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Super Bowl action better than expected

Jan 29, 2002 9:32 AM

Last year, players in Nevada bet nearly $68 million on the Super Bowl, and this year bookmakers are expecting even more action.

Although many sports directors in town would have preferred a Rams-Steelers matchup, early betting on the Patriots has been encouraging. At many sports books, the Rams opened a 15½-point favorite last Sunday and were immediately bet down to —14. Since then, the number has remained steady, indicating the number is probably a good one.

As reported last week, one bookmaker, Sid Diamond at J.W. Marriott in Summerlin (formerly the Regent), continues to buck the bookie trend. Diamond told GamingToday he made the Rams a 14-point favorite at — $1.05 and the Patriots an underdog at +15, also with a 5-cent vigorish.

Most of the bet shops in Las Vegas charge a 10 cent vigorish (lay —$1.10), and none would dream of splitting the line, especially at a key number such as 14.

Not to be outdone, the Coast Resorts will offer a nickel vigorish (—$1.05) on its Super Bowl flat bets, as well as a 20 cent line on its proposition bets, according to sports director Bert Osborne. Coast Resorts include the Gold Coast, Barbary Coast, Suncoast and The Orleans.

In last weekend’s championship round, bookmakers won back some of the money they lost in the previous two rounds when favorites carried the day for punters.

They reversed the trend when New England not only covered the spread against the heavily-favored Steelers, but won outright. But the Eagles backdoor cover against the Rams wasn’t good news for sports books as the late money poured in on Philadelphia, driving the spread from +11½ to less than +10 in some locations.

“With all the money line bets on Philadelphia, if the Eagles would have won straight up, you would have seen bookmakers in soup lines,” said Eric St. Clair, assistant sports manager at J.W. Marriott Hotel & Casino.

It’s not likely the money line bets on the Super Bowl will alter bookmakers’ eating habits, since the line is usually shaded in the direction of the house. For instance, at press time you could bet the Rams on the money line at —600, with a takeback on the Patriots of about +400.

Considering the Rams are a 14 point pick, the line has little value, especially for the Patriots.

“The money line on the Super Bowl is always shaded,” said one bookmaker, who added that the Patriots, as a 14 point underdog, should be “about double” the current 4-1.

“In 1997, when Green Bay was favored by 14 points over New England, the Patriots were +700 on the money line,” he said. “But even then, if you waited too long, the line quickly dropped. But that’s always the case. If you like the dog on the money line, bet it early.”