Week 1 created huge swings for Las Vegas sportsbooks.
The books cleaned up on three games in particular: Tampa Bay over New Orleans, the Jets’ upset of the Lions and Chicago’s cover against Green Bay. But they got crushed with Baltimore’s blowout win over the Bills and the Rams’ 20-point victory at Oakland.
How Week 1 played out varies from book to book, but the overall consensus was that the first week of the NFL season was rough for the guys on the other side of the window.
Tim Fitzgerald, supervisor at the South Point Sportsbook, said their results were inline with the rest of the industry but didn’t seem too worried. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
The 21-21 tie between Cleveland (+3.5) and Pittsburgh provided South Point with a case study in how the public can overreact based on what it saw in one game.
“Most people in the book Sunday had some action on that game,” Fitzgerald said. “But it’s amazing watching Cleveland. Don’t let the result fool you. That was the same old Browns out there. Dumb penalties, couldn’t move the ball and bad choices by the quarterback. Then everything changed on one play. We definitely think going into next week that we’re not going to upgrade Cleveland that much.”
Jay Rood, sportsbook director at MGM Resorts, echoed Fitzgerald’s sentiment — especially because they took a six-figure wager on the Browns.
“That became one of our bad games, with the Steelers giving it up late,” Rood said. “The steam was definitely on the Browns. The Steelers looked like they switched uniforms right there.”
Another team the books are expecting to gain some support is Tampa Bay.
“I went out and bought a Ryan Fitzpatrick jersey on Monday morning because he saved us a disastrous week,” Chuck Esposito, the sportsbook director at Station Casino’s Sunset Station, joked. “That was just a great game for the house. Their win killed a huge number of straight bets, parlays and moneyline tickets. You name it, they messed it up for players. But is this a much better team than we realize? The jury is still out on that. It definitely won’t affect our line this weekend,”
Nick Bogdanovich, the director of trading at William Hill, was thrilled about the result, but was left with a lot of questions about the New Orleans Saints.
“That was a monster game for us. It made the day!” he said. “I was shocked. If you start the season as a 10-point favorite at home, you’ve got to take care of business. Maybe they’re still hungover from that fluky play from the playoff loss to Minnesota last season. I don’t know, but that was a horrific performance.”
At the Westgate, sportsbook manager John Murray says they were hurt most by the Rams (-6.5) win over the Raiders.
“We got crushed by the Rams, as I’m sure almost everyone in Nevada did,” Murray said. “That line chased up at the end, which is what I expected, but the Rams covered anyway. And then we had a lot of players chasing with the Rams second-half bets, which of course won, too. That was an awful game for us.”
Bogdanovich said the same held true at William Hill.
“The Saints game may have been the biggest win for the state of Nevada for a single game in years, but the Rams’ win over Oakland made us give most of that back,” Bogdanovich explained.
Before that game, the books were in a good spot thanks to the Jets’ (+7) straight-up win over the Lions.
“That game made us a small fortune. It killed any remaining parlay or teaser as well. It helped us a lot before the beating we took on the Rams,” Bogdanovich concluded.
Duffel Bag Boy
There weren’t as many noteworthy large wagers on games in Week 1. On top of the six-figure wager on the Browns, MGM also took a six-figure wager on Carolina-Dallas under 42, which was never in doubt.
The only other confirmed large wager came from the now infamous “Duffel Bag Boy.” After taking a bath in some tight losses on Saturday in college football, the deep-pocketed player made a lot of his money back by hitting a $100,000 two-team parlay with the Ravens (-7.5) and Rams (-6.5). The win netted him $260,000.