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MMA Wagering UnderGround >> Books Have Super Sunday

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2/15/06 4:12 PM
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Edited: 15-Feb-06
Member Since: 06/08/2002
Posts: 5194


After it was recently announced that Nevada saw $94.5 million pass through its sports books for the Super Bowl, a number of analysts mentioned the players were "lucky" this year. The books held 9.3 percent of all money wagered, down from an unsustainable 17.0 percent last year. Are these results really bad for the house?

LAS VEGAS - Bookmaking theory dictates the house should hold about 4.5 percent of all dollars wagered if players are laying 11/10 on straight bets. Depending on where bets were placed, the propositions for the Super Bowl in some instances had lower than 4.6 percent expected hold rates. A number of books were offering 20-cent pricing up to fairly high money lines, which reduces hold.

Parlays cards more than offset the low hold expected for many wagers and are counted on for a large portion of Nevada sports book profits. Some parlay cards offer such unconscionable odds that hold percentages can approach 40 percent or more. When players choose 'over' or 'under' on propositions such as total field goals or interceptions, the theoretical hold reaches astronomical levels because all ties lose.

The bottom line for most sports books is that they are lucky to get anything over a five percent hold. Between sharp players and line moves occasionally leading to bad losses, sports books end up relinquishing some of their theoretical edge in most cases. The bettors run lucky at times and the house runs lucky at others. However, in many cases, actual 'hold' hasn't quite reached levels books should theoretically realize.

If the house was able to consistently win 9.3 percent on every dollar wagered, sports betting would see a renaissance in Nevada. Sports books wouldn't be getting phased out or reduced in size. In fact, it would resemble a small version of the widely seen poker boom. Casinos would be marketing sports betting more vigorously.

Beyond the profit from booking the game, casinos absolutely love the Super Bowl. The town is packed, but in a different way. The streets are actually fairly quiet all weekend. High-end places in town rejoice over the flood of money. Low-rollers get stung by some of the highest room rates of the year. Even markets with no sports betting, such as Atlantic City, see a flood of high-rollers stream in for America's unofficial gambling holiday.

When I read comments saying the players beat the books this year, I had to laugh along with the casinos. If only every business was so lucky. Casino floors see double the profit over Super Bowl weekend compared to most high-season weekends. The sports book makes enough money to pay for months of the listless baseball season. Hotel rooms are either filled with customers who will lose thousands, or customers who will pay $1,000 for a three-night stay.

Las Vegas attracts twice as many visitors for the Super Bowl as the game's host city. In addition, Las Vegas makes more money from the game than the NFL. What is the NFL's response to this? They tell networks they can't advertise Las Vegas or the television show of the same name during football broadcasts.

The NFL will pound the table and say gambling can ruin professional football, but I beg to differ. Overpaid athletes, steroids, drug use, criminal activity, and just plain bad officiating should once again remind everyone there are far greater threats to the integrity of the game than gambling.

This year's showcase game was mostly a bore, with the appearance of a less-than-fair outcome to many viewers. Nevada's "bad" year was $9 million in profits generated by the highest betting handle ever on a Super Bowl. And that was with minimal interest or hype for the matchup. Las Vegas wins every year, but the NFL only hopes it could be so lucky.

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