh to win to offset all the futures money on Arizona. We kept our line at 7 the whole time. For Cardinals bets we went to -120 and then -125. For Pittsburgh we were at -7 even."

Pemberton said the game drew more than 2,000 to the Pavilion, mostly Arizona Cardinals fans.

"It’s my 20th Super Bowl in the business and this one in the beginning didn’t have that excitement," Pemberton said. "Things then picked up as the game went on, especially in the fourth quarter. There was a huge buzz after it was over. Holding 10 percent this year was great. It was like minus 10 last year."

Last year, sports books posted a bad number and were burnt badly, to the tune of a $2.5 million loss on Super Bowl 42. GamingToday handicappers said this year’s line should have been Pittsburgh -3 or -4 at the most.

Most properties opened with Pittsburgh -7 and stuck with that number.

"We’re rocking and rolling said Jay Rood, head of race and sports operations for the MGM MIRAGE properties. "The pace was pretty brisk. I think the day went as well as it could possibly go for the state of Nevada."

"We went back and forth between 7 and 6½," said Bert Cirincione, race and sports manager at Aliante, the newest of the Station Casinos properties. "Most of the early money came in on Arizona."

While the Vegas books were generally pleased with the outcome of Super Bowl 43, the bettors did have their moments. For instance, ALL the teaser parlays won for the players and lost for the books: Arizona and the over, and Steelers and the under, etc.

The crazy safety prop didn’t help either.

"It’s the only prop that hurt us," Pemberton said. "Everyone was getting 8-1."

Another close call for the books was the final score not being a 3-point difference.

The bettors also won on the first score of the game. Most wagered it would be a field goal and in fact, it was for a 3-0 Pittsburgh lead.

"What helped us was parlay cards," Pemberton said. "We held out 86 percent due largely to the number of punts, which landed right on 4. Since we have ties lose cards, it was a big help to us."