The NCAA tournament is done and Duke will have cost
thousands of people across the country a chance to win office contests, friendly
bets or serious money at the sports books.
Blame Indiana for that.
The “Who-siers” became this year’s version of
Cinderella that cost at least 50 percent of the 300 entrants in the Wild Wild
West ÂÃ‚ÂBasketball Contest to see their brackets fall completely out of whack.
those that picked Indiana to face Maryland in Monday night’s national title
game, congratulations. For everyone else, it’s wait until next year. The
countdown to March Madness has already begun.
“There’s nothing quite like the excitement of the NCAA
Tournament, especially the ÂÃ‚ÂFinal Four,” said Chris Davis, the sports book
director at Wild Wild West. “Our contest was really successful. I didn’t
know how many entrants we would draw, but to have 300 is wonderful. We will do
it up even better next year.”
The Wild West contest was one of several that took place
over the course of the past three weeks. Some, like those run by Park Place
Entertainment, involved picking all the games against the spread. Others like
the Ramport, formerly the Regent-Las Vegas in Summerlin, opted for a competition
that ended with the Round of 16.
Even, women’s basketball made a dent in the odds with Connecticut completing a 39-0 season by defeating Oklahoma in Sunday night’s national final in San Antonio. The Huskies won all but one game this year by double-digits, yet failed to cover the 13Â½-point line against the inspired Sooners.
“It wasn’t the
first time women’s basketball has had lines out for the tourney,” Davis
said. “Really, I can remember odds for at least five years and maybe as far
back as seven in town. But, I do think there was more interest this year.”
Naturally, to spoil the mood, both ESPN and the FX network
decided to focus on the fixing of several college basketball games at Arizona
State. ESPN chose its Outside the Lines to dissect the illegal activity, while
FX promoted its movie about the incident that aired twice Sunday night.
The fixing of basketball games is often blamed on Las Vegas
taking bets and sending odds through Las Vegas Sports Consultants or various
casino books for newspapers across the country to print and media to talk into
This in turn causes the NCAA and more than a few ignorant
politicians to call for the abolition of gambling on college sports. It’s
worth noting that the nearly successful fixing operation at Arizona State would
have succeeded had the Vegas books not cooperated with the authorities.
When a line moves from 11 points down to three, an alarm
should go off. Gaming should be congratulated and not scolded for ending the
mess at ASU. The very fact that there is a Nevada Gaming Board and limits placed
on bets shows that there is control and fairness to gambling in Las Vegas.
The house may always win, but the bettor at least is given
a fair shot. That’s more than anyone can say about the illegal operations that
go on all across the country involving campus books, greedy ballplayers and
seedy individuals looking to make a quick fortune at the expense of others.
March Madness is something everyone looks forward to with a
passion in Las Vegas. Only the NFL and college football generates the action
that college hoops does for one glorious month. While offshore books promise
benefits to bettors and easy ways to place bets, Las Vegas gives everyone the
opportunity to place a bet themselves and get the money up front with no
“Everything else takes a backseat to March Madness,”
John Avello, race and sports ÂÃ‚Âdirector at Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas said during
a recent ÂÃ‚Âinterview. “Nobody was talking baseball.”
Well, baseball had its Opening Day on Sunday night and Avello was right. The game was hardly noticed. But, it was a lot better than the FX movie.