Monday, March 21, 2016

More Madness than ever at Vegas books

The first March Madness weekend in Las Vegas is always the busiest four-day stretch the sports books will see all season, but the 2016 version took things up a few notches that surprised even the most veteran bookmakers across the city.

"It was unbelievably busy,"said MGM Resorts sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback.

"Every year you think it can't be any busier, but it was a sight I've never seen in my 30 years in the business. The crowds were incredible, and our action reflected the growth with ticket counts being up 30 percent on Wednesday before the tournament and then up 20 percent over the same Thursday through Sunday last year. We had lines backed up all the way past California Pizza Kitchen (inside Mirage) at 9 am with only one game starting within the hour on Saturday."

The busy Saturday morning was a continuation from what happened Friday night, when bettors did extremely well on the late results with Notre Dame covering -3 against Michigan and Northern Iowa winning outright as a 4.5-point underdog against Texas.

"We ran out of money Friday," said Stoneback regarding the non-stop payouts. "We had to get two cash fills from the cage, so when Saturday morning came around, bettors were really gung ho about the upcoming games."

The most surprising thing thing about the MGM books having so much additional action is that they didn't offer in-progress wagering or phone wagering like many of the other books in town, who also said handle was way up.

"Handle way up, win down," said William Hill's bookmaking director Nick Bogdanovich. "The first day was good, but the other three were a battle."

It was the same story at Station Casinos 19 books across the city.

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