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Books keep up with
the ‘Joneses’

May 18, 2004 7:37 AM

Sports books around Las Vegas had "a great day" Saturday as Smarty Jones flew away with the Preakness, but they took it on the chin a few hours later when Antonio Tarver knocked out Roy Jones Jr. as a 4-1 underdog.

Kelly Airgood at Boulder Station said his race and sports book did 12 percent better on this year’s Preakness Stakes as opposed to last year’s, while all the Station properties showed a mind-boggling 28 per cent increase in handle.

The Tarver-Jones fight was a different story, however, as Station sports books collectively lost about $40,000-$50,000 on the fight, Airgood said. "It could have been a lot worse (except for) a couple of very large wagers on Jones," he added.

At the Aladdin, the handle on the Preakness was "almost double last year’s" handle, said Brad Bryant, but "the fight was ”¦ one of the worst boxing matches’’ he can recall during his time at the Aladdin.

At Arizona Charlie’s East, Patrick Rethore said new bettors brought a lot people into the race book. His volume was up 35 percent from 2003, but the house lost money on the fight.

"It wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t a killer, either," Rethore said. "People always want to bet the underdog."

Jeff Stoneback at the Excalibur said his race book handle was up about 10 percent over last year. And since the Excalibur kept the odds lower on the fight than other sports books, book’s losses on the fight were only in the $10,000 range.

Casey Lewless at Circus Circus said the Preakenss was "fantastic, better than the (Kentucky) Derby."

Lewless said the fight "wasn’t that bad here at Circus," with many of the bets falling into the $10 and $20 category.

Helping to keep the losses at a minimum was the sport book’s practice of "moving the line quicker," and adjusting to the bettors, he said.