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A super time of year for books

March Madness, Kentucky Derby, NBA finals, World Series and the Stanley Cup; they’re all big among sports bettors, but nothing compares to the Super Bowl.

Last year’s Super Bowl generated a record $71 million in betting volume across Nevada, with casino sports books winning $2,331,607 or 3.2 percent. The Ravens-Giants 34-7 mismatch in 2001 produced a win of $11,002,636, a state record. You think that’s big? The best guess from Las Vegas Sports Consultants is that Nevada’s handle is only 9 percent of the total action booked. Illegal and overseas bookies generate 10 times more than the 120 sportsbooks in Nevada.

If Sunday’s NFL playoffs were a barometer of what’s to come, the 2003 Super Bowl will be a barnburner.



Last Sunday’s gamblers, betting either side, were taken to emotional extremes. Before Sunday’s playoff games, the Steelers’ biggest postseason comeback was from a seven-point deficit to beat Denver 24-17 in December 1984. Their recovery from a 24-7 third-quarter deficit set a club record but didn’t compare with the San Francisco 49ers’ feat.

The Niners, buried in a 24-point hole and looking to leave their hearts in New York, suddenly arose from the dead. In what appeared to be a miracle, Jeff Garcia and Terrel Owens could do nothing wrong, and the Giants played like they had bet their soul on a San Francisco victory. The final botched snap on a 41-yard field-goal attempt left “Wise Guys,” squares and bookmakers in an emotional frenzy.




In a manner of seconds, smiles turned to frowns (or vice versa) and tears turned to screams as the 49ers emerged victorious, winning 39-38. Those who had given up on their wagers early scrambled to retrace their footsteps, hoping to find their discarded money line tickets.

With both the Raiders and Niners playing this Sunday, Northern Nevada bookmakers are predicting a playoff weekend betting record.

Early betting for Saturday’s games favors the Steelers +4 against the Titans, and the Falcons +7.5 against the Eagles. Sunday’s gamblers are betting with their hearts, favoring the 49ers +5 against the Buccaneers and the Raiders -5 against the Jets.

As the public plans their betting strategy for the AFC and NFC championship games, bookmakers are planning for their biggest event, the Super Bowl. Casino hosts are making calls, invitations are being mailed, entertainment is being discussed and suites are being reserved. Operators are setting schedules, beverage departments are ordering plenty of liquid refreshments, all in preparation for the casinos’ biggest sporting event.

For the first time ever, Harveys Tahoe is teaming up with Maxim Magazine. The two premier entertainment companies are planning to deliver an unprecedented event. The Harveys-Maxim party is open to the public and will take place in the Harveys Convention Center. Doors open at 2 p.m. Forty dollars gets you a stadium style buffet, a couple of free libations, three giant screens and some energetic cheerleaders to help root for your favorite team. For more information, phone (775) 588-2411.

If that’s not enough, on Super Bowl eve, Jan. 25, Maxim and Altitude Nightclub are throwing a late-night Super Bowl rally and dance party at Harrah’s. For information, phone (775) 586-6705.

— Steve Schorr is the race/sports-poker-keno manager at Harveys Resort & Casino.


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