Sports books post‘staggering’ gains

May 27, 2003 4:48 AM

Sports betting bounced back significantly with ”˜staggering gains’ in win volume for the first three months of this year, according to Nevada Gaming Control Board officials.

"I think you can relate this to an across the board interest in sports among both men and women," said Eddie Ricca, race and sports director at Suncoast in Summerlin. "The younger crowd is beginning to realize that sports betting is the best way to beat the house and they are doing their homework through television exposure, match-up information and the Internet."

Nevada sports books posted a 150 percent increase in win for the Jan. 1-March 31 period, along with an encouraging 16 percent increase in win for the 12 months ended March 31 over the previous 12 months.

Fueling the statewide increase were large win amounts on the Las Vegas Strip. For the first three months of the year, Strip sports books’ win increased 287 percent over last year, and 15 percent for the 12 months ended March 31.

Rob Terch, sports book manager at Casino MonteLago, attributed the rise in house volume to the end of the war and the economy returning to normal.

"I hope that trend continues," he said. "I think the match-ups have helped upgrade interest. Having the Anaheim Ducks going so far in hockey helped bring new blood into hockey betting and allow the California following to become larger. I know when I was at the Frontier, a lot of bettors like making plays with the Lakers. The Super Bowl and March Madness were also well received."

Caesars Palace race and sports director Chuck Esposito said the figures bear out the fact that sports betting has become a growing industry.

"One of the reasons for the popularity of betting sports is that there are so many events on the board carrying different propositions," Esposito said. "Golf and NASCAR have become much more interesting to fans. This past week the Annika Sorenstam propositions were well received. It seems like every week, there’s something new."

Esposito also thought the parity in sports played a part in generating more interest among bettors.

"In the past, most of the hockey interest came from Canada and the East Coast," Esposito said. "Now things are starting to spread this way, which creates more excitement for customers."

GamingToday writer Richard Saber contributed to the story.