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Race to post NFL opening-game odds goes to offshore book BetOnline
By Dave Tuley
It’s not news that we live in the information age. Newspapers seem like a primitive way to get updates and even the nightly news that we all grew up with is usually nothing more than a recap of what we have already seen on our computers or on our cellphones.
Heck, two of the biggest ways a lot of people get their news – Facebook and Twitter – didn’t even exist at the turn of the century.
I’m also not breaking any ground by saying offshore sports books have changed the way the casinos here in Nevada do business. That’s been going on for years as well.
But something happened this week that underscored both those points.
The NFL released its full schedule on Tuesday night. Now, in the old days, people would look at their home team’s schedule and not give it much thought. And that included gamblers as well as there wouldn’t be much use for crunching the numbers right away.
For years, the first book to put up NFL Week 1 lines was the Imperial Palace on the Las Vegas Strip, and then in 2004, race and sports book director Jay Kornegay moved over to the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook and started putting up the first lines over there a few days after the schedules were released. Even then, people across the country weren’t clamoring for the lines because they didn’t even know they existed for the most part.
But fast-forward to 2012 and it’s a whole new world.
Not only is the Hilton now renamed the LVH -- Las Vegas Hotel & Casino – but the SuperBook was also beaten to the punch by BetOnline.ag, an offshore book.
BetOnline is one of the fastest-growing online books marketing to U.S. customers and brand manager Dave Mason said putting up the earliest lines is part of its marketing strategy.
“We have a team of three oddsmakers that I’m part of, plus we use some consultants, so we were making our own numbers and after a while of waiting for others to post the openers we saw ours were as good as anyone else’s and we decided to go ahead and throw them out there first,” Mason said. “It worked for us last football season and in the NBA and NCAA basketball. If we were getting beat, we wouldn’t do it.”
So, on Tuesday night, it was BOL’s numbers that were the first everyone got to talk about. Here were their openers:
Wednesday, Sept. 5: Giants -3.5 vs. Cowboys (actually opened Giants -3 at BOL when the game was announced March 27)
Sunday, Sept. 9: Bears -7.5 vs. Colts (was bet pretty quick to 8.5 on Tuesday night); Vikings -3.5 vs. Jaguars; Jets -6 vs. Bills (money on the dog moved this to 5 on Tuesday night); Texans -6 vs. Dolphins; Patriots -5 at Titans (just one of five road teams to open as the favorite); Lions -7.5 vs. Rams; Saints -6 vs. Redskins; Eagles -6 at Browns; Falcons -1 at Chiefs; Packers -5 vs. 49ers; Cardinals -1 vs. Seahawks; Panthers -1.5 at Buccaneers; Broncos -1.5 vs. Steelers (the Sunday night opener and a 9-point swing from the Steelers being 7.5-point road faves at Denver).
Monday, Sept. 10: Ravens -5 vs. Bengals; Chargers -2 at Raiders.
Mason said their biggest mistake was making the Saints too low, but he said he gets a laugh when he sees people saying “they’re going to get killed with all the early bets they take.”
“People that say things like that don’t understand the business,” Mason said Wednesday night. “Our limits on the openers are just $500. Besides, 1 percent of 1 percent of the total handle we get on these games came in last night and today. Come Sept. 5, we’ll be needing the underdogs and the unders in 80 percent of the games like usual.”
Kornegay certainly knows the ins and outs of putting up the openers.
“I tip my hat to anyone willing to put up the first numbers because we know how much work it is,” he said. “We try to be first, but it’s not as easy as it once was. In today’s climate, no one can be first all the time.”
So when did the LVH post its Week 1 lines? Early Wednesday afternoon. And that was greatly influenced by the things we’ve talked about so far.
“We were planning to put them up by Saturday, but then we got so many inquiries on social media and at the counter,” Kornegay said. “We were already discussing some games amongst ourselves, so we said ‘Why wait?’ ”
The LVH’s numbers were around the same as BetOnline’s with some variances, mostly making the favorites a little higher, but the one that jumped out to everyone was when the LVH made the Saints an 11-point favorite over the Redskins (remember: the Saints were 8-0 SU and ATS last year, so that obviously played into Kornegay & Krew’s thinking that it needed to be more than double digits). BOL’s -6 was long gone by then, but it quickly went to 9, which is where Lucky’s Sports Books opened later Wednesday. Other favorites that the LVH opened higher were the Bears -9.5, Eagles -6.5, Patriots -6.5, Lions -9.5, Panthers -2.5, Packers -6.5, Cardinals -2.5, Broncos -2, and Ravens -7.
LVH did come in a little lower on the Giants -3 (with added juice of -120) in the opener vs. the Cowboys and made the Falcons-Chiefs and Chargers-Raiders both pick-em.
With more and more competition, expect this trend to continue with Vegas books putting up more odds and sooner. The Golden Nugget, which has posted the first college football lines the past three years, is moving up its openers from June to May. Cantor Gaming and Lucky’s are both putting up lines on the full NFL schedule, expecting to put those out around Memorial Day.
Last year it was August, but that was due to the lockout.
Bettors won’t wait that long anymore.
Kentucky Derby seminars
Since my next column won’t be until Derby Day (when we will look at odds to win the Triple Crown and Derby matchups and prop bets), here’s a rundown of the seminars being offered around Vegas:
Saturday, April 28: Sunset Station, 5 p.m., with Ralph Siraco, Richard Eng, Lou D’Amico, Richard Saber, and Rich Rose.
Thursday: May 3: Palace Station, 6 p.m., with Siraco, Saber, and Vic Vivio.
Friday, May 4: Riviera, 5 p.m., with yours truly, Dave Tuley, Gary Seibel, and Dan Shapiro; South Point, 6 p.m., with John Kelly, Patrick McQuiggan, Tom Quigley, and Toby Turrell; Texas Station, 6:30 p.m., with Jerry Jacovitz.
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