Sports Book Scene February 7th 2000

Super Bowl handle down, profit up and Ban of College Sports Wagering Faces Newly Organized Opposition

Sometimes Las Vegas is like those dull-witted souls who “just don’t get it” when confronted with the obvious.

At long last, there is concrete evidence that this city is starting to realize the implications of proposed legislation that would ban legal betting on college sports in Nevada.

The lead story on the front page of Sunday’s Review-Journal delivered even handed coverage of the issue. It cited an opinion from a former FBI man, currently on the Nevada Gaming Control Board, who stated the bill would not stop wagering on college sports.

Bobby Siller, former special agent in charge of the Bureau’s Las Vegas office, said the initiative would have a counterproductive effective by forcing bettors to do business with illegal bookmakers, often facilitated through organized crime.

In addition to the R-J’s emphasis on the bill, a grass roots movement to stop it by informing legislators of its ramifications is underway. Initiated by Gambler’s Book Store (Las Vegas) marketing director Howard Schwartz, the campaign seeks to make legislators “aware of the consequences of the proposed law and understand that there is more than the one-sided portrayal aired to date.”

Stressing that the “lawmakers who vote on this ought to be informed,” Schwartz is sending a letter to every member of congress, asking for a “full hearing concerning this bill’s impact on the state of Nevada.”

GBS general manager Peter Ruchman noted that early responses from the politicians were not encouraging. “We’ve gotten back form letters saying the lawmakers don’t respond to those outside their constituencies,” said Ruchman.

“My immediate concern is for the people of my state,” was the phrase most often used by the politicians, he said with disgust.

Pointing out that the legislation would not affect illegal bookmakers throughout the U.S., Schwartz’s letter stated, “You will not be halting the activity. You will merely be shifting the location to illegal books in America or those off shore.”

Ruchman said that Schwartz had taken this step because no one from the gaming community was stepping up with an impassioned and determined defense of the sports betting business. “There has been tough talk, but not much action,” asserted Ruchman, who has offered to go to Washington and testify as to the wrong-headedness of the legislation.

The full text of the letter will be printed in Players Choice newspaper, and will be posted on the Internet ( later this week.

S.B. Handle Down, Profits Up. For the second year in a row, the handle in Nevada for Super Bowl wagers dropped, but bookmakers showed a bigger profit on the St. Louis-Tennessee matchup won by the Rams 23-16.

According to figures just released by the Gaming Control Board, preliminary results show $71 million was wagered in the state’s 147 sports books.

The hold was six percent, and the win was $4.2 million. This compares with last year’s figures of $76 million wagered on the game, with profits of $2.9 million, and a hold of 3.8 percent.

These results are surprising in light of the game’s falling on the pointspread of seven points, causing refunds to bettors on both teams.

However, the consensus among sports book directors we spoke with was that the ties lose parlay cards, with the game at +7 or –7, nailed the players. Although locals generally avoided these cards, visitors plunged on the opportunity to bet small and score big, the result was windfall profits for the books.

Proposition bets also registered a substantial profit margin.

Super Bowl XXXV Bargains? 
Those smart alecks who bet the Rams at 300-1 or 200-1 to win the last Super Bowl have fueled fantasies among many bettors.

One of the sports books in Vegas giving players a chance to indulge their urge to back a long shot, through its comprehensive futures betting menu, is the Regent, formerly known as the Resort at Summerlin.

The Browns and Bengals are listed at 200-1 to win the Super Bowl, and they are each 100-1 to win the AFC.

Longest shot in the NFC is New Orleans, 150-1 and 75-1 to win the S.B. and conference title, respectively.

Shortest odds are on the Rams and Jaguars, both at 9-2. After that, there are three teams at 8-1: the Vikings, Colts and Broncos.

The Regent also offers odds to win division titles, a rarely seen betting option either in Vegas or off shore.

Longest odds are on the Colts to win the AFC East, and Tampa Bay to win the NFC Central. Both are 6-5.

Shortest odds are on the Rams to win the NFC West, 1-3.

The Titans are 6-5 to win the AFC Central, behind the Jaguars, who are 4-7 favorites. | February 7th, 2000

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

Leave a Reply