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Palms compensates
for no NBA action

Oct 28, 2003 5:06 AM

Imagine an ice cream parlor that can’t sell milk shakes, or a bakery that isn’t allowed to carry cookies. It probably would be difficult to compete with companies in the same business.

When the pro basketball season starts this week, every Nevada sports book manager will be champing at the bit to accept NBA wagers on a daily basis.

All except Fred Crespi, the race and sports book manager at the Palms Hotel and Casino.

Since the Maloof family has a majority ownership in the Sacramento Kings, the Palms does not accept any wagers on the NBA.

"Compensating for not being able to take NBA bets is not the easiest thing to do," said Crespi. "To make up for the loss of handle and to attract customers with a wide variety of interests, we post many non-traditional sports on our betting board. We are always looking to be more creative in booking the peripheral sports and in making more proposition bets available."

On a Friday visit to the sports book, the electronic betting boards were filled with "prop" bets on Game 6 of the World Series, as well as numerous boxing, golf, NASCAR and soccer odds.

"We will be celebrating our two-year anniversary on Nov.11," reported Crespi. "So we will always try to do more and stay competitive within the market place. Our supervisory staff is second to none as far as putting in the effort and posting good numbers on all of these ”˜prop’ bets.

"We saw our college basketball and pro hockey handle go up last year, so I am optimistic that those two sports will continue to grow this year," Crespi said.

Despite the NHL bringing up the rear in wagering popularity, the Palms will attempt to lure more hockey bettors to the property by offering both a puck line and a money line. (A puck line is like a point spread in football or basketball, in which favored teams have to win by more than a specified number points; the money line is the decimal equivalent of odds, for example, +3.00 is equivalent to odds of 3-1).

"While hockey may not be one of the more popular sports, I think it might be one of the easier to beat," stated Crespi. "So we have to be careful in regards to the amount of things we offer on the NHL. There aren’t too many properties that offer both the puck line and money line.

"We also offer a daily ”˜super pucks’ wager, where customers can bet on the number of combined goals scored on a full slate of games. As a new wrinkle this year, bettors can also wager on all the road teams versus all the home teams, or vice versa.

"Offering some different hockey proposition bets on some of the bigger nationally televised games is also a possibility. It won’t be on a regular basis, but I think our customers will enjoy them when we do make them available."

Parlay cards with higher than normal payouts and a football contest where $20,000 is paid out each week are other ways the Palms stays competitive. Although nearly every book in Las Vegas now offers some sort of contest, Crespi thinks his is one of the best

"Our contest involves only one property, so that gives participants a higher chance of cashing in," offered Crespi.

"Added" games in college basketball (those not part of the regular rotation) may also be part of an expanded betting menu.

"That’s something we will look into this upcoming season," said Crespi. "The Ivy League games certainly offer some popularity. We will be very pro-active during the college basketball season."

The race side of the book has 50 individual player terminals that allow horseplayers to make wagers without leaving their seat.

"We are looking into offering a tournament or a contest for those horseplayers," Crespi said. "We don’t want to exclude those who go up to the counter, but we are always looking for new and exciting things where we can push the envelope a little bit."