Books Suffer Tough NFL Weekend

The Stratoshphere opens phone wagering, Las Vegas gets a NBA franchise and more in Monday’s edition of the Sports Book Scene

Sports betting symmetry is beautiful to behold: when the good guys (bettors) win, the bad guys (bookmakers) lose, and it kicked in big time during this past weekend’s four NFL divisional games.

Despite two favorites covering, many bookmakers suffered a brutal weekend, as they took a double whammy in the Rams-Vikings game.

The Vikings were the key, noted Stardust race and sports book director Joe Lupo. “Everyone not only had the Rams straight up, but parlayed to everything. It was a key parlay; Rams to college baskets, to NBA, half went to Titans, half to Colts. Even there, with 50 percent coming in, it was a bad day for the book.”

Looking to next week’s games, the Stardust is getting pretty good action on the Rams. Joe noted that there are some 13½’s out there, “but we’re using 14. The 7 on Jacksonville looks solid.”

Any immediate changes on those games will be reflected in the money line, rather than moving a key number, said Lupo.

At the Stratosphere, the Rams game was “a disaster”, recounted race and sports book director Nick Bogdanovich.

“We’d have been okay in the game if the Vikings hadn’t scored three TDs in four minutes. There were a ton of teasers to the Vikings, that cost us six figures,” he stated. The –7 Rams blew their big lead and won 49-37, which made it a two-way cover for teasers and a two-way loser for the Strat, one of the few Vegas books accepting teasers on the playoffs.

At the Imperial Palace, sports book supervisor Jackson Meeker noted that the Rams’ victory, with the over also coming in for bettors, cost the book quite a bit in straight bets and parlays. But, “we made it up in the end as a lot of our players liked the Colts and the over in the second game.”

The weekend’s action produced dramatic movement in the IP’s futures line on the Super Bowl. After Jacksonville had thrashed Miami 62-7, the AFC was installed as a 1½-point favorite.

However, after St. Louis’ offensive juggernaut undressed the Minnesota defense, bettors perceived the Rams as the much stronger team. As a result, Monday’s line showed the NFC a 4½-point favorite to win the Super Bowl.

Tampa Bay’s narrow 14-13 victory over Washington didn’t make any believers for the Bucs advancing to the Big Game. And for the AFC, if Jacksonville is the opponent, the Super Bowl line would be 3 to 5 points lower than for Tennessee, Meeker estimated.

Stratosphere Opens Phone Wagering. In a move welcomed by sports bettors throughout town, the Stratosphere sports book has begun handling action over the phone.

The move had been planned for quite a while, but couldn’t be implemented until after the football season, explained Nick Bogdanovich.

“The football handicapping contest we ran used the phone account system and we couldn’t start taking phone bets until that data was cleared out of the wagering system,” he said.

But the book is now taking applications. Go to the book with a Nevada driver’s license and one other piece of identification and open up an account. Minimum amount is $500.

Under Bogdanovich, the Stratosphere has developed a strong and loyal following among bettors looking to put in a healthy size bet, as well as play into a comprehensive betting menu with fair vig.

For instance, the Strat took a pretty good hit this weekend on teaser action. But to its credit, the book posted the games. Many shops in town didn’t accept teaser wagers on playoff games.

That’s a pretty good reason to support the Strat sports book. Because it is giving bettors more choices than they can find if they run around town looking for bargains.

Vegas to Get NBA Franchise. The issue of Las Vegas obtaining an NBA team during the first decade of the new millennium is “a done deal”, according to Mayor Oscar Goodman.

Speaking on Larry Grossman’s radio show earlier this week, the Mayor said, “I make it an automatic … the only issue that has to be overcome isn’t the betting issue … reasonable people can work that out.”

When the host of “You Can Bet on It” asked for clarification of that statement, Goodman suggested that a cosmetic concession could be made to the NBA in that the Vegas team would be taken off the betting boards, much the same way as UNLV is omitted.

The Mayor painted a scenario in which an ownership group of great stature would seek to bring an NBA team to the city. It would be a win-win situation for the League and the community.

“If an owner really wants to come to Las Vegas, and it’s going to be beneficial for the NBA to have a franchise here, they’ll make a concession,” said His Honor.

Grossman noted that NBA Commissioner David Stern’s last stated position was an unequivocal stand of no betting or no franchise.

The Mayor isn’t quite so sure that is written in stone. He used the analogy of selling a house. If it’s really for sale, you have an asking price, a buyer makes a bid, and the two of you negotiate a realistic price both can live with.

If the home really isn’t for sale, the price is unrealistically high and there won’t be any prospective buyers. That is the current situation since it is not on the NBA’s immediate agenda to have a team in Las Vegas.

However, Goodman was adamant that the city would not cave in to NBA demands to take the entire League off the sports books’ betting boards in order to get a team. “No one’s going to push us around as a city and as a community,” vowed Goodman. “We wouldn’t do that.”

Incidentally, the issue Mayor Goodman sees as a possible impediment to obtaining a franchise is the perception by some casinos that a new arena built for the team could be viewed as competition with existing facilities.

He cited Mandalay Bay, MGM and Park Place as casinos that might be hostile to building a new arena to house the team. “If the city can work out a plan where the casinos don’t feel threatened that their economics will be disturbed … if we are able to overcome that, I’d say we’re going to have a team sooner rather than later,” he predicted.

It was the first time the Mayor has been grilled on this issue by a knowledgeable interviewer who wasn’t satisfied with a few pat answers.

Goodman was forthright and didn’t duck any questions, an attractive trait which is becoming more apparent as his ability to think on his feet gives testimony to his prowess as a leading criminal attorney.

“You Can Bet on It” is heard on ESPN Sports Radio 920 AM Monday through Friday from 4 to 5 PM, and is archived weekly at

Please send questions, comments, etc., | January 17th, 2000

– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
A long time sports betting columnist, Buzz Daly

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