11/24/2006 12:00AM

First the turkey, then the football

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Now that the Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing are all gone, the leftovers progressing from cold turkey sandwiches to turkey soup, here are a dozen things that the Las Vegas gaming community gave thanks for on Thursday.

1. An NFL season that is long enough for bookmakers to get even after the overwhelming success of bettors during the first month of action on pro football. Many bookmakers, however, may need the NFL season to run past the NBA playoffs to get out this year.

2. The NFL for instituting a third game on Thanksgiving night, thus getting men out of that dreaded "let's see what's playing at the movies tonight" syndrome. Also, for continuing to play games on Thursdays, thus giving us the option to "get out" earlier in the week from the previous weekend's bets.

3. The NFL for giving race and sports books full access to players and logo usage for the Super Bowl. And for allowing the books to publish betting lines on all stadium Jumbotrons along with the slogan, "Hey, a double sawbuck on the home team doesn't hurt anyone." Okay, I'm kidding about that one.

4. The NCAA, for having the foresight to have a blockbuster 64-team playoff system for basketball, but a convoluted BCS system for its football program that even its computer programmer can't explain.

5. The NCAA for sending a league official here to "witness" the evil-but-very-profitable betting action on bowl games and March Madness.

6. That NCAA official returning to the office with a better understanding of the business of sports betting.

7. The new Democratic-controlled Capitol Hill with Nevada Senator Harry Reid as Senate majority leader. This assures no more silly sports betting ban, right? And, the hope of opening the door to a U.S.-based Internet sports betting platform, right?

8. Those tracks that offer 10-cent superfectas - a godsend for many race book players. They keep players from bolting the race book for a keno ticket.

9. Those great Thanksgiving Day buffet offers that lined the pages of Wednesday's local newspaper. This allows mom to have that special holiday spread while bypassing table cleaning and dishwashing in favor of the 5 o'clock Thanksgiving Day bingo bonanza.

10. Those buffet offers again, this time for dad, who can then try to bail out on the Thanksgiving Day NFL night game.

11. For the era of race-book simulcasting and no parking fees, no admission fees, no program fees, and no paid seating. The books showcase the sport of kings while the cocktails never stop.

12. And, finally, for the nearly 300,000 that came to Las Vegas, stuffed themselves silly, did some silly things and, in some cases, conquered.

Ralph Siraco is turf editor for the Las Vegas Sun and host of the Race Day Las Vegas radio show.