Updated on 09/18/2011 12:15AM

Roethlisberger injury moves the lines


A longtime fear of Las Vegas bookmakers is that bettors will get ahold of information - injuries, suspensions, arrests - before they do and be able to pound in bets.

It can happen, but in the era of cell phones, text messages, and intense media coverage of everything today's athletes do, it's nowhere near as common as it used to be.

Case in point was this past Monday around 11:15 a.m. Eastern - 8:15 a.m. in Vegas - when Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got in a serious motorcycle accident in downtown Pittsburgh. It didn't take long for the news to travel across the country.

"Everyone was in the book already because of the World Cup, and ESPN ran a news flash, plus I started getting calls from friends in Pittsburgh," said Bert Osborne, who oversees the sports book operations for Coast Casinos and the Boyd Gaming properties from his office at the South Coast.

It didn't even take that long for the Las Vegas Hilton to get the word.

"Ed Salmons, our sports book manager, called right at 8:30 saying he had heard a rumor that Ben was in accident and we should take down the odds involving the Steelers," said Jeff Sherman, sports book supervisor at the Hilton, who was also watching the World Cup at the time. "It hadn't even been on ESPN yet."

Osborne said it didn't impact his books at all as he only had odds to win the Super Bowl and conference championships and opted not to change them after the accident. The same was true at the MGM Mirage books.

The Hilton had the Steelers at 5-1 to win the AFC and 10-1 to repeat as Super Bowl champs. Sherman said they decided to raise the odds to 7-1 and 15-1 because of the uncertainty regarding Roethlisberger's status for next season, but kept them on the board.

"We took down their season win totals, their first-week game, all of their games-of-the-year lines and the odds to win the AFC North," Sherman said. "Those can all be termed as specialized bets, or the Steelers versus themselves. It's more of a direct bet, and we wanted to see more updates on Roethlisberger's condition before putting those back up. The odds to win the conference and the Super Bowl are more appealing to tourists, and with 32 teams to choose from, we didn't see the need to take those down."

Before the accident, the Steelers were 5 1/2- to 6-point favorites over the Dolphins in the Sept. 7 season-opener at books that offered the bet. Their over/under season win total was 10 or 10 1/2, depending on where you shopped. Those bets were still not available as of Thursday afternoon.

Ken White, chief operating officer and oddsmaker at Las Vegas Sports Consultants, said he was listening to the radio when he heard the news and immediately called the office, where the news already was known and advisories had already been sent to their sports book clients.

"The immediate reaction is to take it down right away," White said. "If Big Ben was lost for the season, this team might not win more than seven games as he's one of the premier quarterbacks in the league. And I would make the Steelers 40-1 to win the Super Bowl without him. But it doesn't look like he'll lose any playing time with most of the injuries to his face, so you won't see their odds change much."

In fact, Roethlisberger was released from the hospital a little before midnight Wednesday. The news was also good for Steelers fans as doctors said they didn't have to wire his jaw shut and he'll be able to eat soft foods so he shouldn't lose too much weight during his six- to eight-week recovery period.

Around the league

The Colts remain the Hilton's preseason favorites at 6-1 to win Super Bowl XLI in Miami on Feb. 4, with the Patriots at 8-1, the Broncos and Seahawks at 10-1, the Panthers and Cowboys at 13-1, and the Chargers and Redskins at 14-1.

* The AFC representative, whomever it may be, is also a 5 1/2-point favorite over the NFC in the Super Bowl with a total of 47 1/2.

* The season win totals are always a popular bet and that's true again this year, even more so with more and more books offering the props. Two of the biggest steam plays so far have involved the Dolphins and the Chargers, with bettors backing the Dolphins and playing against the Chargers. The Dolphins opened with a over/under win total of 9 and a price of -135 on the under (risk $1.35 for every $1 you want to profit) and +115 on the over (win $1.15 for every $1 wagered) . Money has moved the line on the over all the way to to -125. The Chargers also opened with a total of 9, but with -135 on the over and +115 on the under. Bettors are less confident in the Chargers' chances and have been betting the under all the way to -140 with the over at +120.

The only number of wins that has changed so far in the six weeks since the odds were first put up is for the Panthers, who opened at 9 1/2 wins with -150 on the over but are now up to 10 wins with -110 on each side.

* As for the week one lines, the only ones to move in the past two months at the Hilton are the Broncos, who opened as 3 1/2-point favorites at the Rams and have been bet to -4, and the Cardinals, who opened as 9-point favorites in the debut of their new stadium vs. the 49ers and have been bet to -9 1/2.