Bettors Kissed Their Sisters, Bookmakers Took the Gas Pipe
Two-way action, which is normally a blessing for bookmakers, turned out to be a curse for most of them on Super Bowl XXXIV, as the game fell on the number, for the second time in four years.
With the line at St. Louis -7, most bettors got a push when the Rams beat Tennessee 23-16. In Vegas, that meant long lines of refunds at the sports books. Former Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian once characterized a tie as the equivalent to “kissing your sister”.
Not for bookmakers, who regretfully either paid off winners or refunded ties. The only bettors who tore up a ticket were those too lazy or unconscious to shop the best number.
Tremendous interest in proposition bets created some profits for the books, but not as much as they would have liked or expected. With bettors favoring the Rams, most of the scoring props including first team to score, last team to score, etc., paid off to Rams bettors.
The diversity of props, however, helped the sports books’ cause, as did the vig. Instead of the standard 20-cent line used in football, most books use a 30-cent line, and some opt for 40 cents on props. The public loves these plays and they are now a major source of revenue for the books.
The only cloud with a green lining for bookmakers in Vegas was the ties-lose parlay cards. With the number at 7 points, whichever side a bettor took brought down the card.
The last time the number fell in 1997, Nevada books had a handle of $70.9 million and won $2.3 million, mainly from the action on props and parlay cards. This year’s volume figures to be less than last year’s $76 million.
Sharp players in Vegas also took advantage of fluctuations in the money line. When some books overreacted to incoming Titans money, the line on the favorite would fall. Jimmy Vaccaro made a substantial wager on the Rams at –200, certainly a more palatable figure than the –270 and –280 which was also out there.
With the total going as high as 49 on game day, the under coming in was a win for the books. However, all parlays to the under were either a winner as a parlay, or reduced down to a winning straight bet for players.
No matter how they try to rationalize the results, it was a downer for the books.
Super Bowl Bash a Winner. Finally, the TV networks and the NFL got a game that truly lived up to the name Super Bowl. It held the interest of both bettors and fans, right through the final play.
We viewed the proceedings from a comfortable perch on the 50-yard line in front of a big TV screen at a bash thrown by the Desert Inn for their invited guests.
Through the efforts of our buddy Jan and D.I. marketing executive Dave Gurnell, we enjoyed top quality stadium food and unlimited drinks.
The food, ambience and facilities were first rate. Grilled burgers, hot dogs, chili, baked beans, potato salad, all conspired to keep our energy level up. The game was sponsored by Budweiser, but Heineken was the beer of choice at this party.
After the first quarter, Haagen Dazs ice cream bars were passed out.
Interaction among Rams and Titans camps was animated, but good natured.
A tip of the Sports Book Scene cap to the D.I. for putting on a classy affair.
Given the nature of a party, it was difficult to hear some of the commercials. But the one that showed Christopher Reeves appearing to rise out of his chair and walk didn’t need sound. It drew a loud ovation.
The other commercial that elicited cheers was the one with the Munchkins and scenes from The Wizard of Oz. However, in talking about it after the game, very few people remembered the sponsor, FedEx.
Much of the crowd was skewed towards the Titans. But New York fans cheered the move by ex-Jet Lorenzo Neal that appeared to help Eddie George get a crucial first down for Tennessee in the fourth quarter. It looked like George was stacked up short, but Neal – coming from behind the play – pushed the pile forward just enough to help the Titans keep possession.
White House Comes to Vegas. No, Bill Clinton is not moving the Oval Office here while he pursues a Vegas showgirl.
An Atlantic City tradition, the White House sub shop, whose scrumptious sandwiches are held in highest esteem by all who have ever eaten one, is now in Vegas.
White House Vegas Subs has just opened up in the Las Vegas Hilton. Located at the back of the race and sports book, the sub shop is easily accessed via the sports book parking lot. Now bettors can enjoy a SuperSub in the Hilton SuperBook.
Made on their own special bread, which is baked on the premises, these subs have no parallel in this city.
We ate there recently, and the sub we wolfed down brought back memories of bygone days in Jersey. When we wanted to take a break from losing our money in Atlantic City, we’d hie ourselves over to the White House and recharge our psyches with an Italian sub.
This city is about to discover the difference between sub shops that routinely put bologna on their sandwiches, and the White House, which uses top quality ingredients, and no bologna on its subs.
We ate there just before our Thursday night radio show, The Winning Line, with Jimmy Vaccaro. Larry Grossman, our producer, brought back a sub for Jimmy, who had less than three minutes to eat it before we went on the air.
If you bet the under, you would have won. Jimmy put it away before the opening music on the show came up.
The Winning Line will go on hiatus for a while, then return for three weeks of March Madness.
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thedailyspread.com | January 31st, 2000
– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
A long time sports betting columnist, Buzz Daly