Sports books eke out win in NFL football

December 22, 2009 5:05 PM
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Dogs take a bite out of bettors

After a tumultuous week of waiting for information on NFL injuries, a team with the flu and the monstrous East Coast weather front, the Nevada Sports Books came out ahead in week 15. Depending on what part of the city they were located, some books did much better than others thanks to the volume of parlay action.

Many of the properties around the Las Vegas Strip, who rely on hotel occupancy to help increase their handle, cited a down week in occupancy as a reason for volume being down while Vegas residential area books cited good earnings from a high hold on parlay action.

Las Vegas Hilton Superbook’s Jay Kornegay cited the time of year as being a possibility in the lighter action.

"It’s the first Sunday before Christmas which is always the slowest week of the football season. We did very well for the week, but if this had been any other week of the season, like week one through eight, it would have been a monster weekend just because of all the upsets," said Kornegay.

The books that did really well on Sunday’s Pro Football games attribute the favorites going 2-10-1 despite some late sharp action coming with underdog money that got there. The books that didn’t do so well looked upon the games that saw them lose on straight bets with two big games that they were "middled" on.

The Patriots opened as a 7½-point road favorite at Buffalo and closed 6½ at some places and the game ended with the Patriots allowing a back door touchdown winning 17-10.

The Steelers opened at pick ’em at most books with a big Steelers push coming last Monday pushing the game to 1½ and eventually closing at numbers of 2½ to 3. The Steelers ended up beating the Packers 37-36 in the last second. Even though Pittsburgh money still came in after the initial move, it wasn’t enough to offset the early big action when the Steelers only won by one.

As for the parlays on the day, most of the books did very well despite the some late sharp money just because the majority of the public refused to believe ugly teams like the double-digit underdogs could fare well. The Lions, Raiders, and Rams – who got blasted a combined 129-19 last week – all covered in exciting finishes with the Raiders actually winning outright at Denver as 14-point underdogs.

Following the Raiders week 14 loss to Washington it was discovered that starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski had torn two different ligaments and the back-up would be starting. When news came that the starting quarterback would be Charlie Frye from the practice squad, and not former overall No. 1 draft pick JaMarcus Russell, the Broncos line jumped from 12½ to 14.

The irony of the Raider game was that it was Russell, who was bypassed to start this week, that led Oakland downfield to their winning final score.

"It was pretty funny hearing the crowd in the book when Russell came in," Kornegay said. "You had the Raiders fans all putting their hands over the heads saying "Oh No" and then you had the Bronco fans cheering as if that was a game clinching moment."

The Rams made a valiant effort to keep a close game with Houston despite having their Thursday practice cancelled due to several players having the flu. When news found itself to the books, everyone took the game off the board until more details could be found until eventually taking a game that had the Texans an 11-point favorite all the way to 14 when it re-opened. The Texans won 16-13.

The Raiders were the biggest underdogs of the day to win, but four of the nine other dogs also won outright. The Falcons beat the Jets at a cold and windy Meadowlands, the Browns won at Kansas City in a shootout, and the 1-12 Buccaneers won at what used to be a tough place to play in Seattle.

The Buccaneers were a favorable decision for the books across the board no matter what sector of the world a Sports Book was located.