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Sports books rake in record mega Bucs!

Jan 28, 2003 6:17 AM

Some were dusted, others held their own. But on the whole, Las Vegas sports books enjoyed one of the biggest Super Bowls in recent history.

At the locals-oriented Palace Station, an official estimated a "record handle" in Super Bowl wagers. Other books reported an increase in volume, though results were mixed.

"It was not a particularly good Super Bowl for us," said Bob Scucci, the race and sports director at the Stardust. "Our volume was 20 percent better than last year. We really needed the Raiders to win. The prop betting could not bail us out because it was all tied to the Bucs."

Scucci said that the Stardust could have cut its losses if the Raiders had merely won without covering the four-point spread against Tampa Bay. That didn’t happen, but other casinos on and off the Strip did manage to weather the storm of Tampa Bay money-line betting.

Don Williams, race and sports manager at the Orleans, said it was the prop bets that prevented Orleans and the other Coast casinos from avoiding the Stardust’s dilemma.

"Several props worked well for us," Williams said. "We had one where most people bet that there would not be a score in the first 5½ minutes of the game. Oakland kicked a field goal in the first three minutes, so we came away good there."

Williams added that quite a few bettors took Tampa Bay on the money line giving 3½ points in order to gain a +220 take-back.

"We were paying 10-1 for Tampa by 22," Williams said. "Fortunately, not many took that one. It was a good day for Coasts."

Harrah’s did well outside of Las Vegas, where its northern properties came through with predictable support for Oakland.

"They didn’t get the comeback on Tampa Bay like we did," said Jack Frost, race and sports director at Harrah’s on the Strip. "We were at 4 (for Oakland) most of the day and then went down to 3½. The money line betting on the Bucs did come to fruition."

Frost, whose 8-3 record led all the Bookies Battle oddsmakers in the postseason, said that the public may have been swayed to the Bucs from hearing many of the national broadcasters side with Tampa Bay.

"The public is bound to follow when they see and hear so much support for one team, as there was for Tampa Bay," Frost said. "We had a lot of people take the Bucs on the money line at +170."

Frost also pointed to the props as helping keep Harrah’s in decent shape.

"Most customers bet no for the first score occurring in the first 5½ minutes," he said. "There was also heavy betting on the Raiders making the longest successful field goal, which was also a loser. We also did real well on the exact number of points that Oakland and Tampa Bay would score.

Harrah’s paid 8-1 for Oakland scoring 21, while bettors would have collected 60-1 odds for a wager on Tampa Bay getting 48.

"The multiple selections on props did well for us, thank goodness," Frost said. "Plus, having 2,000 invited guests at Harrah’s enjoying themselves certainly didn’t hurt."

Meanwhile, the Stardust is devising a plan for next year to ensure a better result for the house should Super Bowl XXXVIII be a Raiders-Bucs rematch.

"I would make Tampa Bay a 26-point favorite," Scucci said.