If it’s a good day for bettors, then it’s a bad day for sportsbooks. And Sunday was a very bad day for sportsbooks.
According to ESPN, NFL Week 9 Sunday may go down as a legendarily bad day for bookmakers nationwide. Establishments in Nevada alone lost between $7 million and $10 million. Industry insiders who spoke to ESPN ranked it as one of the worst Sundays they could remember, as they spent the day watching their money walk out the doors in the pockets of successful gamblers.
“Bad. Really bad,” Caesars head of risk operations Jeff Davis said. “We won one key decision [Sunday].”
Jason McCormick, the sportsbook director at Station Casino, called it the “worst Sunday of the season.” MGM vice president of race and sports Jay Rood simply called it a “disaster.”
How did bookmakers end up losing so big? It started with the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams played early games, and both covered the spread. But those were just an appetizer; the Kansas City Chiefs were the main course. The Chiefs faced the Cleveland Browns, which turned them into the most popular favorite to bet on in Week 9. The Chiefs were an eight-point favorite, and they covered easily with a 37-21 win.
The sportsbook director of Vegas-based Boyd Gaming had a more detailed explanation:
“The public just nailed it,” Boyd Gaming sportsbook director Bob Scucci said in an email. “They had the big favorites — Bears, Chiefs, Panthers and Vikings — as well as the short ‘dogs, Texans and Steelers. And a lot of the overs.
“By the time we got to the two biggest games — Packers-Patriots and Rams-Saints — there were so many parlays alive that we were going to lose no matter what.”
Sunday of Week 9 wasn’t an isolated incident. According to ESPN, this is the third straight week that sportsbooks have taken it on the chin — but Week 9 was definitely the worst by far. But this comes after record-setting September for bookmakers. ESPN reported that $571 million in bets were placed in Nevada in September, with bookmakers winning $56.3 million off those bets. Both those numbers are all-time highs.
But again, when sportsbooks have a good month, it means bettors didn’t. Gamblers took a bath at the start of the NFL season, but now they’ve made up for at least some of it in November.
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