Bookies rebound!

Jul 13, 2004 4:43 AM

Sports books around Las Vegas have recovered from the beating baseball bettors administered to them in April and as the halfway point in the season approaches, most books said they are slightly ahead of gamblers in the wagering on the national pastime since Opening Day.

Most books also said the July Fourth weekend was unremarkable in terms of volume and handle on the limited action available to bettors in the middle of the traditionally slow summer.

Bob Scucci said his Stardust sports book "got off to probably the worst start we ever had" in baseball in April "but inter-league play was a God-send and brought us back to even."

He said the volume of business over the holiday weekend "was good but compared to other Fourths, it was down. The whole weekend wasn’t as busy as a normal (holiday) weekend."

Jay Rood, the dayside sports book manager at the Mirage, reported his book was also near the break-even point on baseball. "We had a couple of big parlay days that put us in the hole. We were stuck pretty good early (in the baseball season)."

At Arizona Charlie’s East, Patrick Rethore said his book had a very good month in June, making up for a bad April. He added, "This is a one-sport town and the closer it gets (to the football season), the more people ”¦ save their money (for football)."

Kelly Airgood at Boulder Station said his book was doing "pretty well up until a couple of weeks ago. Then the ”¦ Yankees start winning, (and) people start betting the run line. This time of the year the better teams are showing their strength."

He said the summer has so far been a pleasant surprise. "We’re not losing the business we usually do (in the summer months and), all we have is baseball and chick basketball. If that’s any indication, the football season will be one of our busiest seasons (ever)."

At the Excalibur Jeff Stoneback characterized the baseball season as "overall fair." He said it would have been a good season up until now "except for the first month. May and June have been good for us." He said the hold at the Excalibur has been 5 percent "which is good for baseball." (Last year, Nevada sports books held about 3.4 percent on baseball.)

Mary Ann Masaitis, the day supervisor of the sports book at Harrah’s, said she "had a good turnout" over the holiday weekend and said her book ended up holding about 3 percent of the baseball action while the sister book at the Rio reported holding just a little over 3 percent.

Mike Davis, the day side sports manager at the Luxor, said "our handle was up 10 percent over last year." Nonetheless, he labeled the holiday weekend as "marginal." He said the "place wasn’t packed — (it was) a little light." He said the Fourth of July is "an outdoors weekend. It’s never been a huge boost to our handle."

Jay Kornegay, the new head of the sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton, said his place is showing a 3.2 percent hold on baseball since the change in ownership on June 18 but there is "not much action."

Jamie Shea, who heads the sports book at the Hard Rock Casino, said it was "a really nice weekend, better than we expected." She said there was about an increase in volume and estimated that her book’s hold was better than average.

The book reporting the best at the halfway point in the baseball season is the Aladdin, where Brady Bryant said his place is "doing fabulous," with a hold of over 15 percent.

Johnny Avello, who runs the sports book at Bally’s, said baseball betting was a "mixed bag." Avello, who was on vacation during the holiday weekend, said "baseball is not anything people get excited" about. He said from the end of June through the first two weeks in August "is the time of the year when bookies should take a vacation."