Arena Football is mixed betting bag

Feb 11, 2003 8:05 AM

Arena football finally comes to Las Vegas this Monday. Unfortunately, it’s in the form of a last place team in a city with a reputation of only supporting winners.

Nevertheless, the AFL does offer the chance to bet on, shall we say, football.

"We have always posted Arena Football lines," said Jay ­­Kornegay, race and sports director at Imperial Palace. "It’s one of those sports that hangs around, but not many notice. Maybe some interest might pick up from the Las Vegas team with a little with more publicity."

Betting on Arena games is no different than the NFL ”” pointspread and totals. Unfortunately, the volume of bets is way off when it comes to the hockey-rink version of pro football.

Kornegay suggested that showing games on NBC should help the league, but felt the league was wrong to schedule so many games at the same time.

"The games need to be divided up more so that there are a few more isolated games to choose from and create more interest," Kornegay said. "To us, the league is another board event. It’s in the 6 percent handle area with college baseball, women’s basketball, tennis and golf."

Imperial Palace has not been putting up the week’s lines and totals until Thursday and that is not likely to change for the immediate future.

"People ask about the scores," Kornegay said. "That’s about it. There would be too many wiseguys on the games if we put them up early."

Richard Saber, GamingToday’s sports book analyst, said that the wiseguys were having their way during the first two weeks of the season.

"Arena football is a very tough situation for the sports operations in Nevada," Saber said. "The sport has become easy pickings for the wiseguy bettors. Totals have flown over and some books only put them up on the TV games."

While the league is being shown weekly on a national non-cable network (NBC) for the first time, the fact is not nearly enough is known about the teams, players and rules to give the house a true shot at winning.

"The small bettor has little interest and can’t overcome the larger wagers," Saber said. "Maybe as the season progresses, the betting lines will improve and the house will be able to eke out a profit. Right now, it’s awful tough."

Las Vegas inherited the New Jersey franchise, which made the playoffs last year. However, the Gladiators dropped consecutive road contests at Los Angeles and Arizona. This week, Tampa Bay invades Thomas & Mack Center for the historical first game.

The Storm, one of the original Arena League franchises, comes off a 54-51 loss to the Orlando Predators. Tampa Bay is a four-time Arena Bowl champion.

The Gladiators dropped a 46-42 decision last Sunday to the Rattlers in Phoenix. Las Vegas quarterback Jay McDonagh threw for 211 yards and five touchdowns, but the Gladiators were stopped four times inside the Arizona 15 in the setback.

High scores are nothing new to Arena Football which, as Las Vegas Sports Consultants oddsmaker Tom Vanderhoof predicted last week, come from the sport being primarily all passing.

"I have power ratings for teams all based on final scores," Vanderhoof said. "If your number wasn’t sharp enough, you try and get it the way it should be."

The scoring ranged from 145 points (Los Angeles 73, San Jose 72) to 60 (Buffalo 44, Carolina 16). With such a wide gap in results, it’s no wonder the books can’t zone in on confident lines and totals.

The Las Vegas home game with Tampa Bay is the only one for the Gladiators in February. Las Vegas returns to the T&M on Sunday, March 2 to face the San Jose SaberCats.