NFL Work Stoppage Could Dim Lights in Sin City

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Mar/10/2011
NFL Work Stoppage

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas casinos, fighting hard to rebound from a dreadful stretch for tourism, face a new threat if NFL players and owners can't agree on a new contract.

And the longer the sides disagree, the worse things might get for the gambling mecca.

"I can't see us losing a whole NFL season," said Lee Amaitis, chief executive of Cantor Gaming, a company that operates sports books in four Las Vegas casinos. But if it happens "it won't be good."

"If this town doesn't have the Super Bowl, it'll be a disaster," he said.

The NFL is king among sports bettors, whose influence in casinos goes far beyond actual wagering on games.

The main tourism agency that promotes Las Vegas estimates this year's Super Bowl alone brought 275,000 visitors to Sin City, generating $85.6 million in revenue beyond gambling. In 2010, 267,000 people came and spent $83.1 million on things like hotel rooms, restaurants and other entertainment besides gambling, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said.

Those figures dwarf the $724,000 casinos won on $87.5 million gambled statewide on the Green Bay Packers' win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last month.

"You can back it up all the way to the cab drivers, to the airport, to other venues across the country," said Jay Kornegay, executive director for the race and sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton. "It's well beyond the sports books of Nevada, and that's why I believe there's going to be a lot of pressure on them to settle this thing."

Players and owners currently have until Friday to settle on a collective bargaining agreement, extend the current CBA again, or move toward a work stoppage could that ultimately could threaten the season. The sides are discussing a range of issues, but the labor dispute mainly centers on how the NFL and players should split more than $9 billion in annual revenue.

A lot of money is on the line in Las Vegas as well.

Sports books generally try to generate even wagering on each side of a bet, charging a small fee to customers to play.

The largest 256 casinos in Nevada made $138.7 million in revenue from sports gambling between July 2009 and last June, according to state gambling regulators. But because of the way sports betting operates, with books taking that small fee, the revenue is only about 5 percent of the amount actually gambled by bettors.

And sports betting overall made up 1.4 percent of the $9.9 billion in gambling revenue in Nevada's largest casinos during the fiscal year.

Bettors in the state legally wager about $2.5 billion annually on sports, and about 30 percent of those bets, $750 million, are gambled on the NFL, Kornegay said. Experts estimate much more is wagered on the NFL illegally and outside the United States.

"I've been asked, 'What's your backup plan?'" said Kornegay. "I'm all ears. You know, you just don't replace the NFL."

Kornegay and Amaitis said books won't lose all the revenue from NFL bettors, because some will shift to other sports.

But "the fan bettor of the NFL — they'll disappear," Amaitis said.

Steve Fezzik, a professional gambler who says he left a job years ago as an insurance company actuary for a comparable six-figure living, said he would wager less if the NFL shortened or canceled its season.

"I'd have to because there'd be fewer things to bet on," said Fezzik, who runs a forum for sports gamblers at LVA Sports.com.  "It hurts me a lot because the NFL is my bread and butter."

Fezzik said no NFL games would make college football betting more difficult because sports books would have more time to set tougher betting lines.

But Fezzik, a prognosticator who won more than $400,000 by winning the Hilton's annual NFL handicapping contest two years in a row, said the loss for casinos would be much greater than for bettors.

"I'll put a prediction — if there's no NFL for the entire year, Vegas will lose 7 percent of its (overall) revenue for the fourth quarter. I would put the number that high," he said. "The ancillary impact will be tremendous."

Kornegay said that without an NFL season, the Hilton is unlikely to hold its handicapping contest, which attracts hundreds of entrants each year with a $1,500 buy-in. He's already put disclaimers on individual Super Bowl bets — they'll be in play so long as the game is held.

"We're concerned about it, but I'm not losing sleep over it until we get to August. Then, I might be up all night," Kornegay said.

"We have some leeway time, and we're just thankful that (players and owners are) at the table right now, and they have some time to work this out before it affects us."

Gambling News

Maine Vote on Sports Betting Coming Shortly

Maine Vote on Sports Betting Coming Shortly

Maine legislators say they are 95% there but it is the other 5% they need to hash out, at which point sports betting could soon become a reality in the New England state.  Seven bills have been reduced to one.

Become a Bookie

How to Become a Bookie From Scratch

Becoming a bookie isn’t as difficult as you may think. In this guide, I will assume that you are starting from scratch and provide you with the steps to get started. There’s a lot to learn if you want to run a successful operation, but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone.

Sports Betting News: Disney Now Owns Share of Draftkings?

Sports Betting News: Disney Now Owns Share of Draftkings?

One small part of the massive deal between the Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox included the stake in daily fantasy sports and sports betting company DraftKings, Legal Sports Report confirmed on Monday.

Sports Betting Forums: Top Discussions

We tap into the hottest discussions on the sports betting forums and social media.  Hot now: Disney Takes Stake in Draftkings, Negreanu Talks Game of Throne Finale, Bitcoin Profiled on 60 Minutes, More

Holzhauer Returns

Top Gambling Stories: Holzhauer Returns, High Court Ends Kenya Gambling Ad Ban

One of the most prolific gambling and sports crazed nations, Kenya, will no longer ban gambling ads, at least for now, and professional sports betting Holzhauer returns to Jeopardy Monday

Syndicate