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Bettin’ big MAC

Nov 5, 2002 7:00 AM

   It’s not uncommon for big bets to move the pointspread. But is it possible for a big bettor to move the entire Nevada rotation?

   That question was raised last week after a sports book insider reported that a high-stakes bettor in Las Vegas “influenced” the schedule-makers to include MAC conference football games in the regular rotation.

   The switch from “added games” status means that MAC games can be bet to the house limit (added games typically have lower limits).

   Although schedule-makers denied they changed the rotation to accommodate high-stakes bettors, the switch is still significant because it occurred during midseason, which is not standard practice in Las Vegas.

   As to why the MAC finally went “prime time,” the reasons are varied.

   “I think those in the know realized that the MAC is a viable conference,” said Wayne Braddock, race and sports director at Eldorado. “I think Vegas now believes there are enough good teams to warrant the switch. I know there are a lot of people from the Midwest that bet at the Eldorado and they like seeing the MAC.”

   Braddock said the change allows for higher betting limits.

   “Rotation games at Stardust properties like ours has a $5,000 maximum as opposed to an added game where it’s $3,000,” Braddock said. “We knew last week that the change was being made because only four added games were on the list. I think the MAC deserves to be in the rotation.”

   Suncoast race and sports director Eddie Ricca said he was caught by surprise over the MAC switch.

   “Our policy is to extend our betting limits for college and NFL games,” Ricca said. “I’m a bookmaker so it’s our job to put any game up on the board that can be booked. There is no right or wrong to the MAC change and it doesn’t affect our philosophy.”

   Ricca said he was not in a position to say what the limits were, but that “every effort is made to accommodate our customers. I think the MAC teams, particularly Marshall, Miami of Ohio, Bowling Green and Toledo should have been in the rotation all along.”

   Hard Rock race and sports manager Jamie Shea said she knew of the switch last week and gave her support.

   “I like it, although I don’t think we would go higher than $2,000 for a bet,” Shea said. “Added games had a $500 top in our book, so it does make a difference. The conference has good teams and should be in the rotation.”

   Palace Station race and sports director Micah Roberts was one major bookie that was against moving the MAC from the added games.

   “I feel like the MAC can’t compete with teams on the regular rotation,” Roberts told GamingToday. “I would have preferred that those games stayed as added games.”

   Throughout the season, many of the major line moves (2.5 points or higher) have involved MAC teams. Bettors have been on the right side in the majority of those moves.

   An employee of Don Best, whose rotation schedules are used by the majority of Vegas sports books, said it was time to include the MAC in the regular rotation.

   “They put the MAC in because in conference play, they are as competitive as other conferences,” the source said.

   However, the new rotation started for games played Nov. 3, nearly one month after the MAC began league play in earnest.

   The Nevada rotation became standardized a few years ago so all the sports books would be on the “same page” when it came to listing games.

   Sports books, however, have sole discretion in booking any games they choose, at the odds they choose.

   In fact, there was a period when there were no “added” games — all games, including Ivy League contests and other less prominent teams — were included in one rotation.