Friday, December 18, 2009

Las Vegas Betting Moves: Aria Opens New Race & Sports Book

By Micah Roberts

The Las Vegas City Center opened over the last week, an $8.5 billion master planned community built right on the strip in between the Monte Carlo and Bellagio. The MGM-Mirage venture began before the economic climate changed drastically in Las Vegas, but the hopes of the most in the city is that it becomes an overwhelming success and helps jump-start Las Vegas in a new positive direction.

I visited the only casino in the center, Aria, amid all the condominiums and high end shops in the mall and came away very impressed, in particular with the Race and Sports Book. It was a new concept they went with from the outset that separates Aria’s book from all others in town.

“The main thing that makes it different from other books is that it’s a loungey type of place,” said MGM-Mirage Director of Race and Sports Jay Rood. “We wanted a place where even if there were no games on TV, it was still a place guests could feel comfortable hanging out in.”

The Book itself is built somewhat like a club with modern couches and comfortable chairs giving the appearance of being in several different rooms wherever you choose to sit. The flat screens and two giant monster screens in the sports area make it impossible to miss any action from all the games, either sitting or standing.

Most traditional books have players all seated one way, facing forward, to a display of games or races in front of them. Aria’s Book keeps the action surrounding you and conforms to how or where you want to sit. It’s a complete relaxed environment that makes watching a game about as good as it gets in Las Vegas.

“It definitely is a deviation from the traditional books we’ve seen built, yet we wanted to keep an area alone by itself away from the sports action to give race players a little privacy, “ said Rood.

In Aria’s Race Book-only area there are 27 seats, each with Interactive Player Terminals (IPT), reserved for serious horse players.

The one thing that remained the same on Thursday night, just like all the other books, was that everyone bet the favored Colts on the road at Jacksonville in what turned out to be a classic rock ’em-sock’em shootout with several lead changes throughout.

The bettors didn’t care that the Colts had clinched and could possibly rest several of their key starters like Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, and Reggie Wayne. All they knew is that the Colts were undefeated and they had covered more times than not.

The Colts opened up a 3-point favorite and by kickoff were sitting at 3 ½. With just over five minutes to go in the game when Wayne hauled in a bomb to make it 35-31, the Aria’s foundation seemed to move slightly with the roar of hundreds of Colt backers.

The public favorite of betting a two-team parlay, favorite to the over, finally hit on Thursday. Every NFL Thursday game this season had gone 'under,' including all three Thanksgiving games.

Other NFL games that moved at MGM-Mirage properties this week include the Broncos jumping to 14-point favorites from the opener of 12 ½. Who was it that finally got into Al Davis' head and said JaMarcus Russell is no good? Needing a backup to play this week due to Bruce Gradkowski being out, the Raiders called up Charlie Frye off their practice squad to get the start. It’s quite possible Russell may be the worst draft pick in NFL history.

The Steelers have a big home game against the Packers as they try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The public believes they can do based on the opener moving from pick-em to the Steelers laying 1 ½.

The Patriots have been an awful 1-5 on the road this year, but find themselves with public support at Buffalo this week, moving from a 7-point favorite to 7 ½.

Bad weather is currently circulating in the Carolina’s stretching to northern Virginia and Tennessee. Cities like Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia could all see remnants of mother nature’s Christmas cheer by game time. Keep an eye on the doppler and bet accordingly on some of the totals before they move.

The M Resort in Las Vegas has some great Yes-No props regarding the Saints. Will the Saints go 16-0? No is -125 with Yes +105. Will they win the NFC Championship? Yes is even money while the No is -120. The math looks favorable in taking the Yes to go undefeated and Yes to win the Championship.

If you multiplied the money line on your own each week, you’d be hard pressed to get +105 in the Saints three games remaining against Dallas on Saturday, Tampa Bay, and Carolina. On the Championship side, even money would be hard to get multiplying two wins as big favorites. Should the Vikings lose in the first round, the NFC title game spread would be much higher giving the player much value in the prop if betting Yes now.

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