Wild Goosechase works

Jun 22, 2004 7:17 AM

Oh, what a "retief" the Open was for the books.

"It was a good tournament for us," said Rampart race and sports book director Eric St. Clair. "The people are done betting on Tiger Woods."

Woods still went off as the favorite at the United States Open, but his eighth straight failure in one of golf’s four majors raised the possibility that Phil Mickelson could wind up favored in next month’s British Open.

"There certainly is that possibility," St. Clair said. "Phil has established himself as the second choice behind Woods."

Not many wagered on Retief Goosen, who won his second U.S. Open title to become the only other golfer besides Woods to have won at least two majors this decade (since 2000).

"Goosen was a good win for us," said Terrible’s race and sports manager Doug Beil, who happened to be playing at Angel Park in a Monday afternoon golf scramble when we contacted him. "We won overall on the tourney. Mickelson would have been good for us. Tiger winning would have hurt and we would have lost on (Sergio) Garcia and Davis Love III."

Beil would not go on the limb to say that anyone other than Woods would be the British Open favorite next month, but did acknowledge that the world’s top golfer has slipped a bit in the public’s confidence.

"Tiger will still be favored, but the price has gone up," he said. "Unless you want a huge loss, don’t expect to see books raise him too much. Woods will get bets at 5-1 or 6-1. We would not want to go 10-1. We had him at 4-1 in the Open and people liked the higher odds."

Draft reaction chilling

Bad news for David Stern. The NBA Draft means nothing in Las Vegas.

"It has no impact on the books at all," St. Clair said. "I don’t know anyone who watches it. Nobody asks us to put it on our TVs. The NBA is a dying business."

St. Clair didn’t mince words about his feeling on a sport that did see its ratings climb during the recently concluded NBA Finals between Detroit and the Los Angeles Lakers.

"The NBA is not all that popular anymore," St. Clair explained. "A lot has to do with the no defense, me-first attitude a lot of the players have. It’s hard to take your kids to the games when half the players are getting out of jail, choking coaches or flying off to a court date. The league has very serious image problems."

Beil agreed with St. Clair regarding the NBA Draft, which takes place Thursday night at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden.

"Just a handful of players have an impact on teams," Beil said. "We pay more attention on coaches and free agency. The Lakers losing Phil Jackson and possibly Kobe (Bryant) and Shaq (O’Neal) would have a much greater effect on the odds."

The cloudy situation around the Lakers has caused Terrible’s to adjust next year’s NBA Championship odds from an opening 2-1 to 3-1.

"We could go to 7-2 as more comes in about who’s staying and going," That’s a very volatile team right now."

Euros heating up Cup

The European Cup soccer tournament continues this week through the final on July 4. The Cup action has been brisk at Terrible’s, which has catered to soccer as much as any sports book in Las Vegas.

"We’ve done it for 2 ½ years," Beil said. The European Championship in Portugal is second biggest behind the World Cup. Most books do have odds on it. The response and handle has been strong for us, but I thought it would be that way."

France opened and remains the favorite to win, priced at 2-1 in most venues. But the French don’t have a market on customer support.

"With the Euro Cup, like any tournament, people like to bet name teams," Beil said. "If France plays Croatia, the customers will bet France. But, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands also draw a lot of money. England gets a lot of attention, but not more than those others."

Beil said the surprises have come in the games, not the betting.

"Croatia was a big money maker for us when they tied France," he said. "The England-France game on the second day of the tournament drew the most attention in our book. I know the neighboring Crown & Anchor (a popular British pub) couldn’t accommodate all the people."

Terrible’s currently has France as a 3-1 favorite to win the Cup.

"It would be good for our book if France wins," Beil said. "We would be looking at a loss if the Netherlands or Italy won. An English victory would mean a small win for us."

Weekend for rivals

Interleague play in the major leagues reaches its zenith with this weekend’s marquee matchups featuring the Yankees hosting the Mets, the Cubs visiting the White Sox, Kansas City entertaining St. Louis and Anaheim traveling to Los Angeles.

"These rivalries help raise interest in baseball and we expect wagering to go up," St. Clair said. "But baseball is a long season. The bottom line is baseball wagering won’t rise that much over the long haul. Even, the All-Star Game isn’t that big a deal."

Yeah, but Mets-Yankees are!