Las Vegas Money Moves
September 29, 2012
By Micah Roberts
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It’s been a wild week in Las Vegas with all the hoopla surrounding the bad call in Monday night’s Packers-Seahawks game. Because the story was so big and the play of Golden Tate cleverly taking the ball away for the winning score was replayed by ESPN for almost 48 straight hours in Tim Tebow-like coverage from last season, one of the stories that found its way into the mainstream was the swing Las Vegas sports books took on the one play.
Reports came from all over the place with all kinds of misinformation being spread around due to writers misquoting sports book directors and also gathering their information from other unworthy sources such as Danny Sheridan, who was always one of my favorites growing up, but never realized how irrelevant he was to the betting world until I started working in a sports book.
Outlandish claims of a $1 billion swing on the game around the world was the headline that grabbed the most attention. It’s hard enough gathering quality factual information in Nevada where the betting is regulating and charted, let alone coming up with a figure for the entire world. But facts didn’t seem to matter in the story. The wow factor of $1 billion was enough to show the magnitude of the bad call on the most sensationalized level. Someone could have really got big headlines by saying they thought the swing was worth $2 billion, or why even stop there, $3 billion. Now that's a story.
The truth of the matter in Nevada was that there was anywhere from $10 to $15 million wagered on the game with about a $2 to $5 million swing on the game, not a $15 million swing as some were misquoted. People around the country wanted to make believe like this game was bet on Super Bowl proportions with a huge decision at stake, but there were several games that the books won more with on Sunday. Although the Seahawks winning was beneficial for most books, the deciding factor in the game was more about the game staying UNDER the total, as is the case for most high-profile isolated games.
The two-team parlay, with either side to the UNDER was what most books -- particularly the local books -- were sweating. I mention the local books because they are collectively the busiest in the state on a Monday night with volume, compared to the strip properties that have their occupancy fall by up to 50% with guest leaving on Sunday. Walk down the strip on a Monday through Thursday when a convention isn’t in town; it’s a ghost town compared to Friday through Sunday.
The spillover effect carried on all week as some sports books tried to make a marketing ploy out of the publicity, which I like. Why not make a splash and ride the wave of a story? Irish bookmaker Paddy Power immediately jumped into the fray with refunds on the Packers as part of their “Justice Payouts” their known for whenever an official or judge makes a bad call.
Here in Las Vegas, no one wanted to enter that territory. It’s a bad precedent to set -- refunding losing wagers. But one casino said the heck with it, and did it anyway despite the chain of sports books they’re affiliated with apparently not knowing anything about it. The D casino on Fremont, formerly the Fitzgerald, sent out a press release on Wednesday saying they would refund all wagers. William Hill runs their sports book, but couldn’t stop the casino promotion if they wanted to. If the boss wants to refund wagers by hand paying at the cage, that’s his choice.
The sports book at the D gets very limited action and it would be a fair estimation to say the wagers on the Packers totaled less than $10,000, and probably only half of that will be cashed in between tickets being ripped up, or others not knowing about the promotion. The likes of Floyd Mayweather do not make their bets at the D.
William Hill sports books didn’t follow suit with the payout at all their books, but they did offer a nice gesture to everyone betting the Packers this week. All wagers on the Packers will be offered at EVEN money with no juice attached. It’s not a refund, but it’s still a nice way to gain some publicity off a such a unique situation. And instead of losing $110 on the Packers this week, you might only lose $100.
Week 4 Line Moves
Either because bettors are busted from the past two weeks of getting mugged by the sports books, or they are skeptical of the lines and indecisive, the action has been light this week with not a lot of movement.
The Packers have held steady at -7 ½ for most of the week for their home game against the Saints. There was a bump up to -8 on Tuesday, but that number was gone by Wednesday. Both teams are combined 1-5 straight-up and against-the-spread this season.
The Patriots could lose their third straight game for the first time in 10 years, but bettors aren’t buying into it. The Pats opened -3 and have been bet up -4 for their game at Buffalo. The total in this game is the puzzling part, as it's gone down from 51 to 50. In last season;s game at Buffalo, the Bills won, 34-31.
Sports books didn’t have a line posted on the Lions all week because of Matthew Stafford’s questionable status (hip), but when he was upgraded to probable, the books posted a number of -4 at home against the Vikings as if Shaun hill was going to be starting. This game was set to be at least -7.5 with Stafford playing. Expect a run on the game and if you like the Lions, get it now.
The Panthers found a little support this week in their road game at Atlanta. Despite the Falcons being perfect in virtually every category imaginable, and the Panthers looking awful last Thursday night, the Panthers went from +7 ½ to +7.
The 49ers are staying in the Eastern time zone this week -- no travel back to San Francisco following the Minnesota game, just as they did last season when they had back-to-back road games afar. The 49ers opened as three-point favorites against the Jets and have been bet up -4.
The Cardinals have been the underdog in each of their first three games, and won them all. This week they opened as a seven-point home favorites against the Dolphins. Money came in on the Dolphins immediately, dropping the game to -6.5. And then on Thursday, after Reggie Bush was announced to be playing, the game dropped to -5.5.
The Broncos have lost four straight home games to the Raiders, and haven’t covered their past six, but they still opened as 6 ½-point favorites and have been bet up to -7. Peyton Manning has gotten off to slow starts in each of his three starts this season, leading to a disappointing 1-2 record, a start that some believe Tebow could have matched.
It’s apparent that the Redskins are going to score a lot of points this season, but also give up a ton too, which makes the total dropping in their game at Tampa Bay a little perplexing. The total opened at 48 ½ and has been bet down to 47 ½, likely because of the Bucs defense looking to be their strength. The money has been on the Redskins side as bettors took +3, dropping the line to +2 ½.
The Eagles opened as three-point favorites for their Sunday night home game against the Giants, but G-Men money dropped the game to -1. When it was announced that Hakeem Nicks would not play, the game moved back up to -2 ½. The Nicks angle didn’t work out too well for bettors who jumped on the Panthers under the same circumstances last Thursday.