Super ‘dog’ takes bite out of books

February 05, 2002 8:53 AM
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In what one bookmaker described as a “worst case scenario,” the underdog New England Patriots took a huge bite out of Nevada sports books on Super Bowl Sunday.

“The money line loss was the killer,” said the sports book director of a Strip casino. “We could have offset losing on the Patriots and the under, but the outright win by the Patriots did us in.”

The money line on the Patriots opened at +500 (5-1) and was bet down to +350 (3-1).

Many sports books also reported that players did well on parlay cards by linking the Patriots to the under, along with other props.

Propositions ”” long regarded as a slam dunk for the sports books ”” may not have been the cash cow they once were.

“Many players were heavily betting some props, such as the under on field goals and interceptions, as well as others that were relatively easy to handicap,” said the sports director of a mid-Strip casino. “We didn’t lose money on props, which usually accounts for more than 60 percent of our handle. But we didn’t rake it in, either.”

Paying off future bets turned out to be a mixed bag for bookmakers.

“We had enough money pour in on the Rams to pay off those longshot bets on the Patriots,” said one bookie.

At the Imperial Palace, director Jay Kornegay said he had to pay off some players who got 300-1 on the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.

Even though the Patriots opened the season at 50-1, Kornegay said. They were moved to 300-1 after losing their first two games and Drew Bledsoe went down with a season-ending injury.

The amount bet on the Super Bowl in Las Vegas won’t be estimated for a few days, but most properties reported brisk business and standing-room-only crowds.

Some bookmakers, however, said the high pointspread (14 points) and lackluster match-up may have deterred enough bettors to keep the handle from topping last year’s $67.7 million.

The trend in recent years has been a slow decline in Super Bowl wagering. It reached a peak of $77 million in 1998. Some bettors have been driven to off-shore accounts, while some have been turned off by Nevada regulations restricting easy access for big bettors.