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Sports Book Industry Report
Sports Book Industry Report
Sports Book Industry Report – Popular favorites ding Vegas bet shops
By: Micah Roberts
LAS VEGAS -- With college football favorites going only 24-19 ATS (not including extra games), one might be inclined to think the Las Vegas sports books fared well over the weekend. However, a large portion of the books did lose over the four-day weekend that reacquainted everyone with why we love football. It also was a quick reminder to the books that public bettors gravitate to two or three games a week, and if one or two of those games aren’t knocked down, a losing day is likely.
The big games on Saturday that did the damage began with Alabama beating Virginia Tech, 35-10, and covering the 21-point spread, a number that got to as high as -22.5 at some books by kickoff. Then LSU, another popular SEC team, beat TCU, 37-27, covering the 4.5-point spread with a touchdown late in the game. Next up, with the possibility of paying out three-team parlays at 6-to-1 odds – or even bigger ones – Northwestern was a 6-point favorite at Cal.
The books got lucky in a similar final-game situation on Thursday night, when Hawaii scored a last-minute back-door TD to cover the 23.5-point in a 30-13 loss to USC. The momentum from six of the day’s first seven favorites covering was coming in strong with the public waiting to cash big on USC laying the points. On Saturday night, just about everything live was going into Northwestern for the final payout, and bettors cashed big as the Wildcats came away with an impressive 44-30 win.
“Alabama was the core game, the root that continued to grow throughout the day,” said South Point sports book director Bert Osborne. “If Virginia Tech would have covered that game, we might have shown a profit because the risk would have been far less in the late games.
“I knew coming into Saturday what we were going to need, and we didn’t get any of those three games,” said Osborne. “Over the course of the day, we even had another game added to the mix that became very large with everyone on UCLA, which means our top four worst games of the day all came through for the public.”
Sports books at which the locals like to hang out, such as the South Point, are always at a higher risk when a public parlay hits, because their clientèle regularly go for big payouts on small bets. A $5 wager on a four-team parlay can be turned into $55. The Strip properties don’t regularly see that type of action, as a larger portion of their handle is from straight bets by tourists. In these cases, the tourists actually come out ahead in the long run, because of the hold differences between local and Strip books.
A locals' casino book can expect to hold around 7 to 8 percent each year because of taking a higher percentage of action to parlays, while the Strip properties typically hold anywhere from 3 to 5 percent. So while we may see some of the local places die by the sword on a few weekends, they more than make up for it by living by the sword for most of the year with the same type of risk taken daily due to parlays.
MGM Resorts race and sports book vice-president Jay Rood informed us that his books along the Strip were roughed up by the same three-team parlay on Saturday that also beat the South Point.
On Sunday, Osborne took the weekend loss well and was optimistic about football being back.
“You know what, though, I’m very happy about how the day went. Sure I would have liked to win, but I was greatly encouraged by the high handle on the day and how full our room was. Football is back.”