02/24/2011 3:15PM

Big trade does little to improve odds on Knicks

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LAS VEGAS – Carmelo Anthony’s trade from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks this past week was big news. Or was it?

Here in the sports books, just like at bars and water coolers everywhere, it was debated endlessly about what value Anthony would have for the teams seeking to acquire him before the trading deadline. There was seemingly endless media coverage of all the negotiations and it certainly played big back East, but here in Vegas the reaction wasn’t as big. After the trade, the Las Vegas Hilton lowered the Knicks’ odds to win the NBA title from 60-1 to 40-1. That made them the ninth betting choice and fifth in the Eastern Conference.

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It certainly wasn’t as big of a deal as LeBron James’s “Decision” last summer when many books didn’t even put up odds until James decided where to take his talents. As it was back then with James joining the Miami Heat, making them the 9-5 favorite, the Heat are still the top choice at 7-5, with the Celtics at 3-1, the Lakers at 9-2, and the Spurs at 5-1 despite having the league’s best record. Other teams still ahead of the Knicks are the Mavericks at 10-1, the Bulls at 12-1, the Thunder at 18-1, and the Magic at 20-1.

Duke slight favorite to win NCAA

In college basketball, the rankings have been turned up several times recently with upsets of the top teams, but heading into this weekend, Duke is the 4-1 favorite to cut down the nets, with Ohio State at 9-2, Kansas at 5-1, and Texas at 6-1. Others garnering attention are Pittsburgh at 12-1, San Diego State at 20-1, Pittsburgh and North Carolina at 25-1, UConn at 35-1, and BYU at 40-1.

◗ Speaking of college basketball, the Leroy’s Sports Books here in Nevada will be having a “3 and Out” contest during March Madness at $25 an entry with a limit of five entries per person. Entrants make one play per day against the spread and aren’t eliminated until you have three losses.

◗ Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 last Sunday in only his second Sprint Cup race. He was considered such an outsider that he wasn’t listed as an individual betting option at books here in Vegas, instead being included in the “field” at the Hilton at 50-1 and the MGM books at 30-1. The offshore book Bodog.com had Bayne at 80-1.

◗ The Sprint Cup comes here next weekend for the Kobalt 400 (though locals still call it the Las Vegas 400 both out of tradition as well as the fact it seems to change its sponsor every year). No books have posted odds yet, but with all the visitors coming to town every casino will be booking it, including head-to-head match-ups and props galore.

Minnesota man wins Series title

Bart Solomon of Minnesota won the Horseplayer World Series at the Orleans last Thursday through Sunday. The Orleans was aiming for 600 players in its championship tourney, but drew 695, thanks to a rule that allows players to buy in for $1,000. Contestants made 15 mythical $20 win and place bets each day and Solomon compiled a score of 3,416.20 to claim the top prize of $296,550. Michael Harrington of Pensacola, Fla., was second with a score of 3,292.20 to take home $65,900. Gary West of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., was third at 3,264.40 to collect $46,130, and Daily Racing Form ’s Kenny Peck of Fairlawn, N.J., was fourth at 3,253.60 and won $32,950 after leading for much of the tournament.

The champion receives 45 percent of the entry fees (an estimated $270,000 based on 600 entries) with prizes paid through 60th place. For more details, go to coastrace.com.

◗ The Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1 closed with the field of all others as the 2-1 favorite last weekend with Uncle Mo the lowest individual horse at 7-2. That’s the same odds as the fixed futures (where you lock in your price at the time you bet) at both the Wynn Las Vegas and the Lucky’s sports books. The Wynn has also posted a “Will there be a 2011 Triple Crown winner?” prop with the “no” at -900 (risk $9 for every $1 you want to profit) and the “yes” at +650 (win $6.50 for every $1 wagered). That’s slightly lower than recent years due to Uncle Mo’s perceived dominance.

Nevada in the news

The Academy Awards are Sunday. Nevada regulations, which require results to be determined on the playing field and not by voting (with boxing being the notable exception to the rule) have long prohibited wagers on awards ceremonies, TV shows (which were officially outlawed after the “Who Shot J.R.?” fiasco of 1980), elections, etc. But that’s going to change soon. Last month, the Gaming Control Board loosened its regs to allow such betting, but only if the books can show that it can be monitored properly. It was too soon to get the Oscars approved by the GCB, but look for more movement on this in the months ahead.

◗ This past Tuesday, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called for the state to outlaw brothels at a joint session of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City. “Nevada needs to be known as the first place for innovation and investment, not as the last place where prostitution is still legal,” he said. That was a good line, but it was mostly met by silence from the legislature. Nevada only allows brothels in counties with populations of less than 400,000 – which makes it illegal in Las Vegas proper, as well as Reno.

◗ “The Real World,” the MTV reality show that helped put the Palms on the map nearly 10 years ago, has returned to Las Vegas, this time at the Hard Rock. Shows will begin airing Wednesday, March 9.