Business slows to crawl for sports books |

Business slows to crawl for sports books

Steve Yingling

Walk into a Stateline sports book any day of the week and you expect to see customers entranced by horse racing and major sporting events unfolding on TV screens around the room.

On Wednesday, they were tuned to CNN. Gamblers and sports lovers adjusted their priorities in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on Tuesday morning.

“A lot of times when tragedy hits, people don’t want to sit home alone and watch. They like being around other people,” said Lon Rusk, general manager at Lakeside Inn & Casino. “It’s a lot like when Desert Storm hit. We welcome that sort of therapy.”

With Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig postponing games through at least today, wagering has been slowed to almost a halt at the four Stateline sports books.

“Of course, without baseball our business is off. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we have the NFL on Sunday,” said Steve Schorr, full-service games manager at Harveys Resort & Casino, which has consolidated the sports books at Harrah’s and Harveys. “But there are more important things than making money right now. There’s been a lot of tragedy in the U.S., and we just need to get through that.”

Many colleges have elected to go on with their scheduled football games on Saturday, and the NFL has yet to decide whether it will hold games on Sunday and Monday.

As a result, sports wagering has been limited to future bets, as in who will win the Super Bowl and World Series.

“We have customers, but people have a different focus than gambling on sports right now,” Schorr said.

Baseball is tentatively scheduled to resume games on Friday. However, if the NFL decides to close shop for a week, the books stand to lose a significant amount of money.

“Most of the sports books are on hold with the parlay cards, the nuts and bolts of the football season for the books,” Rusk said. “It’s just a wait-and-see situation right now.”

Normally, books release their parlay cards on Wednesday.

Security concerns and the grounding of the country’s airline industry are both significant factors contributing to the delay in resuming professional sports.

“I don’t think that anybody is in the mood to go out and celebrate a sporting event right now,” Rusk said. “I could see where people would be frightened to be in a big stadium or fly to in an airplane to a big game.

“But the other side to this is that this may be an opportunity to show, regardless of what happened, that our spirit is still there.”

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