06/13/2002 11:00PM

U.S. drops to 20-1 to win World Cup


LAS VEGAS - The United States soccer team was considered an outsider when the World Cup began, but then a huge upset of Portugal and a hard-fought draw with South Korea had the Americans needing only a draw against winless Poland on Friday morning to advance to the round of 16.

The U.S. was favored (up to -220 in Las Vegas's sports books, while others had the U.S. laying half a goal and -130) for the first time in the World Cup, but gave up two goals in the first five minutes on the way to a 3-1 loss. However, South Korea's 1-0 upset of Portugal, going on at the same time, clinched second place in Group D for the U.S. and a spot in the Sweet 16.

The U.S. will again be an underdog when it faces Mexico at 11:30 p.m. Sunday Las Vegas time (2:30 a.m. Monday). The rest of the World Cup is single-elimination, so there will not be any more draws. Most books will offer a straight-up money line, though Las Vegas Sports Consultants is releasing odds on draw wagering that is based on only the first 90 minutes of action, excluding overtime.

The U.S., after opening at 60-1 before the beginning of the tournament, is now 20-1 to win the World Cup, according to odds released by LVSC.

After three of the top favorites - defending champion France, Argentina, and Portugal - failed to advance, Brazil is now the 5-2 favorite, followed by Italy (4-1), Spain (9-2), England (6-1), Germany (8-1), Sweden (10-1), and Mexico (15-1). The co-hosts, Japan and Korea, are 18-1 and 22-1.

Those who bet on the host-countries angle did well, as South Korea won Group D as a 7-1 longshot and Japan won Group H as the 5-2 second choice.

NBA/NHL postseason postmortem

As expected, the Lakers wrapped up their third straight NBA title Wednesday night and the Red Wings won their third Stanley Cup in six years Thursday night. But as we've seen, neither won bettors a lot of money this postseason.

The Lakers did go 2-1-1 against the spread in the Finals (though some Laker bettors also got a loss when the line moved to 3 1/2 before the Lakers 3-point victory in Game 3 last Sunday), but were still only 6-12-1 overall, including 1-9 at home.

The Nets were grossly overmatched in the Finals, but those who faithfully backed them did very well as the Nets went 12-6-2 against the spread.

The Red Wings had a 16-7 straight-up record during the playoffs, but a money-line bet in each of their games (laying the price to win $100) would have netted a profit of just $45. They lost their first two games to the Canucks in the opening round as a favorite of -280 and -300, dropped one game to the Blues as a -135 road favorite, lost three games to the Avalanche at prices of -180, -110 and -200, and lost the Stanley Cup opener to the Hurricanes at -350.

Future book bettors don't care how they won . . . just as long as they won. Both were favorites all season long. That will probably be the case next season, too.

LVSC has the Lakers as the 7-5 favorite to win the 2003 NBA title, followed by the up-and-coming Kings (9-2), Mavericks (8-1), Spurs (10-1), Nets (12-1), 76ers (15-1), Magic (15-1) and the relocated New Orleans Hornets (15-1).

The Red Wings, even though coach Scotty Bowman is retiring and the status of other players is up in the air, are a lukewarm favorite at 4-1, followed by the Avalanche (5-1), Blues (8-1), Flyers (8-1), and the Devils, Maple Leafs and Bruins (all 10-1).

Hearing set on future of strip clubs

It's always interesting to watch Las Vegas struggle with its reputation as Sin City. Residents move here in droves and love the low taxes that are a result of living in the world's largest adult playground, but there are many people who say that Sin City kind of activity is okay "as long as it's not in my backyard."

The County Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday to discuss plans for a moratorium on strip club licenses until the county can rewrite its zoning codes. The commission also wants to examine the parameters of what constitutes a lap dance. Some members feel the contact between dancers and patrons is too up-close and personal.

Vegas received world-wide acclaim for its topless production shows of yesteryear. But oddly enough, now those kind of revenues are considered quaint, and their appeal is almost nostalgic, rather than risque.